Gazette letters: Holloway Prison, homeless shelter, the Odeon and CATs

Will McMahon and Sian Berry on the prison site in 2016. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Will McMahon and Sian Berry on the prison site in 2016. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

As Jenny Kassman’s article in the Tribune last month pointed out (who or what is this “Tribune” you speak of? – Ed), the Ministry of Justice has yet to find a buyer for the Holloway Prison site, writes Will McMahon, from the Community Plan for Holloway group.

In November last year the government seemed confident a preferred bidder would be announced in the spring. Now prisons minister Rory Stewart says it will be the end of 2018, three years after the sale was announced.

Clearly, a combination of Islington Council’s robust planning guidance, the faltering housing market and the insistence of the community that it has a say in what is built on the site, has put off those seeking to make a quick buck.

Islington people who want to create a plan for the site that puts council housing and community resources at the centre of any future development should come to the Community Plan for Holloway community and architects day on Saturday. It runs between 11am and 2pm at Williamson Street Community Centre, 76 Parkhurst Road.

Following your reports regarding the proposed opening of a homeless refuge by the Shelter from the Storm charity I wonder why there has been so little consultation with the local residents, writes An Archway neighbour, full name and address supplied.

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On Thursday last week, I went to a drop-in meeting, which was not at all openly advertised, and it was a complete and absolute shambles. It was NOT a meeting as the charity staff were just standing around and made no attempt to introduce themselves, had no answers to any questions asked and some even just walked away when questioned.

There has been little or no consultation on this proposal as very few people were sent any notices and most of us there had found out by word of mouth. When asked why this was, a charity worker said: “The council should have sent letters out, not us.” And promptly turned her back on people.

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Many residents have concerns over his proposal but feel that we have not been given the opportunity to have any sort of say.

Will these ‘guests’ be police checked as we have two schools very close by and also a children’s play area? Can there be any guarantee that drinks and drugs will not be allowed? I doubt either will be policed.

On their website it clearly states that the shelter opens at 6pm and all ‘guests’ must be inside by 7.30pm. They are free to smoke outside at any time and this will cause a massive noise nuisance.

At 8.30am the shelter closes and all “guests” must then leave. Where may I ask will they be spending the day?

This area has had serious problems over the past 20 to 25 years and with the help of Islington Council anti-social behaviour and the local police, it has become a much better place to live. But we all feel this shelter will set the area back.

This will impact on many, many residents and the feeling from Thursday’s fiasco was that we are all angry, especially regarding being left in the dark.

The general feeling was that this is signed, sealed and delivered and we, the residents, have to accept that.

As a native of Holloway Road and Archway for some 23 years, I have two vivid memories of the Odeon, writes Martin Buchan, of Holloway.

The first was watching the late night premier of The Godfather Part III (I couldn’t wait for that film).

The second, and more bizarre recollection, was as an Arsenal season ticket holder watching in black and white a live beam back of West Ham v Tottenham in a league cup tie.

The Odeon was packed.

The following submitted letter refers to the proposals by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster to introduce Catholic Academy Trusts (CATs) into Hackney and Islington, writes Michael Cosh, of Corinne Road in Tufnell Park.

Due to widespread opposition the Diocese has merely placed these proposals “on hold” .

They lack transparency and accountability.

As this school year comes to its end, perhaps the Catholic leadership at the Diocese of Westminster should reflect upon the upset and trouble it has caused since last September within Hackney and Islington, as well as the other five Inner London boroughs in the Diocese over its proposals to form CATs within their schools.

Thankfully, due to solid resistance and informed objections by our councils, parents. governors and unions, the Diocese has now had to re-think what is outlined.

Most objected to the fact that the Diocese simply does not understand the complex needs of Catholic Inner London schools.

What is to the discredit of the Diocese is the poor tone they have taken towards our elected councils over this matter.

Minimal consideration has been shown towards our councils who have done much over many decades to support Inner London Catholic education.

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