Gazette letters: People Friendly Streets, Whittington Park, NHS and barbecues

Prebend Street is included in the People Friendly Streets plan for St Peters ward. Picture: Andr� L

Prebend Street is included in the People Friendly Streets plan for St Peters ward. Picture: Andr� Langlois - Credit: Archant

It was disappointing to read your one-sided coverage of the proposed traffic changes in St Peter’s Ward (Islington Gazette), writes Eric Sorensen, chairman, Angel Association.

What you didn’t mention were the serious local concerns about whether these changes to how people get about will really benefit anyone.

Many local residents are very disappointed that yet more traffic measures, adding to the many already in place, will be introduced on July 3.

There has been no discussion nor consultation with residents about these changes which will simply block certain roads.

Without consultation we don’t have the opportunity to ensure that inconvenience is minimised, that friends can easily visit, that we can help disabled neighbours get around, that taxis and deliveries know where to go.

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Of course, we all know about increased traffic on certain roads caused by previous road closures from City Road into the ward: traffic simply moves to another road with no net benefit.

The council markets this as People Friendly Streets. But all that is happening is blocking roads, more signage clutter, and displacing traffic.

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There are no electric charging points to encourage zero emission cars, no enforcement of the 20mph limit, no shared surface initiatives to encourage traffic calming and a better environment, no new green spaces and trees, no discussion on what the priorities should be.

We have written to Cllr Rowena Champion, the council’s executive member for transport and environment asking for openness and much more consultation, so that we end up with something a lot better.

Over to you, Cllr Champion.

Several years ago, the council (in the shape of Greenspace) fenced off and planted wild flowers in a section of Whittington Park, writes Keith Macfarlane, Yerbury Road, Tufnell Park.

Local residents and visitors have been enjoying this vibrant section of the park. While some much needed new housing is being built nearby, the council decided it would appropriate to place temporary cabins on top of the ‘meadow.’ Even though 700+ people signed a petition, it appears that the need for cabins in that exact spot was paramount.

As a compromise, about 75 per cent of the ‘meadow’ was taken away; a travesty. The contractors seem to be completely indifferent to local residents.

The site of the new block of flats included a play area. There seems to have been no thought about recycling the play equipment; residents saw a JCB crumpling the apparatus and dumping it in a skip.

How long will it take to build this six-storey block? How long will local residents have to put up with the inconvenience?

When the builders have finished and removed the concrete blocks from our park, we can hope that a glorious spot in the park will emerge again.

We have to ask whether the council realises how important Whittington Park is to local people. The contractors should have been made aware of this. It seems that communication has been appalling between the council and local people.

The council gave us a wildlife area – we want it back.

On July 5, the 72nd birthday of our wonderful NHS, health campaigners are organising a nationwide online rally at 4.30pm to demand radical change, writes Ruth Cohen, Islington Keep our NHS Public.

The government has dismally failed the NHS, the dedicated health and social care workers and the whole country. After earlier cutbacks and privatisation had left us woefully ill-prepared, the Covid-19 pandemic then saw delays, incompetence, for example over PPE, and an unbelievable lack of any coherent or adequate overall strategy.

As a result, shamefully, Britain has one of the highest numbers of deaths from Covid-19 in the world.

The figures also demonstrate the gross inequalities in British society, with people from BAME communities shockingly at the sharp end.

Meanwhile the government is cementing private provision in the NHS, for example paying £45m to SERCO – a huge private company with a dismal record of running public services – to run the crucial “track and trace” programme. And behind the scenes there are plans for greater centralised control, and reduction of meaningful public consultation about changes.

The NHS deserves better than this. Join us in a massive, nation-wide online rally at 3.30 pm on July 5, organised by Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together. Our demands include: to rebuild the NHS and social care systems, ensuring they are properly funded and staff are properly paid; to end racism in the NHS and remove any migrant charges; to ensure the NHS is not part of any trade deal; to undo the damage caused by the government’s shredding of public health provision; and to radically reform social care.

Put the date in your diary now, and help us say: “Our NHS deserves better!”

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Because of the danger of cancer, its illegal to smoke one cigarette in public, writes Róisín Ní Corráin, Islington, full address supplied.

Yet, during this high mortality, respiratory attacking Covid-19 epidemic, this government has failed to advise retail outlets to take off sale, for the duration, health-damaging barbecues.

In contrast to a cigarette, one barbecue can spread respiratory damaging, carcinogenic smoke, into several homes and gardens in an area.

A disabled friend, having painfully made her way into her small garden for some sunshine with its immune boosting Vitamin D, was driven indoors again, by a forest fire of black and grey smoke issuing from a now fired up barbecue in a nearby property. Indoors she was still under attack with the smoke entering through the air vents in the closed double-glazed windows. She is just one of many whose lives, during lockdown, already difficult and painful, were made worse by neighbours who saw no contradiction in behaving this way and then clapping for the NHS. Had there been a café open, she would have made her way to it, painful as walking is, just to be able to breathe air as intended by nature, not carcinogenic smoke.

It was once considered socially acceptable to smoke cigarettes even when the body signalled its distress by coughing.

My friend and others now have their lives governed by Russian roulette rules.

They can never relax on a sunny day, because they may soon be coughing, due to an attack on their respiratory system by carcinogenic barbecue smoke.

She and many others now suffer from depression because they have lost the power to plan and control their daily lives. This extra burden could have been avoided by government guidance to retail outlets to keep barbecues in storerooms for the duration. Barbecues have gone from the occasional one on a Sunday to everyday. Precious furlough monies were never meant to pay for this kind of damaging behaviour.

With people trying to shield from Covid-19, adding another element which attacks their respiratory system and increases the need for medical intervention, shows a Barnard Castle lack of care and planning.

Gas fired barbecues, I understand, are almost smokeless and had only they been on display, many people’s lives during lockdown would have been less of a siege.

The London Fire Brigade have advised no barbecues in parks because of the fire risk. In closely packed London, barbecues are much more of a fire risk in tinder dry gardens.

My offer to speak to my friend’s neighbours was declined as she felt an approach could create resentment and future problems.

Clear guidance from the government would have removed this dilemma and lessened the chance of conflict between neighbours when a lowered immune system, due to stress, could be fatal.

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