Gazette letters: Violence Reduction Unit, fire strategy, Kingsland Road Travis Perkins site and driving using mobile phones

The number of incidents where someone has been injured after a knife attack has risen across the who

The number of incidents where someone has been injured after a knife attack has risen across the whole tri-borough. Photo: Katie Collins/PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The widespread rollout of early intervention initiatives across the capital is key to our efforts to end the surge in serious youth violence, writes Jennette Arnold OBE AM, London Assembly Member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

The Violence Reduction Unit (VRU) has been set up at City Hall to help deliver a public health approach to the issue, and recognises the importance of reaching out to the most vulnerable young Londoners before they fall into the grip of gang activity and exploitation.

Our education system also has a central role to play in tackling violent crime.

Accordingly, the mayor has recently announced an extra £4.7 million of funding through the VRU directed at reducing school exclusions, improving after-school provision and giving support to pupils struggling with the transition between primary and secondary school.

Whilst it is clear that having a strong police presence on our streets is vital for ensuring robust enforcement, it is also essential to put in place preventative measures and safeguards for the most at-risk children.

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The government should bolster the efforts that City Hall is making in each of these areas by reversing the significant cuts it has made to youth services and the Met Police and reconsidering welfare reforms that have pushed many children into poverty and precarious circumstances.

When I was 28 I was involved in an office fire and what shocked me was how quickly the fire spread although fortunately no one was hurt, I have retained an interest in the subject ever since as the current Mayor of Hackney will no doubt recall, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

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I read with great interest in press reports of the enquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire and therefore I was not surprised at the criticism of the management of the London Fire Brigade. It is fully justified. Individual fireman risked their lives to help and I have nothing but praise for them. The Mayor of London ought to have realised that the fire brigade had not done proper planning for such a disaster I hope he has learnt his lesson but I fear not.

On Saturday, November 2 I had to attend a meeting at Church House, Westminster and intended to catch the Tube from Finsbury Park to Oxford Circus where I would catch an 88 bus to Church House. When I arrived at Oxford Circus I found Regent Street closed because of a celebration of a film due shortly about a grand prix motor race. What struck me was there was no information at Oxford Circus about alternative routes and staff were not properly informed about alternative routes and I ended up walking down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus and getting a bus to Trafalgar Square where I rejoined the 88 bus route.

The last time I attended a meeting at Church House was July 15, 2019 when the London taxi drivers were having a dispute with the London Mayor. On this occasion there was the same problem a total lack of information about alternative routes. The story of that occasion was in a letter the Gazette published at the time. On both of these occasions I was very late thanks to the Mayor of London, but it did not stop me making the points I intended to make and I discovered a few days ago that the point I had made on the first occasion had been taken very seriously.

I can't ened without a mention of Brexit. Although I voted to leave the European Union I entirely agree with the Mayor of Hackney that European Union citizens are welcome here and anyone who has read all my letters on the subject will not dispute that fact.

Put people before profit for once

The proposal for the Kingsland Road Travis Perkins site has similarities to the two overly dense Benyon Free Schools, writes Tom Wilson, name and address supplied.

The secondary school has 700 pupils on a site recommended for only 550. The primary school pupils travel weekly to Hampstead Heath to experience proper outdoor space.

There appears to be a theme of cramming too many people into too small a space which ultimately doesn't make for happy people or community.

Isn't it time we started putting people before profit.

I always enjoy walking in Hackney with its parks and open spaces, writes Terry Wood, Manor Road, Stoke Newington.

I am shocked, however, by the amount of drivers using mobile phones.

More shockingly in the Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill area many white vans carrying schoolchildren around the borough have drivers using mobile phones.

I lost a very good friend to a driver, distracted by using a mobile phone. Three children were left without a father. I don't see any law enforcement on the ground.

Community leaders, the police and Hackney Council should get together to educate people better or to enforce the law.

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