Gazette letters: Bat watching, Essex Road cinema, Holloway road closures and empty garages

A pipistrelle bat (Picture: PA/WWF-UK)

A pipistrelle bat (Picture: PA/WWF-UK) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

On Monday night, between the silhouetted trees lining the New River Path, I saw a couple of pipistrelles (London’s most common species of bat), writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

I’ve not seen them in such a built-up area before – previously my sightings have been along the Regent’s Canal and up the Lea River. It was fun to watch them speed around together, almost possible to convince myself they were playing.

Awkward creatures of the night, they seem always on the verge of careering aimlessly into their surroundings, wings beating furiously. Utterly graceless and pug-ugly, they are not the most attractive of Islington’s wildlife, constantly threatening to crash into the side of your head as you walk along the towpath at night.

They are probably the creature I find most mysterious, though. Their eating habits are phenomenal: one of those pipistrelles might consume up to 3000 small insects in a single night. Each one of these insects will be found using echolocation; they emit soundwaves, which echo off solid objects telling them where they are in relation to their surroundings, and their unfortunate prey.

Even more amazing to me, when I checked out London Bat Group’s website, was that there are more than seven species of bat in Greater London – and that one of the best places to see bats is in the nearby Highgate Tunnels. If you’re interested in finding out more about these bizarre little flying mammals, search online for London Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust where you’ll find loads more information, including details of any upcoming bat-watching events in London.

I was pleased to see coverage in the Gazette of plans to expand the use of the old Carlton/ABC cinema in Essex Road, which has been used for religious services since reopening a couple of years ago, writes Jonathan Wright, Islington Green Party.

. The proposal is to organise other events there, including conferences, concerts and film shows.

Most Read

But the tone of your coverage was unnecessarily negative, with its emphasis on fears events

would attract traffic, queues and, most improbably of all, extra security to deal with “high profile artists”. While it is entirely proper the planning process should consider the views of local residents, you might also have mentioned the benefits the plans would have.

The Carlton cinema has one of the finest neo-Pharaonic facades in London, Hend House in Shaftesbury Avenue, the houses in Richmond Crescent, Barnsbury, Lloyds Bank in Putney High Street and others. The interior is in grand French Renaissance style and it was a stylish venue when it was opened in 1930 by Prince Arthur of Connaught. Unless the cinema has a function that is commercially viable it will deteriorate and eventually be demolished, no doubt to be replaced by more shops or by luxury flats.

Essex Road is already a busy commercial street with many bars, restaurants and retailers. But it has no cultural venues of any kind, not even one of the many theatre-pubs other parts of Islington have. Upper Street has the Screen on the Green, the King’s Head and the Almeida Theatre, none of which generate large crowds or traffic congestion. In London few people would come to Essex Road by private car and there is plentiful public transport.

London’s economy depends on the service sector and cultural activities are an important component of that. The creative industries sector is growing significantly in the United Kingdom and as we move towards a sustainable society the Green Party anticipates an increased role for artists and artistic activities. I therefore urge people who live near the cinema to look at the benefits the building can bring, especially in the form of jobs for creative and active young people, entertainment and cultural enrichment.

I do wish people would stop moaning about the road closures in Holloway Road, writes Brenda Martin, full address supplied.

These improvements were well overdue and will bring great benefits to the area. The old bridge and station entrance were unsightly.

The workers have been out in bitterly cold conditions and are polite and helpful even when, as I’ve seen, people see fit to have a go at them. A bus service via Tufnell Park Road has worked well. Diverting lorries away from this road is a good idea. You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelette.

I live near the bus garage in Pemberton Gardens and for years we have had to endure buses lining up at 1am, often 15 or more with their engines running. Calls to the garage fall on deaf ears. Asthma figures are high in this area and buses come and go all day in front of the primary school.

So if you think what is after all a temporary diversion is unbearable, please think of us who have to live near an inappropriately situated bus garage. It’s been relatively quiet since the diversion began we are dreading the spring. The bus garage must be badly managed if it cannot manage a smooth operation of getting buses in when people are trying to sleep. I call upon TfL and local councillors to move the garage to somewhere more appropriate.

Islington Council is leading the way in making use of old garage sites, exactly the opposite of the picture given last week (“Empty garages are ‘wasted space’”, Gazette, p3), writes Cllr Diarmaid Ward, housing chief, Islington Council.

At Parkhurst Road and Vulcan Way we’ve converted old garages into new homes, including badly-needed new council housing, and at seven other sites garages have been demolished or will be demolished to build more new homes.

We also actively market other garage sites as commercial leases can bring in significant income to help build new homes and maintain council housing.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter