Gazette letters: Holloway Prison site, Finsbury Park Empire, Axe the Housing Act, council candidates and Rio family

PUBLISHED: 08:30 21 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:39 25 October 2017

Housing protesters at the prison site last year. Picture: KEN MEARS

Housing protesters at the prison site last year. Picture: KEN MEARS


It is refreshing to see so many people interested in making sure that the Holloway Prison site is used for the benefit of the local community. write Cllr Gary Heather, Finsbury Park ward and Islington Trades Union Council.

I attended an open day at St George’s church hall a couple of weeks ago where hundreds gathered to discuss uses for the vacant site such as genuinely affordable council homes, community facilities and recreational green-space.

It is also welcome that Islington Council’s planning guidance for the site stipulates at least 50 per cent genuinely affordable housing should be built there.

I found your article about the Finsbury Park Empire very interesting writes Barry Collie.

I was lucky that during the 1950s my father took me many times to see great stars such as Max Miller and Tony Hancock.

I passed the site today where the theatre stood to view the memorial plaque. Unfortunately, access to the plaque is possible only to the residents of the flats.

To view the plaque, I suggest anybody interested might find taking binoculars with them more than helpful.

Islington Axe the Housing Act has organised a Community Open Day on Saturday at 1pm outside the Holloway Prison Site, writes Tricia Clarke, Yerbury Road, Islington.

Join us in our call for social housing not social cleansing, council housing not luxury housing.

Islington Council in its draft supplementary planning document is calling for 50 per cent genuinely affordable housing on the site. Let’s get a message to the Ministry of Justice and this Tory government that we in Islington will not settle for anything less.

According to the deputy leader of the council, “the community has been having a democratic selection process” seeking candidates for next spring’s local elections when more than a quarter of current ward councillors are standing down, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Really? The number of Islington’s eligible voters is 165,000 (State of Equalities Report, April 2017). I don’t know any non-party member that’s been asked who should stand.

The majority of residents don’t wish to belong to any political party so, short of a “none of the above” option on the ballot-paper, will again be faced with choosing between candidates selected for them, not by them. To its lasting shame, the Labour Party – including both Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry – opposes proportional representation (with the exception of a handful of independent-minded MPs), preferring to stick with the old establishment “first-past-the-post” system blighting our democracy.

Open primaries – in which eligible voters, not party members, select candidates – could have given Islington Labour a lead towards the participatory, not top-down, politics the UK urgently needs – and might even have increased the borough’s abysmally low electoral turnout. Alas, the local party “for the many, not the few” has chosen. The insider process appears complete. The irony of Cllr Smith’s “community” comment has not been lost.

I am 33-year-old man with learning disabilities and have lived in Holloway all my life, writes Joseph Greene, Holloway.

It was always presumed that I wouldn’t work but over the last eight years I have progressed from working one hour a week to now having my dream job working in a cinema. Fatima at Islington MENCAP found me a volunteer job at the Rio Cinema in Dalston. It has been a struggle facing discrimination and what people expect me to do.

I’d like to say a big thank you so much to Yoan Pesci and all the staff. I love my job at The Rio cinema. The staff are so nice to me – they help me if I get stuck. I enjoy being the usher at the door and welcoming people in. Sometimes the manager asks me: “Do you want to watch the film?” I say: “Yes”. I am a big film buff – I love to watch movies and TV series. I am so happy it keeps me busy at the Rio.

Sometimes I ask the managers: “Can I put on a late film for me and the staff?” and they say yes. My first film I put on was one of my favourite films, Aliens made in 1986, and when it was my birthday in August the managers and staff gave me a surprise cake, a film poster and a late film.

I just want say thank you to the Rio – they are like a family to me and I love them very much.


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