Gazette letters: School streets, betting epidemic and Brexit

Pupils and staff at St John Evangelist Catholic Primary School, which has Islingtons first school s

Pupils and staff at St John Evangelist Catholic Primary School, which has Islingtons first school street as reported in last weeks Gazette, with transport boss Cllr Claudia Webbe. Picture: STEVE BAINBRIDGE - Credit: Archant

“School streets” are designed to encourage parents to walk or cycle with their children to school by removing cars, reducing pollution and creating a sociable community-focussed atmosphere at the school gate at drop off and pick up each day, writes Cllr Caroline Russell (Green), Highbury East.

The way these streets work in other boroughs is just like the play streets that already happen all over Islington. They are self managed by the community and flexible to local residents’ needs. If someone needs to leave or arrive during the play street period, participating adults act as traffic marshalls.

I’m sure if an older or disabled person, living nearby to the school, needs to take a taxi at school pick up or drop off, the vehicle would be able to get through.

The important thing is that the council enables families to build physical activity in to their daily journeys. By using cars less and walking and cycling more we can all help cut air pollution and help make the borough a healthier place to live.

Will the council tackle the school streets experiencing heavy traffic flows? I fully support Arvon Road becoming a school street for Drayton Park School in Highbury East, but wonder why Drayton Park is not being used as a school street?

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Anyone who watches sport on TV will have noticed the ubiquity of adverts by leading betting firms, writes Paul Elliott, Islington Green Party.

It was a Labour government that passed the 2005 Gambling Act, which opened the door to TV advertising for sports betting and online casinos and poker.

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Since that act was passed the gambling industry’s spending on advertising has surged to £1.5billion, about 8 per cent of the entire UK advertising market. In addition, the industry’s marketing men have deliberately targeted professional football. Arsenal FC does not have a betting company as its main sponsor, but, if you go to its website, you will find among their “Regional Sponsors” Betfair and 12Bet.

The profits from the UK gambling industry almost defy belief. In 2016-17, it made nearly £14bn.

The profits at Bet365 were such that they could pay one of their co-chief executives a record-breaking £265m, nearly 10,000 times the average UK wage.

Meanwhile back in the real world, there are some 400,000 people in the UK with a serious gambling problem, enough for one in every 60 households, with a million and half more deemed at risk. Concerns are now being raised about the effect on children, with more teenagers now turning to gambling than to drink or drugs.

The big money lies with the online market, but we should not forget that betting shops tend to concentrate in areas of social deprivation, so Islington has its fair share of such premises – 55 or so. This is where the very addictive fixed odds betting terminals are located.

We call on the Labour Party leadership to rethink the damage it has already done with respect to gambling advertising; Islington Council to continue to use its planning powers aggressively to protect young people and other at risk groups; and Arsenal and other football clubs to ask themselves whether taking sponsorship money from the gambling industry is appropriate, given the influence they have over young people.

Brexit is a very bad idea, writes Catherine Miller, Hargrave Park, Upper Holloway.

Government advice sent out in 2016 to every UK household said quite clearly that “leaving creates uncertainty and risk”. The leavers have certainly got what they voted for. And, unfortunately, those of us who didn’t want uncertainty and risk have got it too.

It has been very frustrating to hear the loud chants of “where’s Jeremy Corbyn?” on both “people’s vote” marches.

Labour’s ambitious programme, if it won an election, could not take place in either a “no deal” scenario, or 10 further years of uncertainty and risk, as the UK unilaterally and expensively tries to negotiate trade deals to replace those obtained by 28 countries co-operatively pooling their resources to achieve good deals.

As we have all seen in the last two years, the processes are so slow and complex that they will simply clog up all the government machinery, leaving little time or money to address our real problems of climate change, inequality, social isolation, terrorism, AI and Big Data.

Brexit is no kind of solution to our problems. The UK has much more influence as an EU member. For example, everyone wants the big tech companies to pay more tax. Does a group of 500million customers have more clout to force this change, or a group of 65million?

Brexit is simply a very bad idea. It has already damaged the economy and will cause further damage.

According to the IFS and the OBR, every Brexit scenario is negative for the economy.

The UK needs to give itself every advantage in what will continue to be a global economy. “If you make a market more difficult than it is at the moment, then what is the attraction to the investor?”

Job losses are not optional with Brexit; they are inherent in the idea.

There is no such thing as a “jobs first” Brexit, any more than there is a “turkeys first” Christmas.

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