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Gazette letters: Reader’s picture, Gee Street, private renters and Greens

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 October 2017

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Autumn is on its way in N5 as shown by these beautiful colours. The one on the left is a hydrangea and the other is a smoke bush writes Tim Sayer, Battledean Road, Highbury.

When I read that story in last week’s Gazette about Finsbury becoming the new Canary Wharf, I couldn’t suppress a chuckle when the building the group were opposed to is only six floors high! writes F G Atkin, Radnor Street, Clerkenwell.

I thought that maybe you had left off a nought at the end, but no. Even more odd is that the group fighting these plans live in Gee Street and anyone who knows Gee Street will know that only place you can live in Gee Street is in a tower block of some 14 or 16 storeys high.

As it happens, I was born in a house in Gee Street, some decades back and counting, and I think I can say with some confidence that I was probably the last to be whelped in Gee Street. We were bombed out early in the war. It didn’t bother me none – in fact I thought it was an absolute hoot! The only casualty was Tiddles our cat. I have often wondered over the years if Tiddles ever knew what fate had in store.

If this group are really serious about what is going on in their neighbourhood, I suggest they consult their PC machines and dial up Localism Act 2011 (a Labour government act) and set about running their own affairs. Consult. Plan. Fight, if you want a say in running your own area. “It can’t be done,” I hear the cry. Tell that to the Brexiteers, the Kurds and Catalonians.

It is disgraceful that soaring rents and unscrupulous landlords and letting agents mean more Islington residents feel they can no longer afford to live here, writes Cllr Diarmaid Ward, housing boss, Islington Council.

And the housing crisis means more residents are being pushed into the unpredictable private sector.

One issue many private tenants face is being unexpectedly hit with letting fees. On average, they pay between £200 and £500 with agents inventing ridiculous excuses such as signing a form or moving furniture around a room.

I am proud Islington has been responsible for two thirds of total fines issued by London councils to rogue landlords since new enforcement measures were introduced in 2015. We have also fined letting agents £50,000 for treating tenants unfairly and introduced an additional licensing scheme for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road, protecting more than 3,500 tenants. In 2014 we launched London’s first not-for-profit lettings agency where tenants do not have to pay tenancy fees.

Last month, Labour councillors voted to call on the Tories to act on their previous but yet-to-materialise promise to ban letting fees as soon as possible and support Labour’s campaign to introduce extra protections for private renters.

I encourage Islington’s renters to contact their local councillors or the council housing team if they believe they are being mistreated.

The council is currently consulting on the pedestrianisation of Clerkenwell Green, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Its proposals are entirely to be welcomed but two anomalies stand out - the siting of a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on the upgraded space, and the removal of four allegedly “low-quality” trees.

Sylvia Pankhurst’s London links are with Bow – where she did most of her campaigning on behalf of the East End working class – and Woodford Green, where she lived for 30 years. Why not site the statue in either of these areas, or in Tavistock Square peace gardens to reflect this remarkable woman’s opposition to the First World War?

Why weren’t Islington residents consulted? I wonder what would Sylvia have made of these anti-democratic shenanigans.

As for the trees: the consultation blurb says they’re to be removed to give a better view of the privately owned Old Sessions House. Why then are they to be replaced by others which, when in leaf, will similarly obscure the view?

Footnote: while checking on the trees last week, I was told by an apologetic contractor measuring up in the central area that he wasn’t allowed to speak to me about the proposals for the Green. I needed to contact the council hotline (!) instead. Democracy in Islington, eh?

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