Gazette letters: Local birds, Ocado scheme, EU extradition, reopen rail network, sustainability and devolve railway

A Redwing photographed from a window in Islington. Picture: MAVIS PILBEAM

A Redwing photographed from a window in Islington. Picture: MAVIS PILBEAM - Credit: Mavis Pilbeam

At this time of year redwings and fieldfares often appear on our pavement rowan trees to strip the berries., writes Mavis Pilbeam, Islington, full address supplied.

They can sometimes even be seen hopping about on the pavement cleaning up the berries.

Check any rowan trees along the pavements near you, especially if the ground is covered with dropped berries.

Many redwings and fieldfares spend the winter in the UK, usually in the countryside, but often coming into towns to feed up before migrating to Scandinavia and Russia to breed.

Islington Labour is committed to taking action to tackle toxic air pollution, especially around our schools, write Cllr Janet Burgess, Sheila Chapman, Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz - Junction ward and Cllrs Tricia Clarke, Satnam Gill, Gulcin Ozdemir, St George's ward.

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We are vehemently opposed to the proposed Ocado delivery hub at the Bush Industrial Estate in Archway.

The use of the hub, the increase in polluting vehicles and the installation of diesel pumps and a fuel tank adjacent to Yerbury Primary School's playground raise significant concerns around children's health and safety, air quality and carbon emissions.

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The council leader, Cllr Watts, along with Cllr Champion, executive member for Environment and Transport, and Jeremy Corbyn MP have written to Ocado to question the moral basis on which the company has decided a diesel pump and fuel tank adjacent to a primary school playground is acceptable. We also met with the company last Friday and still harbour grave concerns about the development of the site, as they did not address the issues we raised.

We have also secured an extension to the consultation process until January 27, 2020, which will allow local residents and parents to properly voice their concerns.

We are working with the school to ensure its voice is heard in opposition to the plans.

We have also introduced 13 "School Streets" taking traffic off streets outside schools at opening and closing times, this is more than any other borough and we are committed to rolling them out to all schools, where it is possible to do so. One of the first streets to benefit from this was Yerbury School.

In this week's budget proposals, we announced that we will be extending this programme to 30 schools this year.

We join local residents in strongly opposing the proposal to build an Ocado delivery hub in Tufnell Park and will fight their corner throughout the planning process.

I note from the story in this week's Gazette regarding the probable "road rage" stabbing of a delivery driver, Taki Eddine Boudhane, at Finsbury Park, that the suspected killer may already have fled to Austria, writes Mike Crowson, Islington Green Party.

If that is the case the police have until January 31 to issue a European Arrest Warrant, after which date the process, subject to the European Court of Justice, will no longer be available to the UK.

It would be necessary to issue a warrant here, send it to the Austrian police and hope they're prepared to help us extradite the suspect. They're probably not obliged to do this, as we do not have an extradition treaty with any of the individual 27 EU countries, and it would take time. If the accused chose to move to another EU country in the meantime - say Germany or the Czech Republic - the whole process would have to start again.

To have any real prospect of extraditing suspects in future cases, we will need new extradition agreements with each of the 27 EU member nations. In spite of the sloganeering around the general election we look likely to be negotiating treaties for several years, during which time flight to Europe could be a relatively simple way to avoid arrest for serious crimes. We trust prime minister Johnson has a plan in mind to implement his slogans!

Environmentalists are vague about what they want to see happen, write Clorence and Ivor Kenna, Compton Street, Islington.

The best way to stop climate-changing pollution is to stop polluting. A major source of pollution is uncontrolled private road transport.

Comfortable and convenient travel and transport can be provided for everybody if the former rail network is relaid and reopened for use by trains running on renewable energy.

The power of a community working together has never been needed more and in the climate emergency we are facing, it's vital that links are fostered, people share ideas and information and that we all rise above party politics to focus on what we can do together. And do now, writes Eilidh Murray, Canonbury.

There are many groups and invidiuals in Islington and our neighbouring boroughs who are working away on different projects and campaigns, all of which have links to our shared environment and how to make it better. Who are they? What are they doing? How can readers find out more?

Come to Inspring a Sustainable Islngton on Monday, January 20 at 7.30pm in the town hall to hear about 10 different, but related topics and let's get people inspired to get involved. Free tickets are available.

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Local people have quite rightly lost patience with continuous rail fare hikes, particularly when many have seen little to no improvement of their services, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

The burden on peoples' pockets could surely be lessened, and services improved, if privately operated metro services are devolved into the more capable hands of TfL.

You need only to look at City Hall's decision to freeze TfL fares for the fourth-year running to know that rail devolution could make life that little bit more affordable for London's beleaguered commuters. Single pay as you go fares and paper single tickets on Tube, London Overground and Docklands Light Rail services remain as they did in 2016. So too ticket prices for buses and trams, for Santander Cycle hire and for the Emirates Air Line. Unfortunately, City Hall does not have power to freeze fares on travelcards, because those prices have to be set in agreement with train operating companies and the government.

By the end of next year, this freeze will have saved each London household on average £200, providing a helping hand to those hit by the ever-rising costs of living and the lasting impacts of chronic austerity.

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