Gazette letters: Dixon Clark Court trees and coronavirus

A photograph taken from the seventh floor of Dixon Clark Court of trees scheduled to be felled March

A photograph taken from the seventh floor of Dixon Clark Court of trees scheduled to be felled March 26.. Picture: ALISON GOSPER - Credit: Alison Gosper

In light of the coronavirus public health emergency, I have today written to Islington’s chief executive, Linzi Roberts-Egan, asking that she immediately halt the removal of the trees, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

In no way is this “essential” work – and if the council is to follow the instruction to all of us to Protect the NHS and Save Lives, that must include reducing possible serious injury to tree surgeons that their job poses.

How bitterly ironic it would be to destroy the lovely Dixon Clark Court “little forest” only to find all construction work in London banned for the forseeable future, leaving an empty boarded-up ugly site. There are only losers in such a scenario at this time of police-enforceable lockdown. As council leader Richard Watts said earlier this week: “so many people in Islington...don’t have the luxury of their own outside space”, (Coronavirus: council leader threatens to close Islington parks).

Precisely. Our collective mental wellbeing, demands a respect for the borough’s limited green space, and these healthy trees.

World pollution levels can be cut drastically within days. That is one of the lessons the Covid-19 emergency is teaching us, writes Conor McHugh, Compton Terrace, Islington.

Such cuts are the result of curbing our industrial activities and travel, something we are doing willingly because we expect it to save lives.

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How ironic, and distasteful, it would be if the Covid-19 disaster were also exploited to overcome public protest, particularly where that protest concerns the relentless degradation of our environment by the careless removal of trees and greenspace.

Currently, this is what is scheduled to happen at Highbury Corner. Felling notices have been placed on six of the roadside screen of trees at Dixon Clark Court, stating they will be removed today (March 26).

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It is of course equally possible that no thought at all (kindly or malevolent) has been applied to choosing this mid-covid19 date. It may just be the result of one department of the council asking for felling authority and another providing it, at the normal pace for large, complex administrative bodies.

However, this is an opportunity for the council to state clearly what its intentions are. Does it consider destroying these trees to be essential work, which needs to go ahead despite rampant disease, two-metre personal exclusion zones and impending citizen lockdown?

Or does it take the kinder view that concerned local citizens have enough to worry about in looking after family, friends and others, without having to be on the watch for chainsaws, shredder vans and new leaves vanishing as fast as spring and sunlight make them appear? Will the council put aside all controversial tree felling until a later time, to be publicly announced?

In these difficult circumstances, it is terrible to see that the most vulnerable in our community are set to be hit the hardest, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly member, North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

And yet, it has been incredibly encouraging to see our community reaching out to those in need.

Right now, foodbanks are struggling under the weight of increasing demand. Where possible, we can help out with our time, donations and financial support.

Help is also coming from City Hall, which has already launched a £2 million emergency support fund for community organisations and set up a dedicated online page for volunteers.

The mayor is also working to ensure homeless people can self-isolate, securing an initial 300 hotel rooms for this purpose.

The congestion charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) have been suspended to provide an extra helping hand to those in key frontline services who drive to work.

On top of this, all businesses on Transport for London’s estate have been granted full rent relief for three months. And the Mayor has strengthened London’s Culture at Risk office, to help stop the closures of entertainment venues in the capital.

In the meantime, I want to thank local people for following government guidance, and for looking out for one another where they can.

The transference of this animal virus to humans is due to human behaviour, writes Sue Roebuck, St George’s Avenue, Tufnell Park.

The human behaviour in question is the mistreatment of animals, ie entrapment of animals in atrocious conditions in the wild animal markets in China (coronavirus); intensive rearing in factory farms (swine flu and bird flu), feeding animal products to herbivores (BSE); and animal experimentation (HIV).

These practices have all had dire consequences for human beings.

Now that the whole world is affected by this pandemic, it is time to review man’s exploitation of animals, if only in self-interest, if future epidemics are to be avoided.

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