Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Mill Hill News - Etz Chaim School tank traps removed

The Barnet Eye is pleased to report that the unsightly concrete block tank traps, which had been put in front of the former Wyevale Garden Centre, have been removed. Shortly after this blog posted pictures of the tank traps, a school representative got in touch to say that they agreed that the traps were unsightly and were having them removed ASAP. I stated at the time that I'd keep you informed of progress. This happened some time last week. Interestingly I've recently been told by friends of the Action group that they are "supremely confident" that the Daws Lane site will not now be used as a School and will be reverting to a Garden Centre with a community function. I've also been told by a friend of the School that they are confident they will be able to open next September.

There have been plenty of comments on various news stories from sympathisers of the School recently, saying various disparaging things about the Mill Hill Action Group fighting the school. I really don't think some of these comments have helped and have hardened the determination of the Action group to carry on the battle.

I was emailed with a list of innacurracies in these comments.

1. The Garden Centre was "just a shop". The Action Group correctly state that there was a Cafe on site  and this was the focus of community activities, although it was a commercial venture.

2. It was inevitable that the Garden Centre would close down and the site be used for other activities. This claim cannot be supported. It may have changed hands at some point, but there is no hard evidence to support the claim that it was not trading profitably.

3. The Action Group have mislead people, because they were campaigning "for the Garden Centre" not against the school. The campaign state that their goal is to get a Garden Centre reinstated on the site, with a community Cafe. They never claimed the Garden Centre had to be operated by any particular chain.

4. The current legal challenge is based on the fact that Barnet Council did not follow due legal process and is directed at Barnet Council. It is incorrect to state that it is a challenge to the School itself.

This blog takes a broadly neutral standpoint on this issue. The above points have been published at the request of a member of the action group, in response to comments left in the press. The School are welcome to respond to these points.


Jez2010 said...

I'm afraid that the opponents of the school (or supporters of the garden centre - if you prefer) are deluding themselves if they believe that the garden centre will reopen. This is no more likely than it becoming a lido again. The centre has closed and the site sold.

I also think that they overstate their case by painting the cafe as the centre of community life. Yes, it was nice, but can you really say that a cafe in a commercially run garden centre offers greater community benefit than a not-for-profit school?

It is also clear that the garden centre wasn't profitable - if it was making money why would the owners have sold? Having been there regularly myself, you could see it wasn't trading well.

None of this means that the school shouldn't have to address the reasonable concerns of local residents and the follow the proper planning process, but a bit more honesty and realism on the the part of the objectors wouldn't go amiss.

Zoe said...

The Action group support the school so much that they have spent an incredible amount of time reviewing ALTERNATIVE SITES to develop their school. In fact the Governors and Trustees have undertaken no steps personally to look elsewhere and indicate they are merely relying on others. If the trustees and governors decide that they wish to continue to pursue this site then that is their decision and theirs alone. One of the residents who attended a recent meeting pointed out that the school should add to the community amenities not replace them. I have read the Barnet Council Committee papers, which refers to what happens to the site should the school not go ahead. Have you? We have found a very easy solution which will resolve all of the issues surrounding the Daws Lane site. What has been bought can in fact be sold. The Department of Education will want back some of the £3million of taxpayers money they have given away to a private company receiving nothing so far, in exchange save for a site that can’t yet be developed as a school. That is a risk of your and my money. I am sure that there will be more than one offer to purchase the lease and under the landlords and tenants act 1954 Barnet cannot reasonably refuse a transfer of lease to another operation who wish to open a Garden Centre. It is not the community’s fault that the school ignored our warnings of successful Judicial Review. Indeed, why are they wasting more public money by continuing to pursue a site that the court is about to rule should belong to the community? The question isn’t why should anyone oppose the school, but why should anyone wish to ruin the lives of almost 1,000 elderly and disabled people. Shame on you. You may not think it ruins their lives, but they do. What makes you so sure you are correct and they should be ignored? Do you always ignore the elderly and disabled, because you appear to support a group that don’t care? It is not the Jewish way to ignore the disadvantaged in Society.

B.Coleman said...

I had in interesting conversation on Sunday outside the site, with one of the school supporters ( Thank you Annie) and we discussed the tank traps.
She pointed out to me that any Jewish school has an increased level of security and that within the plans the classrooms are away from the outside walls and some forms of concrete barriers will need to be placed outside the building. When I asked about NO PARKING ...she stated like Mill Hill shul there would be an enforced car free zone. She was amazed that I found the need for such security and quoted a colour coded level, which apparently means the threat level has now increased. If this is so? does Barnet council know? what about the childrens playground?.
I agree with other posters that much "BS" is spread around this school...but, the security of everyone not just the pupils and teachers might need to be addressed.

Jez2010 said...

Zoe - I think your comments rather prove one of the points I made above. Do you really think that the new school will "ruin the lives of almost 1,000 elderly and disabled people"?

If the school did decide to give up and walk away, how would that improve the lives of these people?

Let's have a bit more honesty and realism rather than these wild claims.

Zoe said...


The answer is that there are potential buyers who could buy the site and re-build an improved Garden centre with an enhanced use for the elderly and disabled. Also, it is not my opinion or yours that counts as to whether we think it would ruin the lives of 1,000 elderly and disabled. Don’t be sure as to think your opinion matters. What matters is what they think! Almost 1,000 have clearly stated in writing that it will ruin their lives and my son is one of them. So please think and listen to others. If you stop blogging and start listening, you may actually realise that we can have both a great school and a great Garden Centre if only the school will listen to reason and move to any of the multitude of other sites we have found for them. Note: we have found alternative sites. If you are so concerned, what have you done to assist?