Criminal Damage to Our Local Trees

Stephan Shulte writes:

Yes I said “Criminal” in that if we could catch the culprits who have been vandalising our local trees we could & should try to make a case for prosecution.

Northdown Street – tree destroyed.

Northdown Street – tree destroyed.

I have been asked to make you all aware of the latest round of vandalism in our neighbourhood by our neighbour John from Wharfdale Road.  If we enjoy all the trees in our area, it can be safely said that they are only there due to the continued efforts of John and the relationship he has formed with the Council to improve our area.

This latest problem revolves around making dogs strip the bark off our trees which results in the trees dying.  When a tree is fully circle bark stripped, the tree cannot be saved and will have to be felled.  In this latest act of vandalism, 3 trees, funded by local residents about 15 years ago will die and have to be replaced.

Northdown St – second tree destroyed.

Northdown St – second tree destroyed.

I think you will all agree that this latest bit of vandalism is shameful and we must catch the culprits responsible. Gangs train their dogs to become fighting dogs by teaching them to rip tree bark.  We all now have mobile phones that have cameras so please if you see something like this going on snap a picture and send it to our Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team with a few words of explanation.  Their email address is:

As I write this several other neighbours have already started to help out with the problem.   If we want our area to improve we must all act together.

Northdown St – third tree destroyed.

Northdown St – third tree destroyed.

Bark damage. Winford Road.

Bark damage. Winford Road.

Northdown Street – tree saved so far.

Northdown Street – tree saved so far.

Posted in Anti Social Behaviour, Anti Social Behaviour, Crime etc, Crime etc, Green spaces, Local issues, New, Wildlife and Nature | Leave a comment

Make Kings Cross the heart of zero carbon!

Britain commits to zero carbon! Writing from Kings Cross, Central London, where we have campaigned for over 30 years against car pollution both in terms of air pollution and noise pollution, it is a tremendous national policy change for the better, with local implications. Sometimes it felt like we were radical unreasonable outposts talking about all of this.

I remember Transport for London consultants accusing us during a Kings Cross traffic-calming consultation only some ten years ago of “surely not wanting to stop business and transport only ten years ago.” No, we did not; we just wanted a change what the traffic did to our communities.

Writing as we speak, Kings Cross is still heavily polluted by above all car traffic though slowly it is changing.  This week a bad diversion due to road-works pushed even more vehicles stagnantly through our streets (on which on both sides people live who need to breath).   Changes should be implemented at Kings Cross with an absolute London priority because due to the main roads going through the area, its location in central London and due to the stations, people living and working here had to suffer particularly harmful pollution for decades.

Some of the main culprits, the Royal Mail and Black Cab Diesels are still very much part of the problem here, though both have at least begun to introduce electrics. Most TFL buses have cleaner engines now, though this is the area where battery and hydrogen buses should be running too. TFL should put some more funding into electric cab incentives, to make the acquisition of an e-cab no longer more expensive than the old  Diesel models and create more charging points around the stations. There could be even new rules as to what cabs can pick up passengers at Kings Cross and St Pancras without surcharges, following the Heathrow model. Both stations, and in particular Kings Cross need also far more cycle-friendly infrastructure and facilities.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 23.26.28A cycle route is now complete West of St Pancras, and traffic further calmed and slowed down.  However, we are still waiting for the long-awaited changes to the Kings Cross gyratory system promised even before Sadiq Khan became mayor and reassured by him.


Many landlords still are slow on changes to heating and electrical challenges. You can probably count the solar panels here on the one hand. The council and related bodies must not make the fact that there are many period homes an obstacle to changes here. Only two years ago, one of the major social landlords in Kings Cross, Clarion, changed all gas boilers in the Kings Cross area. Although these are more efficient than their predecessors, they were yet again fossil fuel gas boilers.  Major landlords like them will have to rethink heating sources, consider centralised communal heating systems using new energy sources, installing solar energy panels and also providing safe parking spaces for bicycles, another matter so far not high on their priority list.

Councils like Camden alongside TFL will have to finally give way to reimagine space currently solely used for car parking. This is where more trees can be planted, community plots or flowering can occur and better and more inventive possibly underground local recycling points (Dutch model) could be installed, and cycle lanes constructed. Of course, some car parking needs to remain for people with disabilities and deliveries, and both of these must use the latest clean engines in their vehicles.

The funny things is, some of us imagined much of this 20-30 years ago. Some of us are now in our 50s and 60s. It says something about the generations of political and industrial leaders before us. One wonders if it had to be five minutes to midday for change to occur.

But let us not dwell on the past and change confidently and fast. Let Kings Cross be the centre of innovation and reimagination on green living and green economy. Not just the newly constructed North of Kings Cross, but also the older South of Kings Cross.


Posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Current Affairs, New | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Wait continues for Changes to the Kings Cross Gyratory

TFL says it needs more time and more consultations on Kings Cross.

It is not an unknown. In fact, most people in London will recognize Kings Cross as a manic place for traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. We at Kings Cross Environment have written in detail and repeatedly about the need for the gyratory system to go. See

After a consultation in 2015 by TfL, the third in 20 years, TfL suggested dramatic changes in 2016. It involved changing streets adding cycle lanes, adding crossings.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 23.25.29

Here are some of the further particulars of the report.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 23.30.08

see in fill

Of 1.042 respondents,

  • 81 % supported additional pedestrian crossings at various junctions
  • improvement to pedestrian experience and cycling rated as highest priorities
  • 70 % supported overall proposals
  • 63% supported some two-way streets and changing single lane streets
  • 63% supported the reduction of traffic an improvement of the environment
  • 67% supported new cycling facilities including counterflow lanes for bicycles

Last year, when I raised the matter, Islington Councilor Paul Convey, who keeps a close interest in this matter, believed that the process would begin this year, 2018. The only work that did however continue is further up South on Kings Cross Road, due to the construction of the Cycle Super Highway CS6.

As to the gyratory changes, Nigel Hardy, TfL’s Head of Programme Sponsorship, told Kings Cross Local Environment last week: “We continue to work closely with Camden and Islington Councils on our plans to promote healthy streets and make improvements for vulnerable road users at King’s Cross.” And further

The gyratory system runs through one of London’s busiest areas and construction work for our planned transformation needs careful coordination with a number of other significant schemes, including HS2. Work on the gyratory at Judd Street started this week and work at Midland Road is set to begin over the coming months, with further consultation and construction at other sections of the gyratory in 2019.”

In other words, brace yourself for more delays, in spite of some words we were given by the Mayor on London Sadiq Khan in 2016, that he would seek reassurances on implementation timetables:

“Transport for London (TfL) has been consulting on a redesign since 2011 and that they intend to consult on a high level proposal shortly and on final details in 2017. Sadiq understands there are frustrations around delays with the process and he will contact TfL to seek reassurances around the timetable and that local people are being properly consulted.”

This seems a long wait, maybe endless, for people in the area, not just those who live here, but the millions of pedestrians that go through that area. The traffic and pollution and obstruction are constant. Maybe there are also other reasons. Repeatedly one reads on TFL’s financial losses. Maybe there is simply no money in the chess drawer for new plans?

Example near Weston Rise. Still economy of car traffic over experience and safety of pedestrians?

When I recently asked, as I do from time to time, if a pedestrian crossing over Pentonville Road could be slightly improved by moving it a bit (at Weston Rise) to make this crossing at this very busy road an easier and safer pedestrian experience, I was right to be sceptical and wonder, if I should bother highlighting the issue at all.

The issue is but one small silly oversights of many. I had found through day-to-day observation over three years now (it is on my daughter’s way to school, which I frequent five days a week) that 90 per cent of Southbound pedestrians, amongst them many school children, did not use the push bottom operated crossing here at all, in spite of it being there. In other words, the local public condemned the crossing as totally not fit for its needs.

If you are interested in the partculars see the end of the article in (1). In any case, after highlighting the issue, I did receive a phone call from TFL An officer told me told that “traffic flow” was the all-important factor (so not pedestrian safety or experience), and even though my points were heard, nothing would change.

But TFL listened in the past (sometimes)

Over ten years ago, I informed TFL that at the beginning of Swinton Street (Eastern End) and Kings Cross Road, there was no traffic light crossing, making this spot on the fast running busy road very dangerous. After an accident, TFL finally decided to agree with me and be sensible and construct a traffic light there.


Acton Street – Kings Cross  Road

It is however only a push button operated traffic light, but still (see later for more on this point).

I had similar success even earlier with a change and improvements to the zebra crossings and lights on both sides of Acton Street

TFL improved this zebra crossing design on both ends, including the lights, because traffic frequently ignored it.

The crossing over at Pentonville Road and Rodney Street and Penton Rise was also a recent change, with some improvements (better, though not completely foolproof for cyclists). It required, however, more than my letters, but the needless death of Madeleine Rosie Wright, a female cyclist, who crashed with a lorry for that improvement to occur. Kings Cross Road – York Way junction was also redesigned, following the ferocious and spectacular crushing death of the St. Martins Art student Deep Lee.

So evidently TFL is not completely deaf to requests from well-informed locals, who know the streets best, though TFL seems to be more willing to listen and more in a hurry once the violent death of somebody confirms system flaunts. Sometimes the changes are however lacklustre, and they were so particularly under Boris Johnson’s mayoral regime. For example, the crossings at Swinton Street and Kings Cross Road (to Travelodge Hotel) are push-button only operated, even though traffic is always stopping at the junction between Penton Rise, Kings Cross Road. Pedestrian traffic lights at Swinton Street could be easy with these without holding up too many cars unnecessarily. One other simple change we are yet to see, and that was announced to be tested, is a 20 Miles Speed limit trial. So far this has only be implemented on the most Southern part of Kings Cross, leaving fast running one-way streets of Pentonville Road, Kings Cross Road and Swinton Street as racing tracks and potential death traps when the roads are emptier.

The many consultations are a testimony to TFL knowing that it has to act. Bit sometimes consultations can also be used to delay things, already known. One would hope for a rather sooner than later progression from the consultation stage to actual construction. This is particularly so, as I remember the very first consultation on Kings Cross traffic and the gyratory that I witnessed being around early 2000. 18 years have passed since, and the wait appears to be longer still, in spite of assurances. That is nearly two decades ago. Having to wait that long, is already too long.


(1) Weston Rise – Pentonville Road Crossing
50 meters or so westwards, a deviation for most who will try to catch any of

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 00.01.25

the buses somewhat Eastwards up the hill (Penton Rise Stop for 73, 214, 205, 30 -which until this day also has no LED display to show waiting times, another TFL initiative not sourced for Kings Cross here, and not only). Not only makes the crossing the way to the bus longer by some 150 meters,
but it also requires pedestrians to wait for over two phases (one for each side of the road), because each side is separately activated. So to get there you would have to walk some 40 meters Westwards. Then push the button. Then one must wait some 2 minutes or longer, then one walks across to the middle. Here one presses the next light. Another long wait. Then after crossing that stretch walk about 70 meter hill upwards to the bus stop, which can take sometimes five minutes extra. Trying to rush over Pentonville Road not using this crossing can take 20 seconds or your life. Not considering the later, the great majority of pedestrians crossing this dangerous road without using the traffic lights. Therefore the light is a). in the false place (pedestrians coming up from Kings Cross Road via Weston Street to attend to bus-stop Eastwards going Penton Rise Station ), b) and also takes ages to cross if used, due to a 2x need of pressing for each side of the street separately.
A crossing 250 meter up at Rodney Street – Pentonville Road – Penton Rise allows crossing in one go, and the traffic light is phased in a faster cycle after being triggered. The reason? It is cars that are waiting in Rodney Street, not pedestrians. Cars there trigger a movement sensitive traffic light and the wait is relatively short. Pedestrians likewise do not have to wait as long as at Weston Rise. It would be easy to connect those two traffic lights.


All I was asking to start with is moving the lights slightly Westly to go in line with Weston Rise, and if possible to get the phasing in line with Rodney Street – Pentonville Road. It required no big change, but a little bit shifting and logical linking up. This, in spite of clear intentions, at least in words, to wish to improve pedestrian experience in the area (or say safety).
On the other hand, waiting times and the two-phase system is similar to the junction between Kings Cross Road and Pentonville Road, further down. Here again, there are frequent pedestrian runs over the street during the red phase, because the waiting time for pedestrians is so long.
The pedestrian crossing at Caledonian Road with Pentonville Road may be the worst of all, and it is much worsened by the building works going on there. There is a huge need for a crossing on the Eastern flank of that junction.
And there is more. Pancras Road has become a new danger spot. In spite of being in front of the international station.
Posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, Gyratory consultation 2016, Kings Cross Station Refurbishment, New | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time for… Brand New Community Cafe / Centre opened on Pentonville Road



On your search for an Indie Cafe that truly supports the local community and can serve as a local hub for events of all sorts at Kings Cross, you may mostly not be lucky. Kings Cross has increasingly become contested territory.

Now a new cafe community-space is trying to fill the much-needed gap, trying to escape the “just for profit cause it is Kings Cross” tag.

Located at 116 Pentonville Road and running under the name, “Time for…”, the space is changing its guise several times a week. Tuesday to Thursday it is running as a Cafe in the daytime,  but at other times transforms into an Art Space, a Yoga, Pilates and Feldenkrais Exercise Venue, a Theatre, a  Drawing Class, an Open Jam stage, or into a gallery.

Time for…   is owned by a charity and largely run and staffed by volunteers that are part of the local community, though there are charges for professional classes.

time for… Cafe, Studio and Gallery Space, part of open-source charity Minomics, 116 Pentonville Street, London







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Checkpoint Cally to be set up at Kings Cross post Brexit

In a new jobs boost for Kings Cross the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, lately of this parish announced that Kings Cross would become a vital border checkpoint for crossings between Camden and Islington post Brexit.  This role, to be manned by a rotating staff of 100 heavily armed men and women will make up for the jobs lost at Eurostar when travelling to France becomes bureaucratically impossible in Summer 2019.

The Kings Cross gyratory will be de-risked by occupation with armoured vehicles, making moving traffic impossible.

Artist’s impression of York Way/Pentonville Road junction 2019

A TfL spokesman said ‘Oh no, not him again. But he may have a point it’s better than any plans we may have’

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London Wildlife Trust heroes at work again

Photo of the London Wildlife volunteers hard at work on the raised path above the canal, on the Islington side, at King's Cross.Thursday and the volunteers from London Wildlife Trust at Camley Street Natural Park were hard at work again.

They were looking after the rich mix of naturally set and cultivated plants on the towpath and the path above between Maiden Lane (York Way) bridge and the Islington Tunnel.

This important semi natural landscape is home to a wide variety of urban wildlife. To many, it doesn’t look as pretty as the fully cultivated planting the other side of the Maiden Lane (York Way) bridge, in the private estate of King’s Cross N1C. But to those of us who are fans of urban wildlife and the complex ecological setting it needs, the Islington stretch of the Regent’s Canal at King’s Cross is a vital lifeline and deserves the wonderful work regularly done by staff and volunteers at Camley Street.

If you’d like to help look after this beautiful and rare green space in Islington, contact the London Wildlife Trust.

PS, Daisy dog did all the work of course!!!

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Stop making our Postal Rail a tourist attraction and get back to it carrying mail!

The Royal Mail infrastructure of tunnels that connect East London Whitechapel with the Ventral London Mount Pleasant Postal Sorting Office and the West London Paddington Station and which was closed in 2003 will scandalously reopen in September 2017 as a Postal Museum tourist attraction called “Mail Ride” (see here).

The network once built by the taxpayers purse,  which was in operation for 76 years, between 1927 and 2003, was argued in 2003 to be too expensive to be continued to operate and repair. Royal Mail claimed it was five times more costly than transportation by trucks on roads. The Communications Union (CWU) countered at the time, however, that these costs were hyped up.

Royal Mail proceeded to move much of the post that went through the tunnels onto road based trucks which increased traffic on roads throughout the city.  A Greater London Authority (GLA) Study in 2013 noticed that this increase was equivalent to an extra 80 lorry journies per week on London roads, with a not insignificant environmental impact (dust particles and noise pollution)  See The Future of Rail Mail, GLA, April 2013.

At the time of the closure, Royal Mail faced losses of nearly 1/2 bn. Pounds (£484 Mio), which let, in the end, to the national service’s complete sale by the edict of thee Conservative government in 2015.

The closure of the Postal Rail was criticized however not only by the Communication Workers Union at the time but also by the Greater London Authority (GLA), the authority responsible for London’s main roads. The GLA opposed the closure, especially on the aforementioned environmental grounds.  They recommended that steps should be undertaken to make the line efficient again. Further, there was criticism by Steve Jones of the CWU that the line had been deliberately run down by Royal Mail and that

“We think we could very, very quickly move to a break even. If you start bringing new work into the business, you could probably make a profit.”

A secret investigation by a group calling itself the Consolidation Crew revealed in 2011 that the tracks and tunnels were all in relatively good shape. Whilst their exploration was from an urban sociological perspective, it suggested also that the network could easily be reopened if there was any will. See

In spite of intense discussions about the congestion on London’s roads and the pollution it caused, Royal Mail, now a private company, no longer felt it would be right to consider using the tunnel network and getting lorries off the road.

Instead, in an almost cynical move, part of the tunnels are now going to be used for museum tours,  costing £14.50 or £16.50 with a donation to normal paying adults, where visitors can have a ride on purpose-built trains along the old tracks. UK national media like the BBC and the Guardian have been invited for pre-opening tours, but their reports lacked any critique or awareness of the controversial history of the closure, focusing on but what the Postal Museum wanted to get out, namely “here is a history-themed “fun ride” ( See BBC Report and  Guardian Report).

The Kings Cross Community, which is part of the London population that had to tolerate the increase of 80 Royal Mail lorries per week alongside many other areas on already overloaded and congested roads, sees Royal Mail traffic through its roads as a problem. We have seen little signs of willingness or cooperation to change traffic from the Mount Pleasant Central sorting office to less polluting vehicles or electric vehicles for example or to offer any solutions to mitigate the environmental impact of their road-based transportation. They like to stay quiet and out of the discussions on this. Yet one partial solution was and continues to be right underneath the renovated postal office, an idea that worked, and was built by previous generations exactly at the time that London road congestion became an increasing problem.

It is rather hypocritical to state that the tunnels are not able to carry mail any longer, but are good enough for human transportation, in fact, that a purpose built locomotive and compartments that can carry people were ordered for the purpose, and that Royal Mail believes that it can advertise these rides, which can be pre-booked now for its opening in September 2017, without controversy or argument.  One poster doing so was seen at Kings Cross Underground station itself, an offence to all tube using local residents of Kings Cross when you consider that part of our mail could also take the tube, rather than the truck.

It is a scandal that it took this community blog to highlight the controversy and hypocrisy of the scheme and expose it for what it is: A shallow money-making enterprise on the backing of a proud and futuristic scheme erected once by the public purse by gone by generations for the greater good. In fact, it is a scheme that was way ahead of its time, and in the climate of trying to reduce congestion and polluting traffic it ought to be considered to be more than just the latest London tourist attraction to yield money from rides, but its operation restarted and in fact, the track network extended.

Post ed. Aug 2018. The revamped postal museum is doing well.  What would visitors and tourists care for? Above true expose has received but little attention, and now the museum is a finalist for the art fund as well. This is how it goes in the corporate world, where nobody is prepared to look too closely anymore! It is only Londoners who carry the impact of the added 80 lorries per week. One wonders if we were ever consulted on what we thought, nor does it seems were our elected representatives in the GLA, who at first had highlighted the issue, able to keep track of what happened.




Posted in Bad Gyrations KX Campaign, New, Noise, railwayslands, Transport | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hillview Festival

Hillview Love my Neighbour Festival 2017 poster.

Hillview Love my Neighbour Festival
Saturday 5th August 2017
2pm to 10pm

Live Music

Orquestra Estelar
Ash Walker
Bitter & Twisted
The Harmonic Cats
Nick & Jon from Midhope
Gwang Djembe Drummers


Escuela de Baile – flamenco
Ankhile Putt Punjab De – bangra

Children & Family

The October Gallery – art fun
Crescendo – music workshop
The British Library
Punch & Judy
Bouncy castle & circus skills

& so much more!

A fabulous day out for all the family.

Organised by Hillview Residents Association, with thanks to our volunteers & neighbourhood friends, our funders, Camden Council & The Frabcis Crick Institute.


Hillview Estate, Whidbourne Street, King’s Cross, WC1H 8HH.

Posted in Arts and Entertainment, Community groups, Community stuff, Food and Drink, Music, New, Noticeboard, Things to do | Tagged , | Leave a comment