Where can I vote in Kings Cross?

ballotboxYour polling card should say where you can vote with a map on it.  If you can’t find your polling card then you can go to your local polling station and they can look you up on the register.  Your polling station is based upon where you live/are registered to vote and will be open from 0700 to 2200 on Thursday.  To find it if you are in Camden then enter your postcode on this website. If you are in Islington click on this map.

If you are worrying that you might not be registered then look at this useful page on the Camden website or if in Islington see this page, which isn’t quite as good.  If you can’t find any help then the best route is to go to your local polling station and ask someone at a time when it is less likely to be busy – during the working day or in the morning before work.  Evenings are very busy.

Please vote.

Posted in Democracy and Elections | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Air Pollution, bollocks and its mayor. A judgement to finally save us!

PM25-LONDONWhen I first discussed air pollution with my friends, amongst the parents the school my daughter was attending,  and with many others, they often looked at me, as if I was some sort of green radical. Maybe I am.  I simply looked at the evidence creeping up from time to time, though instinctively most people in Kings Cross can see the evidence against their windows in form of black dust, mainly sulphur remnants from Diesel engines. And that’s but the dust you can see, the more dangerous stuff, PM10 and PM25 small particulates, enter our lungs and bodies deeper but are invisible to the naked human eye. Still, astonishingly many people did not think I was giving them any meaningful information, when I quoted them studies that showed, that the proximity of 100 meters of a school to a road with a volume of more than 10.000 cars (Kings Cross!) showed a scientifically significant increase of Asthma incidences in children, or the many other studies on the health implications of air pollution.

I don’t blame those people for looking at me that way. The media in England, except The Guardian (see here an article from 2010), and slightly behind the BBC, was quite slow to react to all of this. Only last year during the combined Saharan and  London pollution smog was it, that I had finally a feeling, that the Evening Standard, that paper given out freely to Londoners these days, and often their only news update, was finally decisive in highlighting the problem.

In my own borough of Camden, the council was however acutely aware of the problem and run two summits on air pollution, the second one in conjunction with Islington. Whilst councillors knew about the issues and did what they could, they fought a scandalously and intentionally lame and deaf TfL, “Lord over all our roads,” and ruled over by above all one man, Boris Johnson.

Remember the days we were told the sprinkling of some substance over the tarmac of our roads was called the answer to air pollution, and that the figures everyone else produced were exaggerated? Anything but reduce traffic! Even last year Boris Johnson was still laughing at people’s concerns on air pollution by comparing London to Bejing or Mexico City. and stating people like myself are bollocks for complaining about the air.

For this was the man who in 2010 abolished half the then existing congestion zone, in a part of town where wealth means that possession of a car, if possible as large as possible – giving us the lovely idiom “Chelsea Tractors” –  and driving it, is seen by many almost as a right in itself. A salute to the Conservative Party loyal boroughs of Kensington and Westminster.

Gone was also the idea of an electric tram connecting Kings Cross with the South, which was set to be build by Ken Livingstone on some of the old tracks last used in late 1950s, when petrol driven Routmasters were cheaper to run than electric trains, and the tram was abolished largely. And the Routemaster was then precisely the strategy of the new blond London mayor, abolishing that plan as soon as he set office and advocating instead a new Routemaster, when red Ken’s red bendy bus seemed inadequate for London’s roads.

Labour and the Greens argued that it was more efficient and more ecological to spend the new Routemaster money on greening the existing fleet, fitting the highest standard exhaust emission filters and a hybrid system on them. This has now been confirmed, namely that the new Routemasters are less ecological than argued by its lobby. Also already forgotten by many, is the chapter of an attempted botched introduction of a hybrid refit technology for all London black cabs, failed back in 2008, when the procurement process of Tfl was flaunt, breaching trademark issues. But black cabs contribute, in the mayors own words, to 1/3 of the particulate matter emissions in London. On the positive side, I hear that this January an electric black cab is finally being piloted (it was first spoken about many years ago), and months after Nissan dropped its plans for a new London cab.

For decades here at Kings Cross, where I live, many including myself  have lobbied for an easing of congestion, and the road flow of the gyratory system, not just because of the air pollution the vehicles cause at the moment, but also because of the noise they create (we had to fight 13 years to win an argument with the housing association Circle 33, to fit a double window system, as the single sash windows allowed in all the noise), and because of safety concerns. When the new mayor sent a quango about two years ago to Kings Cross to conduct yet another study on the gyratory, the appointed field researcher asked us, if we accepted that the traffic needed to flow through our streets, and that this could not change. My answer was, “No, if you look at many major cities like Amsterdam, you can see how traffic even around the main stations has been transformed.” “Why not”, I asked, “in London?” The bewildered look of the researcher showed me, he was the one who failed to understand, seemingly unexposed to global alternatives, and probably hand chosen by TfL to provide solutions to the “car is king mayor.” At the last possible opportunity Johnson fiddled recently with the congestion zone, having been under immense pressure by most members of the GLA, but not before another consultation, whose results were predictable: Yes we are going to enforce a stricter ultra low emission zone, along the congestion zone perimeters – with the headlines a self-laudatio to the mayor “world’s first ultra low emission zone coming” – did we forget to shout hooray and open that champaign bottle at Kings Cross, with half of the area still outside that zone, streets like Euston Road, Swinton Street, Grays Inn Road, Kings Cross Road and Pentonville Road and Rise ?  No chance Johnson would enlarge the zone, you see.

Many, like the four London councils Hackney, Lambeth, Camden and Southwark argued that without a strategy for all of London, doing a bit in the centre has little real effect.  Having not done much of great significance for most of his tenure, Johnson can now argue he is finally green having implemented some changes in the last quarter of his many years in office. Yes he introduced the ultra low congestion zone, yes he enlarges the cycling infrastructure, but most of all, now he will have to deal with that supreme court judgement on Human Rights ground, the kind of dictum the Tories are very keen to take Britain out of, if they win the next elections.

From where I live, in the midst of Kings Cross the damage the policy of the mayor  caused for most of his tenure is clear to see. The dark dust against my window may take off a few years of the lives of all of those who live here, including myself. On many days we have to switch on an in-doors air filter (we are lucky enough to have bought one, but the carbon filter needs replacement every six months at a cost of about £100 Pounds), not the least to note that cars speed in these roads at speeds of up to 50 miles at times. Something by the way that again has finally been heard after decades, I learned there will be a trial 20 Mile zone around Kings Cross soon – hey congratulations, myself and others argued for this for more than 15 years.  The word trial here is a clear indication of how careful TfL is not to upset drivers too much (it is only a trial, we won’t inconvenience you permanently?).

That the supreme court has now argued that, since Boris Johnson came to power, he and his gang and his governmental colleagues from DEFRA, had us for an illegal unhealthy London walk on air pollution and that we, the so called and belittled urban bourgeoisie, were after all correct on air pollution and the traffic, and yes that our human rights were breached, our access and right to clean air in our own homes taken by one arrogant man, is astonishing. It is beyond me that anyone could even think of the man with his unkempt blonde hair as an adequate future prime minister, MP or mayor. He may be witty and funny at times, I am willing to concede that, but as a politician he is intentionally and cleverly obstructive, if a policy does not fit his Weltanschauung. This was for a long time to allow cars without much modification full access. It is simple to understand why. Getting tough here angers all fleet owners and cab drivers and that is bad for votes. But the twist of the story is, that the drivers of cabs and vans, who are on London’s streets day in day out, are actually those people who should be most interested in cleaner and more stringent standards, because it is them who sit right behind the exhausts of others for hours without end. And it is not as if we do not know what can make the change happen. Alternative engine technologies exist, just as there are countless examples of how urban landscapes and the minds of people can be opened and altered.

There is only one way forward, cleaning up the air in London with the latest filters and engines and road lay outs. I wonder if we will have a garden bridge first though (that other vanity project), before these changes will be introduced?

And there are, to borrow the only value in the Tory mindset, business opportunities within for all involved. New engines, trams, charging points, cycle shops, et cetera also create new jobs and create innovation that drive forward business and clean up our city’s air. And at Kings Cross, amongst the most polluted zones in London, we really need a fresh breath of air.

We will not stop to give a sample taste of our toxic fumes to any governmental office holder, who has not yet inhaled them.

To better air and health!

Posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, New | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

‘Una piccola festa’ as remarkable KC Continental team retire after 50 years

kc continental

There will be a little celebration from 1230 on Keystone Crescent on Saturday.  Rather wonderfully Camden are going to name a street hopefully in the railway lands area ‘Giordani Gardens’.  There’s a great write up of Leo and the store on Spitalfields Life.  He will be sorely missed.

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American Carwash and Transeuropean autos site

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The American Carwash from the corner of York Way and Wharfdale Road moved up to the old Transeuropean Autos site at 176-178 York Way.  The fences are festooned with their banners and cars queue along the public highway.  Local resident Stuart Cottis and I both complained to the council – it’s the wrong place to have cars backing up and this prominent site has a long history of not really adding to the public realm – an application to turn it into a major Travis Perkins came to nothing.  The site appears to be in multiple uses as the photos show – car parking, car washing, warehousing, tool hire.

It seems they didn’t get planning permission – Cllr Convery has passed on the following from the council’s planning department:

The land in question was a former petrol station but it was subsequently used for the display, sale, storage and repair of vehicles. During his site visit, the case officer noticed that there were now three uses now taking place at the site – a car park, a car wash, and a car hire business. We consider that there has been a material change of use and planning records indicate there is no planning permission for this.

We do not consider that there is an objection in principle to the car hire business, subject to planning approval. However, we consider that the use of the site as a car wash and car park encourages non-essential vehicle journeys and adds to traffic congestion by encouraging vehicle movements in the area, which is contrary to the London Plan and a number of Islington Council planning policies.

A warning letter has been dispatched requesting that the use of both the car park and car wash to cease by 12 May 2015, and giving the operating company the opportunity to apply for planning consent to retain the car hire offices, if it so chooses.

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Islington South and Finsbury hustings 13 April 2015 – live tweets #islsfhust #ge2015

islington south and finsbury hustingsIf you couldn’t make the Islington South and Finsbury hustings this evening at Sadlers Wells here are my tweets of what went on.  Like all ‘live tweeting’ it should be treated as impressionistic, rather than deadly accurate – I am not a court stenographer – any issues please raise them with me in the comments.  Thanks to chairman of the Islington Society, David Gibson for chairing and to the Gazette and Sadlers Wells for hosting.  Tweets below are in reverse chronological order – ie last first

The candidates are:

Jay Kirton ​Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol
Charlie Kiss​ ​Green Party
Mark Lim​ ​The Conservative Party Candidate
​Pete Muswell ​UK Independence Party (UKIP)
​Terry Stacy ​Liberal Democrats
​Emily Thornberry ​Labour Party

Posted in Democracy and Elections | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Hustings – Sadlers Wells Theatre Monday 13 April 1900

Sadlers Wells Theatre and Islington Gazette are holding a husting event on the evening of 13 April at seven o’clock where the candidates for Islington South and Finsbury will answer questions from local people. For more details click here.  It’s well worth going along to a husting if you want to see the candidates answer questions in the flesh – they are miles better than the downright weird TV events, much more human and accessible.  It’s worth keeping an eye on the embryonic site ‘MeetYourNextMP’ which attempts to list husting events across the country.

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Candidates for 2015 General Election in Kings Cross – ‘Islington South and Finsbury’ and ‘Holborn and St Pancras’

ballotboxThe official lists of candidates for the two parliamentary wards that cover Kings Cross have been published.

In Islington South and Finsbury you can choose between:

​Jay Kirton ​Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol
Charlie Kiss​ ​Green Party
Mark Lim​ ​The Conservative Party Candidate
​Pete Muswell ​UK Independence Party (UKIP)
​Terry Stacy ​Liberal Democrats
​Emily Thornberry ​Labour Party

Islington Council has a handy page on the mechanics of it all.

and in Holborn and St Pancras:

Natalie Bennett Green Party
Will Blair The Conservative Party Candidate
Jill Eileen Fraser Liberal Democrats
Shane O’Donnell Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol Abdul
David O’Sullivan For socialism. Against austerity and war
Maxine Spencer Holborn and St Pancras Constituency UK Independence Party (UKIP)
Keir Starmer Holborn and St Pancras Constituency Labour Party

Camden Council has a handy page covering all the mechanics of voting – poll cards, registration etc –

It isn’t too late to register to vote from your home address – you can do so online up until Monday 20th April.

Posted in Democracy and Elections | Tagged | 1 Comment

Kings Cross to be terminus for Google Space elevator

kings cross space elevatorGoogle X-Labs are planning to to base the earth port of their new space elevator at their abandoned office site in Kings Cross.  A nano-carbon fibre line will run from behind the station to a counterweight in geo-stationary orbit 144,000 km away.  A ‘climber’ shuttle will run up and down the line to take loads cheaply into space.

Google are thought to have been inspired by the epic 1969 Daily Mail picture of a Harrier Jump jets racing from only 100 metres away from their office site to St Pancras to Paris.

The space elevator is now possible thanks to the release of previously secret technologies, based on the early work of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Yuri N. Artsutanov from the Soviet-era space program.  Google’s new business partner is Kazakhstan KX Investment Group Ltd  the people behind the Soviet Space program who will put the counter weight into orbit and designed the Kings Cross maglev.

A Google spokesman said – ‘Kings Cross is just too two dimensional – you just need to think transport in the third dimension or even the fourth’.  Asked about the Soviet link Google said ‘We are channeling Werner Von Braun here’

Camden Council said: ‘Kings Cross’s fine budget hotels and hostels have been harbouring alien life forms for years, this will make it much easier for them to get home.’

Islington Council said: ‘Google can do anything they like as long as it doesn’t affect the Kings Cross gyratory.’

A TfL spokesman said: ‘You are just winding me up about the Emirates Cable car – I told you we stopped answering questions about that.  For Oyster card users space is in Zone 6 or buy a ticket to Amersham.’

A film location scout said: ‘With the Crick germ research lab, a space elevator, an art college and the Eurostar, Kings Cross is the perfect location for a zombie movie.’

Image: “Space elevator structural diagram–corrected for scale+CM+etc–regenerated as SVG” by Skyway at en.wikipedia / User:Booyabazooka – This is an improved diagram of a Space Elevator.It is a modification of File:Space_elevator_structural_diagram–corrected_for_scale+CM+etc–regenerated_as_SVG.svg This file obsoletes both that file and File:Space elevator structural diagram.svg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 1.0 via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Space_elevator_structural_diagram–corrected_for_scale%2BCM%2Betc–regenerated_as_SVG.svg#/media/File:Space_elevator_structural_diagram–corrected_for_scale%2BCM%2Betc–regenerated_as_SVG.svg – as amended to show Kings Cross, incorrectly.

Posted in Big developments | Tagged , , | 4 Comments