Gazette letters: Ocado hub, community parklets, Highbury & Islington station crossing and environment

#nocado local campaigners oppose the delivery hub being built close to Yerbury Primary school © Nico

#nocado local campaigners oppose the delivery hub being built close to Yerbury Primary school © Nicola Baird - Credit: Nicola Baird

N19 is a deceptive battleground, writes Nicola Baird, Islington Green.

There are robins singing their territory near Whittington Park community centre where the after-school club are pretending to be kangaroos, while in nearby Tufnell Park, Islington's biggest grass football pitch is peaceful enough for a city fox to be unconcernedly ignoring the cyclists pass.

But it's here, three metres from Yerbury Primary school, that an Ocado and M&S delivery hub is noisily being built on the Bush Industrial Estate. The area already hosts 13 vehicle-dependant units including the Royal Mail, London Underground and Islington Council. On the other side of London Overground railway is Metroline's busy bus depot.

Despite knowing they would be neighbours to the school and the green lungs of Whittington Park, the planned hub is being built in N19 so that diesel-fuelled delivery vans can stock up for multiple mini-grocery deliveries. In January 2019 Ocado pledged to bring in electric delivery vans, but only if it can 'attain a significant power upgrade.' The well-named #Nocado campaigners see this as a cynical excuse to stick with diesel.

Albert Camus' novel The Plague shows how something that was unimaginable last week, can become the norm soon after. Before coronavirus gripped the headlines, the idea of having your shopping delivered in a diesel vehicle which adds to air pollution problems, seemed rather selfish. That's one reason Yerbury parents helped the #Nocado campaign take off.

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Turns out that in an Islington fearing coronavirus, shopping may need to be delivered to our doors. But if that's the case, let's do it in a climate-savvy modern way, like Bread by Bike based on Brecknock Road or the electric-powered milk vans across the borough. Ocado should not be messing with our lungs just because it took an old-fashioned business choice that puts polluting diesel vans to work 18 hours a day in Islington. This is not what you'd expect in a climate emergency.

You may or may not know that Islington council have already installed five commercial parklets and one on-street parklet, writes Eilidh Murray, full address supplied.

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A group of us feel that they are missing a trick here; community parklets are the way to go as evidenced by the programme being rolled out in Hackney. So we have organised a cycle ride for councillors and the general public round Hackney's community parklets on March 21. Seeing is believing.

Commercial parklets are expensive, all look the same, do not have the same resonance or sense of ownership with the community and don't encourage communal activities.

Community parklets encourage neighbours to meet, create, and watch plants grow together - sometimes they are the catalyst to many more local on-street activities such as book clubs, or coffee mornings, or just provide somewhere nice to sit and chat for old and young alike. Their joint community ownership makes them cherished and valued by their creators and admirers.

With so much bad news at present, we all need to keep hold of what's positive and life-enhancing so I would urge your readers to go to Eventbrite and sign up for an afternoon's gentle cycle ride round some truly inspiring community parklets.

Having read the account of what happened to the partially sighted lady at the crossing outside Highbury and Islington Station (Gazette), writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

I hope that she makes a good recovery but unfortunately what happened to her is exactly why when the plans were revealed for this fiasco so many people were against it. I also notice that Cllr Caroline Russell (Highbury East ward) says that TfL need to get their people down there to see what is going on.

Did TfL have to apply to Islington Council for planning permission to do these works, I understand the need to replace the time expired railway bridge there, but does TfL and the mayor of London have the power to override the local council as I believe that the A1 trunk road is TfL's rather than Islington Council's responsibility? If they have to get planning permission from the local council for this type of works then I would think that the local council also would bear some responsibility for ensuring the safety of the people.

I use the crossing where Deborah Persaud had this accident, three times a week to access Highbury and Islington Station. I, at the age of almost 73, like to think that I have reasonable mobility, eyesight and hearing, but all too often when I go to use the crossing I find that I am unable to see the crossing indicator on the opposite side of the road in either direction because of the traffic straddling the crossing due to its exit onto the remains of the roundabout being held up by traffic lights, and so being unable to access either St Paul's Road, Canonbury Road and Upper Street.

I agree that London's roads must be made safer for all road users whether they be cyclists, pedestrians or indeed drivers, but when you see the results of this mess up, it makes one wonder do the people who plan these schemes actually know what they are doing or indeed care about the consequences of their actions?

The other week I almost got hit outside St Paul's Church while waiting for a no 30 bus going to Highbury, by a cyclist who was riding on the pavement. After he passed I called out to him that he shouldn't be on the pavement and got a load of four letter abuse...

It's a shame traditional party politics leads to sensible and affordable suggestions being ignored, writes Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party.

As the Gazette reported last week (Council tax hike and Liveable Neighbourhood plans are signed off) the Green Party's Caroline Russell is the only councillor at the town hall not elected from Labour and the majority party, as usual, voted down her proposed amendments to their budget unanimously.

The proposals Caroline put forward, that Labour chose to reject, included - should Islington's charges for parking bikes in bike hangars be in line with neighbouring boroughs rather than by far the highest in London? No, obviously more sensible to charge a family of bike riders several times what it would cost a driving family to park their car. Should we stop charging council tax for the lowest income households, as Labour have done in Camden? No, more sensible to use council money to pursue people for tax they can't afford to pay. Should the council facilitate a Citizen's Assembly to allow stakeholder involvement in its Climate Emergency Action Plan? No, why would we want to bother with listening to people about such an important subject? Would it be sensible to analyse performance of the recycling chute project Caroline initiated on Highbury Quadrant estate, with a view to rolling it out more widely? No, if people knew it worked they might expect us to make recycling easier on other estates too. Could we fund a staff member to sustain the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards work by Trading Standards to improve housing conditions in private rental accommodation? No, clearly better to leave tenants to find out for themselves if their landlords are renting them illegally cold, hard-to-heat flats! Still, at least the council agreed to Caroline's suggestion to create a contingency fund, so that their own contractors can stop cutting off council tenants' gas when they carry out the annual landlord's safety check, if the occupants don't have any credit on their meter. Apparently the council hadn't noticed this was happening - causing enormous distress for about 180 households each year - until Caroline pointed it out to them.

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