Today, 29th January 2022 at 08:30am, the council’s contractors (MBS – phone: 07712 291 734) came to the estate to deliver bricks which they will put around the trees in the area that is located between The Marr and Goldthorpe.
Last July, it was agreed after many months of negotiations that this area will be improved with a selection of special plants in order to reduce the ASB (loitering, drugs, homelessness, etc). Curnock Street TRA has met council officials many times on site and the plans were finally agreed by Bronagh Todd, Jonathan Windsor and Lavinia Menicucci.
After many months on inactivity (July to November 2021) and countless emails, the council removed the original bricks on 22nd November 2021. The contractors reported that there is a concrete below the bricks which is NOT true. The council has used this as an excuse to ignore the residents and TRA’s suggestions to overcome the problem, refused to reply to emails and then paid someone again by wasting public money to put the new bricks back in place.
By putting those bricks back they directly encourage non residents to loiter in that area again and make the residents’ lives a misery.
Why does Camden Council support ASB (loitering, parties in private space, etc) by taking these actions?
What are Camden Council’s motives?
The works must have been deliberately scheduled for the weekend without informing anyone (Bronagh, Jonathan, TRA, Residents) because council knew very well that residents will not be able to contact any officers during the weekend. This was done with a clear intention to pre-emptive the residents and the elected representatives. If that was not done deliberately then there is only one explanation. There is no communication inside the council and its inefficiency with public money is a serious issue. Those contractors were paid weekend rates for those jobs!
At 12:46pm, the chairman of the TRA has spoken with the contractors (see video here) and found out that they have been instructed to install the bricks but they were reluctant to even say what they will do exactly even when the chairman had identified himself.
The council has deliberately ignored all the emails and the TRA’s suggestions BUT they managed to arrange for the contractors to come and do the job, order the bricks and schedule everything in a such convenient time so the residents will not have time to complaint. Even when we met Bronagh Todd last week there was not mentioned about today’s works even after we talked about it for 30 minutes.
Everything started in July 2021, Curnock Street TRA in conjunction with the council has agreed to strategically put some plants at the area between The Marr and Goldthorpe in order to reduce the Anti Social Behaviour inside the estate.
Since then, the works have been delayed for months and months until eventually the council placed the order for the plants a couple of weeks after the deadline for the planting season. Then the works started and stopped suddenly when the contractors claimed that they found concrete underneath the bricks. This as you can see from the photo above is not true.
Since then, the Curnock Street TRA and the residents have been trying to communicate with the council in order to find alternative options to complete the project but the council has ignored everyone.
We understand that the Curnock Street TRA has requested updates on the following dates without any response:
- 28th January 2022
- 26th January 2022
- 14th January 2022
- 04th January 2022
- 16th December 2021
The emails were sent to the following people:
- Lavinia Menicucci (Grounds Maintenance Monitoring Officer),
- Bronagh Todd (Neighbourhood Housing Officer),
- Jonathan Windsor (Neighbourhood Housing Manager),
- TRA Members
The chairman of the Curnock Street TRA has even met Bronagh Todd on the 17th January 2022 on the estate and they have discussed the alternative options which were suggested to all the above people on the 16th December 2021. See an extract from TRA’s email:
Based on Lavinia’s email below, could we try one of the following?
- From your photos, it seems that there is another layer of bricks and not concrete (see photos further up). Could we please removed those bricks so the planting can go ahead? If concrete, can we remove the concrete?
- Another option is to put the original bricks back in the same position but in a different way. For instance, by installing the external bricks (one layer only) in a diagonal way as shown on the attached photos (see below) we can prevent people from sitting on those areas.
- Another option is to make the external walls slightly higher, have bricks on a diagonal way on top (as above depends the height) and fill the middle with soil so we can put plants.
- Another option (for location 2 – se attached photo) is to remove the concrete as well as the dead tree and replace it with soil for the plants.
After speaking with many residents this weekend, I found that the opinions are consistent about the disrespectful way the council is treating us. Watch this space for further action.
On the same day some residents shown their feelings for the works: https://video.nest.com/clip/c9543b1ea459428f8e69095a1fef3033.mp4
We have been informed that Curnock Street TRA has sent the following email today:
Dear Mr Dave Warren,
Someone in the council has authorised some works between The Marr and Goldthorpe which are against all the discussions and works which our TRA have agreed with Jonathan, Bronagh and Lavinia.
The whole idea is to reduce the ASB in that area and stop non residents and youths from having parties there.
Our TRA has spent more than 12 months on this project and many hours trying to find a solution. We have even suggested five alternative ways to do the works based on council’s previous jobs in other locations (i.e. Georgiana Street and Royal College Street).
However, our emails left unanswered and no action was taken until this Saturday when the contractors arrived to do the repair job and reverse all the good work that was achieve until now.
I am asking you URGENTLY to stop those works so we reduce the waste of public money and talk with Jonathan, Lavinia and Bronagh about the plants that were agreed on our estate last July 2021.
I am looking forward to hear from you asap.
Chair – Curnock Street TRA
Curnock Street TRA has received the following email at 10:20am:
Further to your call I contacted Dave for an update on what was happening. I’m advised that there was unfortunately a bit of mis-communication and the bricks from the edge coping were removed as well. This is now being reinstated. We’re awaiting an update on the spiky plants from Lavinia.
London Borough of Camden
Telephone: 020 xxxxxxxx
3rd Floor – Rear Building
218 Eversholt Street
London NW1 1BD
Curnock Street TRA has replied with the following:
The depth of the area in between is too swallow for the plants. That was what Lavinia was talking about last November.
One of our suggestions was to increase the height of the wall by one or two layer of bricks and then put the bricks on the edge but not in the same way. See attached photo (Georgiana St and Royal College Street).
Nothing will grow on 1cm of soil. Please stop the works and let’s discuss the options.
Chair – Curnock Street TRA
Curnock Street TRA has received this email:
I have contacted the grounds maintenance contractors to check their availability to meet on site and undertake the planting in a different location of the estate.
Would you be able to meet on site tomorrow just so we can plant these shrubs waiting for a home, after that we can always order more plants suitable for the planters that don’t require a lot of soil to grow.
Hope this help
Grounds Maintenance Monitoring Officer
Curnock Street TRA’s reply was:
Thank you for your email.
I am free tomorrow for chatting BUT I do not agree with your suggestion to have alternative plants to the newly WRONGLY restored areas for many reasons:
1. The depth is too swallow. Any plants will either will not survive or will make it easy for dealers to hide drugs. See the other areas already there that do not have any works done and subsequently they do not have any effect whatsoever for reducing ASB.
2. People will still be able to sit down.
3. Drug dealers will still be able to hide drugs.
4. ASB was still be a huge problem.
5. More public money will be spent without any effect.
6. Curnock Street TRA will be accused for suggesting projects that do not have any effect and I cannot support something that I know that will be ineffective from the start.
Also the contractors did not touch most of the other affected areas so the whole proposal is taking us BACKWARDS.
I would suggest that we stick to the original plan that we know that will be effective and has approved by ALL of you.
So what we need to do is:
1. Remove the tiles and bricks on the areas that were agreed originally. See attached photo included the attached areas..
2. Plant what was agreed originally to those areas. All the areas.
Let’s reduce the ASB in the area and let’s do what we have agreed! Simple.
Chair – Curnock Street TRA
At 15:14 Curnock Street TRA has received the following email:
Thank you for your email and taking your time to list all the reasons why we should use the above location.
In that case I will be awaiting the go ahead once the bricks will be removed as the shrubs are currently stored.
Grounds Maintenance Monitoring Officer