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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: People-friendly streets, Brexit, immigration legislation, care workers and step-up

PUBLISHED: 08:30 01 August 2020

'Peace, Love, Unity' in White Lion Street, Islington. Picture: Archant

'Peace, Love, Unity' in White Lion Street, Islington. Picture: Archant

Archant

In last week’s Gazette your correspondent Melanie Horton says that the people-friendly streets will have a massive impact on her life, writes John Ackers, Highbury Grove, Islington.

She says that Essex Road and Southgate Road are already backed up with traffic, causing “extensive pollution”.

But she seemed to be unaware that her own travel choices, such as driving regularly to her mum in Kent, are having a big impact on the lives of residents of the streets in north and south London that she passes.

Ms Horton raises the important issue of mental heath. There has been at least one study that shows that social interaction between neighbours is inversely correlated to the level of traffic on the street.

Low-traffic neighbourhoods can only encourage more conversation between neighbours and help develop and strengthen communities, and so reduce isolation and improve mental health; this is surely a very positive step in the right direction.

Also in last week’s Gazette, M Speirs of Southgate Road argues that it’s unfair to inadvertently divert neighbourhood traffic onto busier roads. As I, too, live on a busy road, Highbury Grove, I have some sympathy. However the overall traffic level in London and resulting pollution are affected by many factors. For example, raising the cost of the congestion charge, the introduction of the toxicity charge have a big impact on London’s traffic levels.

In addition many fleet managers, bus companies and taxi owners have or are upgrading to lower or zero emission vehicles.

Transport for London’s whole long term strategy is based around more walking, cycling and public transport - which I wholeheartedly support.

While the government is encouraging people not to use public transport wherever possible, and the national agenda is to reduce congestion on high streets, Islington council has used emergency legislation to close almost all local routes to vehicles, thereby forcing every car journey in the borough onto the A1, writes Tim Knipe, Islington resident.

This has been done under the guise of promoting social distancing, and without consultation.

Reducing the number of routes available to all vehicles, including electric cars, emergency vehicles, and taxis, demonstrably increases journey lengths and road congestion, thereby increasing net pollution and frustrating the electric car agenda.

The majority of ordinary families do not have the luxury of undertaking supermarket shops, nursery and school drop-offs, and daily life in general, on foot or by bicycle.

We cannot all afford to live close enough to where we work or frequent, and you can’t safely strap a double buggy to a Brompton in the rain, or use a tandem to take a pensioner to a hospital appointment. By forcing almost all journeys through Islington around either the Highbury Corner or Angel Junction, the council has effectively made the A1, and the whole of the remainder of the borough, impassable at peak hours, damaging people’s livelihoods and commerce, and severely impacting lives.

At what point do these actions of a minority of zealots, which directly undermine government policy and their own citizens, in a time of significant national emergency, get recognised as the self-serving abuses of power they clearly are?

Congratulations to the Islington Labour administration for starting to roll out the people friendly streets, writes Anita Frizzarin, Islington, full address supplied.

With the current health crises, coronavirus and obesity - the latter making catching the former more likely, people need to be able to move around at a distance from one another and in a way that gives them if at all possible some physical exercise; people who rely on wheelchairs and mobility scooters also need to be able to move around safely without cars threatening them.

That means the roads must stop being dominated by motor vehicles, and particularly by those that come from outside of Islington and use it as a motorway.

Why would we who live here all the time agree to have so much room on the roads taken up by large metal boxes that come from elsewhere and vastly reduce our ability to move?

As to local drivers, their number is small (around 25 per cent of Islington households), so the rest of us - 75pc of Islington households - have no reason to put up with their continued desire to drive without any kind of restriction.

Many of the dwindling number will soon realize how much easier it is not to drive anyway, at least when distances are short.

And they can still drive to and from outside their own homes if they so wish.

I’m tempted to ask how that small number, habitual local drivers that is, explain how the rest of us run our lives without cars since we also do normal things like having family and friends and going to work, and have them to contend with as well - invading our roads and complaining all the time - but I won’t.

I wouldn’t want to cause any aggravation.

We need the extra room on Islington roads if we want to move around safely at a distance from one another and if we want to take the moderate daily exercise that will make us healthier and less likely to catch the coronavirus.

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Well done again Islington Labour administration.

When Boris Johnson referred to ‘Islington Remainers’, he tried to imply we were somehow gullibly peddling myths about Putin’s involvement in the EU referendum in 2016, write Judith Palmer and Luisa Fulci, co-chairs, Islington In Europe.

As an opinion poll published today shows, 49 per cent of voters suggest that there was Russian interference in the Brexit referendum and only 23pc disagree.

Islington Remainers are clearly not alone in their view.

At PMQs, Boris Johnson said that no other country had done more to resist Putin’s strategy to undermine world order and our democracy. He provided good examples. However, if the government adopts a “pick and mix” attitude and chooses to ignore Russian interference in our democracy when it is politically convenient to do so, this undermines us and diminishes our credibility internationally.

Other countries will have noticed, with some considerable alarm, that Mr Johnson is not bringing the principled leadership he set out in his vision for Global Britain, but putting personal politics above national interest.

Remainers and leavers all have a duty to call out the government when it fails to protect us nationally and diminish our standing internationally.

In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s concerning to see the home secretary rush through major immigration legislation lacking in detail, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly member, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.

The Covid-19 outbreak has opened-up a long-overdue debate over how we define “unskilled work”. The government’s decision to introduce a points system, but not specifically address this issue, is short-sighted and could put key services at risk. The home secretary appears to confuse low-pay with low-skill – nothing could be further from the truth for our highly-skilled, but definitely under-paid, care staff.

The prime minister recently issued a call to “build, build, build”, but these new immigration proposals also leave us uncertain about whether we will be able to fill the gaps in our construction workforce.

The exclusion of our care workers from the new Health and Social care visa scheme, despite their heroic efforts throughout the Covid-19 outbreak, is another irresponsible move and a blow to care homes, when there are thousands of vacancies in the workforce.

We were able to rebuild our nation in the wake of Second World War because of the wide-ranging contributions of those that came to our country from across the Commonwealth. As we face up to a deep recession, we must keep this crucial lesson from recent history in mind.

It is unacceptable for the government to sidestep the issue of social care workers pay with the announcement of a public sector pay rise that won’t include them, writes Vic Rayner, executive director, National Care Forum.

Care workers are here to care and have been a stalwart of the Covid-19 front line. 24 hours a day, seven days a week our professional care home staff have continued to provide care under the most challenging of circumstance. They – like their amazing colleagues in health – have done this with compassion, providing a lifeline for the most vulnerable across all our communities.

This has never been a low skilled job, and should never again be consigned as a low paid role.

We need the government to act now to ensure that each and every care worker is recognised and rewarded for their extraordinary work.

We’ve all felt the strain of lockdown these past few months, which means that looking after our physical and mental health is extremely important, writes Barbara Kobson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

At the British Heart Foundation (BHF), we see it as our responsibility to help people to keep their hearts healthy, which is why we’re asking the nation to take on our new Step Challenge now lockdown has eased.

A brisk 20-30 minute walk each day can be a simple way to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and can also help improve sleep, reduce stress levels, boost energy and help you get fit.

My Step Challenge has been designed by BHF cardiac nurses so is suitable for all fitness levels, including those with heart and circulatory conditions. It is a great way to increase your daily steps whilst raising vitals funds for the BHF’s life saving research.

Like many charities, the coronavirus crisis has devastated our income, costing us around £10 million a month.

We are urging the public to #BackTheBHF and help the millions of people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases. Research suggests that people with these conditions are at higher risk of complications from Covid-19, meaning our work has never been more important.

Visit our website to find out more about how to improve your heart health and sign up to My Step Challenge: bhf.org.uk/mystepchallenge


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