Gazette letters: Mistletoe, Cally Park clock tower visitors’ centre, food donations and domestic violence

Festive foliage: A file image of mistletoe growing on apple trees. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall

Festive foliage: A file image of mistletoe growing on apple trees. Picture: PA/Ben Birchall - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

It’s the time of year when many of us bring nature inside and decorate our homes with winter’s finest foliage, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green, of Greenpeace.

It’s a strange tradition in many ways, to bring such a large dying plant inside your home and then cover it in bright objects.

But apparently it is a tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years with varying opinions as to its significance.

I used to live on a boat, and Islington during the week after Christmas was an absolute goldmine for stocking up on wood. To all those in the large houses of Barnsbury and De Beauvoir that leave your Christmas trees out for the council with the large wooden base – I am so grateful. Over the years, boaters on the Regent’s Canal have been kept warm with your generosity.

If you’re on the hunt for mistletoe, a good place to start would be any of the local parks. Look for the big round clumps sitting in the branches of deciduous trees (trees that have lost their leaves for winter).

Mistletoe is a parasitic plant – it depends on a host plant for water and nutrients, and sprouts out of bird poo on the tree trunk.

At this time of year lots of the bunches won’t yet have full size white berries; you can still see little green bumps that will become berries in the coming month.

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Be sure to pick it responsibly, though! When foraging it’s always important to make sure you don’t take too much of anything, and leave plenty where you were for the other creatures that might depend on it.


The Heritage Lottery Fund’s decision to give the financial green light to Islington Council’s plans for Caledonian Park (“Fury as visitor centre plan wins £2m grant”, Gazette, December 8) came as a heavy blow, writes Nina Temple, Clock View Crescent, Islington.

Our local community now feels trampled all over by what will become a white elephant, as the council will struggle to find the £90,000 needed per year to keep the centre going at a time of cuts.

To add insult to injury, in a glossy promotional brochure delivered to local residents, far from acknowledging the widespread public opposition, the council claimed one reason for going ahead with the building at the north gate was due to “advice and feedback from community consultation”.

As readers of the Gazette’s letters page will know this is an attempt to rewrite history with a barefaced lie.

This approach will hardly convince opponents of the project that it’s now time to get on board with it. In fact it has left people feeling furious, and once again, ignored.


I was disgusted to read in your paper about the harassment of Islington resident, Stephen Griffiths, who protested about dog mess on the pavement in Spears Road (Gazette, December 15), writes Cllr Andy Hull, community safety boss, Islington Council.

Islington Council will not tolerate such abuse of our residents and we invite Mr Griffiths to get in touch with us about this incident so that we can take action.

We will also talk to him about the problem with dog mess in his road. If residents report dog mess, our street cleaning teams will


The easiest way to do this is via the free Clean Islington app. Residents can also call the council or use our website. We will continue to target dog mess hotspots for enforcement action.


I was shocked this week to see that neither Waitrose in Holloway Road nor the Co-op in Benwell Road had food collection boxes in which customers could make donations to food banks, writes Judy Cumberbatch, Bryantwood Road, Holloway.

At a time of such huge and unnecessary food consumption, shouldn’t supermarkets be making it easier to remember those less fortunate than ourselves?


One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, write Cllr Janet Burgess, health and social care boss, Islington Council, and Cllr Michelline Safi Ngongo, Hillrise ward.

Many of these women are afraid to come forward and report abuse, both for themselves and their children.

Those who do may turn to legal aid. They are terrified and feel that they have nowhere else to go.

To qualify for legal aid, women must provide written evidence.

This could come in the form of a GP letter, which some surgeries charge up to £75 for.

For some women, this cost is too much and may prevent them from seeking refuge.

They may feel forced to choose between feeding their children or escaping their abuser and getting into debt.

Last week, Islington Council backed a Labour campaign to scrap GP fees for domestic violence victims (see p6-7).

The campaign urges the government to scrap the unfair charge by bringing the service back under the NHS contract.

We know Islington’s GP surgeries do vital work for local communities, but we don’t yet know which, if any, surgeries charge the fee.

We are working with Islington CCG to raise awareness of domestic violence training and referrals.

The council is working towards stopping domestic violence and abuse in order to create a fairer place for all, where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life.

That is why we have backed this important campaign.

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