12 March 2012

Walkley's Warblings 9 March 2012 - Lovely playing fields - keep them please

From: First Team
Sent: 09 March 2012 12:44
To: AllStaff
Subject: Weekly message from the Chief Executive

On Wednesday I went with Kate Kennally to a meeting of all the local hospital Chief Executives, GP representatives and NHS leads to discuss the new Finchley Memorial Hospital. Whilst it’s almost impossible to avoid slipping in to (into?) deep health jargon and acronyms, anyone would have been able to discern the enthusiasm and scale of opportunity the project presents.

The new hospital is not just about moving existing services on the site into much needed modern facilities but also a chance to reconfigure existing provision in the borough and most excitingly enhance provision, putting care closer to the home to meet local needs. These are not easy changes and will take time but a new build affords all partners the chance to focus on much needed change. For Adult Social Care, the ability to bring skill and capacity out of acute hospitals and into the community is an opportunity not to be missed.

As the authority takes responsibility for Public Health we have a vital role to play that goes beyond the walls of the hospital. Here is a very real opportunity to work with the GPs and others who will be based at the hospital on the wellbeing agenda.

The fact that the new site includes substantial playing fields (kerching), the use of which has yet to be determined (rabbit hutch housing estate anyone?), only serves to emphasise this wellbeing point. I have made a commitment to provide some leadership on the green space issue and as a council I think this is our chance to make a visible signal of our Public Health intent.

I'd be keen to hear from teams who work in the local area on their thoughts on the site and its potential uses. What about residents who live in the local area?

Wednesday was not an easy meeting (maybe that is why you get paid £200,976 p.a.), money as ever is very tight, but the council needs to show creativity, leadership and support (we're doomed, we're all doomed) if Finchley Memorial is to be more than simply a new building.


In the same week the following crossed Mr Mustard's desk. You can read the whole story including Barnet's propaganda side of things here in the local Times paper ( The council often reminds Mr Mustard of the Profumo affair; they would say that wouldn't they ).

Barnet Council has sold off more public land in the last three years than any other London borough, figures show.

A freedom of information request by BBC London showed that the authority agreed to sell eight plots covering more than 147,000 square metres for £12.9 million since 2008.

Sites that have passed out of public ownership include land near Broadfields School, in Edgware, Northway School, in Barnet and Stanley Road playing fields, in East Finchley.

Mr Mustard doesn't want to see any more playing fields sold off and was rather surprised that these ones hadn't been already and then he did a little research and found the following photograph which explained it all.

Barnet Council haven't sold off the land for housing because they don't own it (otherwise they probably would).

Then a bit more research led Mr Mustard to this report by Savills ( whose Cathy Osborn is currently sitting in an AD post at Barnet Council )

Finchley Memorial Planning Statement

This 2009 report rather implies that the future use for the site is a done deal. Mr Mustard doesn't know what happened next but you do so please either comment below or email Nicholas.Walkley@Barnet.gov.uk  and tell him that what you want is playing fields. Given the increasing obesity of the nation, and the costs and strain that adds to the NHS shouldn't the playing fields be kept for patients to walk and run around and play sports on so that they don't get sick in the first place. 

Luckily Camden Council read the blog so maybe they won't sell the ground to Barnet after all.

If you want to write to Nick and suggest that the best use for playing fields is for playing sports, fitness walks, outdoor gyms etc then his email address is Nicholas.Walkley@Barnet.gov.uk

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. Barnet does not have a very good track record when it comes to land and property sales. Even if the land was surplus to requirements, selling in a depressed property market was as idiotic as Gordon Brown’s decision to sell gold when prices were at an all time low. You would think that the highly paid council chiefs (and the councillors who rigorously scrutinise all their DPRs) would have remembered this particular lesson.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.