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Minchenden Oak Garden rededication

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Conservation

The completion of work to restore and refurbish the Minchenden Oak Garden was celebrated on Sunday when the Bishop of London presided at a Redication Ceremony.

minchenden oak rededication 1The Bishop of London and Rev. Hazel Miall listen to the Children's Voices of Enfield under the boughs of the Minchenden OakOver a hundred people attended the ceremony, at which the Rt Revd & Rt Hon.Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA rededicated and blessed the garden.  An oak sapling grown from a Minchenden acorn was planted by the Representative Deputy Lieutenant of Enfield, Mrs Ann Cable MBE Dl, and Her Worship the Deputy Mayor of Enfield, Cllr Bernadette Lappage.

Music was provided by the Children's Voices of Enfield.  Members of the children's choir and of 6th Enfield Cub Scouts scattered wildflower seeds below the trees as part of the replanting works.

The garden, in Waterfall Road and adjacent to Christ Church Southgate Green, has as its focus the 800-year-old Minchenden Oak, a remnant of the oak woods that formerly covered the area.  The Oak's future was secured in 2013 when judicious tree surgery work was carried out.  Timber from some of the branches that were removed at that time has been used in the refurbishment of the Garden.

Refurbishment of the Garden has been carried out by the Friends of the Minchenden Oak Garden in conjunction with Enfield Council and has restored it to its original status as a tranquil green garden for contemplation and remembrance.

The works in the garden have been funded from the Enfield Residents Priority Fund and include a new paved ramped access, relaid pathways, a restored gateway entrance, new boundary fencing, new oak seating, new history and information lecterns and new underplanting.

The Garden formed part of the ancient Minchenden Estate, which was owned by the Duke of Chandos.  The rededication ceremony was held on the day that Christ Church celebrated the 400th anniversary of the Weld Chapel, the forerunner of the current Victorian church.

minchenden oak rededication new saplingThe sapling, grown from a Minchenden acorn minchenden oak rededication cub scoutsThe Bishop and Rev. Miall with local cub scouts

Information and photographs supplied by Chris Horner, Chairman of the Southgate Green Association and Secretary of the Friends of the Minchenden Oak Gardenhenden Oak Garden.

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Introducing the Lamb Festival 2015

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Last year over 600 people visited All Saints, Edmonton, for a glorious week of poetry, music, theatre and a wide range of other events. They were there for the Lamb Festival, an arts festival celebrating the lives and legacies of Charles and Mary Lamb, and the success of that first festival left us in no doubt that there should be a second (and hopefully a third, a fourth, a…).

The Lamb Festival 2015 will be held from Saturday 6th to Friday 12th June, and once again we’ve got a rich and varied programme of events to enjoy. Given that Charles and Mary Lamb’s most enduring literary legacy is their ‘Tales from Shakespeare’ for children, we thought it would be appropriate to launch the Festival with a children’s art fair on the Saturday: this will be an opportunity for children, young people (and I daresay the young at heart!) to enjoy hands on experiences of a range of different arts and crafts. This event is being generously supported by our friends at Art Start, Iconic Arts, Zinfinity and (probably) others. Also, as part of the launch event, we’ll be announcing the short-listed entries in the essay and photography competitions.

Our very good friend Joe Studman is coming back to lead not one but two walks on the theme, ‘Discover Edmonton’. His walk last year was hugely over-subscribed, and once again Joe will be highlighting some of the area’s rich literary history. Speaking of matters literary, I’m delighted that we will have two illustrated talks on themes relating to the Lambs this year. On the Monday evening we will be welcoming the author and ‘literary explorer’ Ann Morgan, and on the Wednesday evening we will have the Charles Lamb Society lecture, this year being given by Dr Felicity James of the University of Leicester. We’re also very much looking forward to welcoming back our friends at Carers UK for a poetry evening on the Thursday evening.

Musically, we have a wide range of fare on offer. At the Service of Thanksgiving on the Sunday afternoon, we will be welcoming the choir of Latymer All Saints Primary School. On Tuesday night the church will be resounding to the music of the North London Brass, and former All Saints’ organist Peter Smith will be returning for a lunchtime recital on the Wednesday of the Festival.

As with last year, all events will be offered free of any admission charge. This was one of the few aspects of the Festival to attract much criticism last year. However, it remains a central, and perhaps distinctive, part of the ethos of The Lamb Festival that it is there to offer people the opportunity to engage with and hopefully enjoy arts which they might never have considered ‘trying’ before. There is always the opportunity for people to make a donation, and I’m pleased to say that the bar turned a healthy profit last year!

Stuart Owen
Festival Organiser

lamb festival poster june 2015

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Flower power in Broomfield Conservatory

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Parks & Open Space

EpiphyllumPhotographs of two beautiful plants that are flowering now in Broomfield Conservatory.

On the left, an Epiphyllum.

Below, a Gloriosa Vine.

The Conservatory is open on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2.30 to 4.30pm.  (Please note, it will not be open on 3rd and 10th June because of work to install the former toilet railings from the Triangle.)

Iqbal from the Friends of Broomfield Park's Conservatory Group comments:  "Gloriosa superba is the national flower of Zimbabwe (where it is a protected plant). A diamond brooch in the shape of the flame lily was a gift from Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia, later Rhodesia) to Queen Elizabeth II on a visit in 1947 while she was still the crown princess.

"It is also the state flower of Tamil Nadu state in India, and is the national flower of Tamil Eelam, and as such was displayed during Maaveerar Day."


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New WEA course: John Singer Sargent

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WEA Enfield & Southgate start a new course next month  with the title John Singer Sargent 1856-1925:  Lovely Ladies, Lyrical Landscapes and War.

  • Course aims: To give a broad picture of the work of John Singer Sargent and people in his circle.  To develop a more discriminating appreciation of the differing roles of painters like Sargent, from the private portraits to the public propaganda pictures, from the light-hearted family scenes to the portrayal of literary figures.
  • Course description:   John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was the greatest portrait painter of his generation.  Learn about his many acquaintances such as Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet and Robert Louis Stevenson.  Gain a critical appreciation of his stunning works of art.
  • Course content: what topics will the course cover?  The life and works of Sargent and his many friends, acquaintances and rivals in the art world.  The course will follow his life through Italy, Florence, Paris, London, USA and Spain, showing much of his huge output of dazzling paintings. It will include examples of all his subjects from the wealthy socialites to the wounded soldiers in the trenches.

The course will be held at the Beaumont Home in Southgate from 10am to 1215 once a week starting on 2nd June.  The course fees are £53.35.  Fuller information is available on the WEA website.

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Your chance to question the Mayor of London

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in News

This year's State of London Debate will be held at the O2 in Greenwich on 23rd June.

his event happens just once a year and follows the publication of the Mayor's Annual Report.  It's the biggest live platform for Londoners to let the Mayor know exactly what they think.  Topics up for discussion include:

  • Transport and environment
  • Housing
  • Policing and community saftety
  • Growing London's economy
  • Education

Entry is free but tickets will probably go fast.

More details on the website.

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Chickenshed offering free training in theatrical skills for young people

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Theatre and Cinema

Young Creators

Between 14 and 25? Want to get hands-on experience in a working theatre? Then Young Creators could be for you - it's free.

Young Creators is a professional development programme which offers young people vocational training and practical work experience in a variety of theatre skills.

Course options: creative musicianship & vocal development | music technology, programming & recording | stage lighting | writing & devising | devising & performing | directing | choreography & dance | costume & wardrobe | children's theatre direction | youth theatre direction

We are now accepting applications for 2015/16 in-take, courses start in September 2015.

Find out more by contacting
Belinda McGuirk, Young Creators Programme Manager:
  | 020 8216 2755

For more details and to download an application form,visit

Tags:   Theatre
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Model will help public form a view about the future of Broomfield House

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Broomfield House Restoration

Efforts are continuing to obtain the funds needed to restore Broomfield House.  In preparation for a probable public consultation exercise later in the year, a model of the house dating from 1951 (the model, that is - the house is rather older!) is to go on show.  It is hoped that a Conservation Management Plan for the whole of Broomfield Park, currently in development, will enable the Broomfield House Trust and Enfield Council to make a second, successful, bid for Heritage Lottery Fund support.

Below, Colin Younger of the Broomfield House Trust, provides an update.  For more detail, see the Restoring Broomfield House website.

Broomfield House Update

The Broomfield House Trustees have reached agreement with the Enfield Museum Service on the repair and refurbishment of a model of Broomfield House as it was before it came in to the ownership of the Southgate Urban District Council in 1903. The model was made in 1951 by a local resident, Geoffrey Dyer. It was on show in Broomfield House, but since the fire in 1984 it has been in store, during which time it has deteriorated a little and needs some TLC. The repairs and refurbishment will be carried out by another local resident, Ralph Hutchings. Among other things the model helps illustrate better than simple line drawings how the outward form of the House developed over its long existence.

broomfield house model 2broomfield house model 1


Later this summer, subject to the agreement of the Broomfield House Partnership Board, consultants employed by Enfield Council will carry out a public consultation programme on the future of Broomfield House and Stableyard. Partly to help inform the exercise the Trustees are looking for a variety of suitable local display sites where the model, together with explanatory material, will be seen by as many residents as possible.

This is all in the wider context of a Conservation Management Plan for the whole of Broomfield Park, now nearing completion, which will provide the strategic plan needed to give a framework to investment, essential for Lottery funding purposes. Following completion of the CMP, work will commence in earnest on developing an Options Appraisal. The Trustees and Friends of Broomfield Park who sit in the Partnership Board (which is chaired by Palmers Green Councillor Bambos Charalambous) will continue to press to maximise community use of the House and Stableyard.

Colin Younger
The Broomfield House Trust


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Local government body says more funding reductions "not an option"

Written by Basil Clarke on . Posted in Council Services

In a letter published in last weekend's Observer, the Chairman of the Local Government Association makes a strong plea for the government to suspend its programme of reductions in funding of local government.  Councillor David Sparks writes that "Local authorities have made £20bn savings since 2010 following reductions in government funding of 40%. Councils have worked hard to shield residents from the impact. However, efficiencies cannot be remade or buildings resold. Further local government funding reductions over the next five years is not an option."  He adds that the government "must consider the consequences that further cuts ... will have on the services that bind our communities and protect the most vulnerable."

Labour-run councils have, of course, been making similar points for the past five years.  But the Local Government Association represents 375 councils, the majority of which are now Conservative-controlled and hence disinclined to criticise the new government unless they have particularly good reason.

Enfield is one of the areas where Coalition-government funding reductions were particularly harsh.  Most of us will not personally have felt the effects of reductions in staffing levels or of services to the disabled and other disadvantaged people.  However, cuts are now becoming more evident.  Some of them relate to relatively small amounts of money, but perhaps are being made with the deliberate intention of making it clear to people so far unaffected that services cost money - I'm thinking of the suspension of the Enfield Residents' Priority Fund, the plan to leave parks unlocked at night, and the decision not to contribute towards the cost of Open House 2015.

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Vote now to help North London Samaritans reopen the "Tin Tabernacle"

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Charities and Volunteering

We've written before about how North London Samaritans would like to restore the "Tin Tabernacle" at Bowes Park and use it to run their live-saving services.  Now the insurance company Aviva has included it in the Aviva Community Fund.  You can register with the Community Fund and will be given ten votes to distribute as you choose between the 3000+ projects.

tin tabernacle bowes parkDepending on how many votes it collects, the Shaftesbury Hall Refurbishment Project (to use its official title) could receive up to £25,000 from the Fund.

Supporting the Samaritans is clearly a good thing - and in this case you get preservation of local heritage thrown in too.  So get registered and vote for the Tin Tabernacle!


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Fixed-odd betting terminals: An open letter to David Burrowes MP

Written by Basil Clarke on . Posted in Planning & Development

After reading a couple of newspaper articles suggesting that the new Culture Secretary might wish to relax the regulations concerning Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals in betting shops, I today sent him the following open letter.

Dear Mr Burrowes,

Could I start by congratulating you on your success in last week's election.

I'm writing to you in response to recent newspaper reports which suggest that the newly appointed Culture Secretary, John Whittingdale, might wish to bring in legislation relaxing the limits on the number of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) that are allowed in betting shops.  The journalists are basing their reports on remarks made by Mr Whittingdale on various occasions since 2012, during the time when he was chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

I'm aware that you have a record of opposing the proliferation of betting shops in your constituency, so I am hopeful that you will agree with me that regulations controlling FOBTs should not be relaxed, but rather should be tightened, and preferably these pernicious machines should be banned entirely, as they serve no legitimate purposes.  The other forms of gambling that take place in betting shops are by comparison harmless.  But FOBTs are designed deliberately to bring on addictive behaviour and to lead vulnerable people into temptation.  The financial and psychological effects of spending so much time gambling and losing money that they cannot afford obviously has severe negative effects not just on the gamblers, but also on their families and the wider community.

There is copious evidence about the disastrous effects of these machines, and I'm sure you will have read some of it already.  A ready source of information is at . 

As one of your constituents, I am asking you to discuss this issue with your parliamentary colleagues, with a view to building up some strong opposition to any relaxation and preferably to reducing the number of or completely outlawing these machines, and making these views known to the prime minister.

I am writing this in the form of an Open Letter, to be published on the Palmers Green Community website (  I am doing so because I am sure that many more of your constituents will agree with what I say and would like to know what your views on the subject are and whether you will take action.  For this reason I intend to post your reply on the same website.

Yours sincerely,

Basil Clarke
Palmers Green

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Posted: 19 May 2015 15:59 by Basil Clarke #1223
Basil Clarke's Avatar
I've now received the following reply to my open letter:

Mr Clarke

Thank you for your congratulations. I do indeed have a record of opposing the proliferation of betting shops and the negative impact of FOBTS. I was pleased that in the last Parliament additional planning powers were provided for Councils to control new applications for betting shops, information was required to be displayed during use of FOBTs and tax was increased on gaming machines.

I would be very concerned about a relaxation of regulations in relation to FOBTs. However I think it is worth not just relying on the new Culture Secretary's comments in 2012, when he was in a very different position on the Select Committee, but asking him or his Minister directly whether there any plans in relation to FOBTs. I will do this and let you know his response.

Best wishes


I regard this as only partially adequate. He has undertaken to speak to the Culture Secretary to ask about plans regarding FOBTs, but he has not responded to my request to talk to other MPs about the FOBT problem or given any indication whether he would like to see them banned.

If other readers support the idea of banning these dreadful machines, could I suggest that you write to David Burrowes or your MP is you live in another constituency?
Posted: 20 May 2015 22:32 by Andrew Nix #1224
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Mr Burrowes has a habit of saying one thing to his constituents and then voting in Parliament in a contradictory way.


On 17 May 2011:
David Burrowes voted against making specific planning permission be required for betting shops rather than allowing any premises with permission for use for financial and professional services to become a betting shop.

On 4 Dec 2013:
David Burrowes voted to increase the stake, and prize, limits for certain categories of gambling machine.

On 8 Jan 2014:
David Burrowes voted against giving local councils powers to prevent the proliferation of fixed odds betting terminals and betting shops

On 8 Jan 2014:
David Burrowes voted against giving local government more powers to regulate betting shops and fixed odds betting terminals.

So I wouldn't expect him to do anything about this.


Andrew Nix

Green Dragon campaigners deliver open letter

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Conservation

The Save the Green Dragon Campaign is reporting that its demonstration outside the Civic Centre on Wednesday went well - they estimate that about 150 protesters turned out.  They were able to deliver an open letter (see below) to the new Mayor, Councillor Patricia Ekechi, and to the many councillors who were there to witness her induction into office. Two local MPs were among the supporters - David Burrowes (Enfield Southgate) and Joan Ryan (Enfield North).  As a result of their campaigning, the main campaign organisers, Mike and Sharon McClean, were invited to a meeting with Enfield's Chief Executive this afternoon (Thursday).

A report in today's Enfield Independent quotes the pub's owners, Green Lanes Investments, as stating that they are negotiating with Waitrose about the conversion of the building into a Little Waitrose store, which they claim will bring economic benefits.  Mike McClean, however, is cautioning local residents not to be taken in by the company's propaganda:  "If you do find yourself getting dizzy at the prospect of some fancy shopping on your doorstep, please keep the following thoughts in mind:  The developers via their PR company have told us whatever they think we want to hear throughout this process, whilst quietly doing whatever they like."

The Green Dragon IS an asset of community value


Open Letter to Mayor Patricia Ekechi and the elected Councillors of Enfield

The Save The Green Dragon campaign group and supporters have gathered at the Civic Centre today because we urgently need our voices to be heard regarding the recent rejection of the Asset of Community Value nomination for the Green Dragon, by decision makers in Enfield Council.

Enfield Council has stated that it is committed to involving the local community in local planning, yet has ignored the massive support that our campaign has received. The Save The Green Dragon petition has collected nearly 4.500 signatures, has had the cross-party unanimous support of Enfield councillors; businesses & residents in the immediate vicinity of the pub, local MPs and even Mayor of London. Boris Johnson.

The Green Dragon site is an important local landmark, with a 300 year history (and the current building is 125 years old). It has for generations been the centre of the local community, used for weddings and functions, and by a wide range of local groups and sports clubs - that is, until it was taken over by the Orchid Group. The company's lack of investment in, and poor management of the Green Dragon was the reason for the Dragon's recent dilapidated state and poor turnover.

We strongly disagree with the Councils decision - we feel it is clear that the Green Dragon Pub IS an Asset of Community Value, as demonstrated by the overwhelming support of this campaign to save it. The purpose of the legislation is to protect in situations such as this and we remain unconvinced that a pop up shop within a magnificent pub building such as this prevents it from ever being a pub again!

To our new Mayor and our elected Councillors, we ask you to respect the wishes of the local community that you serve, and support us in seeking to ensure that:-

  1. The ACV processes in relation to this application are reviewed with Enfield Councillors and Council officers to ensure that application of the Localism Act 2011 in this decision was consistent with the aims of the legislation, existing precedent and all applicable levels of policy. We believe the legislation provides ample scope for Enfield Council to offer ACV protection for the Green Dragon. We refer you to Public Houses: How Councils and Communities Can Save Pubs (Published by CAMRA and LGIU, the Local Democracy Think Tank)
  2. There is a full and transparent investigation undertaken as to whether the Green Dragon is realistically viable as a pub. This has NOT been done to date. We cannot rely on the assertions of the people who stand to profit from the development of this site to provide this information. The Public House Viability Test sets cut best practice guidance to be applied both in Government Planning and local planning authorities in determining the issue of 'Viability".
  3. That the new (as yet unregistered) owners of the Green Dragon, Green Lanes Investments (who have no connection with the local area) are encouraged to be open and honest with the community regarding their current and future intentions with regard to this site.

In reality. if we CAN achieve ACV status, there ARE companies who are in touch with our campaign who would consider providing the sizeable investment required to bring the Dragon back to its former glory as a pub, and it would also trigger a right to bid as a community to run it. The granting of ACV status is critical in allowing Enfield planning officers the opportunity to intervene on the community's behalf in any future planning application brought forward for the site. It offers the opportunity to consider whether a 300 year old local tradtion should be allowed to continue, and it is an opportunity for the Green Dragon to draw in the crowds and flourish, once more, in the heart of Green Lanes, Winchmore Hill.

With best regards
Sharon & Mike McClean
on behalf of the Save the Green Dragon Campaign



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Ruth Winston Centre - watch the video!

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Charities and Volunteering

Ruth Winston Centre logoOne of the most notable institutions in Palmers Green is the Ruth Winston Centre.  In essence, it's a club for older people, but not the kind of club where you sit round dozing in armchairs reading copies of The Times.  Quite the reverse - it's a place where people do things.  The aim is to help people remain active, maintain mobility, and live a full life by providing opportunities to make and meet friends, learn a new skill or hobby, keep fit, have lunch in a convivial atmosphere, and much more more.

Despite being the oldest organisation of its type in the whole of England, Ruth Winston is bang up to date.  Its latest video is now on YouTube, shot this spring and produced by Martin Cass.  Have a watch and, if you're over 50 think about joining, or if you're younger about volunteering or fundraising.

For more information, visit the Ruth Winston Centre website.

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Green Dragon campaigners fight on

Written by Basil Clarke on . Posted in Conservation

The Save the Green Dragon Campaign is urging concerned members of the public to take part in a demonstration at 6pm on Wednesday, set to coincide with the signing in of a new Mayor of Enfield. 

Support for the campaign has been expressed by, among others, the Mayor of London.

save the green dragon demoPublication of correspondence between local councillors and a PR company has increased suspicions that the current and former owners have deliberately acted with a view to developing the site for housing or mixed housing/retail use and have not made any serious attempt to keep it in use as a pub.  However, no evidence has yet been produced to support allegations that the Council's refusal of Asset of Community Value status was a "stitch up" or that the Council's Planning Department is "in favour of development".

Tree clearance work on the Green Dragon site began last week, raising concerns that the owners are planning to bring in heavy demolition or construction equipment.

The demonstration

The demonstration will be held outside the Civic Centre in Silver Street, Enfield Town, between 6 and 7 pm on Wednesday 13th May - a time when most local councillors, key officers and local press will be present to witness the signing in of a new Mayor.

The organisers, Mike and Sharon McClean, are calling for a "family-friendly" demonstration, stating that "bad language will not be tolerated. Noise however is welcome - IN FACT: If anyone has a megaphone out there we'd love to hear from you!"

The Councillor and the PR company

As is evident from their Facebook page, the Save the Green Dragon Campaign has been doing some detective work about the background to the closure of the Green Dragon.  They have had some invaluable assistance from local councillors, notably Chase Ward Councillor Nick Dines.

Of particular interest is a post comprising email exchanges beween Nick Dines and Mark Allison, representing a public relations company with, under the circumstances, a most inappropriate name - Your Shout (you need to be a pub-goer to understand why this is inappropriate).  Subject to some tough questioning by Nick Dines, Allison's line of argument is clearly shown to be disingenuous and he repeatedly fails to answer some key questions.

In early April Allison was claiming that the Green Dragon had gone into liquidation and that at the time it was being actively marketed for sale as a pub.  In fact it was its then owners, Orchid Pubs and Restaurants, who were in administration, not the pub.  Orchid had a record of failing to invest properly in its properties, which subsequently had reverted to their previous owner, the large "PubCo" Enterprise Inns.

Allison further claimed that the new owners, Green Lanes investments, were only a small company.  Nick Dines pointed out that in order to buy the Green Dragon GLI must be in effect a front company for a bigger operator, since the pub's sale value in 2011 was £24 million.

Dines and the campaigners strongly suspect that the real owner of the Green Dragon is PPR Investments, a large company specialising in "pub conversion and development projects" and with a track record of closing and converting well loved pubs.  The same is true of the former owner Enterprise Inns, who are considered to be notorious for closing popular pubs, even when they are thriving businesses.

The weakness of Allison's arguments is typified by his laughable assertion that the building is now occupied by an "established homewares retailer", who they hope will "contribute to the vibrancy of the shopping centre".   The current distinctly downmarket shop is, in fact, clearly an interim arrangement, installed in a hurry in order to ensure that the pub was officially converted to retail use before new legislation protecting pubs came into effect in April.

Allison repeatedly failed to answer questions about who was behind GLI investments and whether there were plans to convert the first floor and above to residential use.

The PR man with a track record

Detective work has further uncovered the fact that Mark Allison is not just a PR consultant, but also Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance of Merton Council, who were investigated in 2011 over whether they broke planning rules in a £2.3 million deal to sell off a community pub to a housing developer. This pub was the Morden Tavern and was owned by Enterprise Inns.

The Facebook material strongly suggests that the Green Dragon could, given the right management, have been sold as a pub and continued in business.   Indeed, there was even someone trying to lease the pub via the Facebook page!  There are no other pubs anywhere along the road to Enfield Town and the area in between has thousands of households.

Was the Council's decision justified?

In my opinion, without knowing more details of the application, to what extent it did or did not satisfy the relevant criteria and how it was handled by Council officers, it is impossible to form a judgement on its correctness - though this view is not shared by everyone.  However, it does appear that Council officers can be criticised for failing to contact the applicants to ask them for further information which might have helped their case and to inform them about the line being taken by the owners.

A prominent supporter of the campaign is Boris Johnson, bur it is unclear whether he is properly informed about the case and is not just using it to boost his own popularity and that of the Conservative Party - in any case, he bears no reponsibility and has nothing to lose, unlike Enfield Council.

I'm more inclined to take note of the view of the Chairman of the North London Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), who says that "The regulations make clear that assets should be registered if the asset has furthered the social interests of the community in the recent past and it's realistic to consider it could do so again within the next five years. Temporary use of the pub as a "shop" in no way precludes the possibility of it reopening it as a pub. Even if the change of use was legal, it could be changed back again."  CAMRA is the leading body that seeks to protect pubs and has considerable expertise in this area.

Regardless of the minutiae of the law on community assets, at root the problem is that we live in a country where businesses regard their sole purpose as maximisation of profit.  This has not always been the case.  Many of our famous companies and industries were in the past run not just for the sake of management and shareholders, but also with a view to benefiting employees, customers and the community in general.  Unfortunately, there is no sign that such an attitude will ever return.

Author's note

This article is based mainly on information on the Save the Green Dragon Campaign's Facebook page and is my summary and interpretation of much longer source material.  I recommend reading the Facebook posts in full.  The two most important threads are here and here.


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Posted: 14 May 2015 09:33 by Garry Humphreys #1207
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There were probably between 80-100 people at the demonstration outside the Civic Centre, including David Burrowes and (eventually) Joan Ryan, with Mike McClean as ringmaster. All pretty good-natured and (thankfully) with no signs of Rentamob. I'm not sure how many councillors actually passed through the demonstration into the main entrance - most of the recipients appeared to be guests of the new Mayor, and they seemed rather bemused by what was going on. However, some councillors did come outside to talk to us, including our own Bambos Charalambous, and it is clear that most if not all are on our side, so the problem is not with Elected Members as with staff in the Planning[?] Department.

Mike McClean is going to a meeting at the Civic Centre today, and will make the point that this is part of the wider issue of Enfield Council's attitude to the area's heritage and to important buildings, and to reiterate that developers seldom know anything at all about the areas in which they plan to operate. 'Communities, not developers' was one of the more constructive chants to be heard last evening!

All very worthwhile, but it remains to be seen what can be done. However, if it makes Enfield Council more aware of 'communities' rather than 'developers', that will be something.

My own little 'banner' said 'Be proud of Enfield's heritage!' - which shouldn't need to be said to local councillors but, I fear, is all too necessary given past history.

Enfield Thinks - about all sorts of things

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in News

enfield thinksThe free classes and lectures in the Enfield Thinks programme continue to deal with a very wide range of subject matter.  Among the subjects coming in the near future are:

  • local history
  • local railway history
  • running a small business
  • the housing crisis in Enfield and across London
  • holiday destinations
  • the politics of happiness
  • first aid
  • arboriculture
  • human rights in Russia and Ukraine
  • science and engineering..

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Meet My Choir: Children's International Voices of Enfield

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Music

childrens international voices of enfield

Children's International Voices of Enfield were one of the choirs featured on Radio 3's The Choir programme on 28th April.  You can listen to a clip of the choir in action along with commentary from singers Tom, Joe and Genevieve.

Made up of six choirs with members from the ages of 4 to 18, they have been running for twenty years. You can hear extracts of two pieces composed by their patron, John Rutter.

The Children's Voices are currently rehearsing for a concert at Palmers Green United Reformed Church at 3pm on Sunday 12th July, which will be part of the 2nd Enfield Music Festival.

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The "Palmers Scream": local people come together in response

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in News

In response to the message of the mysterious "Palmers Scream" manuscript, a group of local authors have teamed up with an illustrator to launch an initiative aimed at releasing "joyful creativity" in local people, whether adults or schoolchildren. To support their goal they have produced a book, organised collaborations with schools, businesses and other local groups, and set up a special website.

palmers scream book coverThe cover of the book being distributed to childrenDefeating an ancient Terror

The origin of the scroll that was discovered in the former Town Hall  remains a mystery and its contents raise all sorts of questions. However, the group members have decided to rise to the challenge laid down in the manuscript - to bring joy and merriment to the area as a means of helping defeat an ancient Terror.

The first results of the group's collaboration is a paperback book of spooky stories about Palmers Green that will be distributed free to up to a thousand children spread across five local council wards.

Releasing joyful creativity

It is hoped that children - and adults - will use the book as a prompt to spread joy and merriment, explore more about their locality and release their own joyful creativity, in areas such as writing, drawing, drama and other creative disciplines.

The group has already been in touch with several local schools, where two of the local writers, Alex Woolf and Martin Jenkins, will be working with children to help them with literacy skills. Also involved are London Play, who will provide Play Starters to help support selected Play Street schemes in and around Palmers Green.

Rich Driffield of London Play says that "Working with children on play streets through the spooky stories book is an ideal vehicle to use our experience in facilitating playful fun".

Local businesses keen to play a part

Writers, production and publishing professionals have lent their skills for free to produce the book, while the cost of printing has been covered by two local businesses, Winkworth and Bennett & Walden.

Mark Brinkley, manager of Bennett & Walden Estate Agents said, "While we compete with Winkworth for business, we are united in looking for the best for Palmers Green and the surrounding area. My office overlooks Broomfield Park, the alleged resting place of the ancient Terror, so I hope as many people as possible get involved, have fun, and in doing so help make this a better, safer place to live, visit and work."

Nick Charalambous, Director of Winkworth Palmers Green, supported the sentiment, adding that he couldn't decide if having an ancient Terror was positive for house prices but he was definitely planning to look on the bright side.

palmers scream handbillAccording to the Palmers Scream website, this handbill was found with the manuscriptHarnessing and developing creative energy

Another local organisation that will be involved is Chickenshed Theatre, who this year celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

Madeline Cross, Community Development Manager says "The manuscript sets quite a challenge, but here at Chickenshed we are committed to celebrating diversity and inspiring social change through bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds. Our inclusive approach is unique in harnessing and developing the creative energy of people who might never normally meet, much less have the opportunity to work together." Madeline adds, "That seemed to us a good place to start when faced with such an issue. We're very much looking forward to assisting on this journey."

The "Palmers Scream" website

A new website -  - will help disseminate new findings about the scroll as they emerge. At the moment the website has the full transcribed text of the scroll, the photographs that have already been published elsewhere, and a short introduction. The team behind the website are also planning to make available a downloadable version of the book of spooky stories.

The whole community can play a part

The group is also issuing an appeal to "all members of the local community who are interested in having fun and working towards a bright future". People can help "ensure that any ancient Terror can never again build a foothold in this world" by creating their own stories or illustrations or acting out their own piece of drama in response to the manuscript.

Anyone who does create something of their own is asked to inform the team at or via Facebook or Twitter - accounts using the name Palmers Scream have been set up on both social media.

Useful links

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A sad loss in Broomfield Park

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Parks & Open Space

If you're a regular visitor to Broomfield Park, you're probably familiar with the pair of Egyptian Geese that were frequently seen there.  Sad to say, there is now only one of these good-looking birds.

Egyptian geese in Broomfield Park February 2013Egyptian geese in Broomfield Park during February 2013The death of one of the Egyptian Geese was noted by Derek Honnor of the Friends of Broomfield Park.  Derek posts a monthly report on bird sightings in the Park, which you can find on noticeboards and also on the Friends of Broomfield Park website.

In the April report Derek reports the loss of the Egyptian Goose, and also of seven mallard ducklings:

Whereas I report the birds coming and going with the seasons the highlights this month are of loss.

For some years a pair of Egyptian Geese have regularly visited the park, two inseparable birds who would seek me out to take food from hand. Then, mid-month one was found injured. Taken into care it was found to have been attacked by a dog and died from its injuries. What do I think of that? Well I think it was very sad at what happened and I would like to see more prominent notices asking dog owners take more responsibility by keeping their pets on a lead when in the area of the ponds.

The second incident was nature's own. On the 15th seven tiny Mallard ducklings were seen on the small lake, but were gone, presumably predated, by the 18th. Since when there have been no other ducklings on the lakes, but the two main predator species, a Grey Heron and several Lesser Black-Backed Gulls have been visiting.

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Sewing workshops at Studio 306 starting soon

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in News

Sewing workshops for beginners run by the not-for-profit organisation Studio 306 Collective will start on 14th May and run weekly until 16th July.  You will need to attend a minimum of five weeks.

sewing workshops poster


 Sewing Workshops at Studio 306
Beginners Course

You will learn to...
Thread the sewing machine
Experiment with different stitch patterns and sew straight seams
Choose and cut out fabric
Follow a template or pattern
Use a rotary cutter
Over locking
Insert a zip
Patchwork and quilting
Clean and maintain the sewing machine

At the end of the course you will have completed a cushion cover, tote bag and/or apron.

If you wish to continue further, you will be able to make a patchwork quilet, various soft furnishings, handbags and revamp your wardrobe!

Cost £30 a week for a minimum of 5 weeks - this includes all materials

To secure your place we require a £50 non-refundable deposit

Starting 14th May from 5pm to 8pm. Running until 16th July

To enrol call 020 8365 8477 or email .

Studio 306, based in the Chocolate Factory in Wood Green, has the aim of empowering disadvantaged local individuals. It offers a creative space for people who are recovering from mental illness, where they can rediscover forgotten skills, develop new ones and boost their confidence.

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Do you have the potential to transform a child's life for the better?

Written by PGC Webmaster on . Posted in Charities and Volunteering

chance uk

Positive people from the local community needed - could you spare two to four hours a week for a year to help turn a child's life round?

This is the question that Chance UK is posing.  By becoming a Chance UK mentor you would be helping inspire a primary school child with behavioural difficulties, who otherwise when a little older might find themself drawn into anti-social or criminal activity.

And the benefits are not all one-way.  The work can be tremendously personally rewarding for the mentors too.

Chance UK sets out its objectives as follows:

  • Introduce more safety and stability into children’s lives
  • Directly address the difficulties experienced by each child and family
  • Channel children’s energy into projects that give a sense of personal achievement
  • Nurture children’s self-worth
  • Reduce the isolation children and families may be experiencing
  • Support children to find the motivation and life skills to move forward positively.

Academic research, based on before and after Strengths and Difficulties questionnaires, has proven that Chance UK's approach is highly effective.

What would I do?

  • You would meet with a child aged between 5-11 years for two to four hours, once a week, for one year.
  • You’d spend time planning each weekly mentoring session, write a short report on it afterwards, and attend a supervision once a month at Chance UK. There is a small monthly mentoring budget that you can claim back.
  • You’d receive comprehensive mentor training, work within a structured and proven programme, and be managed and supported throughout your mentoring year.

Our next training rounds:  Enfield & Waltham Forest / Hackney & Islington

  • Saturdays 9th, 16th, 23rd May 2015 (Finsbury Park office)
  • Saturdays 27th June, 4th, 11th July 2015 (Finsbury Park office)

If you have any questions about the application process at any stage, please call Christine on 0207 281 5858 x227.

 For more information visit


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Double blow for local heritage lovers

Written by Basil Clarke on . Posted in Conservation

People concerned about the future of two local landmarks received a double blow this week, when Enfield Council notified campaigners that they had refused applications to register the Green Dragon in Winchmore Hill and the former university campus and mansion in Trent Park as Assets of Community Value (ACVs).

The campaigners had received wide support from both the general public and councillors from both parties for their efforts to return the Green Dragon to its former use as a pub and to retain public access to the historic mansion and its grounds.

A statement on the Council website says that the decisions were made by appropriate Council Officers based on strict criteria:  "Councillors play no part in this decision-making process and the strict criteria by which the decisions have to be made is set out in Government legislation which local authorities must abide by."

Using the Green Dragon in the interest of the local community "not realistic"

green dragonIn the case of the Green Dragon, the evaluation panel concluded that the application did not meet one of the key criteria laid down by the relevant national legislation: "Step D" of the nomination process requires evidence of "Realism of Future Usage", but according to the Panel "it is not realistic to think that within the next five years there could be non-ancillary use of the building that would further the social well-being or interest of the local community".

The crucial point appears to be the Evaluation Panel's conclusion that the building was lawfully converted into a retail unit before the ACV application was submitted and is thus no longer a pub.  Additionally, the Panel seem to have taken at face value the assertion by the new owners that pub use is "no longer viable".

Mike McClean, who set up the Save the Green Dragon campaign, rejects both of these arguments.  In particular, he states that the application for ACV status was submitted a week before the Green Dragon reopened as a shop and that he believes that the changes that have been made to the interior are not so drastic as to make it difficult to change the building back to its original purpose.

Mr McClean is also angry that Council officers did not give the campaigners any opportunity to counter the claims made by the property developers.

Although it is not possible to appeal against an ACV nomination decision, Mr McClean says that councillors are looking into using a process called Councillor Call for Action, which involves elected councillors, as opposed to the officers employed by the Council who have run the process up to now.

Rumours that the Green Dragon has been sold to Aldi have been denied by the property firm which owns it, Green Lanes Investments, who told the local press that they are "a long way down the line in discussions to bring in a high-end retailer".

Trent Park's heritage value "not a consideration"

trent park mansionThe former university campus in Trent Park was actually the subject of two applications for ACV status, from the Friends of Trent Country Park and from the local parish church, Christchurch Cockfosters.  The evaluation panel seems to have given both short shrift.  They argue that any recreational use of the campus was ancillary to its primary educational use.  Both applicants were anxious to protect heritage value, but under the legislation this is not a valid consideration.

Could the Council have done otherwise?

Some supporters of the two campaigns, not least Conservative candidate David Burrowes, have been quick to blame the Labour group in control of Enfield Council for the failure of the applications, and there has even been talk of a "foregone conclusion" and "large backhanders".  However, a more likely explanation is that the council officers genuinely considered that the applications did not make a strong enough case for them to be confident that by recommending registration they would not be exposing the Council to a high risk of facing legal action by the owners of the two properties.  This could potentially involve very high legal costs at a time when local council finances have never been so stretched.

If these decisions really were taken without input from elected councillors, then a Councillor Call for Action might make it possible to re-open the case, perhaps calling in a second opinion by taking advice from local government officers from other oouncils

It is unfortunate that the sale of the Green Dragon took place before new legislation came in recently, giving pubs a certain amount of extra protection against demolition or change of use.  At the time it was sold a change to retail use could be made without the need to obtain permission.

In the case of Trent Park, if it is true that ACV was not intended for cases of this kind and if the evaluation committee's decision was, from a legal standpont anyway, correct, there is no doubt that the building and grounds are an important part of not just local heritage, but because of its wartime role, it is a national asset.  As such, it is to be hoped that campaigning for their protection will be taken up nationally and eventually enjoy the same success as Bletchley Park.

"Give communities the opportunity to influence the future"

Both cases are a reflection of how under current legislation property developers hold most of the trump cards - despite "localism" not only local communities, but also local authorities have very little power to ensure that their localities are developed along the lines that residents wish.  One of our local heritage societies - the Southgate District Civic Trust - is among those campaigning for major changes in this respect (see our earlier report Giving communities the opportunity to actively influence the future of their town centres).

Perhaps, then, people's understandable indignation should be directed not at Enfield Council, but at national government for its failure to protect local communities from developers who have little regard for local feelings.


Click to read the text of the response to the Green Dragon applicationClick here to close this section

Green Dragon Pub – ACV/SPS/0006 – Save the Green Dragon Pub

A nomination was received on the 6 March 2015 from the “Save the Green Dragon” unincorporated organisation. In addition, a petition, with over 4000 signatures, supporting a campaign to save the Green Dragon Pub was received and considered at Full Council on the 25 March 2015. The petition was forwarded to the Evaluation Panel.

The asset in question is in private ownership and is located in Winchmore Hill. It was formerly used as a pub, which is the actual use that the nominator is applying to have listed as an Asset of Community Value. The nominator states that the Green Dragon Pub has been in existence for nearly 300 years and has been the focal point for the local community in Winchmore Hill.

The pub ceased to operate end January 2015, and the freeholder has converted the pub into a retail unit. This conversion is regarded to be lawful as it was undertaken using General Development Permitted Rights. The freeholder has indicated in correspondence that they intend bringing forward a mixed use scheme, that will include retail and housing. The freeholder also suggests that the pub use was no longer viable.

The Panel has reviewed the nominator’s application and has decided that the nomination is “unsuccessful”. While the application passed Steps A, B and C, the application failed in the final assessment step; that is Step D – Realism of Future Usage. Here the panel considered that following the lawful conversion of the pub to a retail unit, the requirements of Section 88(2)(b) are not met, namely that it is not realistic to think that within the next five years there could be non-ancillary use of the building that would further the social well-being or interest of the local community.

The evaluation panel also noted that while the nominator was eligible, it did not provide evidence of its unincorporated status other than a declaratory statement. In addition, in Step C, the nominator’s supporting evidence was generally considered weak.

Click to read the text of the response to the Trent Park applicationClick here to close this section

Trent Park Campus: ACV/SPS/0005 – Friends of Trent Country Park (1)

A nomination was received on the 4th March from the Friends of Trent Country Park, which is a voluntary group with over 100 signed members. A petition with over 3700 signatures was also received and considered by Council on the 25 March 2015. The petition was forwarded to the Nominations Panel.

The asset in question that the nominator is seeking to nominate includes the former Middlesex University Campus which is located in Trent Park. The asset is in private ownership, but there are a few properties that are in Council ownership but these are residential. The area encompasses c. 50 acres, and amongst others includes the Mansion, Wisteria Walk, The Orangery, The swimming pool, the stable block and the daffodil lawn. In the applicant’s justification the following matters are stated:

  • “Communal inheritance value”
  • Public amenity
  • Heritage asset
  • Stakeholder position and Development Statement 2012.

Within the boundary of the nominated property there are residencies which cannot be assets of community value.

The panel considered what use the nominator sought to protect and this is not clear in the application. It appears that what the applicant is concerned with is the heritage value and access to the assets and not the actual (or in recent past) use per se, which furthers the social wellbeing of the community.

Based on the legislation the nominator’s desire to preserve the heritage value is not a consideration in an application for an ACV. Similarly, access to the campus is not a use for the purposes of the legislation.

As a result the application does not fulfil the requirements of the legislation and consequently the nomination is “unsuccessful”.

Trent Park Campus: ACV/SPS/0004 – Christ Church Cockfosters (2)

A nomination was received on the 4th March from the Christ Church Cockfosters, which is local parish church, and hence a charity for the purposes of the criteria set by the ACV legislation.

The asset being nominated is The Campus at Trent Park in Cockfosters Ward. This is primarily in private ownership, with some properties (residential) in Council ownership. This has however not been identified in the application. Within the boundary of the nominated property there are residencies which cannot be assets of community value. The nominator’s reasons for thinking that the property is an Asset of Community Value include:

  • “Communal inheritance value”
  • Public amenity
  • Heritage asset
  • Stakeholder position and Development Statement 2012.

In its application, the nominator states that the “local community considers the Campus buildings, landscape and cultural amenities to be an essential part of their community lifestyle, bestowing character and purpose to Trent Park”. However, the Panel considers that the actual use (or use in recent past) of the campus is for Educational purposes, and the recreational use described by the nominator can be considered to be ancillary. The nominator, indeed, points this out in the application under Question 6.

It appears that what the applicant is concerned with is the protection of the heritage value of the asset and access to features within the nominated area and not the actual (or in recent past) use per se, which furthers the social wellbeing of the community.

Based on the legislation the nominator’s desire to preserve the heritage value is not a consideration in an application for an ACV.

As a result the application does not fulfil the requirements of the legislation and consequently the nomination is “unsuccessful”.

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Posted: 01 May 2015 21:44 by Basil Clarke #1189
Basil Clarke's Avatar
"Aldi can confirm at this time that they have no active sites in Winchmore Hill and have not purchased the Green Dragon PH." - see this report on the Enfield Independent website.

Only "at this time", though. And in any case, we want it to be a pub, not a shop, even if Prince Charles were to visit Winchmore Hill in person and open it as a branch of "Duchy Originals".

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