Gazette letters: BBQs, parks, charity campaign, assistant mayor and City Hall vigil

Highbury Fields last year. Picture: Stephanie Knight

Highbury Fields last year. Picture: Stephanie Knight - Credit: Archant

Claudia Webbe said on diesel last year: “We’re committed to improving air quality in Islington,” and “we don’t believe there are any clean diesels,” writes Brendan Holmes, Witherington Road, Holloway.

Claudia Webbe said on BBQs in Highbury Fields last week: “While we accept that on a small number of days of the year this does cause an increase in smoke, we believe it is a worthwhile trade-off.”

A mite hypocritical, when you consider Highbury Fields is more polluted (higher PM2.5) than some of the most toxic streets in London. This is aggravated when you consider that the independent think-tank ICCT, who broke the VW test-cheating scandal, contradict Claudia in their report in 2015: “Technologies to achieve [clean diesel] are already in the cars being sold in the market.” Plus she ignores the well established fact diesels are more energy-efficient and have average lower CO2 emissions than petrol vehicles.

Allowing cluster-BBQing in such a small, enclosed park as Highbury Fields is inappropriate because pollution is inevitably high. It’s not just the nearby residents who can’t open their windows; Highbury Fields is popular with runners – an activity that should be healthy is carcinogenic. I would encourage the council to have consistent and evidence-based policy when it comes to pollution: ban BBQs from Highbury Fields and institute a plan to revise diesel surcharge in light of the upcoming portable emissions testing regime which will separate real-world clean from dirty vehicles.

Islington Council may want to generate income from its parks but the cost to park users is simply too high. Just look at the mess they are left in, writes Vaughan Grylls, Wilmington Square, Finsbury.

Spa Fields in Finsbury is a case in point. The park had been devastated by the Design Week installation closely followed by its rental to a film company.

Now we are left with a muddy mess for the summer. At the very least, companies renting Islington’s public parks should be obliged to return them to a fit state and that means immediate re-turfing so they can be used by all. Reseeding is not the answer as that means denying use until the grass has grown.

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As it is now, how can Islington’s residents hold picnics, sunbathe or enjoy the view given this vandalism?

Juliet Stevenson, Islington resident and patron of the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, has launched a campaign to raise £40,000 by the end of August to allow it to provide services for three days a week in the autumn, writes Jo Cobley, head of development, Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants.

We can currently only open two days a week because of a lack of funds.

We’ve been so grateful to the people of Islington who have been amazingly supportive in the past and hope that over refugee week [starting Monday] we’ll raise significant money to help some of the most vulnerable people in our city.

More than 2,000 people, many of who have experienced war and persecution, have found practical support, education, friendship and sanctuary at the Islington Centre since it opened in 1997. Last year it welcomed people from 38 countries.

The Islington Centre provides refugees and asylum seekers with practical support, English language classes, art and writing sessions, a choir, pilates, a book group, a knitting group, dance sessions, visits to museums, lunches and refreshments.

To see a short film about the centre, find out about events in Refugee Week and donate, please visit

Thank you for your support – it’s very much appreciated by everyone who uses the centre.

Some folks are venting their dissatisfaction towards James Murray and his political assent, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

No doubt in 2020 he will be a contender for an MP post.

However, it could be viewed as the best thing that has happened to housing in Islington in a long time.

Housing has been a disaster area in which James Murray proved one thing, which was that he did not have any answers.

If he is the best candidate for the task of assistant mayor, that speaks for itself.

Remembering that road deaths involve people not statistics is crucial for TfL if it is going to reverse Boris Johnson’s determination to prioritise motor traffic over vulnerable users, writes Caroline Russell, Islington Green Party.

A vigil at City Hall last Friday remembering the 11 people killed walking and cycling in the few weeks since Sadiq Khan became mayor provided a sad reminder of the human cost of road death and injury. The most poignant moment was after the die-in, where we lay on the ground for 11 minutes in silence for the 11 people killed.

Ashley Mae Stevenson, daughter of BMX rider Dan “Cash” Stephenson, spoke about how moving she found it that people cared enough about the death of her dad and others to turn up to the vigil. She asked that we remember these are people, not statistics.

Mr Khan is not to blame for these deaths but he holds the levers to shape the direction and priorities of TfL. He must ensure reducing road danger is threaded through all the work of TfL and that everyone working there and in our boroughs is focused on the importance of preventing road death and serious injury.