Gazette letters: Fundraising, Barnsbury Estate, trade unions and private renters

17-year-old Joseph Pullen-Coles died his hair for GOSH

17-year-old Joseph Pullen-Coles died his hair for GOSH - Credit: Archant

Now, I’m not a fan of sob stories but Great Ormand Street Hospital saved my life, writes Joseph Pullen-Coles, 17, Islington.

I was a few months old and just out of hospital. My mum took me home and as soon as we got home it was obvious I was very ill. My mum took me to the hospital where I was moved to GOSH. It turns out I had a hernia. The staff and doctors did all they could and saved my life.

Without them I wouldn’t be alive today. By fundraising, I am paying back the people that donated to GOSH when I needed help the most.

That is why I have dyed my hair – to support GOSH and children in the position I was in 17 years ago.

I am so grateful to all the people that have supported me so far in my goal to raise money for GOSH. I hope other people can see what good just a simple thing like dyeing hair can do.

GOSH and their supporters help and devote themselves to helping, supporting and saving children’s lives every day and so can you!

Sponsor Joseph

As a resident of the Barnsbury Estate, it pains me to see so much wrong with how it’s being run, writes Alex Nelson, Barnsbury Estate, Islington.

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You never see anyone around who represents the landlord, Newlon Housing, as they have surrendered responsibility to their onsite team Belmo [the Barnsbury Estate Local Management Organisation]. Every time that someone calls them to complain, they either don’t answer or say “ask Belmo”.

I think this is the wrong way to handle things as Belmo aren’t a bundle of laughs either. They are more interested in throwing parties and going on day-trips then repairing things that have been broken for many months.

For example, garden fences came down from the effects of Storm Doris in February and when I walk through the estate on my way to work, some have not been replaced. A lot of the residents are elderly and must be fearful as there is no security to block burglars.

Lots of youths gather in certain areas and in great numbers. They smoke weed and ride noisily on motorbikes at all hours around the estate. I could complain but staff can’t be bothered to come to the desk to deal with you privately and professionally.

Belmo charge residents 10p if they wish to become a Belmo member. Members get first choice on parties and outings they arrange. What about the others? Do non-members get to do things?

I refuse to pay out of principle because paying weekly rent on this awful estate should give me the same priorities.

I know other residents feel the same and I hope this letter gives them the confidence to come forward and make their voices heard.

Years ago I used to sing in pubs in your area, writes Max Nottingham, St Faith’s Street, Lincoln, formerly of Finsbury Park.

Why do people niggle about working-class workers being members of trade unions?

After all, the big bosses have a union. It is usually called the Conservative Party! Isn’t that right, Theresa May?

Private renters are important too, writes Cllr Dave Poyser, Hillrise ward.

At the last meeting of the council, Cllr Diarmaid Ward announced Islington had investigated 585 complaints about private rented dwellings while 842 properties were assessed proactively. As a result 364 private rented homes were improved and 132 enforcement notices were served by the council against landlords. Landlords were also prosecuted.

In my ward (Hillrise), despite swingeing government cuts to Islington’s resources, Islington Council took one private landlord who owned a multi-occupancy property to court after the council found a series of hazards – including a lack of fire alarm, insecure handrails and banisters, and rotten window frames (as reported in the Gazette).

The inspection, back in the autumn (the case went to court earlier this year), also found a window in disrepair, a hole in the wall, and dirty kitchen extractor fans.

Many tenants in Islington’s private rented sector live in appalling conditions. Some are paying a huge percentage of their incomes to live here. Many private landlords are socially responsible but this is unacceptable.

The council quite rightly concentrates on increasing and improving social housing in the borough, despite years of austerity.

But the private rented sector is extremely important too, and the above is just one of many appalling stories. Islington has a great buzz and it attracts young people – we need Islington to keep these young people and affordable, decent private rented homes (where many of us lived when we first came here) are part of that.

Cllr Ward announced the residential environmental health department will undertake a programme to identify and improve the worst living conditions for tenants living in the private rented sector housing. This sort of work monitoring the private rented sector is to be welcomed.