Haringey Community Press

Haringey Community Press

Councillor's column: Peak time access

Muswell Hill ward councillor, Pippa Connor discusses the importance of our public spaces

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By Pippa Connor 26 November 2021

Public spaces in our borough are unfortunately all too rare. They provide a welcoming space to learn and allow local groups to flourish. Libraries in particular must be valued as areas of education and a source of ideas and inspiration, embodying the best that we as a society can achieve.

Therefore, it was fantastic news that last month Muswell Hill Library celebrated its 90th birthday. We have made it one of our priorities to ensure that the library has survived closure through years of cuts, avoiding the fate of hundreds of libraries around the country.

What’s more, alongside residents and library friends’ groups, we as your councillors have continually fought for additional funds to improve the library.

We have worked closely with the council and are delighted that they have now supported much of what we have been asking for − not only accepting the real need to enhance the space, but also ensuring equal access for all with a new lift and toilets.

However, we recognise that just providing public spaces for our communities is not enough: people need continuing support.

It is for this reason that we have championed a neighbourhood support officer to develop ideas and funding for our local small businesses. It has been an extraordinarily difficult time for businesses, hit by the effects of the pandemic and repeated lockdowns, and more recently the dreadful flooding that hit our area. It is now time for the council to step up. Part of what makes Muswell Hill unique is our local traders, and we will do everything we can to retain that character.

The other main campaign we have been running recently has been around keeping our tennis courts in Priory Park, and indeed around the rest of the borough, free for public use. Late last year, Liberal Democrats successfully fought off Labour plans to privatise the courts, which would have removed free access for players.

Now however, the council has tried to push through its privatisation, without consulting residents. They’ve entered into a contract with a company, which is being allowed to run private lessons at peak times. This takes the courts out of public use at the times most people want to use them, and we’re concerned the council might hand over even more time slots. If you want to let us know what you think of these changes, then have your say: ldharingey.nationbuilder.com/tennis_courts