Gazette letters: Jeremy Corbyn, ‘no fault’ evictions, 277 bus and hungry childre

Under Corbyn, the Labour movement is shattering, with many struggling to stay on board. Photograph:

Under Corbyn, the Labour movement is shattering, with many struggling to stay on board. Photograph: PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

We are members of the Labour Party from Finsbury Park Ward, in Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Jenny Kassman, Islington (full address supplied) and 20 other Finsbury Park Labour Party members wrote to chief of defence staff Gen Sir Nick Carter.

As residents of the ward where our MP and friend lives, the video of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment using a poster of Jeremy Corbyn as a target during shooting practice has upset and alarmed us. This incident has brought to mind a number of questions of concern to us, particularly in the context of the murder of Jo Cox MP, in 2016, the recent plot to murder Rosie Cooper MP, using a machete and the recent assault on Jeremy Corbyn at a mosque in this vicinity.

We welcome the condemnation by army chiefs of the actions of the soldiers involved and the investigations that will be undertaken including, we hope, of the senior officers.

We are also gratified by the recognition that the British armed forces as such should not be involved in the political life of this country, bearing in mind the words of an anonymous “senior serving general” in September 2015 – a week after Jeremy Corbyn had been elected leader of the Labour Party. He was cited by the Sunday Times as saying that if Corbyn became prime minister, there would be “the very real prospect” of “a mutiny”. Therefore, we are concerned about what this video reveals in respect to the existing culture and mind-set within parts of the armed forces. In our view, to use an image of our MP as a target in their shooting practice was indicative of a lack of respect for the life of a person, including a politician with whom they may strongly disagree politically. To then unashamedly circulate a video on social media reveals a similar lack of understanding of the significance of their actions, both in terms of the enactment of a simulated assassination of this politician, but also a denial of the democratic process by which this politician could be elected prime minister.

Our concern has been further compounded by an article which appeared in the MailOnLine of April 3, 2019 in which ex-Colour Sergeant Trevor Coult, when interviewed, said “It should never have gone online. But it was tomfoolery, nothing serious.” In one respect, in the long run we believe it may have been beneficial that the video was posted online as it revealed a culture of which we were unaware existing within some sections, at least, of our armed forces.

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We request you investigate, not only the soldiers and their officers, but also the culture which allowed these soldiers to feel there was nothing untoward about performing their target practice in this way. We are aware of the tremendous pressures and sacrifices the members of our armed forces have endured over the past two decades.

We also consider there needs to be an inquiry into the attitudes of senior officers to ensure they will not use the military to subvert our democratic political system for which the UK is respected in so many parts of the world.

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More than a third of people in Islington live in a private rented home, and Islington Labour is committed to helping them to get a fairer deal, write Cllr Diarmaid Ward, executive member for Housing & Development and Cllr Jenny Kay, private renters champion.

Alongside building more genuinely affordable homes, including new council homes, for local people, we are taking tough action to support renters and to tackle rogue landlords.

Under our leadership, Islington Council’s dedicated reporting line for private renters has helped improve over 1,500 private rented homes since 2014, and has offered advice to over 2,300 people. The council has also taken significant enforcement action against rogue landlords and dodgy lettings agents.

Since 2015, a landlord licensing scheme in the Holloway Road and Caledonian Road areas has helped protect more than 3,500 renters, and we are committed to implementing more landlord licensing schemes and maintaining the council’s not-for-profit private lettings agency.

But there is much more to do.

The end of a private tenancy is the single biggest cause of homelessness in Islington, and across the country around a third of all families that councils accepted as homeless last year were made homeless by the end of a fixed-term tenancy.

That’s why we welcome the news that government intends to ban so-called “no fault” evictions, which see tenants kicked-out of their homes at the end of a fixed-term contract without good reason.

This announcement has come after pressure from groups such as Generation Rent, ACORN and the London Renters Union, as well as Islington Labour, and it is to be welcomed that the Tory government is finally catching-up.

We will respond to the government’s consultation when it is published and will keep the pressure on them to follow through on their promises.

However, the government is still failing to address sky-high rents, which we know are forcing people out of their homes in Islington when landlords increase rents at the end of a fixed term tenancy. The government is also pushing more private renters to the brink with damaging changes to social security, like Universal Credit, that are making it harder to find and keep a home in the borough.

We want to see controls on rents, indefinite tenancies and stronger rights for private tenants.

We need a fairer deal for private renters, and together we will keep working hard to make a difference for local people.

I read the letter by Peter Bridges of Essex Road regarding the 277 bus crisis in last week’s Gazette and could not agree with him more, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

Even better still, the day 277 bus could and should be reinstated from Dalston along Balls Pond Road, St Paul’s Road, round Highbury Corner along Upper Street and turn right into Pentonville Road and right again into Baron Street, this is the way the N277 goes and terminates.

It then goes down White Lion Street, opposite the Angel Tube station, and turns left into Islington High Street on its way back.

I notice the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who is not only the elected Mayor of London but also the chairman of the TfL board, has, in small writing on the bus stop timetables said, “to the Mayor of London and TfL every journey matters”. If this is so then why does he preside over the wholesale removal of bus routes?

He, Sadiq Khan, says there are too many buses running empty. I have also questioned the sanity of the 73 bus route for instance where it leaves its garage at Stamford Hill and runs empty along Stoke Newington Common and runs too and from there to Oxford Circus. I did suggest that when the bus leaves Stamford Hill Garage, when it turns into the High Road, that it takes passengers between there and Stoke Newington Common and when it leaves Stoke Newington Common, instead of running empty to the garage it takes passengers up to Stamford Hill.

TfL’s reply was that the route development team looked into this and said it can’t be done, it would mean recasting the route which is nonsense as it only involves buses running empty to and form the northern terminus. TfL it appears seems to have a “can’t be done” attitude towards running bus services and they get away with it.

I understand they lost all of the £700 million grant from government so to my mind this is all the more reason to explore and implement all and any ways of increasing revenue income on the buses.

Poverty is not something you have to travel far in Islington to observe, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

Child poverty is a disgrace and a direct failure of well-heeled detached politicians who refuse to acknowledge the hungry children’s plight.

School dinners help children who live in poverty, however when schools close for holidays so does dinner time for those kids. Therefore, those who are reliant on these opportunities should have a mechanism where they continue to be looked after all year round, in my opinion children being hungry is child abuse. There is no need for it!

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