Save the Kings Cross Pond – Sign here!

After a publicity stunt with a flashmob in cold water, the petition to save the swimming pond in Kings Cross is in full flow. The organiser, Imogen Radford, says she would like to reach the 5000 signature mark, before she hands the petition to Argent, the owner and developer of the land  and to Fusion, who run the pond.

There are but few signatures missing to the target (at the time of writing this about 300), so if you haven’t signed yet and support the idea of a natural water swimming pond in Kings Cross to stay, do make your cross here Petition to keep the Swimming Pond at Kings Cross!

To show my support for the campaign I add a picture of myself from one of the more colder days when I swam there and used the sauna ….2016-01-18-13-41-04




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Pentonville murders – background of massive rise in violence over recent years


pentonville-serious-assaultsYesterday’s murder at Pentonville comes as little surprise given the substantial rise in violence at the troubled local prison over recent years.  Government data shows a sharp rise in serious prisoner on prisoner assaults from less than one a month to one every ten days.

Recent years have seen alarming trends in prisoner on prisoner assaults in general at the ‘Ville, at over one a day in 2014 now down a little to just under one a day.


Over the last 14 years report after report has condemned the regime at Pentonville. As far back as 2002 the Chief Inspector of Prisons said:

‘it is not acceptable to hold prisoners in conditions which fall so far short of standards of decency and activity.’

The reports go on and on (assembled into a single folder here).  The prison has had profound management and startling allegations of staff corruption problems over the years.

The prison system as a whole is suffering terribly as several forces come to bear.  There aren’t enough prison places, there isn’t enough money, the estate is too old, the courts keep sending people to prison (instead of using non-custodial sentences in sufficient volume to reduce the population) and ‘legal highs’ appear to be causing problems. Lord Carter recommended building new super prisons – there were well intentioned custodial reasons for turning these down, but Carter had sufficient experience/cyncicism to see that no other solution would arise and his were the lesser of two evils.

It’s the older prisons like Pentonville that will feel these pressures the worst.  In 2014 Sadiq Kahn, then Shadow Justice Secretary said:

“The true scale of the growing crisis in the country’s prisons is revealed by the government’s own data. Violence is up, deaths in custody are up and the number of prisoners going on the run is up. The government is trying to hide the sheer scale of the failings in the ministry of justice from the public by trying to pretend there’s not a problem, let alone a crisis,”

The time has surely come to close Pentonville (as local Councillors have been saying since 2010) and build a new facility appropriate for the modern age.  Perhaps the Mayor and Islington Council can catalyse things by putting forward a development outline for the site.

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South of Kings Cross is for independent Coffee!

A boulevard of coffee shops, independent shops and some restaurants, along Kings Cross Road was a long term vision some locals in the South of Kings Cross always had, and it seems that this vision has taken on shape now that the North his a glamour shop.  Still the South remains the somewhat weaker side of Kings Cross, but recently a  much in demand tattoo artist, and an up market independent  hair-styler have given it some much needed trend kick.

In the last three months we saw also an addition on the coffee side of things with a high quality independent coffee shop called  Frequency on 121 Kings Cross Road, which brought modern high class independent coffee house style into this part of Southern Kings Cross (we had one before, when Constam tried their luck here, perhaps too early).


Frequency. The New art coffee shop on Kings Cross Road

The new addition is not exactly the cheapest option though.  There was and is always also the Portuguese Costa’s  Cafe , where the friendly staff serve coffee, breakfast and Portuguese home cooked meals for over 20 years, and still is serving cappuccino for way under two Pounds.


Don’t mix the two. This is the original Costa’s, in the South of Kings Cross through good and bad years!

Bisou Cafe,  opposite on the Camden side of the road also offers coffee along with a variety of lunch servings, and a few doors further, Niven’s offers delicatessen with a touch of class since about ten years. Closer to Pentonville Road, the “Coffee Uni-N” Coffee Uni-N specialises for a long time on sandwiches and coffee.

The message that this street means business seems now to have sieved through also to the big players on the British market. So it is not surprising perhaps that we saw the opening of a branch of the Costa chain in Kings Cross Road, much to the displeasure of many of the independents here, and most of all of course to the bewilderment of Costa’s the independent long running Portuguese, running under almost the identical name. What’s more, this is the third Costa branch in half a square mile.Being a chain, they are able to beat the smaller shops on day to day standing power, being open from 6.30 am until 21.00 each day except Sunday where they open at 7:00. None of the the smaller independents can beat that staying power without it becoming inhuman for them.


Costa wants to cash in on the success of independents, but its staying power in terms of opening hours could destroy businesses that build up over many years and gained local trust.

Where people are going to stop for a coffee and a snack is going to be more than a casual choice now.  The tradition in our area is certainly on the independent side. One would hope this remains to be the case.

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Kings Cross Square – sausages out, sandwiches in



Kings Cross square started out so well with a couple of decent food shops, but they both moved on.  The independent hot-dog emporium Coffee Dogs, closed a while ago and its ‘egg pod’ site is vacant (above).  The hot dogs were great and it’s not often you can say that in the UK.  A Pret is moving in there now (see Camden planning application for the signage).  Perhaps this will help the always overworked Pret on the Pentonville Road.


At the front of the square was a Giraffe Kiosk that has now become a Doddle parcel drop-off (Doddle is a Network Rail joint-venture).


In the meantime, the food market stalls continue to be a lovely addition – both for their fayre but also breaking up and adding variety to Stanton Williams drab granite sheet – a rare piece of architecture that looks better when it is wet. Maybe the stalls are robbing from the fixed outlets, or suffering from the seasonal curse of having no under cover seating.  Or maybe the fixed outlets fell foul of that typical London practice of a heavily discounted first year or so and then were unable to make it pay when a ‘market rent’ came in.


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Your turn to save most progressive cycle path stretch in South-Camden

taviimg_20160923_192022A trial structure of a segregated two-lane cycle path on Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury, adjacent to Kings Cross / St Pancras (leading to Torrington Place), is under threat of being demolished, due to a disgruntled group of a handful, but well organised group of local activists in the area.

They falsely claim, that traffic has increased air-pollution, when in fact the independent results measured show already a 21% decrease in pollution for all, residents, pedestrians and cyclists, during the trial period.

The schema has forced a two-way motor traffic street into a single unidirectional lane for cars, for the benefit of a two-lane segregated cycle lane on each side (previously merged into a two way single cycle lane). This means that some like the London Taxi Driver Association (LTDA ) and a few others like the Imperial Hotel Group  (according to Camden Cyclists), dislike the schema.

However there are just as many who support the scheme, like Safer Bloombury , University College London, and naturally Camden Cyclists. Letters in support and some against have also found their way into Camden New Journal.

Camden is planning to further reduce through traffic in the long-run, meaning motor-traffic can enter and leave the area, but can not cross through North to South or East to West, which will bring about further reductions in non local motor-traffic.

The cycling schema is meant to increase and encourage safe cycle-use in an area that serves many universities with tens of thousands of students (UCL, SOAS, IoE, Birkbeck, a.o.) and in an area already immensely and adversely affected by car-traffic and car-pollution. In fact the schema already has let to a measured 52% increase in cycle traffic.

The street links into South-East Kings Cross via  Sidmouth Street and Ampton Street, which are soon meant to be part of the cycle super-highway schema from Farringdon Road to the South, but also via Judd Street / Pancras Road to the North, and once completed it would eventually enable hassle-free and save passage for cyclists of all ages all the way to Camden Town and Hampstead.

The cycle lanes have been inspired by the Amsterdam / Copenhagen transformations, and whilst so far but a short stretch, they are possibly the most progressive in South Camden.

LCC believes, that should the cycle path trial be rejected, there are no other alternatives in the pipeline, as the money for it stems from a former initiative. The dismantling of the schema would therefore immediately increase pollution and motor traffic and bring back cycling to its former low levels in this area.

All who are supportive of this schema (and those who are not), should make sure to leave their comments now on the web-site of Camden, or at the latest by 21st of October 2016.

Link here:








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Petition launched to save outdoor pond

Kings Cross pondThe outdoor King’s Cross pond designed by Ooze Architects has become a firm favourite for both swimmers and urban wildlife enthusiasts. In April we reported that it was threatened with closure. Shortly after that it appeared to have been saved. However, it is now under threat again. Local residents have started a petition to try and persuade the property developer, Argent, to save this much loved local resource. We reproduce the text of that petition below.

Click here to go directly to the petition where you can sign and add your comments.

We understand this innovative fresh water outdoor swimming pool is to close for ever this October, despite its growing popularity.

This swimming oasis in the urban centre of a world-class city, originally designed as a usable art installation, is a wonderful and popular asset for the local community and for visitors. When opened it was originally to be on site for at least two years, but with the possibility of the lifetime of the pond being extended. (kings cross pond club faqs). But it seems that the plan is now to close it after only 17 months.

The pond is helping the city to move towards being a liveable habit. Families, friends and people from near and far come and test the waters, and then – refreshed and renewed – bring a clean energy back to the city with new friends and a greater investment in the city’s environment.

Over the year and a few months it has been open the pond has grown in loveliness and popularity and people are learning about the possibility to create natural habitats and water filters. It is a green lung in this built-up area: an affordable leisure facility all can enjoy.

The UK’s first ever man-made fresh water public bathing pond has become one of London’s best-loved amenities, bringing benefits to the area and beyond.

As users of the pool and members of groups representing the growing numbers of outdoor swimmers we ask you to keep it open all year, and to discuss with us ways it can continue to thrive and develop at the heart of Kings Cross.

Do not close and scrap it: instead keep it as a truly sustainable and green centre for the Kings Cross area.


Who is responsible for deciding the future of the Kings Cross Pond?

Argent Kings Cross Ltd Partnership are the developers of the area (who is developing kings cross?) and Fusion Lifestyle run the Kings Cross Pond (kings cross pond club website; contact Fusion) The local councils are Camden (camden council on the kings cross development) and Islington (islington council on kings cross).

Posted in Big developments, Green spaces, Kings Cross N1C, Kings Cross N1C, railwayslands, New, railwayslands, Sports, Wildlife and Nature | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Are you a Kings Cross community group looking for help with online fundraising?

local-givingWe have some places for representatives of Kings Cross community organisations and charities on a training scheme from Local Giving to learn how to raise money online.  I  Info below – drop me a line if interested and I’ll pass your name on.

Text from Local Giving

>Many organisations working in London  need extra support to start using technology to raise awareness and funds online, and to develop a healthier funding base by building income from individuals. 59% of UK charities with an annual income under £1m do not accept donations online. With ever-increasing online giving, these charities are missing out on a key fundraising channel. As the average online donation is £30, twice the average offline donation, and every £1 invested in online fundraising returns £10, it is essential that small local charities build up their capacity to raise funds online.

This programme is designed to give small local charities and community groups access to the same online marketing tools that are available to larger charities, as well as inspiring the confidence to use them. The impact of such a programme is significant, enabling groups to fundraising online in a manner that is both time and cost-effective. This allows groups to keep in touch with donors and generate additional income without impacting on the resources needed to continue to deliver their frontline services.

·       a complete digital skills training package, enabling them to raise awareness and funds online

·       a complimentary annual Localgiving membership, providing access to calendar of fundraising campaigns, and online fundraising tools, including donation and Gift Aid processing

·       access to a dedicated local support worker

·       support to develop and implement an online fundraising strategy and plan

·       £300 match funding to help to incentivise donations

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Drones over Pentonville – cops stop crooks in crime ‘copter caper

N176-2016 drone with bagAnyone seen anyone furtively using a state of the art  white four rotor drone locally?  They may have been rehearsing flying drugs and phones into the ‘ville on the cally.  Remarkably an officer topped one ‘in mid flight’ – they don’t let on how.  It looks like a DJI Phantom 4 drone – its sophisticated cameras could well allow someone to fly it in through a smashed window, though that would be complicated with a big underslung load.   Quite pricey at £1200, if you have paid for it.  In the old days it was fishing bait catapults from the Cally, lobbing stuff over the wall.  Now something new to add to the long list of problems at Pentonville.  The police say:


Officers from Islington are appealing for witnesses and information following the recovery of two drones carrying mobile phones and drugs in the vicinity of HMP Pentonville.

Over the weekend of Friday, 12 to Sunday, 14 August, officers from the Caledonian Neighbourhoods Policing Team and the Met’s Special Constabulary carried out patrols in the area of the prison as part of Operation Airborne.

Operation Airborne has been set up to deter and catch offenders attempting to deliver contraband into the prison.

During the early hours of Saturday, 13 August, officers observed a man acting suspiciously close to the prison. On seeing police, he ran from the scene, dropping two bags containing a quantity of Class B drugs and mobile phones. He evaded arrest.

The following day, officers recovered a drone after tracking it flying over HMP Pentonville, before it crashed. Later in the day, they were alerted to another drone being flown towards the prison. The low flying drone was stopped mid-flight by an officer and a package containing a large quantity of drugs and two mobile phones was recovered from it.

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Heatley, said: “These recovered drones carried a substantial amount of Class B drugs, legal highs and a large quantity of mobile phones; we are able to intercept them thanks to the vigilance of officers and the public. We work closely with the prison service to gather intelligence in order to carry out proactive operations to arrest and prosecute such offenders. I would urge anyone with information about these events to contact the police or Crimestoppers to help us to identify those responsible.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

No arrests have been made.

N176-2016 drugs and mobile phones recovered


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