Gazette letters: Pentonville Prison and paper parking vouchers

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA IMAGES

Pentonville Prison in Caledonian Road. Picture: ANTHONY DEVLIN/PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I completely agree with Emily Thornberry’s condemnation of the draconian conditions at Pentonville, writes Morag Gillie, Co-chairman, Islington Homes for All – Axe the Act, in a personal capacity.

The impact of staff cuts and the government’s privatisation of probation services have had a disastrous impact on the prison service. The breakdown in the prison system is endemic and not restricted to Pentonville.

However, I have serious reservations about her proposal to “bulldoze and close the prison”. When this happens another piece of our public land risks being sold off to the highest bidder with little regard for social housing. Her proposal to replacing the site with “affordable housing” in realty can mean 80 per cent of market rates. The Ministry of Justice closed Holloway Prison for lesser reasons and we are now seeing a piece of our land being sold off forever; women prisoners were scattered across the country and the MoJ has no interest in replacing it with smaller prisons in London.

I would like to propose a complete refurbishment of Pentonville prison with a focus on rehabilitation and an apprenticeship centre with short term accommodation as a pathway out of crime. As a housing officer I see many people coming out of prison with no hope of being offered even temporary accommodation, who then return to the streets and re-offend. There is an opportunity to invest with the aim of putting an end to that cycle.

I would like to reassure residents Islington Council will continue to issue paper vouchers for visitor parking (On changes to visitors’ parking, Gazette), despite the introduction of e-vouchers, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington’s transport chief.

E-vouchers – where residents pay for visitor parking via the RingGo app on their phone - are increasingly popular in Islington. Thousands of residents have used e-vouchers since we introduced them last year and almost 700 new RingGo accounts are registered each month. Feedback has generally been very positive. E-vouchers have a number of advantages: you can buy them immediately, anywhere, on your phone, and you can never run out. There are other advantages – parking fraud is much more difficult, and they also cost the council less to issue, saving money for other important services, at a time when the council continues to face massive cuts. We recognise paper vouchers still have a place. We know not everyone has access to the internet or is comfortable using it, and paper vouchers are still important for some, including vulnerable groups.

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So although we will continue to promote e-vouchers, we will still make paper ones available.

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