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Gazette letters: Environmental election, Gillett Square plan and Whipps Cross Hospital

PUBLISHED: 08:30 23 November 2019

A crow struggles against the winter wind. Picture: PA IMAGES

A crow struggles against the winter wind. Picture: PA IMAGES

PA Archive/PA Images

Strong winds and autumn fast turns to winter - its colours trodden into the grey pavements, the fallen leaves letting in some winter light through recently bared canopy, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Walking across Hackney Downs the expanse feels bigger, emptier in the winter. Along the overground railway line a pair of crows compete with a pair of magpies hopping from tree to tree to grab the last rowan berries, swallowing autumn's red hue.

It would be remiss not to mention the election - perhaps the first ever when environmental issues are of significant consideration to a majority of the electorate when deciding who to vote for.

Candidates are vying for votes by announcing their plans for a greener, safer future and it is up to us to interrogate those plans. To get past bland promises of tree-planting and an end to straws and look at who is really dealing with the bigger picture - phasing out the fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine, ambitious targets to reduce single use plastic, actually restoring the natural world rather than simply managing its decline.

Ask our local candidates what plans they have for renewables projects, for making our houses more efficient, for improving air quality and helping wildlife thrive in Hackney's green spaces - I know I will be.

But first, if you haven't yet done so - register to vote. It takes just minutes and the deadline is November 25 at 5pm.

Not registering means not getting your say in the future of our environment here in Hackney.

Not only are traders "in the dark" (Hackney Gazette) about the long delayed workspace development in Gillett Square (planning permission for which was granted in July 2018), so also are many in the local community who have consistently raised concerns about the social and economic value, risks and wisdom of this project of Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD, writes Adam Hart, chief executive officer, Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD) 1996-2012, Hackney resident and parent for more than 30 years).

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Despite the increasingly clear evidence supporting these concerns, Hackney Council and the LDA have doggedly supported this project since 2016 and it might be hoped that its representatives would be more open with the public, closer to the ground and less blinkered than the current view expressed by Cllr Guy Nicholson in which it is argued that this project is all about supporting the co-operative and social enterprise sector, and protecting small vulnerable businesses. This is just not so.

He and HCD do not seem to realise, or maybe are in denial, that if this project is still to go ahead, it not only threatens the livelihoods of existing HCD tenants it also involves the departure of all the wonderfully creative and energetic Re-space arts enterprises, co-operative and social businesses that are currently working happily in the upper floors of the Bradbury Street workspace,

It is these people and groups that are keeping the spirit of Dalston and Gillett Square alive, and upholding, against all the odds, the founding mission and values of HCD that owes its founding (in 1982) to the activities of this sector in Hackney.

It is reprehensible that under the guise of developing so called "affordable workspace" (actually un-affordable for HCD target beneficiaries) the public can be so mislead by Hackney, the LDA and HCD, who should now be finding ways in which Re-space and other existing tenants can be supported to remain and help improve these premises for the benefit, vitality and prosperity of our whole community, the many not the few.

Whipps Cross Hospital is being rebuilt and plans are well advanced with completion due as early as 2025, unless it is delayed by a change of prime minister, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

They are due to be presented to ministers, with costings by the end of this year. This is good news for Hackney because it will improve health services throughout east London. The Homerton Hospital was built when Mrs Thatcher was prime minister.

When Ted Heath was prime minister he also wanted to build Homerton Hospital but it was delayed by nearly 10 years and the new hospital was eventually built on a slightly smaller site than was desirable. The delay was caused by the need to redesign it and the need to compulsory purchase some homes. My only regret was that Ted Heath did not slap a compulsory purchase order on Hackney Council's land.

By contrast the Labour Party has always treated the health of Hackney residents as secondary. The best example was when Median Road, which was used for people who were discharged from hospital but not well enough to go home, was closed by the Quality Care Commission, quite righty as unfit for purpose. The council chose to send these patients out of the borough rather than use spare beds at St Joseph's Hospice because it is a charity and not considered as part of the public sector by some members of the Labour Party.

There are of course real problems in the Health Service partly due to the increase in population, the increase in older people because everyone is living longer and modern medicine is keeping the sick alive.

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