Gazette letters: Memories of Leroy Harewood, fuel poverty, LTNs and Holloway Prison site

Che O'Grady is looking for information about her journalist father, Leroy Harewood.

Che O'Grady is looking for information about her journalist father, Leroy Harewood. - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

Memories of dad

Che O’Grady, daughter of Leroy Harewood, a former journalist at the West Indian World, writes:

My dad, Leroy Harewood, a member of the Windrush generation, was also one of the first Black men to attend Warwick University. I’m currently working on a documentary about his life; I’d love to get in touch with anyone who may have memories about him and/or articles that he wrote.

Unfortunately, my dad died when I was 16 so I never got to ask him about his 30 plus years in England.

You may also want to watch:

I’ve attached a photograph (above). He may have used a pen name instead of his legal name so if you or someone you know recognises him from the photo, please get in contact.

You can reach me via my website at

Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!

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Families face fuel poverty in winter during lockdown

Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party, writes:

Congratulations and thanks to Marcus Rashford for so brilliantly - and importantly – raising the country’s awareness about food poverty; to Islington Council for stepping in to provide free school meals over half term when the government failed so pitifully to respond to the need; and to the wonderful local businesses and community groups here who stepped in to fill the gap before the council measures kicked in.

All being well, with enough public pressure, the government will now see sense and change its mind before the Christmas holidays, even if we can hopefully rely on the council’s commitment to act here if they don’t.

But with so many households’ incomes suffering from the pandemic restrictions, winter fast approaching and more people forced to spend more time in their homes during lockdown, we need to remember fuel poverty as well as food poverty.

10 per cent or more of Islington households were thought to be in fuel poverty before the pandemic hit and that is likely to be significantly higher now. Cold homes increase the risks to occupants’ health, both physical and mental – risks that are already much higher this year because of Covid.

Both government and the council need to think what they can do to help people stay warm this winter.

No child should go hungry but no parent should have to choose between heating and eating.

LTN promises

Simon Izod, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

David Harrison and John Hartley’s letters are a welcome reminder of the benefits People Friendly Streets bring to residents and those who walk and cycle through those areas.

Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, council leader Richard Watts made a promise to roll out the scheme to a third of the borough by the end of the year.

He made it clear it was vital, due to lower public transport capacity, that residents could safely walk and cycle in the borough and it was critical that the council took measures to reduce pollution, which is linked to an increased death rate from Covid (Harvard University, 2020).

None of those factors have changed. It is therefore concerning that Canonbury West, where work was due to begin on September 7, has still not been completed in part due to the vandalism of the signs at Canonbury Place.

We are still waiting for the plans to be announced for Clerkenwell and Bunhill, the second phase of Amwell, St Mary’s Church and Highbury, a significant proportion of the work promised to be completed by the end of the year.

Surveys show residents are hugely supportive of such schemes. The council announced that a consultation will follow the trial roll out of these schemes, which will not only enable residents to give feedback based on experience, but will also be taking active feedback during the trial via the Commonplace website.

It would therefore be hugely disappointing if the violence of an unhinged individual or the misgivings of a minority of residents could undermine this pioneering democratic process promised by the council.

Given the huge importance People Friendly Streets have for the health and wellbeing of us all in the face of this emergency, I look forward to the council completing the current works in Canonbury West and announcing the plans of the remaining areas promised to Islington residents without further delay.

For more information about People Friendly Streets, see

New vision

Jonathan Ward, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

We already knew that Peabody received a loan from the GLA to support the delivery of social housing at the former Holloway Prison site.

We have just learned that they have also received £40,000,000 of public money from the GLA.

All the more reason for the design to provide an exemplary new neighbourhood for the people of Holloway.

A review by the Community Plan for Holloway has found that, as a minimum, the design must deliver a basic set of aims:

• Social housing offering a minimum of 42 per cent of the homes at affordable council rents.

• A ‘tenure blind’ approach that provides all residents with homes of equal quality and fully shared services accessible to all.

• All homes should have a double aspect for cooling and cross ventilation, and meet the minimum daylight requirements. This is a critical issue for the wellbeing of residents that responds to our changing climate and Covid-19, which forces people to spend more time at home.

• For the privacy and wellbeing of residents, the design should avoid enclosed courtyards with poor acoustics.

• The access road must be redesigned so it doesn’t cut across the park. This will maximise the amount of public outdoor space, with the roads designed as people-friendly home zones.

• All areas of the park must have generous sunlight, to provide a high-quality green infrastructure for residents and the wider community.

• The Women’s Building must provide a meaningful legacy and support a wide range of services for women specifically, and the local community.

• The Women’s Building garden should at least meet minimum sunlight requirements and, for the privacy and comfort of those in the garden, it shouldn’t be overlooked on four sides by buildings seven to 11 storeys high.

• An ambitious environmental strategy must be adopted that establishes this as an exemplary sustainable development, targeting net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Peabody are carrying out an internal review of the initial plans. Now is the time to improve the design, taking local people’s views into account.

We need a new vision that builds for a flourishing, healthy and green new neighbourhood in Holloway. There are 40 million reasons to get it right.

Affordable homes

Morag Gillie and Andy Bain, co-chairs, Islington Homes for All, write:

In March 2019, the announcement that Peabody had bought the Holloway Prison site with the help of a GLA loan of £41,636,000 provoked a mixed reaction from Islington Homes for All.

There was disappointment that London Mayor Sadiq Khan had not ensured that the site, public land, would be passed onto Islington Council who we felt certain would use it to benefit the 14,000 households on the borough’s housing list.

But with some relief that Peabody had bought the land. Although the Tory’s 2016 Housing & Planning Act no longer requires housing associations to be publicly accountable, for decades Peabody had been well known for providing homes for people in housing need.

We were encouraged to hear that 42 per cent of homes on the site would be for ‘social’ housing (understood as

homes for council-equivalent rents).

Peabody has left us bitterly disappointed: from cursory and inadequate public ‘consultations’, to the revocation of its undertaking to provide 42pc homes for ‘social’/council-equivalent rents (reduced to 35pc), and studiously avoiding public disclosure of their plans for the site in the limited public consultation period, such as its density, the design of homes, the mixture of tenures in blocks, the Women’s Building and so on.

To add insult to injury, we have just heard that, at the time the site was being purchased, the GLA made a grant to Peabody of £39.864m public money in addition to the well-publicised loan. We feel offended and betrayed.

Betrayed by the London mayor who could have ensured that the land remained in public hands for the benefit of the public, most likely by our publicly-accountable council.

Betrayed by Peabody who throughout has shown no respect to the needs of our community, despite receiving such a massive grant of public money. They will build 40pc luxury homes for sale on the site as well as a sizeable percentage of homes for shared ownership and homes for London Living Rent – both schemes for people on middle-incomes, but unaffordable to those in greatest housing need.

Clearly, any social mission Peabody had, disappeared in 2016.

In view of this new disclosure, Islington Homes for All is calling for all 60pc of ‘affordable’ homes on the site (the 42pc homes originally marked for ‘social’ rents and the 18pc of homes for people on middle-incomes) to be for council-equivalent rents in addition to the construction of a bespoke Women’s Building.

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