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Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Heatwave and fossil fuels, pavements, We Love Hackney, and police.

PUBLISHED: 08:02 04 August 2018

A man sits on the dry grass in the heat. Picture: PA IMAGES.

A man sits on the dry grass in the heat. Picture: PA IMAGES.

PA Wire/PA Images

What is there to write of when the sun has turned everything to crisp and dust? writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

London is barely recognisable amidst the beaten lawns and blistered shoulders.

We should be thankful – the scenes in Greece and Japan are a terrible reminder of the wreckage our changed world can bring and of how lucky we are here in London.

Yes, of course, it is true that no single heatwave can be attributed to the man-made climate change we are currently living through. But equally it is impossible to deny that the year after year of record breaking blazing months we have experienced in the last 10 years are down to the fossil fuels we are burning. It is an unfortunate fact that we need to learn to live with this weather – or our future may drive us to the brink.

Fish gasping through the duckweed on Regent’s canal, brightly coloured tiger moths desperately resting along the banks of the Lea, even a couple of squirrels falling lazily out of a branch into my garden. The haze of the past weeks renders wildlife and people incompetent alike. We are all at the mercy of the weather.

How the years ahead of us pan out depends on the ability of companies and government to accept the challenge. They must help move us away from polluting fossil fuels and towards a world where we protect and restore the nature around us and manage our resources in a way that benefits us all in the long term. On the world stage, London is a powerful player, the actions of its assembly speak volumes.

I think it may be time to consider introducing pavement inspectors and making businesses responsible for the areas outside their premises, writes Charles Webber, Haggerston.

Quite apart from the rancid state of the pathway in front of many food and drink establishments, exacerbated by the trend to do away with dustbins and just use leaky bin bags, the obstacle course which has become the pavement is a real thorn in the side from the night-time economy.

With smokers on the street fighting for space with the trendy and needy and those yet to be admitted, regular pedestrians are often relegated to walking on the busy roadway.

Normal locomotion between Shoreditch High Street and Dalston is in places neigh on impossible on the pathway at the weekends - with any security presence usually more captivated by social media than keeping passers by safe; disaster is surely in the post.

New York has sidewalk inspectors with businesses forced to address such issues; doing similarly in Hackney might keep the remaining few wheels on the night-time economy bus.

“We Love Hackney” are very keen on quoting the results of the statutory consultation questionnaire associated with this licensing proposal, writes Andrew Clark, full address supplied.

On the face of it the “overwhelming majority” were against extension of the Special Policy Area (SPA) - the proposal in front of the council for approval last Friday.

That “overwhelming majority” comes, in the main, from Dalston post codes, is white, male and 80 per cent under the age of 44. The comparative demographic for London for this age group, unqualified by anything else is 40pc. So the response is heavily skewed to the point that it is statistically meaningless.

Of course, it could be argued that as this is a democracy, those that didn’t take the time to respond are either unconcerned or tacit in their agreement.

This ignores the fact that, as the council could not afford to contact all residents, as they did in the 2015 consultation, swathes of the borough had no idea that the consultation was taking place. A few of us in South Shoreditch, long term residents, have addressed this and achieved some recognition from the council that we have a point.

“We Love Hackney” are entitled to their view but they are not representative of the borough.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct’s report for April 2017 to March 2018 records show there has been a sharp increase in the number of people dying in police custody, write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

The Home Office has just reported there has been a significant rise in the deployment and use of guns by the police in the same period. There is a reason for these linked developments.

There are two bases for policing. One is the police force which is there to protect the persons and property of persons of property. The other is the police service which is there to protect us all from acts of illegality. When police resources are under pressure the needs of force outweigh the needs of service. The result is community policing replaced by “Robocops” who wade into situations.

Additionally, the sense of impunity Rod Charles sees among his former colleagues in the police is confirmed by the record. Prosecutions of police in England and Wales for deaths in their custody in the 20 years since 1998 number only 12. Of them, one is yet to be heard, two resulted in convictions, one for misconduct in public office and one for Health & Safety Law breaches, and the rest resulted in acquittals.

Weaponry is no alternative to engagement and intelligence. Impunity is no alternative to accountability. These worrying developments are not inevitable and we must resist.

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