Gazette letters: NHS, homeless shelter, Quietway 10 and pavements

People marched in central London at the weekend to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Picture: JO

People marched in central London at the weekend to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS. Picture: JOHN STILLWELL/PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Today (Thu) is the 70th anniversary of the founding of the NHS. It is one of the UK’s proudest achievements and, I am pleased to add, was made possible by a Labour government, writes Cllr Osh Gantly.

This anniversary is a chance to reflect on how the NHS has served us, our family and friends, by providing universal healthcare that is free at the point of use.

However, there are serious concerns about the pressures facing the NHS and the Tory government’s creep towards privatisation. In particular, spending on mental health services has fallen. The prime minister recently announced the NHS would receive a funding boost before 2024, but this still falls below the rise campaigners have long been calling for and cannot come soon enough.

Islington Labour councillors will therefore move a motion at tonight’s full council resolving to urge the government to ensure a genuine parity of esteem between physical and mental health services, and adequately fund mental health services.

As Mental Health Champion, this motion has particular significance for me. One in six adults in Islington has at least one diagnosed mental health condition.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our wonderful Islington residents who work for the NHS.

What does Archway Anonymous – who “recognise[s] there is a need for homeless shelters” but insists that “this is totally the wrong kind of area to place one in” – believe is the right kind of site, and a suitable alternative for Shelter from the Storm (“Don’t open shelter on our doorstep”)? writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Anon’s letter would carry more weight if the author had been willing to reveal her/his name, particularly while claiming to be speaking on behalf of “a close, friendly neighbourhood group” of which readers have no evidence.

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Most troubling, however, is the author’s linking of homelessness with “possible child safeguarding issues” given the proposed shelter’s “inappropriate” proximity to a nearby school.

This is fear, not fact, ignoring as it does the reality that children are widely recognised to be at greatest risk of abuse – of all kinds, including perhaps the most damaging emotional and psychological type – from family members and those known to them, not from strangers.

Fear-based prejudice is damaging to us all.

The way forward is surely for concerned local residents to request a meeting with the shelter’s organisers, and with some of the guests. Homelessness is something that could affect any of us.

To the writer of the letter about the homeless shelter moving to Archway – don’t anticipate problems, look at the SFTS website, arrange a visit or go and help for an evening, writesJ oan Feakes, full address supplied.

It’s been in several locations in Islington over the past years and quietly blended in!

You report that “Cycle action group lobbies Islington Council to ban traffic from Quietway 10 route” (Finsbury Park to Clerkenwell), writes David Harrison, Islington Living Streets.

The current mayor of London sees that the Quietway programme can be of great benefit to pedestrians as well as cyclists, but this depends on the Quietways being quiet with low traffic volumes to make them safe, low pollution routes which are attractive to walk along. To achieve this for Quietway 10, rat-running must be prevented on the route (NB through traffic would be banned, but residents and others could still drive to their homes), and on neighbouring residential side streets so that traffic is not displaced onto them.

This has been done in Walthamstow with amazing success bringing huge increases in walking and vibrant streets for residents.

Hackney Council stopped through traffic along much of its section of Quietway 2 (Walthamstow to Bloomsbury), whereas Islington spent a lot of money but did little to reduce traffic volumes, and conditions have not improved for pedestrians. Quietway 10 must be better. Local residents must come first, not commuters in motor vehicles.

Walking around Islington I have noticed the pavements are becoming more and more cluttered with vehicle infrastructure, writes Natasha Cox, Islington Green Party.

As a parent I am supportive of anything that helps reduce air pollution but we need to question the current decision to take space away from people walking and give it to refuelling cars.

Electric vehicle charging points should be in the parking space instead of well into the pavement space. Removing the obsolete parking ticket machines would also help free up space for pedestrians. These obstacles make life more difficult for those with impaired vision, wheelchair users, pushchairs, and those supervising children and vulnerable people next to roads.

Cars, both parked and being driven, are given a huge proportion of the available street space. The majority of Islington don’t even own a car so can we at least keep the footpath for people walking?