Wednesday 16 March 2022

Watcha Hampsters, Hampsteadites and Hampstonians!

After weeks banging away at publishing my new book The Joy of Addiction, I've also managed to get the spring edition of the Hampstead Village Voice off to the printers ahead of time.  Somehow, I've also managed to fit in rehearsals with Ridiculous and the occasional cappuccino outside the Wells with Dave The Beard: I honestly don't know how I do it. 

As for edition 48 of the Hampstead Village Voice, I don't mind telling you, it's a load of rubbish: literally... reams of it. Our hope is to embarrass Camden Council into finally acknowledging that it has a serious, systemic refuse infrastructure problem. Because before it acknowledges that, nothing will change. Hampstead (Camden) needs an infrastructure fit for 1975. Yes, 1975: because the streets were actually a hell of a lot cleaner then.
Also in the spring edition: unwanted über-developments in Streatley Place and the 02 Centre are demolished by Courtney Newton and the High Street Spy respectively. The latter also slags off 'dangerous' e-scooters. In an unapologetic orgy of nostalgia, the legendary Hampstead Pram Race features in our centre-page spread; Brigid Shaughnessy focuses on Camden Council's needlessly brutal tree policy; Justine Zwerling reveals a free new app to help women feel safe on the streets; the Hampsteadite's Diary has all the insider news and goss on the High Street's to-ing's and fro-ings.
There are a couple of splendidly Hampsteady stories including When Hampstead Had More Pigs Than People (by Adam Yamey) and The Landlord of The Wells Gets Himself Barred, adapted from my new book The Joy of Addiction (I've mentioned it twice, I think I got away with it). Sandy Markwick reviews Anoint my Head, another new book by Andy MacLeod on how to fail at being a rock star, whilst Klaus von Kunst drools over the 101st Hunter Davies book, The Heath. 101 not out: pretty impressive stuff, Hunter.
HVV48 will be out on the 1st of April 2022... or maybe even earlier!
Thank you again so much for all your support.
Emmanuel 'Mustafa' Goldstein
Editor knee-high in refuse bags.

Thursday 13 May 2021

Hampstead Village BID Ltd: Thanks For Your Money, now sod off and no, you don't get to vote!

 Small businesses are being denied the right to vote in the 2021 BID ballot

Dozens of small businesses, charities and other hereditaments have just had their right to vote in the Hampstead BID ballot suspended. Some 50 small businesses who voted in the 2016 ballot have now seemingly, at the last minute, been denied a vote in the 2021 ballot.

If the BID wins a second term, these small shops will be at its behest, but will have little or no say in the decisions and representations made by an organisation they did not have the right to vote for or against.

The question is, is it democratic or, for that matter,  lawful to disenfranchise such a significant component part of an electorate? 

And is it not unconstitutional for anyone who had a vote in a democratic election in 2016, to then be denied that vote for any reason, economic or otherwise, in 2021? 

It is one thing for the Hampstead BID and Camden Council to exclude a business from paying the levy because of its economic status, but quite another to remove its democratic right to vote. It's a bit like saying people in cheaper houses don't get a vote in the next local election. 

The fact these disenfranchised businesses might have their right to vote denied, with no notice, after having paid the BID in good faith for 5 years, is beyond jaw dropping. Surely, every business and charity that voted in the 2016 election, regardless of its rateable value status, must also have a vote in the 2021 ballot? The BID may as well tell them: thanks for voting last time and thanks for your money, now sod off! I'm not sure if it's closer to communism or fascism, but this certainly ain't democracy.

We asked Genny Fernandes, Camden's Business Engagement manager if there was any way to reinstate the voting writes of all the businesses who previously had that right. Because taking a vote away from someone that previously had it within a given constituency is clearly unconstitutional, quite probably illegal and certainly unethical. 

She replied: 'The BID regulations are set nationally and are clear that only businesses with a rateable value above the threshold set by the BID are required to pay the levy and so are invited to vote, in order that they can have a say on how the levy in spent in the area.


'Businesses with a rateable value below the threshold would nevertheless benefit from the BID activities outlined in the business plan, such as jet washing of the pavements and increasing the profile of Hampstead through programmes designed to drive footfall, should a successful ballot be undertaken.'


She seems to have forgotten, or is unaware that they will also benefit from the bullying, strong-arming and, in the case of PR, favouritism that has been a feature of the BID for the last five years. And if Hampstead is to be a Business Improvement District, shouldn't that be for all businesses. And ought not all businesses have an equal say? 

How convenient that all 50 businesses who've had their vote suspended, signed a petition in 2019 to remove the BID. Funny that. 

The truth is, the BID knows full well it was going to lose by a landslide and so gerrymandered the list of 'hereditaments' to ensure a chance of another term. This time, if it wins, it will only be extorting monies from medium and big businesses. So that's alright then.

As for the Vote No To BID Campaign 2021, unless Camden's electoral department decides to reinstate the votes of those small businesses who were, until now, permitted to vote — what would have been a landslide defeat for the BID, might now be a much closer run thing.

We have contacted Hampstead's MP, Tulip Siddiq, and her office tells me they will be looking into this. I'm hoping she will take the disenfranchising an electorate very seriously and ensure the 50 small businesses, many of whom are her constituents, will get their votes back.

The Ballot opens on the 21st of June 2021 and closes at 5pm on the 28th of July 2021.

The result will be announced on the 29th or 30th of July 2021.

Sebastian Wocker

Hampstead Village Voice

Tuesday 12 January 2021

COVID Distribution Blues

The Voice is available now! Just about. 
Parim at Heath News II in South End Green.


The Hampstead Village Voice has now gone up to £3 a copy. Well, we've got to keep up with the cappuccino inflation rate haven't we. And, when I saw The Oldie on the shelf for £4.95, I thought bugger, we're selling ourselves short. 

Ten years ago when we last raised the price of the Voice from a pound, cappuccino's were about £2. Try going to Gails now with two squid and see where it gets you.
Moreover, as we've the small matter of the COVID lockdown to contend with, it's taking us a bit longer to get it to the shops. Us? Who am I kidding? I can't very well ask Dave The Beard or Simon The Space Cadet to drive me and the mags to shops can I! I'm pretty sure that's illegal unless you're in possession of a leaf blower or building a basement cinema off Church Row. Nonetheless, I am under contract with Rishi Sunak's HMRC to stay in business or forfeit my self-employed Corona-dole, so off to work I go.
So I've been trundling about on a bicycle in a virtual space suit both working and exercising at the same time. And I can tell you, the safe distribution of magazines in lockdown is a jolly cumbersome and exhausting business. On the bright side, there's one less spluttering jogger on the pavements because I'm far too exhausted to contemplate exercise after work.
There's all that waiting around for shops to be empty enough to enter safely; frequent sanitisation; fumbling about in gloves to write an invoice or put up a poster... Have you ever tried writing an invoice out in winter gloves with steamed up glasses? Or handling blue tack? I'm not taking those f_ing gloves off to handle contaminated cash, I can tell you.
But this isn't work that can be done from home so it's a case of doing it very slowly, methodically and safely. I did bump into Harry 'The Hatchet' Taylor of the CNJ who caught me using his weekly paper to dry a poster board. How embarrassing was that! Using Harry's carefully crafted words as a cleaning utensil right in front of him. Still, I live to tell the tale.
The good news is, the 'Winter of Discontent' edition is already at all the usual Hampstead outlets (apart from Village News which is, for the time being, closed) and Belsize Village too. I might brave Whampers tomorrow.
Toodle pip!
Basti Wocker,
Editor in Nuclear Suit.


Thursday 26 November 2020



The rock bottom of Frognal — It doesn't get any lower...

I've spent the last few days to-ing and fro-ing between submitting my heartwarming new addiction memoir The Joy of Addiction to literary agents and reporting that mound of umskah at the bottom Frognal via The Twitter. 

To be honest, I don't know which has been the more painful experience. Both have involved the hitting brick walls. At least the odd literary agent replies with a friendly rejection. Camden and its councillors, meanwhile, have sent me to Twitter Coventry — it seems they only answer to nice, fluffy tweets.  

I'm generally a Labour voting kind of guy, but this dreadful Labour council has now blocked a desperately needed review into the systemic failures of our waste management infrastructure. I've put the word in italics because the throwing of plastic bags onto the pavement does not vaguely constitute a refuse infrastructure. 

Still, according to Cllr. Adam Harrison, Veolia are doing a top job and are well worth their £338m contract. Fuck me, which Camden is he living in? Not the Frognal bit obviously. Nor Flask Walk, Rosslyn Hill, Lithos Road, Finchley Road, West End Lane, Blackburn Road, Kingsgate Place, Delancey St... all with regular mounds of rubbish similar to the one pictured above. The borough clearly needs a top to bottom review of its entire refuse infrastructure. Seriously, I'm thinking of moving to Napoli. Apparently they've discovered dustbins.

In any case, The Joy of Addiction does at some point bang on about causing harm to myself and others as a squandering teenaged wastrel in the 1980s. By the end of the book — just in case Netflix want a happy ending — I admit I am in denial and powerless over my addiction; that my life has become unmanageable. A few Camden Councillors and Veolia board members might do the same.

Basti Wocker
London 26/11/2020
PS. The winter edition of the Hampstead Village Voice is due out 15th January 2021.

Monday 22 June 2020


No, it's not photoshop. They actually did this!
On the 30th of March, a fellow calling himself the Diamond Cockney Geezer sent us a picture of this simply magnificent Transport for London botch job. At first we thought it might just be a premature April fools jape. Yet, after making enquiries with both Camden and TfL, it became clear this was indeed a genuine cock up. 
Yes, they actually did write 'HEMPSTEAD'. They even appeared to have got the 'S' the wrong way around so, whatever it was they were smoking, must have been pretty potent stuff!
In any case it was simply too hilarious a gaffe not to have on the front cover and we all need some cheering up, so here it is in all it's Hæmpstead glory!
Better still, the summer edition is on it's way and will be available at a limited number of local shops this Thursday 25th of June then free online from the 1st of July 2020.
Viva Hæmpstonia!
Emmanuel 'Mustafa' Goldstein. 
Editor in dishwasher. 

Saturday 20 June 2020


Read full text below.


By Sebastian Wocker

Local shops are fuming at the Hampstead Village BID Ltd (BID) after it continued to invoice businesses and charities in full during the coronavirus lockdown.
   Despite receiving extra government funding in response to COVID-19 and claiming it reduced staff costs by 60%, the BID still saw fit to invoice paralysed Hampstead businesses for its controversial levy from the 1st of April 2020.
   Renate Jon who runs the hair salon in Heath Street said “What are they thinking? Nobody’s earning and still they send us bills for services we never even asked for?”
   Richard Weaver who manages the Hampstead Community Centre told us, “The BID had the cheek to send us a letter explaining it received government financial help for 3 months, but still charges us for the full year without even providing any services.”
   Rino Mollura who runs the Coffee Cup, Villa Bianca, Piccola and Fish Cafe said: ‘‘Hampstead’s businesses are practically on their knees and now this stupid, pointless bill arrives. Are they crazy?”
   “If they really are working for the community, they’d just refund struggling businesses what we paid them last year and cancel these new invoices.”
   The BID had sent out a letter in May 2020 stating that: “As the BID levy is a mandatory requirement, Camden Council [The BID’s debt enforcers] are required by law to invoice in full. However, the BID recognises some businesses may have cashflow issues and may need to discuss their own payment arrangements. Please do get in touch with Marcos Gold our BID Manager who will be able to discuss individual plans.”
   But Dame Hilary Blume who runs the Charities Advisory Trust said: “I phoned twice, as suggested, but there was no reply. What possible argument can there be to charge charities, state schools and an NHS surgery to improve Hampstead High Street?”
Mr Gold told us: “I was unaware she had reached out as I have no voicemail or email from Dame Hilary. She has contacted me before. I am more than happy to discuss with each individual business their levy bills.” 
   But there appears to be little appetite for cosy chats with the BID managers among the downtrodden ‘hereditaments’ of Hampstead. 
   Countless shops, restaurants, charities and pubs have told us, in no uncertain terms, they will definitely not be paying the BID levy this year or, as one shop owner put it: “...any other year either!”  
   And why should they? 70% of the 243 businesses, charities and schools who’ve been forced to pay it over the last four years, never wanted the thing in the first place and consider it rotten value. 
   I spoke to Council Leader Georgia Gould and suggested it was questionable that a limited company could force money out of charities, state schools and struggling businesses by making a council act as its debt enforcer — even during normal times, never mind at the height of a pandemic. I also asked her whether the council would still be summonsing businesses, charities, schools or NHS surgeries that refused to pay the levy in lockdown? 
   Cllr. Gould, who told me she’d have to check up on it, was unable to comment immediately, but agreed to get back to us. Ten days later we received a reply from Camden Council’s Business Engagement Manager who confirmed invoices had already been sent out but, crucially, that: “enforcement action will not be taking place for the time being and that this will be reviewed over time.” 
   Probably wise. There is now less than a year to go until the second BID ballot in Hampstead’s history. Unlike the first, there will, this time, be two campaigns and a more aware and determined opposition. 

Editor's tuppence worth. The Hampstead Business Improvement District Ltd (BID) showed it's true colours during the coronavirus lockdown when it decided to bill struggling Hampstead shops, charities, restaurants, schools and pubs for services it was not providing and which most of the shops didn't even ask for. It even billed charities, New End state school and the NHS surgery, Keats Practice, in Downshire Hill. The BID is a blot on Hampstead's land scape and has to go. 
Emmanuel Mustafa Goldstein.


Wednesday 3 June 2020

We have just received this update from Hampstead SNT.

I thought you might be interested to see our sergeant’s update on the disturbance on Hampstead Heath yesterday evening. This was a much nastier incident than I’d understood initially and I didn’t appreciate the extent of the disorder until I read John’s update.  John was one of the first officer’s on scene with other SNT officers. When the crowd turned on them they had to call for back up, involving around 30 officers, some of whom were called in from other areas.  I understand it took about an hour and a half to restore order. John himself was injured but thankfully not badly and he is back on duty today, having been on shift until 4.00 this morning. 

Sergeant's report.

We are aware that there has been a lot of media attention relating to an incident that occurred yesterday evening on Hampstead Heath. We would like to provide further details relating to this incident and the subsequent five arrests made. 
Police were made aware at 1800pm of a large group of approximately 150 young people gathered on Parliament Hill Fields. Our initial concerns were non-adherence to social distancing guidelines. A number of individuals within the group were consuming alcohol. A small group of officers attended to engage with the group. During this initial attendance, a robbery was reported and an allegation made that individuals within the larger group had stolen an electric scooter.  A suspect was detained but officers asked for further police support due to the number of young people present and the increasingly hostile and obstructive behaviour displayed by some members of the larger group.
Officers arrived to assist and while monitoring the crowd at a short distance, a fight broke out among a small group of young females. Several individuals were seen throwing punches, kicking parties on the ground, and pulling hair aggressively. Officers intervened immediately, but became surrounded and faced a difficult challenge in calming the crowd. A number of other fights erupted within the large crowd despite police intervention. Officers requested further support. 
While the aggressive and violent behaviour began amongst themselves, many members of the group became hostile and aggressive to officers that were trying to prevent further violence. Five police officers were assaulted including being slapped, punched, pushed and spat on. Officers on scene who arrived to help used reasonable and proportionate force to try and prevent crowding and a further breach of the peace. 
In total, five young people were arrested for the following offences – four for assaulting an emergency worker and one for failing to leave a dispersal zone.  
Three females and one male were charged. They will appear in court for assaulting police & common assault at a later date.  A young male was released under investigation. 
We would urge young people and their parents or guardians to remember there is still a requirement to adhere to social distancing, not to gather in a group of more than 6 people not from your household.
Hampstead Heath is a welcoming open space for local residents and visitors. This will not change. 
For those engaging in anti-social and violent behaviour in our community, it will not be tolerated. Do not engage in violent behaviour towards one another. Do not engage in violent behaviour towards emergency workers, it is not acceptable.

Hampstead, 3rd June 2020.

Watcha Hampsters, Hampsteadites and Hampstonians! After weeks banging away at publishing my new book The Joy of Addiction , I've also ma...