Gazette letters: People Friendly Streets, Dixon Court, Holloway Prison site, Congestion Charge, exams, face coverings and easing lockdown

A lion rests at ZSL London Zoo, which reopened its doors to visitors this week. Picture: Aaron Chown

A lion rests at ZSL London Zoo, which reopened its doors to visitors this week. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA - Credit: PA

Congratulations to Cllrs Rowena Champion and Richard Watts for announcing the roll-out of People Friendly Streets, writes R Walford, Islington, full address supplied.

St Peter’s first, and then Canonbury, Highbury, Clerkenwell, Nags Head, and St Mary’s areas by the autumn.

Our local streets have been dominated by motor traffic for so long: pollution, congestion, noise, danger all taking over public space that should be peaceful places for children to play, and for people to walk or cycle around their neighbourhood. In the time of Covid this is essential. It will reduce the number of short motor journeys, thus reducing the amount of traffic everywhere, making the streets more available for physical distancing, and for commuters walking or cycling rather than using crowded public transport.

My only complaint: why is Barnsbury not yet on the list?

Why is Cllr Diarmid Ward determined to have two entrances at the proposed residential buildings outside Dixon Clark Court at Highbury, one for the better off (in private housing) and one for the worse off (in council housing), so needing the felling of mature trees next to busy roads and a school, writes Anita Frizzarin, Archway, full address supplied?

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The danger of classes mixing was one of the main objections to blocks of flats being built in the 1860s. It is rather odd that keeping social classes separate still matters to the Islington Labour Party in the 21st century.

The two separate entrances are the reason mature trees will have to be felled. One single entrance would spare the trees. Any explanation from Cllr Ward?

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I’m disappointed to write to say that although the promise of a huge council house provision is great for the area, what is going on at Holloway is very sad, writes A Buchanan, Parkhurst Road, Islington.

We were told an all-women team of architects would design the women’s building and that the wall I can see around the old prison from my bedroom window would be gone.

As it turns out Peabody’s project director Adam Conacur wants a gated community designed by men. I’m so angry I could spit.

I’m sure they’ll get what they want but after 150 years of the prison being shut off isn’t it time it was open?

Where is my short walk to the bus stop promised, and the easy access for school kids? Where is the iconic building we though we deserved?

After months of lockdown I’m looking forward to giving him a piece of my mind.

Having read a number of articles in your newspaper regarding the extension of congestion charging hours I write to you on behalf of members of the Italian Community in London, writes Modesto Tondelli, for and behalf of St Peter’s Italian Social Centre, Clerkenwell.

Most of our community has been frequenting St Peter’s Italian Church and Social Centre for many years, with most visits occurring either over the weekend or in the evenings. The decision to extend the London Congestion Charge for travel during these times will mean that many will have to reconsider visits to what has been their spiritual and cultural home since they or their ancestors arrived in London. There has been an Italian community in Clerkenwell in an area historically known as “Little Italy” since before the Church was built in 1863.

The impact will be compounded by the fact that the elderly cannot, or following Covid-19, will be too scared to travel by public transport. This tax will decimate the Italian community in Clerkenwell.

This would be in addition to the negative and punitive effect on the restaurant and hospitality businesses in Central London where many of our community work.

I understand that the Congestion Charge must rise in order to meet the deficit caused by Covid-19, however, the extension of the hours to include the weekend and evenings will penalize and do irrevocable damage to the London Italian Community, of which I am very proud to be part of.

It seems that everyone is abdicating responsibility for this decision, with central government blaming Transport for London and the Mayor of London; whilst they are saying that they are acting under governments instructions. Can anyone explain who has the power to reverse the decision to extend the hours?

The cancellation of summer exams due to Covid-19 has placed teachers in the position of judge and jury, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.

In other words, they are being expected to grade and rank their pupils, based upon their own assessment, using evidence such as coursework which is not available for all pupils.

Our teachers have been amazing in the support they’ve given to pupils remotely in recent months. However, this system of assessment carries issues.

For example, there is much research to suggest that human beings are prone to unconscious bias. As Professor Elliot Major of the University of Exeter recently told the Education Select Committee: “The worry is that unintentionally teachers will underestimate the academic potential of poorer pupils, potentially those from black backgrounds and potentially boys.”

In April, I wrote to the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, to express my own misgivings about his department’s proposals for an “awarded grades” system. This letter has not yet been answered.

Evidence from government and academic studies suggests that an over-reliance on predicted grades and a school’s previous levels of attainment when calculating final outcomes, could disproportionately damage the prospects of disadvantaged pupils - particularly those from BAME and working-class backgrounds.

The Department for Education and Ofqual must now take urgent action to prevent the potentially unfair and unintended consequences of this new awarding system, if it is not robustly administered.

Face covering measures on public transport and hospitals are only the first step, writes Dr Gary Marlowe, chairman, British Medical Association, London.

As we move into a new phase where we must all learn to adapt to living with the virus, it is time to accept that simple, practical tools to limit the spread of the virus are of paramount importance.

The evidence shows that a face covering can reduce larger respiratory droplets emitted in coughing, sneezing, and talking, which we know is a key mode of transmission.

That is why the British Medical Association has been calling on the government to implement face covering policies since April and we have welcomed recent developments that residents in London will be required to wear a face mask on public transport or when going into hospital in any capacity.

Foremost, it is vital that the government extends this policy to cover GP surgeries and other health, community and social care settings across the region. By implementing a consistent rule, we can avoid any confusion amongst the general public and reduce the spread of the virus in high risk environments.

Only with clear public information will this be instrumental in controlling the virus. The government must be clear with the public on the type of coverings that are necessary and how to access them.

With the UK death toll now tragically over 40,000, it is absolutely crucial that the government gets this right as protecting the health of people in London is paramount.

Across England, non-essential shops were allowed to reopen on June 15, writes Keith Valentine, development director, Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

It is expected that, as with shops that have remained open throughout lockdown, visual markers will be used to signify the correct distance from others, one-way systems and designated queuing areas.

With social distancing now part of everyday life it is important to highlight that not everyone can maintain the required distance as easily as others.

People who are blind and partially sighted can struggle to know when they are getting closer to someone, or if someone is approaching them. And guide dogs, of course, aren’t trained to help in this regard.

In general, people are supportive, but there have been occasions when individuals with sight loss have been challenged or even shouted at for coming too close to others, when the reality is they weren’t aware of it.

In such uncertain times, tensions over distancing can rise.

But we would ask that if you feel someone seems to be ignoring the restrictions, consider for a moment whether that person, rather than being careless, might not be able to fully see you.

Hundreds of thousands of people in England are living with a degree of sight loss. Please be aware that some people do need just a little extra thought.

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