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Finishing soon: The Spirals of Life final exhibition

Written by Cathy Taylor Published on . Posted in Art

The Spirals of Life final show of ceramic sculptures is now on in Broomfield Park conservatory. Most of the previous sculptures are back, with a few new ones (look out for the Venus baby-trap!).

spirals of life ceramic pitcher plant in broomfield conservatoryA ceramic sculpture of a pitcher plant hanging among real pitcher plants in Broomfield ConservatoryIn addition, the work from the two ceramics workshops are being displayed. (Participants can collect their work next month from 3rd to 24th July, during normal opening hours.) There are also a couple of lovely paintings of bromeliads by young guest artist Sienna Colletta, who called in at the conservatory one day when I was stewarding, to draw and paint.

SPIRALS OF LIFESpirals of Life is finishing - but may reappear in some form, sometime in the future...Thanks to all who have supported it, visited the show or joined in the workshops, with particular thanks to the conservatory volunteers who have created such an inspiring place for us all to enjoy.Some of the sculptures will be sold at the end of the show, and a third of the funds raised will go to the conservatory. If you may be interested in purchasing one of the sculptures, please email Cathy at .

To see the final Spirals of Life show visit Broomfield Conservatory between 2.30 and 4.30 on a Wednesday or Sunday before the end of June.  Some of the exhibits may still be there for a while afterwards, depending on how quickly they are collected by their creators.

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Time to say "Go away, Govia"?

Written by Basil Clarke Published on . Posted in Public Transport

Many readers will have noticed that there has been no noticeable reduction in the number of train cancellations on Great Northern.  They mostly occur at weekends (when the service is nominally only half-hourly in the first place) and during school holidays, reflecting the fact the fact that the chronic shortage of drivers continues.  Punctuality also continues to be extremely poor.

logosGovia Thameslink Railway, the company behind Great Northern, is a joint venture between the Go Ahead group and Keolis.  Its problems are by no means confined to Great Northern.  It seems that Thameslink services are equally bad, while services under the Southern branding are in disarray because of driver shortages and appalling industrial relations.  

On top of that, Govia's plans to close many ticket offices and instead use "station hosts" encountered much opposition.  Govia has now agreed to revise its proposals and to run pilot schemes;  some ticket offices will be retained and opened during the morning peak (it's unclear whether they will include Palmers Green) and there have been reassurances about the range of tickets that will be available either from station hosts or from machines at the stations.

The driver shortage can't be entirely blamed on Govia - it was inherited from First Capital Connect and there are suggestions that drivers trained at Govia's expense are being "poached" by other train operators.  However, Govia was aware of this problem when it took on the contract.  I think it is by now clear that Govia has not proved able to fulfil its contract.  Indeed, I read this week that the Department for Transport has agreed to relax some franchise agreement stipulations affecting services south of the Thames to make life easier for Govia.  (So much for the theory that privatising public services transfers the risk to the contractor - the people at risk are the travelling public and the taxpayers!)

Which makes it particulary infuriating to learn that Go Ahead's CEO, David Brown, has been awarded a pay package amounting to nearly £2.2 million.  His pay, including "salary, bonuses and incentives", reportedly increased by ten per cent.  The three worst rated rail franchises in the UK are all run by Go Ahead, whose boss is thus being paid extra money for failure.

I think it's high time that these franchises were taken out of Govia's hands and taken over by the Department for Transport, which operated the East Coast Main Line very successfully between 2009 and 2015.  As I said before, I don't think that the company is entirely to blame.  And clearly, new drivers will not materialise out of thin air and cancellations will undoubtedly be a regular feature for many months to come whoever is running the service.  But I do think it's offensive to both passengers and taxpayers that profits should be going to Go Ahead's management, board and shareholders when the company is clearly failing to run a satisfactory service.


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Telling tales about restoring a pond to health and keeping people healthy

Published on . Posted in Parks & Open Space

pond in conway recreation groundA wildlife haven in Conway RecThe latest mini-film produced by Palmers Green Tales tells the story of how the pond in the recreation ground off Conway Road was restored by the Friends of Conway Rec.  Following some repair work carried out by the council, the pond had become simply a barren stretch of water.  The film describes the ingenious techniques used by the Friends to restore it to its former role as a wildlife haven.

An annual visitor is a female mallard, who hatches a brood of chicks, which she then walks down the road to Broomfield Park.  So if you're in Aldermans Hill and you see her and her little ones trying to cross the road, it will be your opportunity to play lollipop lady or lollipop man!

tai chi in broomfield parkSally Golding leads a Tai Chi class in Broomfield ParkThe previous Palmers Green Tales film was also made in a park - Broomfield Park - where Sally Golding runs a weekly outdoors Tai Chi session.  Sally tells the story of why and how she took up this oriental martial art and started teaching it to others.

For these and other fascinating films about our locality, visit

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Knights clash in the Oak Garden after witnessing a death that was prefigured

Published on . Posted in News

Last Sunday more than 40 spectators witnessed the sudden death of a young man under the boughs of the Minchenden Oak after hearing about a mysterious premonition of his untimely end.

medieval knights in the minchenden oak gardenMedieval knights in the Minchenden Oak Garden actors in minchenden oak gardenActors near the Minchenden Oak performing a play by Alex WoolfFollowing this the people gathered in the Oak Garden watched a fight between two knights wearing full medieval armour, with a detailed explanation of how the armour was manufactured and how it protects the combatants.

The visitors seated in the Garden were there at the invitation of Southgate District Civic Trust, the Southgate Green Association, the Friends of Minchenden Oak Garden and several more local groups and companies involved in the first ever  Southgate Civic Week.

The young man's death was played out by actors performing a short play written by local children's author Alex Woolf (who you may remember from the Palmers Scream Book of Spooky Stories).  The knights in armour belong to Historia Normannis, a group that takes a very serious approach to reenacting the lives and deaths of people in 12th century England.



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The Lamb Festival - change to programme for 18th June

Published on . Posted in News

Change to Programme: Saturday 18th June, 7.30pm.
This evening the Mary Lamb Lecture was to have been given by our MP, Kate Osamor.
Kate was a friend of the MP Jo Cox who was murdered on Thursday, and quite understandably is unable to join us this evening.
In place of the lecture, a local actor will be giving a reading of the essay which inspired our annual lecture, Mary Lamb's 'On Needlework'. You can read an excellent article about the importance of the essay here:
We will begin this evening's event with two minutes silence as a mark of respect for Jo Cox, and for her family and friends.
All the best,
Festival Organiser.

lamb festival june 2016

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Depth of North Mid A&E crisis revealed

Written by Basil Clarke Published on . Posted in Health Services

north middlesex hospital by night

An article in the Guardian has revealed that there is a serious risk that the Accident & Emergency Department at the North Middlesex Hospital may be forced to close in the near future because an acute shortage of doctors means that it is unable to provide a sufficient level of patient safety.

North Mid has one of the busiest A&E departments in the country, treating up to 500 cases per day.

Though it has been clear for some time that there were serious problems with the North Mid's A&E, their gravity was kept under wraps until yesterday's Guardian article, based on confidential documents that were leaked to the newspaper.

Earlier this month the Care Quality Commission issued an ultimatum to the hospital to bring its A&E services up to an acceptable level by August.  A press release referred to "delays in the initial assessment of patients, in their assessment by a doctor and in moving them to specialist wards and that there were insufficient middle grade doctors and consultants".  In response, the hospital admitted that "we currently have only seven out of 15 emergency department consultants in post and seven out of 13 middle grade emergency doctors. It’s a strain on our A&E team and it’s making waiting times for some patients unacceptably long.  We have undertaken extensive recruitment exercises and despite our best efforts have, so far, been unable to fill all the posts."

The Guardian article reveals that the General Medical Council and Health Education England have stated that the shortage of consultants means that junior doctors are not receiving adequate training and are having to undertake work for which they are not fully qualified.  The two bodies have said that as a consequence they may have to remove all 26 junior doctors from the A&E department, forcing it to close.  Managers of the Royal Free, University College and Barts hospital trusts have reportedly warned that such a closure would have catastrophic effects.

Sources and further information

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Posted: 15 Jun 2016 20:39 by Basil Clarke #2159
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How has this situation come about?

Different commentators have laid the blame at different people's doors.

MPs Joan Ryan and David Lammy have linked the crisis at the North Mid to the controversial closure of Chase Farm's A&E department in 2013. However, at the time compensatory changes to capacity were made at Barnet Hospital and the North Mid and the North Mid's A&E was performing adequately up until September 2015. In my view, the Chase Farm closure may have been a factor, but is unlikely to be the main cause.

The Care Quality Commission's press release (issued on 6 June) is phrased in such a way as to suggest that the blame lies with the North Mid's management and that they just need to bang a few heads together to fix the problems. There is no hint that there may have been any external factors outside the hospital's control that might have led to the crisis.

In his statement issued today, David Burrowes MP, while acknowledging that Enfield is not receiving a fair share of the London health budget, also seems to place some of the blame on the hospital's management. He says that the hospital is "failing in its duty of care towards [its doctors and nurses] and to the public" and says that the NHS has a "duty of care to my constituents".

Judging from the BBC's report on today's Prime Minister's Question Time, David Cameron seems positively relaxed about the situation and this afternoon boasted about what his governments have done to help the North Mid: "If we look at what has happened since 2010, there are 120 more doctors, there are 280 more nurses recruited by the trust. The health secretary will continue to monitor this closely."

In my view, all the above assessments fail to notice the elephant in the room: the chaotic situation caused by the coalition government's total and continuing re/dis-organisation of the NHS and the current government's failure to fund the health service adequately. These are the main reasons for the crisis, and they have been exacerbated by the movement of poorer people out of central London into Enfield and the huge increases in the cost of buying or renting a home in north London. Both of these latter problems are also consequences of government policy. To suggest that the hospital bears the main responsibilities for its problems is, in my opinion, a case of victim blaming. While I agree with David Burrowes that the NHS has a duty of care to his constituents, it can only exercise it if it has the resources to do so - I also believe that the government is failing in its duty of care to the NHS.
Posted: 16 Jun 2016 17:32 by Peter SMITH #2160
Peter Smith's Avatar
I am a volunteer at the NMUH and have been for about 15 years in was called the Patients Representative Forum, now called the Eye & Ears, unfortunately closing the Chase farm A&E has not helped and problem with Whipps Cross as well, Barnet has the same problem as NMUH, lack of Money is a big factor, unfortunately the A&E when built under the new PFI building was not built with any expansion capacity, and I don't care how many doctors or nurses you throw at it will continue to have problems, its called capacity, if any thing it will get worse, as this government has deemed we must build more houses in Enfield and Hornsey but no plans to add the facilities to cope with it, plus we have a migrant population the in their own country normally go to a hospital with medical problems not a local doctor, unfortunately the last bit of property at the NMUH site that would allow expansion the Trust board has because it is strapped for cash decided to sell to a firm that want to convert it into a school, so the CQC want to get its act together and help not hinder, our MPs are not a lot of help all wind and no blow.
Posted: 18 Jun 2016 20:01 by PGC Webmaster #2161
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The following statement has been published on the Enfield Council website:

Here is the text of a statement regarding North Middlesex Hospital that was endorsed by Enfield Council's Cabinet last night.

Statement to Cabinet from Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care:
As Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care I wish to comment on the recent worrying media coverage about ongoing concerns at North Middlesex Hospital.

Following the publication of the CQC warning notice, The Leader and I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health – Jeremy Hunt to express our very significant concerns regarding the challenges that North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust are facing and seek his personal intervention to ensure that all support and resources are made available to bring an immediate and sustainable solution to this situation.

The North Middlesex A&E is one of the busiest Emergency Departments in London and serves a very deprived area with significant health needs in the local population. The Trust has been under considerable strain not least as a result of a lack of emergency department Consultants, resulting in performance and quality issues. North Middlesex University NHS Trust has been given until 26 August 2016 by CQC to make the improvements.

The Council has continually engaged with North Middlesex University NHS Trust, NHS commissioners, regulators and neighbouring trusts to encourage a whole system response that ensures the support required to the Hospital is provided. A Programme Oversight Group has been established by the NHS to take forward the required support to the Trust at which the London Borough of Enfield will be represented.

I have no doubt the issues with North Middlesex University NHS Trust are compounded by the financial underfunding of Enfield CCG, which has to find an additional £7 million in savings on top of £14 million already planned this year, which is in addition to an underlying £49 million structural deficit. This must be an impediment to supporting North Middlesex University NHS Trust and I will continue to raise this issue with the NHS.

Finally, we must not forget that when Chase Farm Hospital lost it’s A&E, local people were repeatedly assured that there would be a safer and better service available to them, like me they will be gravely concerned to hear such worrying reports about the service on the North Middlesex site. On their behalf we will continue to do all we can to support the hard working front line staff at North Middlesex Hospital and to press the Secretary of State to ensure that he makes sure local NHS services have the resources and support they need to provide local people with safe, high quality services in the emergency department at North Middlesex Hospital and beyond.

Cllr Alev Cazimoglu
15 June 2016
Posted: 22 Jun 2016 22:44 by Basil Clarke #2168
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A new report in the Guardian provides yet more alarming details of the crisis at the North Mid, based on a leaked internal NHS report:

North Middlesex A&E staff describe unit as unsafe and unsupported

By contrast, Healthwatch Enfield's website has this rather bland statement:
The past week has seen considerable national media coverage of problems at the A&E department of North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust. Have you got experience of accessing services at “North Mid”? At Healthwatch Enfield, we are always keen to hear about your experiences, positive and negative, so why not get in touch?

You can contact us by email at or by phone on 020 8373 6283.

One hopeful development is that Barts Hospital is looking into the possibility of sharing A&E doctors with the North Mid. However, the Barts spokesman who mentioned this is also quoted as referring to "the national shortage of senior A&E doctors" - an indication that the crisis at the North Mid isn't simply caused by poor local management (which is what the Care Quality Commission has implied) so much as reflecting the dire situation in the NHS at national level. While it's true that there are allegations of a "bullying culture" in the way the hospital is managed, my guess is that this is because the hospital's managers are themselves being subjected to bullying, albeit of a more subtle nature, from above. This is what happens when unfair and unremitting pressure is applied from above and is passed down the management chain.

Writing in this week's Enfield Gazette, Bill Linton of Enfield Green Party alleges that as a consequence of government policy "breakdowns within the NHS are not only inevitable - they are intentional". His contention is that "the NHS has for years been starved of funds, partly because that's all part of austerity and partly so that in due course Mr Osborne (or his successor) can say, 'Oh look, it's not working - better privatise it". And he concludes that "It is North Mid's bad luck to be one of the first dominoes to fall".

Evidence that the situation at the North Mid is not an isolated case came this week in a statement by the Royal College of Nursing. Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “Having once been the preserve of the worst weeks of winter, overwhelming pressure and major incidents have sadly become the new normal in our hospitals."

Whether or not you buy into Mr Linton's argument that the NHS is being deliberately run down, it is certainly the case that the NHS was in a far healthier condition when Messrs Cameron and Osborne took over than it is now. Six years of budget cuts, continuous reorganisation and criticism of health service employees have taken their toll.

In my view, the fact that such an important hospital in one of the wealthiest cities anywhere in the world has reached such an existential crisis is a national scandal and the government needs to sort it out urgently. It makes me very angry, and scared too of the consequences of an accident or serious illness.
Posted: 23 Jun 2016 10:50 by diana bradford #2169
Diana Bradford's Avatar
Excuses Excuses.

I lived in this area in the 1970's / 80's and no one wanted to go nowhere near the North Mid . The reputation was that you were lucky to come out alive. My father died there 8 years ago , before I could get him moved , and to this day I have no idea why he died. The wards were filthy and I had to clean up my fathers room which had blood all over the surfaces.
It seems to be the same story for all hospitals in Enfield and it is and always has been down to bad management.
So blame the migrants all you like but they were not an issue in the 80's and you still had a problem . Shame on you
Posted: 24 Jun 2016 16:18 by Donald Smith #2175
Donald Smith's Avatar
The contribution from Peter Smith reads
the new PFI building was not built with any expansion capacity,

There seems to be some misunderstanding as that the A & E under the original PFI was intentionally built with "excess bed capacity"
so that the treatment area would not need to be "touched" at a later date. In the most recent works by the transfer of the A & E from Chase Farm it was only the additional beds that were to be added under what I will described as Phase 2. [For more information contact the project manager ]

The Commissioner of services at NMUH is Haringey CCG under the guidance of commissioner Jill Shattock. Currently each week Jill Shattock (haringey CCG)., Aimee Fairburns (enfield CCG) under take a teleconference with stakeholders. It seems strange to me that it was only recently a root cause analysis identified that patients were being discharged "too late" in the day and that by transferring patients to a zero overnight stay ward beds would be released from the acute accommodation and from the A & E treatment area. By releassing patients by lunchtime there would be improved bed utilisation

Both Barnet, and Enfield JHOSC representatives claimed that Delayed Transfers of Care (DTOC) were not being caused by lack of their respective care package provision.

Those who wish to follow through, should be at the Annual Meeting of NMUH to be held at the hospital on 30th June 2016 from 11:45 to 14:00. It would be helpful if advance questions can be e-mailed to the Board Secretary Molly Clark, .

Those wishing any special buffet food (such as gluten free) should contact Diana Mohair

In the most recent NHS England statistics in the public domain the number of A & E attendances actually declined as performance worsened

Firs Farm Wetlands Festival - Photographic Competition

Published on . Posted in Parks & Open Space

firs farm photographic competition

Inspired by the wonderful wetlands in Firs Farm?

If you’ve never entered a photographic competition before this is an ideal opportunity to start.

The competition will take place as part of the Firs Farm Wetlands Launch Festival on 16th July 2016.

So come on, get out and capture your Wetlands inspiration.

Categories? Only Two: Age 15 and over / Under 15

Entry Date?  All entries must be submitted by Saturday 9th July 2016

Theme?  “Firs Farm Wetlands.

Subject? The photo must be taken at the Firs Farm Wetlands but can be of any subject
Wildlife – Portrait – Fashion shoot – Still life – Landscape

For full details visit

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Become a Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador

Published on . Posted in Charities and Volunteering

big friendly read smalllogo

We have opportunities to volunteer in most of our libraries for the Summer Reading Challenge, a national event which takes place each year encouraging primary school aged children to read six books throughout the summer holidays. The more volunteers we have in libraries, the more children we can inspire to complete the challenge, and we think that the volunteer experience we can provide would be extremely useful- especially to anyone who wishes to apply to university or work with children in the future.

Volunteer over the summer to learn new skills, have fun and have something great to put on your CV. The Summer Reading Challenge returns for 2016 and we're looking for volunteers aged 14 or over to help children to read during the summer holidays. If you can commit to a minimum of 21 hours from Saturday 16 July to Saturday 3 September, we want to hear from you.

As a volunteer you will help library staff:

  • Join children to the Summer Reading Challenge.
  • Talk to children (mainly aged 4-11) about their books.
  • Hand out stickers and rewards.

Closing date for application is 6th July 2016.

Role description: Summer Reading Challenge Ambassador

For more information phone or text Gemma on 07507 659914 or have a look at

Mia MacKinnon
Literacy and Learning Officer
London Borough of Enfield

Tel: 020 8379 8370 Fax: 020 8379 8331
Alternative contact number: 020 8379 8393
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Have your GP questions answered and opinions heard!

Published on . Posted in Health Services

my gp june 2016Do you have questions about GPs in your local area? Want to give us some feedback on your local practice?

Healthwatch Enfield will be holding a twitter Question and Answer session next Friday on GPs in Enfield. Staff will be on hand to answer any questions you have about GPs in your local area and to listen to your feedback.

To take part simply tweet using the hashtag #myGP on Friday 17th June between 11.30am and 2pm.

Our twitter feed is @HealthwatchEnf.

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Discussion: Who Builds Community?

Published on . Posted in Planning & Development

The following meeting, part of the London Festival of Architecture 2016, will take place at Kings Place (near Kings Cross).

Wednesday, 22 June 2016 - 7:00pm / Hall One
Online Price: £9.50

Tom Copley, Labour London Assembly Member (Chair)
Richard Upton, U+I
Dick Van Gameren, Mecanoo
Ian Morrison, The Architectural Heritage Fund
Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute
Pam Warhurst, British community leader, activist and environment worker

The London Festival of Architecture is partnering with Kings Place and the Landscape Institute to curate an evening discussion titled ‘Who Builds Community?’ on Wednesday 22 June. The LFA’s theme this year is ‘community’ and we’re developing this event as part of the core programme to address this theme. The event seeks to answer questions such as whether we can create communities – or is it something that happens organically? If yes, whose responsibility is it to create communities? How do they create them?

London has considered itself a city of villages. Many neighbourhoods are defined by a heart which was indeed once the centre of a preexisting village or town swallowed up by the Victorian metropolis and metro land sprawl. A wave of post-war development changed the city again creating new typologies and creating alternatives to traditional streets. Throughout all of these changes communities have grown and evolved.

Now we face new challenges. The population is increasing, a lot of housing stock is no longer affordable and services and infrastructure are under enormous pressure. In response to these challenges London is going through a period of rapid growth and entire neighbourhoods are being reconfigured.

In all of this who is responsible for building communities? Indeed, can community be built? Is it an intangible fragile concept or is it the inevitable consequence of people living and working in close proximity? How do we balance the needs of an existing community with those moving in? And how do we define a community, those who live or work or play in a particular area?

Organised by LFA in Partnership with Kings Place and The Landscape Institute

Book tickets  | 

Tags:   Planning
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