Monday 4 January 2010

Would you trust John Hart and the Hendon Conservatives to defend the green belt?

I've spent much of my life walking around Mill Hill. In my opinion it is one of the most beautiful parts of London and needs to be treasured and preserved. My son goes to school on the Ridgeway and is treated to spectacular views of London and the Totteridge Valley as part of his daily routine. How many children in London can be so lucky?  Much of this part of Mill Hill is within the Conservation area. This means that nothing which materially changes the views and scene of the area can be done without undergoing a rigorous process of planning permission. Even erecting a fence without permission will result in a visit from the Barnet planners. Mill Hill is lucky to have an exctremely active organisation called The Mill Hill Preservation Society which vigorously defends the Green Belt.

Until March this year, I believed that there was a consensus amongst all local political parties that the protection of the Green Belt was paramount. I believed that they all agreed that one of their highest priorities was to ensure that the green belt is safeguarded.

Then I saw this announcement on the Hendon Conservatives website (please click on the screenshot featured left for a readable version or click on the link).

This said the following :-

The officers of Hendon Conservative Association are responsible for the day to day management of the Association and are elected annually by members.

The following were elected at the Annual General Meeting held on 23 March 2009:

Janice Lavery - Chairman, Hugh Rayner - Deputy Chairman (Political), Andrew Reid - Deputy Chairman ( Fundraising & Membership) and Elliot Arwas - Treasurer.

 This announced that Andrew Reid, owner of Belmont Stables on the Ridgeway was appointed to be Deputy Chairman of the Hendon Conservative Association. It is fair to say that Mr Reid and the Mill Hill Preservation Society have not seen eye to eye over the issue of what constitutes acceptable "enhancement" of the green belt. Before Mr Reid owned Belmont Riding Stables, the image at the top of the page was an unrestricted view of the Totteridge valley. Now it is a view of the car park for Mr Reid's newly installed Zoo.

The view to the left is how it used to look before the Zoo was installed.  The grazing field that until recently had farm animals on, has been concreted over. A huge complex of buildings containing Owls and other birds of prey have been installed. Ugly steel fences security fences have been erected. All of this has happened since Mr Reid was elected as an officer of the Hendon Conservative Party. It amazes me that Barnet Council could possibly allow such a development on green belt land, designated for grazing.

 There are many aspects of the whole issue which require further investigation, but one thing is beyond all reasonable doubt. Mr Reid is well known in Mill Hill. John Hart has long been associated with the Mill Hill Preservation society. A leading Hendon Conservative personally assured me, in Mill Hill Broadway, less than three years ago, that he was a steadfast supporter  of the Green Belt. He told me that he would fight any development and passionately cared about conservation. You know what? I actually believed him. Here's another "view"which Barnet Council says is a protected view of the Green Belt, this is the after view. Mr Hart and  the Hendon Conservatives clearly believe that this is how the Green Belt should look, this is confirmed by their choice of officers for the Hendon Conservatives. I think it is awful.

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