Wednesday 21 November 2018

Railway Edgware Update - What is the point of Historic England if they can't even get a tarpaulin put on a roof?

The Railway in Edgware in happier days
Many locals have watched the slow, sad death of The Railway Hotel in Edgware with quiet dismay. Once this was the best pub in Edgware. It used to have an amazing carvery on the top floor, a favourite venue for family Sunday lunch and birthday parties. The very last family Sunday lunch out that I had with my Father was at The Railway Hotel in 1986. My brother even drove down from Bristol for the event. At the time, we didn't realise that we'd never sit down together again in the pub. I can remember my Dad with a huge plate of roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and roast spuds, saying "This place will never go bust" as he surveyed the huge queue for seconds and thirds. How wrong he was. I've no idea how the owners managed to cock up a business that people would drive from Bristol to use, but cock it up they did.

The pub has stood forlorn and empty for years. Two years ago there was a fire, as uncaring owners left the place to rot. This should have flagged up to the authorities that the listed building was at serious risk. It is no secret that listed buildings with uncaring owners often 'mysteriously' burn down. It is a convenient for developers when they have an unrepairable, burned out hulk. Of course the Barnet Eye would never ever believe that there was any complicity by said developers, as these fires are always found to have started completely accidentally, but it is extremely handy for the developers when this does happen.

One person who does care about what has been going on is Mark Amies, AKA Superfast72. Mark has been running a one man crusade to preserve The Railway and a string of other pubs, unloved by owners set on redevelopment. Mark has catalogued the decline of the Railway and has constantly been on the case to Historic England and Barnet council, merely asking that they enforce the law. Two weeks ago, The Railway Hotel had another fire (much to everyones surprise).

You would think that this would finally force Historic England and Barnet Council into action. Nothing could be further from the truth. This morning, Mark Amies posted a tweet showing that two weeks later, absolutely nothing has been done to protect the building.

This makes me pose a very simple question. If Historic England can't arrange for a tarpaulin to be put over the roof of a damaged grade two listed building, over two weeks after a fire, what on earth is the point of them? As for the Barnet Council enforcement and protection for listed buildings. They are a complete disgrace. I have a simple solution for the problems at Barnet. Employ Mark Amies as your protection officer for listed buildings. You only have to look at his twitter feed to see that he has the ideal CV. If someone like Mark had the responsibility for enforcing the law, then this sort of behaviour would stop. In May, the voters of Edgware elected three Conservative Councillors. The lack of even a tarpaulin over the roof tells the story of just how little they care.

****** Update 22/11/2018 ******
Yesterday afternoon, after much frenzied social media activity, Edgware ward councillor Sarah Wardle posted the following details on the Hale Ward Facebook page

Sarah Wardle Following the agreement of his Insurance Company, the leaseholder secured the fire-damaged roof at the rear of the building with a temporary cover on Wednesday 21st November. Subsequent repair works to the roof will start in the week commencing 26th November.
Sadly Sarah hadn't bothered to check that this was actually true. Mark Amies, who does bother to check things out posted this tweet this morning.

Sarah is a new councillor and unused to the ways things happen in Barnet. If she wants to make a success of her new career, she will have to learn very quickly that you have to do more than make a quick phonecall. You need to verify what you have been told, or you will end up looking very silly.

Sadly there is an assumption amongst some councillors that you never have to get your boots dirty to do the job. If you take that approach, you will end up in this situation.


1 comment:

Mark Amies said...

Thank you Roger. Your support on this has been amazing.