Gazette letters: Highbury Fields, Finsbury Park flood, pedestrians and Brexit

Highbury Fields. Picture: KEN MEARS

Highbury Fields. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

I am writing firstly to thank you for publishing my piece about barbecues on Highbury Fields in its entirety (Letters),writes Roy Prentice, Highbury Crescent, Islington.

Secondly, I would like to propose a way forward for the Gazette to keep the debate about this long running and emotionally charged issue alive and through which a solution to this "toxic" problem might be achieved. Research into pollution levels in public spaces, undertaken at Imperial College and published this week, provides powerful additional evidence in support of my argument.

It reveals Islington as a London borough at the bottom of the pollution pile! Councillors won't like it but won't be able to ignore it or bluster like Boris to discredit it. Local residents are well informed, exasperated and will see through the usual political diversionary tactics.

I would like to suggest an event hosted by the Gazette over the winter to move this debate forward before the next barbecue session kicks off, to involve councillors, local residents and researchers from Imperial College. The concerns of local residents won't go away and a structured opportunity to reconsider this complex issue is urgently needed.

The scale of the Finsbury Park flooding and the damage to people's homes has been absolutely shocking, writes Jennette Arnold OBE AM, London Assembly Member for the North East.

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This is yet another major incident in recent times caused by a burst pipe, causing huge disruption to the lives of local people and putting the most vulnerable in the community in a potentially dangerous situation.

It has been clear for a long time that Thames Water need to take urgent action to properly invest in accelerating their leakage reduction programme to cut leaks and vastly improve their emergency response and communications strategies.

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We would now expect Thames Water to be forthcoming with generous compensation payments to all those who have been adversely affected.

I would like to extend my thanks to the emergency services who are working hard to evacuate local residents and distribute water, and Hackney Council who have opened up a rest centre.

So the borough could go car free in order to protect the safety of cyclists (Gazette), writes Kevin Gray, Liverpool Road, Islington.

But what about protecting the group that makes up the majority of people using our streets - the pedestrians?

We are quoted figures of cyclists injured in "crashes" with motor vehicles but it would be interesting to see what the figures are for injuries incurred by pedestrians from "crashes" involving cyclists. [Editor's note: according to independent fact-checking website Full Fact, three pedestrians were killed by cyclists in the whole of the UK in 2016. By comparison, that year, 102 cyclists were killed, while drivers killed 291 pedestrians.]

When I'm at a pedestrian crossing drivers stop to let me cross - cyclists don't. Drivers stop at red lights - cyclists don't. Motorists don't drive along pavements - cyclists do, often yelling at pedestrians to get out of their way!

Already the new pedestrianised area of Highbury Corner is plagued by cyclists using it as a short cut between Upper Street and Holloway Road rather than use the cycle lane that has cost thousands of pounds to install.

So let's not keep hearing about how hard done by cyclists are. They choose that mode of transport. It's up to them to ride safely.

Brexit has been a catastrophe for Britain's standing in the world, writes Paul Elliott, Islington Green Party.

We prided ourselves on the longevity of our democracy, the flexibility of our constitution and the statesmanship of our leading politicians.

As we all know, in 2016, the Brexit Referendum produced a 52:48 majority in favour of Leave. Many from the traditional Labour core voted Leave and many Conservative supporters voted Remain. But what did our government do? They continued blindly and pig-headedly to operate along conventional party lines. No attempt was made to form an all-party coalition of Leavers to agree a strategy, turn this into a deal with the EU and then guide this deal through parliament. The Remainers are no better. They can't even agree who should have the privilege of meeting the Queen, negotiating an extension to Article 50 and calling a second referendum and/or a general election.

The root of this problem is the British electoral system. It is structured on confrontation. But most of all, we have the first past the post electoral system, which is designed to preserve the two party system and keep us in the up/down, left/right purgatory of what the French call "alternance", periods of rule by one party followed by periods of rule by their opposite. The net result of this is that we have generations of politicians who have no idea how to form coalitions. They can rule, but they can't govern. The world has changed. It is no longer a question of just left or right. Brexit is only one example of divisions across new political axes. There is the rise of Scottish and Welsh nationalism that cuts across the old left and right boundaries.

Another division in our society is coming increasingly to the fore and, very soon, will dominate all political debate in this country and across the world. It is the crisis in the environment. This too is not, and should not be made into, a left versus right issue. Perhaps, it is more a young versus old debate. If so, then let us hope that the young do not repeat the errors of their seniors and resort to sterile tribalism. Because, if they do, they will not be able to form the coalitions and compromises necessary to save our planet.

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