Gazette letters: Hillsborough, hospital appointments and payday loan shops

Hillsborough families after the verdict

Hillsborough families after the verdict - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

April 15, 1989. As a 14 year old boy I witnessed, from the safety of another stand, 96 people be killed or fatally injured at Hillsborough, writes council leader Cllr Richard Watts.

For 27 years the victims of this disaster, and their families and supporters, have been the victims of the biggest miscarriage of justice in our history.

For 27 years, families had the truth about how their loved ones died hidden from them and, even worse, have seen fans blamed for a disaster that wasn’t their fault. Last week a jury found that each of the 96 victims had been unlawfully killed. They set the record straight.

The disaster was caused by the failures of a Police operation, a badly maintained football ground and a botched disaster response. I saw people die in front of me whose lives could have been saved if the emergency services had responded properly.

At almost every turn over those 27 years the powerful told the weak their voices didn’t matter.

What they, and I, saw on that day was covered up with the help of a government trying to cover its back and protect its friends.

The spirit and determination of the families to win justice should give hope and confidence to all those who fight to right wrongs and those that will not allow the truth to be hidden.

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The front page (April 28, p1) exposes a flaw in the health system, the system for appointments is rigged, as in you choose and book, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

Not your day of choice - so your appointment may be months away and you might mix it up, clearly this is proven by those that fail to attend.

The public should be forgiven for such oversights, however, those responsible should not be, as they are high paid managers there to organise the service and clearly they are failing. Perhaps a new system is required to counter this disaster.

I suspect, if the system was privatised it would be a lot more efficient as we would be talking private profit in opposition to loss to the public purse and responsibility would be imposed and expected where as the current system appears to be “who cares?”.

It is surprising that Islington Council has made judgements, which appear to be based on political point scoring and electioneering rather than actually representing the needs of its residents, writes Russell Hamblin-Boone, Consumer Finance Association CEO.

Eight stores in London’s most populated borough represents a very small number of the businesses, so is hardly a proliferation.

As well as loans the stores provide currency exchange, money transfer, gold buying, pawnbroking and retail sales. The council’s decision is anti-competitive and it overlooks the fact that lenders are tightly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, subject to a price cap and carry-out stringent affordability checks before issuing a loan. On average only eight per cent of loans are approved.

We hope that when it comes to planning decisions, the committee members will be less influenced by such political posturing and more focused on the evidence of any impact on the community.

This year marks 500 years since the postal service was formalised, writes Lucy Worsley, TV historian and chief curator, Historic Royal Palaces.

Those years have witnessed enormous social and cultural change, and two World Wars. Throughout all of that, letters flew across the country, as the post was the way for people to exchange news: of great, overwhelming political events, or of tiny, intimate, but life-changing family events.

The postal service gave people the chance to share their thoughts, and discovering what they were is what gives me the greatest pleasure as a historian. Personal letters can open a little paper window onto the great events of the past.

That’s why I’m working with Royal Mail to ask people to hunt out long-forgotten letters that might help to re-tell the social and cultural history of the UK through the words of the people who lived it. We’d like people to look in their attics, rummage around garages and search their sheds for old letters and postcards. We’d like to know what these letters have to say.

If you find something brilliant in your own family letters, you can upload it by visiting

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