Gazette letters: TV licences, road closures, Tactical Urbanistas art and child services

Pensioners are now gong to have to pay for their TV Licences.

Pensioners are now gong to have to pay for their TV Licences. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

Send me copy of ‘amended law’ scrapping right to free TV licence

Helen Cagnoni, Wilmington Square, Islington, wrote to Oliver Dowden, CBE, MP, department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and others:

As one of the million-plus pensioners who have received notices demanding £157.50 from the BBC for a television licence I was allocated free from the government when I eventually retired 17 years ago, would you please send me a copy of the “amended law” removing this “legal right” to my free TV licence?

Please also send me a copy of the “named list” of those who voted for and against the previous law - when this decision was debated in the House of Commons to remove “government responsibility” to a non-elected organisation - containing the clause to which these changes refer.

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There are over one and a half million pensioners in the UK who by choice do not, and have no intention of, “claiming benefits”, and this “suggested option” by any individual or organisation is discriminatory, divisive and insulting to all pensioners residing in the UK.

I look forward to receiving the documents requested, which should have been widely publicised by the government at that time, not just to the two thirds of the population who it is claimed are computer literate.

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Neighbourhoods into ‘prisons’

Martin Durkin, full address supplied, writes:

The recent road closures are an assault on the people of Islington, Hackney and beyond.

Roads are the arteries and veins of our community. They’re for taking a neighbour to the hospital or bringing your nan over for Sunday lunch, or for a million different wonderful, necessary, human uses - too many to list.

Roads are life. Authoritarian ‘planners’ are spending our tax money on turning our neighbourhoods into virtual prisons, making every little trip harder and harder, making life more difficult and tiresome and costly. Cutting people off from each other.

How dare they micromanage our lives like this!

The closures come on top of an already surreal number of road markings and warning signs, telling us exactly where and when and how we must travel.

And if we fall foul of one of them, they punish us with shocking fines, distributed like confetti, causing genuine distress to ordinary people trying to live and work here.

To many Londoners these fines are scary sums of money. We are being abused, and we’re paying through the nose for the privilege.

London, by its very nature, is a bustling, commercial, vibrant, hectic city. These miserable car-hating, white-van-man-despising ideologues wish to turn it into a static, lifeless, eco-toy-town.

And it’s not as if we have any reasonable democratic means of resistance, since both major parties are in collusion. But people are growing very angry, and as recent demonstrations show, we’re beginning to find our voice.

Wrong message?

Rachel Hanks, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

How sad that the council removed the commissioned street art by the Tactical Urbanistas in Prebend Street because of one complaint from a disgruntled and joyless local resident, allegedly because “it gave out the wrong message to children”?!

Pity the council aren’t so quick to act upon cleaning up all the dog (mess) littering the pavements, and abandoned mattresses and furniture on many street corners, or perhaps that is a positive message?

Investing in our young people

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, London Assembly member and candidate for mayor, writes:

London’s youth services are in crisis.

Councils have been under pressure to cut vital youth services through a decade of austerity but, amid the devastating effects of this pandemic, our young people need support from youth workers more than ever.

I have written to the chancellor ahead of the government’s upcoming spending review, to demand he reinvests fully in youth services as an essential part of building back better from this crisis.

I asked Rishi Sunak not just to fund councils to bring youth services back to levels last seen before 2010, but provide for a service that ensures every young person has access to local, accessible and appropriate activities and youth worker support.

In my work as a London Assembly member, I have been documenting and exposing dramatic cuts to youth services.

In London since 2011, at least £35 million in annual funding has been removed from council youth service budgets, over 100 youth centres have closed, and more than 700 full-time equivalent youth worker jobs have been lost.

Now is a crucial moment for the government to invest in the young people of this city.

We need to support those most disadvantaged by the current crisis, providing more chances and better opportunities for the next generation of young people to thrive.

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