Chance to take a tour around your local mosque

Local people are being invited to take a tour round Harrow Central Mosque this Sunday as part of the Visit My Mosque scheme.

The mosque on the corner of Station Road and Rosslyn Crescent is one of more than 250 mosques across the UK taking part in the nation-wide scheme aimed at building bridges between communities.

The mosque will be open to the general public from 2.30pm to 5.30pm on Sunday, March 3.

Activities will include a guided tour, a chance to meet the Imam, and see live prayers at 4.15pm. There will also be a Q&A session and free refreshments on offer.

Free parking is available at the Civic Centre car park in Station Road.

 

Loss of parking at the Civic Centre could spell “mayhem”

The loss of parking facilities at the Civic Centre site in Station Road could result in “mayhem”, leaders at Harrow Central Mosque have warned.

Currently people who attend the mosque are able to park in the Civic Centre car park.

However, the number of public parking spaces is set to be dramatically reduced in order to make way for new homes.

Harrow Council is due to submit plans to demolish the Civic Centre and build 850 new flats and houses.

This major development is also expected to include a new primary school, GP surgery and shops.

However, there is widespread concern about the impact on parking especially during busy periods at the mosque such as the month of Ramadan.

One mosque elder pointed out there are already problems with people parking across driveways and in residents-only parking spaces near the building.

He warned that this would only get worse if parking provision at the Civic Centre site was reduced, predicting there would be “mayhem”.

HCRA committee members met with the mosque committee earlier this week to discuss potential problems relating to the “Poets Corner” development, including the issue of parking.

The two organisations have now teamed up to organise a public meeting this Friday to give local people the opportunity to express their views.

A “street stress survey” to assess how people get to and from the mosque found current parking provision was full to capacity during Ramadan.

While many people shared cars as part of efforts to reduce the number of vehicles the survey found this still meant a substantial number of cars coming and going.

Harrow Central Mosque said it was still waiting for the council’s response to the research and a petition signed by hundreds of mosque-goers.

The council has previously suggested there could be a park and ride scheme to ferry people to and from the mosque.

However, no suitable site has been found and the mosque has raised questions about the practicality of bus-ing large numbers of people to the building in time for daily prayers at set times.

The mosque has encouraged worshippers to make use of public transport but this may not be possible for those attending prayers very late at night or in the early hours.

Cycling is another option but many mosque users are too old and frail to jump on a bike.

Other concerns about the Poets Corner development include the lack of green space. pedestrian access to Harrow and Wealdstone station, and the impact on traffic and local services.

A formal planning application is expected to be submitted before council elections in May.

The public meeting organised by HCRA and Harrow Central Mosque will take place at the Jaspar Centre – the former magistrates’ court – in Rosslyn Crescent from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Friday, March 1.

The meeting is open to everyone with an interest in the Poets Corner plans.

 

 

 

Concerns for future of probation office site

Residents fear the probation office building in Rosslyn Crescent could swiftly become a derelict eyesore after it was confirmed the facility had closed for good.

Harrow Council, which is the freeholder of the building, has said it is looking for a new tenant.

However, the erection of an imposing chain-link fence around the site suggests it could remain empty for some time.

If a new occupant cannot be found then the land may well be sold off to make way for more news homes as Harrow strives to hit housing targets.

“The probation office is an incredibly ugly breeze block building and now a big metal fence has been erected making it look even worse,” said Rosslyn resident Jo Stephenson.

“I’m worried it could be left like that for months which won’t be good for the area. I don’t think anyone will be sad if the building is knocked down but residents will obviously want to know more about any plans to replace it with flats or business premises.”

Greenhill councillor Keith Ferry confirmed the freehold of the former probation centre was held by Harrow Council and that the probation service’s lease had expired.

“The council has secured the property whilst we search for a new tenant,” he told HCRA.

If a new tenant is not found then the most likely course of action will be to redevelop the site amid pressure to build thousands of new homes in the borough, which has led to a flurry of applications.

Plans to demolish outdated office buildings on the opposite arm of Rosslyn Crescent and build more than 50 new homes have been submitted to Harrow Council.

A large-scale HMO (house of multiple occupation) was recently built at the top of Woodlands Road and there are plans to redevelop Watkins House care home at other end of the street.

Meanwhile local people are steeling themselves for the major redevelopment of the Civic Centre site with plans for 850 new homes.

 

New tree vandalised

A new tree in Frognal Avenue has been vandalised within days of being planted.

The tree, which cost £250, was planted by Harrow Council and funded by a local councillor from cash set aside for community groups.

It was planted as part of HCRA’s ongoing campaign to green-up our area, which has seen more than 30 new trees planted in recent years.

Residents expressed sadness and anger after the tree was snapped in two just days after it went in.

This is not the first time that trees funded by local people have been damaged or destroyed by vandals.

“Trees improve the look and feel of an area by bringing much-needed greenery to our streets,” said HCRA’s tree officer Helen Grimes.

“Volunteers from HCRA work really hard to raise money for new trees and get them planted so it is devastating when they are damaged.

“Each tree costs £250 – and many have been paid for from HCRA funds – so this is robbing local residents who have generously donated their time and money to try and improve the neighbourhood.”

HCRA has informed Harrow Council and hopes another new tree will be planted in the same spot.

 

Harrow remembers end of World War I

Harrow’s Remembrance Day parade is now the second largest in London, according to Harrow Council.

The annual parade, which culminates in a remembrance service outside the Civic Centre in Station Road, is believed to be second only in size to the remembrance event at the Cenotaph in central London.

Harrow residents can get involved in a range of remembrance activities as the nation marks the centenary of the end of World War on Sunday, November 11.

The annual parade, led by the Glen Trew Pipe Band, will start at St Ann’s shopping precinct in the town centre with servicemen and women past and present invited to join the march wearing their medals.

Relatives of those who have served in the armed forces can also take part and display the medals of family members.

The march will start at 10am and will arrive at the Harrow War Memorial outside the Civic Centre where there will be a wreath-laying ceremony.

The remembrance service will start at 10.45am, with two minutes’ silence at 11am.

Throughout the day there will be activities at Harrow Arts Centre, including the creation of a spectacular poppy war memorial honouring the soldiers from Harrow who lost their lives in the Great War.

There will be a recreation of a Western Front trench and the chance to find out more about the impact of the war on Harrow with staff from Headstone Manor and Museum on hand to answer questions.

The packed programme will also include an aeroplane-making craft workshop and a World War I sing-along session as well as music and dance.

There will be a closing ceremony of remembrance at the arts centre at 6.30pm, which will include The Last Post and the lighting of a beacon.

At 7.05pm church bells in Harrow will ring out as a fitting end to a day of contemplation and commemoration.

More than 50 new homes planned for Rosslyn Crescent

Developers have unveiled plans to build more than 50 new homes and new business premises on the sites of Lexus House and Miller House in Rosslyn Crescent.

Residents, who were made aware of the plans last week, have already expressed concern at the lack of parking for the proposed development.

The plans include the creation of 52 “high quality” one, two and three-bedroom flats as well as more than 1,000 square metres of commercial space.

Developers say the scheme will improve on the run-down business premises and offices currently on site as well as enabling other uses “more sympathetic to the residential character of Rosslyn Crescent”.

It includes a three-storey building fronting onto Rosslyn Crescent as well as a series of “modern” industrial units with commercial premises mainly accessed from Crystal Way.

New buildings would range from three to five storeys in height and the site would include 28 parking spaces plus 81 spaces for bicycles.

However, residents are worried the parking provision is insufficient for the scale of the development and the number of new households.

“Parking in Rosslyn Crescent is already becoming more difficult and the road is often very busy with cars – especially when large numbers of people attend the mosque at the top of the street,” said Rosslyn resident Jo Stephenson.

“Mosque users currently park in the Civic Centre car park but this is due to be turned into a major housing development so we are not sure where people will go.

“We’re seeing an increasing number of large-scale housing developments getting planning permission in Harrow without enough thought given to parking and unrealistic expectations that new residents will all travel by public transport.”

According to the developers, Miller House has already been approved for conversion into homes as has the Pavilion office building next door.

The site is located in a zone earmarked for regeneration and the creation of new homes by Harrow Council and the Mayor of London.

“The proposed scheme consists of a mix of residential and commercial buildings and proposes a residential element on the side facing Rosslyn Crescent,” said developers.

“This is consistent with the current uses along the street and will greatly improve the appearance and character of the streetscape.”

The developers have yet to submit a formal planning application but are inviting comments from residents via a dedicated website at www.lexushouse.co.uk

Greenhill residents warned about “HMRC” phone scam

Several Greenhill residents have received scam phone calls from criminals pretending to be from the tax office, according to police who have warned locals to be on their guard.

The scammers rang up claiming to be from HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), warning the body was filing a lawsuit.

Startled victims were then asked to press 1 to speak to a caseworker and make a payment.

HMRC has confirmed this is a scam and has advised anyone who receives such a call to hang up immediately.

The same trick has been widely reported elsewhere with the gang behind it often targeting elderly and vulnerable people.

Other scam calls may offer a tax refund and then request bank or credit card information.

HMRC has asked anyone targeted to report incidents, providing as much detail as possible, including the date of the call, phone number used and content.

Reports can be emailed to phishing@hmrc.gsi.gov.uk

Scam calls can also be reported to Action Fraud.

Residents devastated by destruction of community garden

Residents have expressed shock and anger after the community garden they worked so hard to create was brutally hacked to the ground.

The garden – outside the Nisa convenience store in Station Road – was built and planted by volunteers in 2015, who were nominated for a Harrow Heroes award for their efforts.

It was funded by grants from gardening charity Harrow in Leaf, Nisa’s own Making A Difference Locally community fund and Harrow Council with countless other donations from individuals and local businesses.

In total residents raised more than £3,500 to turn what was a scruffy patch of wasteland into a garden for everyone to enjoy.

They were therefore horrified to find that much of the garden had been cut down to the ground with many plants dug up by the roots.

HCRA understands the shop recently changed hands and the garden was destroyed by the new managers.

The association has contacted the manager of the shop and Nisa head office to ensure no further damage is done.

The garden was designed by a professional garden designer who carefully selected plants that would work in the space and provide year-round interest.

Children from the local primary school helped plant daffodils to ensure a burst of colour in the Spring.

Since it was finished in autumn 2015, members of HCRA have continued to maintain the beds including doing weeding, pruning and picking up litter.

When part of the garden was damaged in a fire, volunteers again raised money for new plants.

Those who worked on the garden said they were “devastated” by what had happened.

“When I saw the garden I just wanted to cry,” said HCRA member Jo Stephenson. “We had some beautiful and healthy shrubs that have just been hacked to the ground.

“Many of the plants were just coming into flower. For example, we had some lovely purple aliums that were just about to come out but they have been cut down in their prime.

“We also had a lot of beautiful hebe shrubs that form into big round balls and cost about £20 each but many of these have been totally destroyed.

“So many people worked so hard on the garden and we’re just really upset to see it in this state.”

HCRA hopes to work with the shop and Nisa to replant and repair the garden.

Tonnes of junk cleared in annual Spring clean

Residents cleared 4.9 tonnes of junk and rubbish at HCRA’s annual Dump Run, helping keep our homes, streets and alleyways tidy.

The event on Saturday, March 24, saw a team of neighbours volunteer their time for the community clean-up.

HCRA hired a tipper truck to ferry unwanted items, including old fridges, sofas, and mattresses to the town dump.

The event, which is supported by Harrow Council, also saw green-fingered locals weed tree pits and tidy the community garden outside the Nisa convenience store.

Yet again the team had to clear piles of rubbish from the passage that runs between homes in Rosslyn Crescent and Woodlands Road, due to fly-tipping.

HCRA is urging those whose homes back onto the passage not to chuck garden waste and rubbish over their fences.

The Dump Run is a free event but HCRA collects donations towards the hire of the truck and other expenses.

 

Beware of fangtastic Mr Fox!

Residents have been urged to be wary after a spate of bite and run attacks on local people by foxes.

One incident saw a Woodlands Road resident get bitten in the calf by a fox as they were walking down the street.

On another occasion a fox attacked a man in his garden, biting him on the foot through his trainer and drawing blood, resulting in a trip to A&E.

He was told by doctors that this was the ninth fox bite they had treated in just three days.

Other neighbours in Woodlands and surrounding streets have reported foxes running straight at them and having to scare them off.

One fox surprised householders by sticking its head through a catflap.

Locals say they have been surprised to see foxes more often in broad daylight and commented on how bold they seem.

According to Harrow Council’s community safety team, foxes do not generally attack humans.

“But if it is cornered or surprised then they may bite in self-defence,” says an information leaflet on urban foxes.

“The fact that foxes often appear not to fear humans has more to do with familiarity and also the fact they know how slowly humans can move.”

The key way for residents to deter local foxes is to limit their access to possible food supplies.

This includes ensuring food waste is stored securely in containers such as wheelie bins and using proper bird feeders instead of just leaving scraps on the ground.

Meanwhile actively feeding foxes “can lead to foxes regarding your home as part of their territory”, says the factsheet.

“A fox that is used to being fed may approach people or even try to enter their house to find food,” it adds.

The information leaflet, which includes more information on how to deter foxes, can be downloaded here.

Or for more information and advice on foxes check out The Fox Project at www.foxproject.org.uk