March 2009 Archives
In the latter half of last year more passengers were paid refunds for journeys delayed by late-running trains on the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines than on any other underground lines.
Figures obtained by the Observer under the Freedom of Information Act show Tube bosses doled out ÃÂ£118,447 for 26,273 claims relating to the Met line between June and November. Jubilee Line passengers received paybacks totalling ÃÂ£73,907 for 19,369 claims in the same period.
Travellers can apply to Transport for London (TfL) for a reimbursement equivalent to a single fare if their journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes.
Performance figures for roughly the same six months reveal the District line suffered the most late-running trains, an average of 28 a month.
The Piccadilly and Metropolitan lines held the second poorest record with 24 delays each a month, followed by the Central line's 22.
Those using the Jubilee line experienced an average of 13 services a month in which arrival was more than a quarter of an hour overdue.
However, these are absolute numbers and do not take into account the total number of services run on each line.
There may be a number of reasons why TfL pays out more to Metropolitan and Jubilee line passengers than any other.
Statistics show travellers using the Met have the longest average journey time of any line - around 41 minutes.
This, combined with the fact the line stretches from zone 1 to zone 9 and therefore a typical fare may be more expensive, could explain why a Met passenger would be more inclined to seek a refund than someone who hops on the Northern line for a handful of stops within two or three zones at relatively low cost, for instance.
Furthermore, long sections of the Metropolitan and Jubilee lines run on the surface, especially in north-west London, so are susceptible to the impact of bad weather compared to, for example, the Victoria line, which is entirely underground.
Anthony Wood, chairman of the Harrow Public Transport Users' Association, attributes the large number of claims on the Metropolitan to three factors.
He said: "One, the average journey on the line is longer for each person, so the fare is higher. Two, the line has the oldest trains on the system so there's more failures, and three, the signalling system is the oldest on the network, so there are more faults.
"These are the main failures but these are being sorted within the next seven to eight years - a much longer period than we were originally told."
He added: "There are a large number of passengers who know the customer service charter and are quite rightly making claims."
Parking measures will be imposed on the streets of Harrow's County Roads estate, Harrow Council has controversially decided.
Councillor Susan Hall (Conservative), portfolio holder for environment and community safety, provisionally signed off the plan on Thursday, March 12 despite residents earlier handing in several petitions against the idea.
The original postal consultation, held in September last year, showed that in the County Roads area 50 residents supported the idea of a controlled parking zone (CPZ) - but 89 did not, with 11 having no opinion.
The CPZ will be introduced to the whole of Devonshire Road, Dorset Road and Oxford Road, the eastern sections of Pinner Road and Sussex Road, the southern sections of Rutland Road, Bedford Road and Pinner View and part of Neptune Road.
It will mean that drivers must display a permit to be able to park their vehicle within the CPZ between 11am and 12 noon on weekdays or risk attracting a parking ticket.
Extra short-term pay-and-display parking bays will be created at the southern ends of Devonshire Road, Oxford Road, Rutland Road, Bedford Road and Pinner Road.
In addition, certain junction throughout Headstone South ward will be painted with double-yellow lines as part of the scheme.
Ms Hall was recommended to approve the plan by the council's Traffic and Road Safety Advisory Panel which met to consider the issue on November 26.
Traffic officers at Harrow Council will now publish the legal notices required to confirm the introduction of the CPZ and, if there are no legal objections, the measures will come into force.
Six months after implementation, further consultation will be held to see if residents support an extension of the area covered by the residents-only parking.
Nationwide's branch in Rayners Lane, South Harrow, will shut on March 31, as announced in December.
The building society's premises is one of just six to be closed across the UK.
A decision on whether an Afghan community centre can be opened in a South Harrow street has been postponed for a site visit.
The Imam Hussein Foundation has applied to Harrow Council to change the use of empty Veneto House in Park Drive into a place where visitors can enjoy educational, cultural and religious activities.
On February 25 members of the authority's development management committee opted to postpone taking a decision on the scheme in order to make a site visit.
The charitable foundation behind the plan has submitted a petition of 925 names in support while residents have raised their own petition because they feel the proposed location is entirely unsuitable.
Veneto House neighbour Vyan Gresty, 58, said parking and traffic problems, and more disturbance, were people's main concerns.
He said: "It's the total unsuitability of the building itself. We've against even limited use.
"We've got four schools around us within 200 yards and we get lorries delivering to the tile shop - from 8am we get that.
"Realistically, I cannot see how the council could possibly have taken a decision without seeing the site."
Documents submitted to the council by the foundation state it intends to teach languages, particularly English, in groups of up to 15 students, and to hold religious services mainly comprising poetry and prayers.
Women's groups and youth groups, and lectures and seminars on educational topics, would also be arranged, and the foundation has the community centre capacity would be 100 and that its community use would be restricted.
Mr Gresty said when the warehouse was operational "it never had more than six people working there."
He added: "I haven't seen a proposal like this in all the time I've lived here."
The site visit is scheduled for later this month prior to the development management committee's next meeting.
Young people across Harrow are to benefit from impressive new sports facilities now that the borough has secured a ÃÂ£4.2million grant.
A multi-use sports hall, gym, IT suite, art room, recording studio, cafe and outdoor pitch will be constucted on the Cedars Estate in Harrow Weald thanks to the project, entitled The Pitch, A Place to Go.
It was announced on Tuesday that Watford FC's Community Sports and Education Trust would work with Harrow Council to develop the idea, after the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) gave the multi-million pound grant the go-ahead.
If planning applications are approved it is hoped yougsters between 11 and 19, as well as disabled people up to the age of 24, will steer clear of antisocial behaviour and use the club to socialise and hone their sporting skills.
But far from just being a centre for children to enjoy football, council chiefs say the site will offer a diverse range of activities, including karate, basketball, art, music and cookery.
It is anticipated that the council and Watford FC will also look to use the facilites to help improve young people's health, diet, fitness and social skills, as well as provide important information on issues ranging from education, training, sex and mental health.
Speaking after the announcement Paul Clark, the council's corporate director of children's services, expressed his delight at securing the money.
He said: "This grant is fantastic news. Young people helped us choose the design and shape of this application so we will be delivering facilities they have actively been asking for.
"Over the next few weeks we will be working with residents, voluntary and private groups, and young people to ensure we put the right planning application forward and secure approval for what I am sure will prove to be a great legacy for Harrow."
Chris Norton, Chairman of Watford's CSE Trust, said: "We are delighted to receive this grant, which will now allow us, working closely with Harrow Council, an opportunity to make a real difference through sport and learning outside of the Watford area.
"We are honoured to be able to help deliver a project of this scale, demonstrating the expertise within, and the development of our community trust."
An opportunist thief stole a red Gilera scooter on Sunday after spotting the owner had left the keys in the ignition.
The 18-year-old owner had left the keys and his crash helmet with the bike while he went into a nearby shop in Shaftesbury Circle in South Harrow.
A black male was seen getting on the bike and driving off down Roxeth Green Road at about 2.30pm.
Addicts in desperate need of treatment may revert to crime if health bosses carry out plans to hand responsibility for drug treatment programmes to private firms.
That is according to a senior source at Harrow Primary Care Trust (PCT), who says plans are in the pipeline to commission out the services in a bid to cut costs - raising fears the quality of the provision will be compromised.
The whistleblower approached the Observer because of growing concerns that drug users will no longer get the attention they desperately need and that drug-related crime could rise as a result.
The source said: "If all the services are put out for tender it is likely that voluntary groups will run substance misuse programmes for a lot less money.
"These services do offer decent treatment, of course, but they have a history of having lower standards because they don't have to meet the same government criteria.
"Because of this they are not required to hire staff with greater qualifications and are therefore, comparatively, less qualified to deal with these vulnerable patients."
If these plans do go ahead, the doctor says staff who currently work within the service will be moved or redeployed, not necessarily within the same field, and crucial relationships with users will be lost.
They added: "Statistics show that the best kind of treatment for drug users comes when they deal with the same person on a regular basis.
"If staff are moved around, this rapport will be lost and, therefore, so will the effectiveness of the treatment.
"If this happens then more drug users face failing to deal with their problems and potentially there will be higher levels of crime in the area."
The medic added that at present there are seven programmes set to go out to tender, used by 642 people, according to the latest figures - many of them for the use of drugs like heroin and crack cocaine.