Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Snowdrops, Diane Abbott and street cleaning

PUBLISHED: 14:36 08 February 2017 | UPDATED: 14:36 08 February 2017




It would be almost sacrilegious to write about nature in Hackney and not dedicate one week to the first snowdrops of the year, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

I saw them – just round the corner from my house in Newington Green. Pendant white heads resting their chins on slim green stalks.

To be honest my surprise was not at seeing them flower in the recent cold chill. Rather, given how mild the winter has been up until this past fortnight, I was amazed not to have seen them earlier, poking up during December.

Hard, pointy shoots mean these little flowers can force through the cold soil and have their moment to shine ahead of the other flowers. Their innocent features (sometimes known as the Maids of February) belie their toxic potential. Occasionally known as Death’s Flower, it’s best to keep your pets away from them as a quick feast on snowdrops, in particular their bulbs, could have some fatal consequences. Indeed, for the superstitious a single snowdrop can be a bad omen.

I can’t pretend to like them – plain little attention seekers. Something about white flowers gives me the creeps. And yet, they hold the promise of spring and so for that split-second after spying them when I can imagine the end of this dull, cold weather they deserve the column inches they get in horticultural magazines across the country.

It is hardly news the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott, missed a critical vote to trigger Article 50. Ms Abbott seemed to be suffering from a Brex-migraine… and went home early, writes Dr Vishal Vora, Stoke Newington.

But really the issue is that missing such an important vote was in clear defiance of Jeremy Corby’s three-line whip, and that failing to cast a vote must result in a consequence for her.

Did a migraine really prevent our elected representative in Parliament from casting such an important vote? How long does it take to cast such a vote?

In such situations, what should the role of our elected representative be? To follow the party line or instead voice the opinion of her constituents?

Given both the historic and current demographic of Hackney, being of the liberal left, and the fact the vast majority of us here voted to remain, I believe it was Ms Abbott’s duty to voice our opinion and vote against triggering Article 50. I find it troubling she was absent with a fairly bizarre excuse, and believe this demonstrates she is having difficulty aligning herself to the leader of the Labour party. If that is the case, she should resign from the shadow cabinet, as others have done this week. If she does not, she should be sacked.

Speaking more generally, Labour is yet again facing fundamental issues, and this will probably result in another shadow cabinet reshuffle. Discipline is not a new issue for Labour but for many this is perhaps the last straw. I have to seriously question whether I will be able to vote Labour at the next general election if things continue the way they are. It is surely the role of the opposition to hold government to account.

The rushed white paper further demonstrates the chaos under which such important decisions are being made. Not only were there fundamental errors that had to be corrected, but it was published in such a manner as to avoid full scrutiny of the House. It seems pointless at this stage to ask why there has not been a properly thought-out plan for Brexit – we are now more than 200 days since the decision to leave and it would appear basic differences are still unresolved.

Putting the usual London-centric arrogance to one side, it is still not too late to change our minds. We don’t have to be bound by what was a Tory party disagreement that got out of hand. The Brexit vote was simply an opinion poll. I cannot see how it is binding, especially now the difficulties of extracting ourselves from the EU seem so tricky to manage.

From February 22 to 24 inclusive, Hackney Council proposes to ban parking in Bethune Road, Dunsmure Road, East Bank, Fairholt Road, Manor Road, Queen Elizabeth Walk, St Kilda’s Road and West Bank to enable gully cleansing work to be carried out, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

While no sensible person would object to gullies being cleaned to prevent flooding, doing so much at once is going to cause chaos because so many cars are going to be displaced with nowhere to park.

This could lead to fights, illegal parking and obstruction of the carriageway and could require a massive police presence just to keep order, when they would be better employed catching real criminals and preventing knife crime.

I am sure the former mayor, Jules Pipe, would not have been so stupid as to approve such a scheme. Equally, the former deputy mayor, Sophie Linden, who is now deputy mayor of London in charge of policing, must be very unhappy with the proposal.

Community relations in Stamford Hill are generally good and all political parties must take a share of the credit for this over a long period of time, but I fear this proposal may give racists and bigots an excuse to cause problems. The solution is quite simple: one third of streets should be closed to parking for one day at a time, which will mean there will be less disruption to residents – and I suspect it will be cheaper as there will be fewer associated problems.

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