Gazette letters: Nature, Holloway Prison, fly-tipping fine and crime prevention

The butterfly by Downs Park Road. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

The butterfly by Downs Park Road. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Will McCallum

The streets are quiet in August, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

While central London heaves with tourists, Hackney and Islington enjoy temporary relief from the twice-daily rush hour queues of traffic (except on the A1 which is always foul regardless of the season).

It’s a rare few weeks when exhaust fumes aren’t the only roadside scent and cycling is pure pleasure. It’s a good time for exploring. I’ve enjoyed nosing around front gardens in the neighbourhood: bursting lavenders, competing crowds of comfrey and nettles, even a couple of cacti proudly out of place behind Balls Pond Road.

Around Downs Park Road I stopped to watch a butterfly in trouble. Its damaged wings made it hard to identify but I think it was a Painted Lady. Alighting on a low wall its antennae remained lively, but no amount of its effort could catch the wind. It found in Hackney a final resting place after migrating from north Africa – an astonishing feat given how fragile these creatures are.

Heath swimming season still in full swing, I headed up to enjoy the last few weeks of the warmer water – the silence of the ponds interrupted only by parakeets above and a great crested grebe chick annoying

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its parents with incessant pleas for attention.

Gazette readers may be aware the former Holloway Prison site will officially on sale from this autumn, writes Will McMahon, Community Plan for Holloway.

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I am writing on behalf of the The Community Plan for Holloway, a local alliance of residents and voluntary sector groups, who are very concerned that the land will simply be sold to the highest bidder and unaffordable expensive flats built in a borough that has an enormous need for affordable housing, green space and other community facilities.

The Community Plan has organised a survey asking those who live and work in the borough what they would like to see happen on the Holloway site, and also what they would not like to see. We have now had well over 600 responses expressing a wide range of views. You can still take part in the survey – click here to fill it in. It closes on September 1.

We will be holding an open day on September 30 from 1pm to 4pm at St George’s Church in Crayford Road, N7, to report the findings of the survey to residents. There will be stalls from local organisations explaining what they would like to happen to the site, a question and answer session about the Community Plan, and a discussion about what the community would like to see created where the closed prison now stands.

I encourage Gazette readers to fill in the survey and visit the open day to join in the discussion about the future of the land.

Islington does not tolerate fly-tipping, which is selfish and disrespectful, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, environment boss, Islington Council.

As reported in the Gazette last week, we recently secured the biggest fine ever handed down by the courts for fly-tipping in Islington.

The prosecution of Papa Winny’s takeaway in Holloway sends out a clear message that fly-tipping is simply unacceptable and we will not stand for it. This business ignored all our efforts to engage with them and did not even turn up to defend themselves in court.

We do support small businesses in every way we can, but it is essential they respect the law.

We will always look to gather evidence of fly-tipping and seek the maximum penalties available.

Nonetheless, we urge the owners to get in touch and we can see what support the council can provide to help them make their business a success in Islington.

Much of the media is obsessed with blaming teenage knife crime on feral youth running riot in our cities, writes Roderik Gonggrijp, Tufnell Park, Islington Green Party.

But the reality is far more complex and unless we are willing to understand this and move away from the establishment’s current confused cocktail of deterrence, punishment and rehabilitation, no lives will be saved.

Crime arises from a combination of individual and social factors, its level and types a result of the society we create or allow to happen. The police cannot solve the problem alone because it is not in their power to influence its current driving forces of poverty, exclusion and limited job opportunities.

Criminal justice efforts to control the situation have revolved, to date, around knife amnesties, focused police operations and similar reactive measures.

Though good for publicity, however, these have very limited effect and in some instances may even be counter-productive.

Stop and search, for example, may worsen the situation by victimising young people and creating mistrust and resentment. The Metropolitan Police themselves recognise this.

With a limited mandate and even more limited resources the police cannot solve these problems by themselves. We can only achieve our common objectives through policies such as a basic income, taxes on wealth and greater spending on social services, backed by political will, to improve the quality and equality of our society.

Islington has one of the highest child poverty rates in London – 36 per cent. That should be the background to every new headline informing us of a stabbing.

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