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Europe’s biggest urban wetlands opens

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Published: 22/11/2017   Last Updated: 22/11/2017 13:46:10   Tags: North London, News, Nature, Things To Do, Info, Tenants

 Europe’s biggest urban wetlands opens


We’re strolling along Songbird Walk, beneath a row of waterside poplars very like ones Monet painted in Normandy. The October sky is grey but the footpath is lined with colourful wildflowers: yellow gorse, purple knapweed, white campion. With a liquid twittering, a flock of goldfinches swoop overhead, then a clear, penetrating song bursts from the bushes to one side. “Ooh, a Cetti’s warbler,” says wetlands director Veronica Chrisp.

The remarkable thing about this peaceful scene, though, is that it’s not some corner of rural England but a former no-go area in the Lee valley, between downtown Walthamstow and gritty Tottenham in north London, a few miles north of the Olympic Park. For decades, this group of reservoirs was out of bounds to everyone except, basically, a bunch of anoraks: fishermen and birders who obtained the necessary permits. 
Now, after a £10.6m investment by the London Wildlife Trust, Waltham Forest council, Thames Water and the Heritage lottery fund, Walthamstow Wetlands, Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve, is ready to open to the public.
Owned by Thames Water, it is still operational, supplying 3.5m households. But from 20 October, the 211-hectare site, with 13 miles of footpath and cycle track between 10 reservoirs, eight islands, and London’s largest heronry, will open to the public daily from dawn to dusk. London already has a well-regarded wetland reserve, in south-west London but a family ticket to the Barnes centre costs more than £30, while this one is free. (There is a parking charge but it’s walking distance from several tube and overground stations.)

At the main gate, on Ferry Lane, an 1885 building that housed the steam-driven pump engine is now a visitor centre with cafe, shop and exhibition space. From its viewing platform, we look down on swans gliding along the pretty Coppermill stream, then over three 19th-century hand-dug reservoirs, looking like natural lakes with their organic shapes and wooded banks. More modern reservoirs further out are less attractive but, we’re told, their large stretches of water and islands are important to the overall ecology of the site.
Walthamstow Wetlands expects to see 250,000 human visitors in its first year, but other kinds of guest have been coming to this site of special scientific interest (SSSI) for years: waterfowl such as pochard, gadwall and shoveler ducks overwinter here; and it’s a stopover for migrating sandpipers, redshank, lapwings and more. The “common” kingfisher (which is anything but) breeds here, and every year cormorants rebuild a colony of sticks and branches on the larger islands to rear their downy chicks.
The engine house’s Victorian chimney has been rebuilt as bijou accommodation for winged visitors: 50-odd small openings up and down its flanks are perfect nesting sites for swifts, aerobatic whizzes who sleep on the wing and only stop flying to breed, but whose numbers are threatened by urbanisation. Slits on its south side are a des res for the site’s large bat population, for whom lighting levels at night are kept suitably low. The newly-planted reed beds we see as we head south on Heron Walk enhance the look of reservoir one, but also make a great habitat for bitterns and bearded tits.

It was important, says Veronica, to keep it feeling wild – a place primarily for nature: there are no big information boards, and signage is all ground-level and low-key. As we round a bend past a bird hide, an excellent view of the Shard, the Gherkin and other City towers is a sharp reminder that this is not, in fact, deepest Suffolk.

Further down the stream is the rather older Coppermill Tower. There has been a mill on this site since at least 1086 (it’s in the Domesday Book), producing paper and gunpowder as well as copper, but this mid-Victorian building, with its Italianate loggia, wouldn’t look out of place in Siena. Now also open to the public, it offers panoramas south to the Olympic Park and Canary Wharf, and west across Hackney Marshes to central London.

With 500,000 people living within two miles of the reserve, and millions more under an hour away by public transport, excitement about the opening has been widespread. Photographers will relish the watery sunsets, cyclists welcome a new GLA-funded route across the Lee valley to Tottenham, naturalists look forward to seeing mating damselflies in the spring, and twitchers to spotting everything from little grebes to peregrine falcons (particularly once the first bird hide is renovated – a second is awaiting funding).
But those of us who are none of the above can, as Wetlands Steve says, just enjoy this “beautiful, therapeutic and tranquil place”. Anoraks not compulsory.




Offshore income and assets

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Published: 01/09/2017   Last Updated: 02/09/2017 10:12:57   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, Council, North London, HMRC, Tax, Income

If you have money or other assets abroad, you could owe tax in the UK


Things are changing – the tax world is becoming more transparent

• HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is getting tougher on those not paying the right amount of tax across their offshore tax affairs.

• From 2016, HMRC is getting new financial information about our customers from more than 100 jurisdictions – including details about overseas accounts, structures, trusts, and investments.

• HMRC is already using information, supplied by overseas banks, insurers, and wealth and assets managers, to identify the minority who are not paying what they owe.

Are you confident that your UK tax affairs are up-to-date?

You need to regularly check that you have declared all of your UK tax liabilities and, if needed, bring your tax affairs up-to-date. 
This is your responsibility.

Personal circumstances change. For example, you may have recently inherited assets overseas. 
Tax laws change too. 
All of this means that previous advice can be out-of-date, with costly consequences.

• If you are confident that your tax affairs are up-to-date and complete, then you don’t need to do anything further.

• If you are unsure, we recommend that you speak to a tax adviser to find out if you need to take action now.

• If you find that you need to bring your tax affairs up-to-date, it can be easier than you think. You can choose
to do this now using HMRC’s straightforward online disclosure facility at www.gov.uk/guidance/worldwide-disclosure-facility-make-a-disclosure 

If you have not paid the right amount of tax and choose not to take action now, you need to know that:
• HMRC will find out about your money and assets overseas through new information from more than 100 jurisdictions.

• Penalties are increasing for those who are not paying the right amount of tax on their offshore assets, and you can even face criminal prosecution. Under new rules, you could face further penalties based on the value of the asset as well as the tax due, resulting in potentially life-changing consequences.

If you choose to delay in coming forward, it’s very likely to cost you more and there is also more chance that HMRC will come for you.

Come to us before we come for you
Remember
• If you are confident that your tax affairs are up-to-date, and you have declared all of your UK tax liabilities, then you don’t need to do anything further.

We are already using early financial information to identify the minority who are not paying what they owe.

If you need to bring your tax affairs up-to-date, it is your responsibility to do so – act now at

www.gov.uk/guidance/worldwide-disclosure-facility-make-a-disclosure

Diana the 'People's Princess'

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Published: 31/08/2017   Last Updated: 31/08/2017 16:02:57   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, Council, North London

The 'People's Princess'


The iconic royal, Diana Princess of Wales, would be 56 now. Diana was an inspiration to so many, and she was aptly dubbed the 'People's Princess' owing to her kindness and compassion. Although Diana sadly passed away 20 years ago, her legacy continues to live on through her children, William and Harry, and her grandchildren, George and Charlotte, of whom we are sure she would be immensely proud. 

On what is likely to be a reflective day for our royal family, we also reflect on the wonderful life she led. Here, we look back at the most memorable moments that truly capture Diana Princess of Wales as a style icon, philanthropist, and - of course - a loving mother.

1. Princess Diana's Wedding in 1981
Lady Diana Spencer married Prince Charles in 1981 in what was called 'the wedding of the century'. Her memorably large dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Manuel, consisting of huge puffed layers of taffeta, topped with lace, sequins and tens of thousands of pearls.




2. Her first appearance with her son, William
On June 21st 1982, Princess Diana appeared on the steps of St. Mary's Hospital to introduce the new heir to the throne, Prince William. 2 years ago, William welcomed his very own heir on the same steps, alongside Kate Middleton who also donned blue polkadots.




3. Diana's first major tour 
In 1983, Diana accompanied Prince Charles and tiny baby William for her first major tour. The young royals visited Australia and New Zealand, meeting representatives of the Maori people. It was here that Diana first demonstrated her kindness to the people she met, leading to the nickname she held throughout the rest of her life of being the 'People's Princess'.




4. The birth of Prince Harry
Just two years after the birth of her first child, Princess Diana welcomed Prince Harry to the world on September 15th, 1984. Today, Harry follows in his mother's footsteps as a philanthropic figure.




5. The Travolta Dress
Princess Diana was quickly becoming a style icon, and her appearance at a White House Gala cemented her in this role. While visiting President Reagan, Diana wore a stunning midnight-blue evening gown designed by Victor Edelstein. The dress was dubbed the 'Travolta Dress', as she danced with American heart-throb John Travolta at the gala, and the pictures of them gliding around the room circulated widely. In 2013, the dress was auctioned for £240,000, making it the most expensive auctioned dress.




6. Her role as President of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children
Princess Diana was involved in many charitable causes, but one of her most notable was the work she did with children. In 1989, she became the president of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London, and she regularly visited the hospital and supported them in their new developments.




7. The Leonardo Prize
In June 1995, Diana visited a children's hospital in Moscow that she had previously supported through her charity work. While in the Russian capital, Diana was awarded with the Leonardo Prize, given to the most distinguished patrons and people in the arts, medicine and sport. This was to be the first in a series of prizes rewarded to her for her philanthropic work.




8. Her work with AIDs victims
In the 1980s and early 1990s, there was a huge stigma attached to those with HIV and AIDS, and they suffered immeasurably. Princess Diana played a huge role in de-stigmatising AIDS, first by shaking hands with an AIDS sufferer in 1987 when it was still unknown whether the disease could be contracted by physical contact. In 1989, she opened the Landmark AIDS Centre in South London, where she continued to work closely with the patients. Although this venture did not have the support of the royal family, her work continues to be recognised today as an act of extreme kindness and compassion towards a highly stigmatised group.




9. Her work with the Red Cross
Among Diana's other notable charitable causes was the Red Cross, of which she became a patron in 1988. This role led her to travel the world in support of Red Cross projects. Here, she is pictured visiting the Red Cross centre in Nepal in March 1993.





Landlords will be required to report quarterly to HMRC

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Published: 22/08/2017   Last Updated: 22/08/2017 16:22:06   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, Council, North London

LANDLORDS - Are you aware from April 2018 you will be required to report to HMRC quarterly?

Hmrc has confirmed the timetable for the rollout of quarterly reporting and a year end reconciliation under Making Tax Digital with the first tranche of taxpayers, including buy-to-let landlords and the self-employed, set to kick in from April 2018



The changes will affect most businesses, including micro and small businesses. This includes over three million self-employed individuals (including around 900,000 buy-to-let landlords), 1.6m companies, over 400,000 ordinary partnerships, and about 600,000 businesses with income from different sources (for example, both self-employment and property).
The requirement for quarterly reporting and a subsequent year end reconciliation will be mandatory for all businesses by 2021, although the introduction is being staggered depending on the size of business so that larger incorporated businesses will not be drawn into the system before 2019 at the earliest.

Quarterly reporting for landlords and the self employed will start from 6 April 2018 although the threshold of £10,000, suggested in the original proposal documents, is still up for review, with the government yet to confirm whether this will be raised to exclude more of the smallest unincorporated businesses and sole traders. This arbitrary figure has come in for criticism as it is even below the current tax free threshold for individual taxpayers.

There is also some discussion about whether the deferral threshold will also be changed which would give a one-year exemption to some businesses.
A decision on both threshold issues will be made by the middle of the year at the latest, but it will definitely have to be taken before the Finance Bill 2017 is laid in July. There is likely to be more consultation on this particularly complex issue.

Theresa Middleton, HMRC director of Business Customer and Strategy told CCH Daily: ‘We have not included the exemption threshold and deferral threshold as the government has decided that it needs more time to consider these issues, but they will be confirmed before July 2017 when the legislation is laid.’
From next year – 6 April 2018 - businesses, self-employed people and landlords will be required to start using the new digital service. 

The key dates are:
  • April 2018 if profits chargeable to income tax and pay Class 4 national insurance contributions (NICs);
  • April 2019 onwards VAT falls under Making Tax Digital, so anyone registered for VAT will report and pay this through the new system; and
  • April 2020 for corporation tax payers.
Individuals in employment and pensioners will be exempt from digital tax reporting unless they have secondary incomes of more than £10,000 per year from self-employment or property.
It has not been confirmed what the cut-off threshold for larger companies under Making Tax Digital will be as yet, although tax experts are expecting that businesses with annual revenue over £10m and larger partnerships will not be within the scheme as their tax affairs would be too complicated to report in this way.

In the consultation, the government said that it was considering exempting more of the smallest unincorporated businesses from the requirement to keep digital records and report earnings.
 
Larger partnerships with income exceeding £10m are likely to be exempted from Making Tax Digital as their tax affairs would be too complex to report through this system.

It was also considering deferring the mandatory start date of Making Tax Digital (MTD) by one year for the next tier of small unincorporated businesses and landlords with annual incomes of above £10,000, but below a threshold to be determined. Final decisions will be made before legislation is laid later this year.



Cashless Parking

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Published: 17/08/2017   Last Updated: 17/08/2017 16:28:12   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, Council, North London

Cashless parking

The following has been sent out by Haringey Council:

Our on-street Pay & Display (P&D) machines are up to 20 years old and some are in poor condition with high maintenance costs.  They are also susceptible to cash box theft, vandalism and, on occasions, complete removal.  This has been apparent of late as approximately 50 machines have already been taken out of service as a result of vandalism - or being at risk of vandalism.

Replacing a P&D machine costs up to £5,000 for supply and installation; so replacing damaged machines is costly. This doesn’t include the costs associated with future cash collections and ongoing maintenance. 
On top of this, we have been advised that it would cost nearly £100,000 to convert all of our P&D machines to take the new £1 coin. It is increasingly difficult to justify such expenditure at a time when the Council is experiencing extreme financial pressures and so a decision has been made to move towards cashless parking and commence a programme to phase out P&D machines across the borough and only offer ‘Pay by Phone’ parking. We understand that a number of other London Boroughs are going through the same process.

Pay by Phone parking has been operating successfully in Haringey since 2012 and all our recently introduced CPZ's are already ‘cashless’ (Woodside West, Bounds Green East, White Hart Lane, Bruce Grove East & West). 
Cashless parking payments can be made by using a simple smartphone app, calling a telephone number or by texting the location number, all of which are given on parking signs. An account would need to be set up but this only takes a few minutes and can be done in advance at home. The system offers a wide range of benefits to customers including choice of payment method, reminders that their parking session is about to end and the option of extending their parking session. Users have also said the biggest advantage is not having to carry lots of coins.

We acknowledge that some users may not have access to a smart phone or they may simply prefer to use cash and so we will be introducing a cash payment option via PayPoint. This allows users to pay for their parking session in a PayPoint enabled local shop. A message then gets sent to civil enforcement officers (CEO's) to note that payment has been made for a specific vehicle (the parking session automatically starts and the CEOs handheld will note payment as it would if you were to text or pay for the session using the app). This means that you don’t have to walk back to your vehicle to display a ticket. This PayPoint cash payment system is well established across London.

We have been working with our Communications Department to develop a comms strategy, which will include publishing articles in Haringey People, adverts on street and posting information and guidance on Pay by Phone parking on our website. We will also be engaging with the business community to ensure that they are aware of our intention and reassure them that customers will continue to be able to park locally and conveniently. An advantage of the PayPoint system is that users have to walk into shops to pay for their parking sessions and so this is an obvious way for businesses to generate footfall through their premises.
Some businesses have also asked us if they can pay for their customers parking session and this is something we are working with Pay by Phone develop.

We intend to start decommissioning P&D machines from the beginning of September and hope to complete the programme by 15 October, which is when the old £1 coin will no longer be legal tender.

Further information on cashless parking and setting up a Pay by Phone account can be found at www.paybyphone.co.uk or if you have any questions please contact frontline@haringey.gov.uk

Marvellous Myddleton

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Published: 14/08/2017   Last Updated: 14/08/2017 16:12:34   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, North London

In Victorian times, Myddleton Road – tucked away behind Bowes Park Station – was a bustling terrace of shops, restaurants and homes. Thanks to the fantastic efforts of new independent traders and a strong sense of community spirit, the area is enjoying a renaissance as one of Haringey’s best-loved destinations, drawing visitors from across the borough and beyond. Local traders – such as independent bar the Step, Greek grocery Hellenic Gourmet and Italian deli La Coppia – have taken care to preserve the street’s character while making improvements, and the Myddleton Road Community gardens are a haven of calm at the centre of the area. Now a local artist has captured Myddleton’s special heritage through two beautiful 7.3 metre-long panorama artworks – using traditional techniques to capture the street for future generations. Gabriela Schutz’s ‘A Walk in Myddleton Road’ – on display at Bruce Castle Museum until late October – is an installation of two drawing panoramas that record Myddleton Road and a third drawing of the New River, which flows openly near the street. The panoramic format was popular in the 19th century, when people would go to see huge immersive panoramas of landscapes and historical events in a kind of early version of 3D cinema. Gabriela said: “The panoramas of Myddleton Road represent many walks in the road. Hopefully they will serve as an historical document of the street as it was in 2016/17. “Drawing the street, rather than viewing via Google Earth or Streetview, is about slowing down and looking properly at things – and that is true for myself, the artist, and for the viewer. “These days we spend so much time on our phones, exchanging information and communicating with distant people – yet at the same time being by ourselves. It is the personal and physical connection with a place which is the heart of this project. It is about being part of a local community and engaging with reality. “Drawing is a way of observing the world and being totally present. I have been intrigued by the changing architectural styles along the street, by the shop fronts representing different periods of time, diverse cultures and distinct aesthetic tastes.” 
www.haringey.gov.uk/brucecastle www.gabrielaschutz.com

Haringey Housing sell-off

Published: 25/07/2017   Last Updated: 25/07/2017 16:33:43   Tags: Haringey, Housing, Landlords, Tenants, News, Council, North London

Labour MPs urge Haringey council 

to rethink housing sell-off 


North London MPs David Lammy and Catherine West call for pause in £2bn plan, amid fears residents could be forced out
                                                                                                       
                                                                                                     Housing in Haringey     
                                                                                         
Housing in Haringey, where the council is planning the biggest sell-off of its kind ever. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo 

Two Labour MPs have made a dramatic last-minute intervention in a London council’s plans to privatise £2bn of council houses, public buildings and land.
Under the scheme, public assets will be transferred into a new company, the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV), owned 50/50 by Haringey council and private firm Lendlease, in a deal set to last 20 years.
On Monday evening, the Labour-run council will vote on the largest sell-off of its kind ever undertaken by a UK local authority. But earlier in the day, two local north London MPs sent the council’s leader, Claire Kober, a strongly worded letter.
David Lammy, for Tottenham, and Catherine West, for Hornsey and Wood Green, reiterated concerns that include the affordability of the homes, the bidding process, the financial risks to the council and the lack of oversight.
Their intervention came as protesters planned to march peacefully on Haringey Civic Centre in Wood Green on Monday evening.
The letter reads: “In addition to reiterating these concerns, in light of the fire at Grenfell Tower we write today with the utmost urgency to urge caution and call on the cabinet to pause and reflect further on whether entering into a public-private partnership is the correct decision for the borough and its residents.
“In our view no decision should be taken on the HDV until a fully updated business case is evaluated and further work is carried out by an external adviser or auditor to analyse and review the risks relating to the HDV.”

Kober wrote back to Lammy and West, saying the HDV proposal had been debated three times by the Haringey Labour group and on each occasion it had agreed to move forward.
“It is therefore the clear policy of the group to support the HDV and pursue this as an opportunity to deliver thousands of desperately needed new homes and jobs in Haringey,” she wrote.
Kober said the issues raised by the disaster at Grenfell Tower did not justify “reneging” on the local manifesto pledges to build new homes. “The Haringey Development Vehicle – a 50/50 partnership between the council and developers Lendlease – is an innovative approach to regeneration that will deliver change local people can benefit from,” she added.
The council plans to demolish whole streets of publicly owned buildings as part of a vast regeneration project in which 6,400 new homes will be built.

Local councillors estimate that up to 20 Labour councillors, out of 49 in total, oppose the scheme, as well as all Lib Dem members, the two constituency Labour parties, plus trade unions and a number of local activist groups. The council’s scrutiny committee has twice in the past six months called for an immediate pause to the plans.
The MPs urged the council to consider a recommendation by the authority’s overview and scrutiny committee to use a wholly council-owned housing company to purchase and manage the HDV social and affordable homes “to ensure that there will be no overall reduction in the number of homes in the borough that are wholly owned and managed by the council”.
Public-private partnerships have come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze.






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