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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Polish heritage and amusing but harsh reporting

PUBLISHED: 08:30 28 April 2018

Aleksandra Podhorodecka MBE. Picture: VICTORIA BELTON

Aleksandra Podhorodecka MBE. Picture: VICTORIA BELTON

Victoria Belton

The Polish community, worshipping at the church of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Islington is organising a Street Party [as reported in the Gazette this month] writes Aleksandra Podhorodecka MBE.

The event is planned to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War and Poland regaining independence after 123 years of captivity. The party is designed as a Polish heritage day and the aim of the event is to share Polish culture and traditions with Islington.

It will take place on May 12 between noon and 4pm in Devonia Road, N1 8JJ, and it is hoped as many neighbours of the Polish Church as possible will join the Polish community on that day.

There will be an organ and choir recital and the opportunity for a guided tour of the historic church; there will be displays of Polish national dancing, costumes and music; there will be a BBQ serving samples of Polish food and tasting of different Polish cakes. During the event a restaurant and café will be open in the basement of the church. There will also be a tombola with exciting prizes.

We were amused to read James Morris’s funny and somewhat scathing review of the well-attended Islington Healthy Streets Hustings, write David Harrison and Tabitha Tanqueray, Islington Living Streets and Cycle Islington.

He clearly has a bright future as a Parliamentary sketch writer. But, like his illustrious peers in that business, he is rather unfair to the politicians.

We as organisers were heartened that all the candidates recognised the appalling problems Islington faces and outlined their measures to improve air quality and conditions for walking and cycling. In the room, there was wide support for the five “asks” of Cycle Islington and Islington Living Streets’ Manifesto such as cheaper, secure on-street bike hangars, two-way cycling on one-way streets as commonly found in other boroughs and, most importantly, streets for people, not motor vehicles and through-traffic – especially important in a borough where little more than a quarter of households have access to a car.

Ed McGuiness for the Conservatives was much more progressive in his support for walking and cycling than neighbouring Conservative councils. Kate Pothalingam for the Lib Dems wanted to see more play streets and proposed more effective enforcement of the 20mph speed limit. Of particular interest were the commitments of the existing councillors. Caroline Russell (Green), who demonstrated her great knowledge on the subject, stressed that traffic is not constant; the volume we have now is not inevitable. By removing space for cars, some traffic will evaporate. Claudia Webbe said Islington Labour will not rest on its laurels but will make ambitious Liveable Neighbourhood Bids in Clerkenwell Green and Angel and implement a manifesto that commits to reducing traffic. She agreed charging points for electric cars will be on the carriage way, and not the pavement, and that she will begin to remove traffic from school streets at the start and end of the school day.

There is a podcast of the event available bit.ly/islingtonhealthystreets and a series of live tweets by Cycle Islington. Having read James Morris’s article, listen to and read what was actually said at the event and vote accordingly.

Aping PMQs by allowing the candidates as last week’s Healthy Streets’ hustings a preview of the local Living Streets’ questions was an absurd idea – one made by the group jointly with Cycle Islington, I understand, writes Meg Howarth, Islington, full address supplied.

The participants were after our vote on May 3 so it was essential they shared their grasp of this important brief, particularly in the case of the current executive member for transport and environment.

Despite the prepping, your headline (“Audience none the wiser after on future of Islington transport after toothless panel debate”) says it all. Unsurprisingly, it was the audience’s unscripted questions which produced the telling answers.

So here’s another one: isn’t it time our residential streets reflected the fact that only 26 per cent of Islington households owns or has access to a private car? To paraphrase Cllr Webbe’s response regarding gardens and barbecues: “those with cars are in a minority”, so restricting on-street parking “is fair” and in line with her party’s mantra: “For the many, not the few.”

An excellent place to start would be with the route of the borough’s proposed Quietway 10 (from Finsbury Park to Amwell Street). Residential parking-spaces at the junction of Thornhill and Offord roads have long posed a serious risk to cyclists – and pedestrians trying to cross the former – as Barnsbury ward councillor and local resident Rowena Champion has acknowledged (Ms Champion is standing for re-election next week). Meantime, modal filtering along Gillespie Road is essential if cyclist safety is to be guaranteed but repeated calls for such action have been rejected by Cllr Webbe. A resident “consultation” is required.

Meantime, Cllr Webbe might like to note that, despite having a garden, yesterday a neighbour went to Highbury Fields for a barbecue, undermining the idea that outdoor cooking on the Fields is for those without gardens.

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