Gazette letters: Winter robins, A1 roadworks and knife law

A robin in a residential garden (Picture: PA)

A robin in a residential garden (Picture: PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Scrawny twigs bearing the overripe remnants of autumn’s fruit, writes Will McCallum, Islington Greenpeace.

Berries not gorged on by birds are colourfully trodden into the pavement as they drop from the branch. Pastes of red and orange stain the concrete beneath similarly hued leaves. Thankfully, some berries remain resolutely on the branch; there are some fine holly bushes in Islington’s front gardens, with their Christmas reds and greens.

Last week, running along the back streets of Holloway towards Hampstead Heath, I caught a glimpse of one of my favourite sights of the year: my first winter robin, proudly sat on an iron gate with red chest puffed out like a smug child in a new winter coat.

For some years I have recorded the first winter robin I see (last year was not until December 11 in Cornwall). It’s an odd habit as the association of robins with winter is based more in folklore than science. Robins are with us year round and so how is it that each year I arbitrarily pick one when the weather gets cold and note it as the first robin of winter?

It may be that as the twigs are more sparsely covered in leaves, it is simply easier to see the bright orange breast of a robin. Or maybe as the weather gets colder and presumably the food is harder to find, robins get more daring and so come closer to us humans in the hope of a crumb from our table.

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Whatever the reason, it is always a joyful sight.

The effects of the closure of Holloway Road stretch way beyond Tufnell Park Road, writes Merilyn Moos, Cressida Road, Archway.

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I live on one of the streets off St John’s Way, N19. For about two hours in the morning there is a massive tailback of traffic because of the complete snarl up round Archway roundabout. So drivers are now trying to avoid it by using these roads.

Yesterday I watched as two large lorries tried to get past each other in this narrow residential street, pouring out noxious fumes while one revved and the other finally reversed. It has now become nigh impossible to go either West or South from this area, the blocking ofd of Stroud Green Road making this even more difficult.

This of course does not just affect motorists. The air for any pedestrian in St John’s Way is all but unbreathable and will be higher then the legal limit for pollution, something that needs to be taken far more seriously. Bicyclists are even more at peril given the tight squeeze of the traffic and drivers’ frayed tempers. This situation is also unbearable for hundreds of local residents as well as drivers.

TfL may have to do unexpected repairs to the bridge but why is it unexpected and why has it not come up with liveable solutions? Maybe TfL has given advice but I have neither seen any notices up on the roads encouraging drivers to take alternative routes nor have I received by post any such notice. I would not be surprised if somebody took TfL to court.

Last week’s front page [“Save Our Sons”, Gazette, November 3] explains the fear of parents and the inability of the police and politicians to remedy it, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

With knife crime, the law is not always enforced. Five years for carrying one; how many young people have evaded that and gained confidence?

Why not change the law to a shorter strict liability sentence and enforce it? Well, perhaps the answer is prisons are full and people would use glass bottles to evade liability, rendering the concept null and void.

There are fewer police than ever before so this adds to the disaster and sadly young people don’t trust them. Perhaps the underlying gang issues are socioeconomic. These people are poor with no hope of escape, living the conditioned nightmare of “here’s all you will never be able to afford,” marketed in front of them daily with colour, psychology and music.

Now, you don’t generally see ABC1 types joining street gangs and engaging in street fights.

The ABC1 generally joins different gangs such as the political gangs of society. Perhaps they need to be disbanded and replaced by people who can solve these social issues. The same must be applicable to police policy makers.

To change society for the better you have to change those that have constantly failed it. Otherwise, it will stay the same.

We are now well into the third week of travel disruption as a result of Transport for London’s shock last-minute closure of Holloway Road, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, transport boss, Islington Council.

We and residents were given very little notice ahead of this programme of full and partial closures. Nevertheless, we have been working hard to reduce the pain and inconvenience it’s caused.

We have listened carefully to the community’s concerns and arranged a meeting for residents last week, so they could tell TfL face-to-face how the closure had affected their lives. This was part of a intense and continual dialogue we have had with TfL over these last few weeks, where we have challenged them to do everything they can to minimise the impact of the closure and the diversion of the A1 along residential roads.

As well as the measures outlined in last week’s Gazette, we have got TfL to agree to monitor pollution levels along this road. Of course, these measures can never replace the rights of residents to peaceful enjoyment of their home, or the opportunity for businesses to take advantage of passing trade in the run up to Christmas. But we will continue to do all we can to ensure this unwanted disruption is minimised for everyone affected.

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