Gazette letters: Sobell Leisure Centre and reporting crime

Campaigners from the Sobell Centre five-a-side league and Barnard Park protest the closure of their

Campaigners from the Sobell Centre five-a-side league and Barnard Park protest the closure of their pitches outside the town hall in June. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

GLL won the contract to run leisure centres in Islington and the recent proposal to build a trampoline park in the Sobell Centre has meant close scrutiny of the contract, writes Tricia Clarke, Yerbury Road, Tufnell Park.

I would question the fairness of the venture if it puts the affordability of such an activity outside many local people’s means.

Also the contract states: “The bidders have all addressed the Fairness Commission recommendations with commitments to pay London Living Wage to all staff as well as offering a range of training and apprentice positions including commitments to local employment.”

I would like to see the evidence that GLL has met this part of the contract.

It is both very sad and totally unacceptable that the voices of well over 1,000 customers and residents, raising justifiable concerns about the proposed recreational theme park project at the centre, are being totally ignored both by GLL and Islington Council, writes Barry Hill, Sobell Leisure Centre customer representative.

All we ask is full information on the project and a pause in implementation while the promised proper and democratic public consultation takes place.

Sobell customers have an enormously wide range of skills and expertise that, in the past, have proved valuable to both the council and managing agent. Why are their views being completely ignored?

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In the absence of any publicly available detail of financial projections or evidence of need for this project, customers are asking in what way the council has properly and rigorously tested all detail, especially financial, within the proposal put to them by the managing agent before signing it off for implementation. Certainly, ward councillors asked have no answers to these questions.

Why has the full public consultation promised by the managing agent in 2016 not taken place? With the council as a partner, customers expect a transparent and openly democratic process on such a matter. Exactly the opposite appears to have happened.

All 1,000+ who have so far expressed concern look forward to a detailed public response to these queries before the centre is damaged by this project – both as a vibrant community hub and as a fine piece of architecture.

Where is the line between the real crime and rough teenage behaviour? writes an assault victim (name and details supplied).

First, the question should be raised why teenagers would be allowed to act differently and in an anti-social manner without the same repercussions adults would receive. Letting teenagers get away with criminal activity and poor behaviour due to age will surely only entice futher developments in the wrong direction. The issue cannot be more relevant than right now with acid attacks, phone thefts and bag snatchings happening more and more frequently right here in the heart of Islington.

We read the criminals doing this are 14 to 18 – rarely older than 20.

The police and social workers most likely know the teenagers acting in this way already, but it seems like nothing is being done about it. For the last two years, we have experienced a group of teenagers on their bikes harassing mothers with children, random passers-by, cars on the street and actively seeking to create uncomfortable situations.

The teenagers have grown older and larger in groups. We have experienced more aggressive anti-social behaviour and recently I personally was the victim of an unmotivated assault in the centre of the Angel shopping area. Reporting this to the police was a good experience and the assault was taken very seriously. However, as the reporting of an assault needs someone to be willing to go to court, many would be fearful in case they are recognised on the streets.

Speaking to other residents in Islington, everyone has seen the bike or moped gangs on the roads, through The Angel or hanging out in our roads doing drugs. These encounters should all be reported but just aren’t.

Islington has the highest rate of bike and motorbike crime, something that is increasing. At the same time, it is one of the most popular neighbourhoods, something that surely will change if nothing is done to combat this trend.

When these teenagers become adults what are we to expect? Will the area continue to be desirable or will it change to become one of the gang areas of London?

Who can do something about this? For starters surely the parents need to be involved where there is still some structure in the homes. If this is not the case, hopefully social workers and police are able to combat it. Luckily there are many CCTV cameras – something I was never a fan of, but now part of making me feel safe.

It is my hope that by writing this, more people will report anti-social behaviour, verbal abuse, harassment of all types of assault in order to stop this horrible trend ruining Islington, our home.