Gazette letters: Old Street, The Maya Centre, housing, mental health services, school streets and Brexit

Old Street is notorious for crashes involving pedestrians. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Old Street is notorious for crashes involving pedestrians. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

I was delighted to read about Islington Council’s plans to close the Finsbury section of Clerkenwell Road/Old Street to through traffic apart from walkers, cyclists and public transport, writes Ivor Kenna, acting convener, The Finsbury Forum.

As you point out, this will have excellent consequences for public safety and the fight against air pollution. There is another factor too.

People have noticed that roads and streets are being continually dug up to repair fractured public services such as water mains. The fractures are caused by heavy goods vehicles travelling straight from motorways on to inner-city roads and streets which were not built to take them.

If something needs to be transported it should go by rail which is practically danger-free, pollution-free and damage-free.

Before long Crossrail will be opening through Finsbury. Finsbury will show the way for replacing road by rail all over Britain.

Your Who’s Who article last week highlighted the great work done by Tahera Aanchawan and her team at The Maya Centre, supporting the increasing numbers of women whose mental health has been harmed by abuse and trauma writes Rebecca Harrington, chairman of trustees, The Maya Centre, Islington.

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Women who use The Maya Centre value highly the sense of safety they find in a women-only space, but places are limited as need grows and funding shrinks.

The closure of another highly valued charity, the Women’s Therapy Centre discussed in your news article, shows how fragile these valuable services are in the current financial climate. Emily Thornberry is right in saying that the government leaves charities to fill the void in funding, and the struggle can overwhelm them.

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Even where charities do have a contract with the NHS to provide accredited, effective services to the same standard as the NHS psychological therapies, their full costs are not met and the contractual system is onerous. It’s a real concern that a statutory contract culture has become such a threat to small charities in Islington and across the country.

Choice is being eroded both by the shortage of funding and the way public funds are administered. Political action is needed now to ensure that good services are funded fairly and equitably before more of our much-needed local charities disappear for ever.

I was pleased to learn that councillors had objected and were determined to take action against de-prioritising better housing for certain categories of people (Gazette), writes an Islington resident, full name and address supplied.

Whilst I’m not suggesting that councillors might want any of their clients dead, I was reminded of the arguments of those who need to die.

For as long as people cannot get certain, humane death, we must do all we can to give them comfort and dignity. This means better housing, comfortable clothes, good food, best medical research, corrective and cosmetic surgery and dentistry and anything else you can think of, where needed or possible.

But we do need to get merciful soon as there is the terrible consequence of failed suicide attempts where the poor victim ends up even worse off than before. Suicide is not easy.

Euthanasia legalised may offer a boost to some who need it, a touch of “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”. It may offer a quality extension of their life, a morale boost; because they know their suffering will end.

I would like to know what are the regulations that seem to silence health workers, which, in my humble opinion, ought to be really well thought out if they are working with potential suiciders. My own experience has been frustrating – I’ve drawn a blank from almost all I’ve talked to, the best and clearest on the subject have, so far, been the Samaritans.

Islington Council and Islington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are committed to supporting counselling and psychological therapy services in the borough, write Cllr Janet Burgess, executive member, Health & Social Care and Clare Henderson, director, Commissioning and Integration, Islington Clinical Commissioning Group.

The article last week in the Gazette “Women’s Therapy Centre closure: Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry lament latest attack on mental health services” (Gazette), referred to Islington Council and Islington CGG’s funding of the centre.

We want to make it clear that our funding to local counselling services, of which the Women’s Therapy Centre is a part, will continue and the level of funding remains unchanged. We understand, and the article noted, that sadly Women’s Therapy Centre was hit by a number of funding problems from other grant making bodies. We are committed to ensuring women affected by violence, trafficking and other gender violence can access therapy services and get help.

Despite the challenging financial environment, we deliver services to a breadth of women in the community including black, Asian, disabled and refugee women amongst others. This takes place through our multiple local voluntary sector providers and NHS services. Over 6,000 residents have accessed counselling and psychological therapies in Islington last year and this number continues to grow and we are in discussions with leading providers to streamline our processes even more.

I am delighted Islington Council has launched a further seven trials of “school streets”, helping to reduce traffic outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times, cutting pollution, improving road safety and encouraging more walking and cycling, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member, Environment and Transport, Islington Council.

Feedback has been really positive, and I am fully committed to rolling out school streets, or similar measures, for all schools in the borough, subject to consultation.

By the end of April, Islington will have 10 school streets in place, putting the borough at the forefront of efforts in London to tackle pollution from unnecessary school-run journeys and through-traffic around our primary schools. But we know we need to go further.

Poor air quality causes 9,000 premature deaths in London every year and it is a major public health issue in Islington, as the borough has some of the highest pollution levels in London.

A study by the mayor of London found 33 Islington primary schools were located in areas above the recommended threshold for dangerous pollutants.

Article 50 was due to have taken effect on Friday, March 29, 2019. Theresa May promised us it would. It didn’t, writes Paul Elliott, Islington Green Party.

The failure is symptomatic. Something is has gone wrong in British politics. It’s a lack of leadership. And it has been missing for some considerable time. The UK has been a member of the EEC/EU for some 45 years or so. Not once during that period has a British prime minister been perceived as playing a leadership role in the institution. Our usual position is as a surly troublemaker on the periphery.

Britain is a nuclear power within NATO, the most powerful military alliance in the world. Are we perceived as a leader in this organisation? I think not. The president of the United States is a climate change denier. Has Britain stepped in to take over a leadership role on this issue? No, we haven’t.

Brexit or no Brexit. Brexit, soft or hard.

Whichever it is, we need urgently to address the malaise in British politics before we sink into global irrelevance.

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