Ham & High’s top stories of 2015 – February

I compiled an overview of the top stories making the news in Ham & High  for each month of the year. This was published in print as a 5-page spread on December 31st 2015.

Front page stories:
Three members of a moped gang who terrorised residents from Hampstead and surrounding areas with hammers, taser guns and knives whilst trying to rob them were jailed for a total of 23 years. The perpetrators followed their victims while they were driving, smash their car windows and demand valuables to be handed over. (The original story can be viewed here)

New figures revealed that Highgate is one of the top town centres in England with a zero per cent vacancy rate. But it wasn’t all good news. Raj Kara-Rajani revealed how he struggles to keep his newsagent of 35 years open as rent increased by £33,000. It was later reported in November that Mr Kara-Rajani would be closing  The Corner Shop on Christmas Eve as his rent had nearly doubled from £67,000 per year to £117,000. A £10,000 hike in business rates also factored. He also cited that a decline in customers due to the various chain supermarkets surrounding his store taking in most of the business, with customers only buying from his store for ‘items they couldn’t buy there’. (The original follow up story can be viewed here)

Lighthearted: Actress Helena Bonham Carter stripped off to be photographed with 27kg tuna. The image was just one of a series by Highgate photographer John Swannell for the Fishlove campaign which aims to promote sustainable fishing practices. Another story was too good to let slip…(The original story can be viewed here)

A Ham & High online article – framed by filmmaker Sam Taylor-Johnson – was auctioned off by Bonhams auction house for £4,800. The article-turned-artwork titled ‘No Comment’ was about Taylor-Johnson’s home being raided last August when an ex-Iranian soldier spotted an M16 machine gun on her basement desk. (The original can be viewed here and the article that was framed can be viewed here.

Controversy: Highgate School put forward an application to build a hidden concrete bunker under a playing field complete with guns and ammunition. The prestigious day school said it would be used to store the artillery that is used by the students and cadets during the school’s extra-curricular activity combined Cadet Force in the rifle range and would not be rented out for commercial use. Proposed security surrounding the structure includes CCTV and nightly and weekend patrols. (The original story can be viewed here)