Gazette letters: Jean Simmons, Ocado, library catalogue and funding NHS

Hollywood icon Jean Simmons is one of north London's greatest cultural exports. Picture: PA IMAGES

Hollywood icon Jean Simmons is one of north London's greatest cultural exports. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Many of us who belong to the older generation and were captivated by the screen presence of Hollywood Icon Jean Simmons will have regretted her passing a decade ago on January 22, writes Walter Roberts, Brecknock Road Estate, Islington.

Also wondered perhaps, if speculation that she was born in Lower Holloway or Crouch Hill is true or false, its provenance being shrouded in mystery apart from the fact that she grew up in Cricklewood. Speculation is also rife that her remains are buried in Highgate Cemetery.

If indeed this is true and her earliest abode is still extant in the borough, then I and many others will be gratified to know whether a commemorative plaque has been or will be commissioned as a tribute to her.

Jean Simmons' realistic portrayal of a variety of characters ran the gamut from an ingenue immersed in religious dogma in Guys and Dolls to a virtuoso performance as a sociopathic patrician in the film noir Angel Face.

Regardless of where she was born however she will always be remembered as being one of North London's greatest cultural exports.

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By choosing to locate their new diesel distribution depot in such an unsuitable location Ocado are showing that they will ride roughshod over our community rather than working with us, writes Natasha Cox, Islington Green Party.

We are seeing a change of shopping habits to home delivery and I understand that distribution centres are an important part of the running of a city. However, placing a depot of this size and polluting nature in this location is morally wrong and environmentally irresponsible. Inner city depots should be smaller, serviced by electric vans bringing food in and onward distribution should be via e-assist cargo bike or electric cargo scooter.

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This is an issue which is going to affect many people in the coming years, Ocado plan 30-40 outdated diesel-based distribution centres like this which are more suited to a motorway location on the outskirts of urban areas away from children's developing lungs, brains and hearts.

No planning authority would give permission for a school or nursery to be built next door to a large diesel hub but apparently there are few controls to prevent one being built next to a school which has been established for over 100 years.

This road-danger worsening, fossil-fuelled dinosaur depot has no place in a densely populated area, no place next door to a state primary school, a nursery and one of Islington's few green spaces and no place in a climate and air pollution emergency.

The Islington Central Library has been smartened up recently, and that is no bad thing, writes Anita Frizzarin, Wedmore Gardens, Islington.

But why have the books held in the reference section been removed from the catalogue? When I asked, I was told that since people have to come in to read them anyway, it is not necessary to be able to check the catalogue.

What? Since when do people travel to a library without knowing whether the book they want to read is held in that library? Browsing can be fun, but we don't all have the time to swan around on the off chance a book we want to read might be there.

The assistant said that we can always ask at the desk, where the catalogue is complete. What is the purpose of a public catalogue which is accessible remotely but is incomplete? How many people know that the catalogue they can check from home has half the library books missing from it?

Public libraries are important particularly for the less well off so they can learn for free. Whoever thought up the big expense for floors and furniture should have had other priorities, those that make the use of the library more efficient. We go to libraries to find specific books and not to look at the floors.

The recent election saw intense focus on our national health service, and rightly so, writes Dr Gary Marlowe, chairman, BMA London Regional Council.

Years of underfunding have pushed the NHS to the limit. The UK now has the second lowest number of doctors in leading European nations relative to its population, according to research published last month, with waiting times for A&E care, cancer treatment and planned operations now dangerously high. General practice is also experiencing unprecedented pressures as GP numbers continue to fall while patient numbers rise.

We, as doctors, will continue to provide the best care possible with the resources at our disposal, however, without adequate investment the NHS will not be sustainable, and patient access to quality care will be reduced to an unacceptable level.

Politicians have promised more money, more staff and more resources, however, there remains concern that the Conservative NHS spending pledges will still lead to a shortfall by 2023/24 of £6.2 billion.

Therefore, we need MPs across London, who have been elected to make our voices heard in Westminster, to hold this government to account over the promises made on the campaign trail, while pushing for further commitments.

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