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Gazette letters: The blame game, NHS, Stoke Newington Church Street and Rabbi Pinder

PUBLISHED: 08:30 02 May 2020

Signs thanking key workers and the NHS.  Picture: PA/Aaron Chown

Signs thanking key workers and the NHS. Picture: PA/Aaron Chown

PA Wire/PA Images

When the hunt for scapegoats gets under way The People will be one target, write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

The People who hoarded, who didn’t obey the muddled rules, who didn’t follow the changing scientific advice and who voted for the politicians who broke up the National Health Service into business units, burdened it with private debt and inflicted austerity levels of funding.

For instance, we’ve seen in Victoria Park, since it was re-opened, a sensible rules system, backed by a big presence of well informed park staff, that is respected by the great majority of The People. Those few who are selfish, eg joggers hitting their personal targets while locked inside their headphones, are under control. The People are not to blame. Those who set the contradictory rules and imposed thoughtless restrictions are to blame.

Another target will be the taxpayer funded and democratically accountable model of the NHS. This is mainly because democratic accountability has been exercised by a political class that has let us all down at both national and local levels. The reason we are urged to “protect The NHS” is because for the best part of half a century our politicians haven’t.

For instance, here in South Hackney our borough council’s voluntary service is pursuing a project to involve local community organisations in the provision of caring services. The assumption behind it is that taxpayer funding and democratic accountability will never meet the needs of our communities and that the only option is for provision by unaccountable charities, commercial sponsors and private firms. It was to replace this patchwork of erratic provision that our whole welfare state was created.

So among all the things we will have to do afterwards – like restoring the economy and our civil liberties – we must reject the idea that our neighbours are to blame and the idea that privatisation mixed with charity is the solution.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who’ve cut 17,000 beds from the NHS since 2010, writes Sasha Simic, Hackney, full address supplied.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories whose health policies have driven 200,000 Nurses to resign from the NHS since 2010.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who abolished the bursary for student nurses.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who capped the pay for NHS workers at one per cent for seven years and whose MPs cheered in the commons in 2017 when they successfully blocked a Labour Party amendment attempt to break that cap.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who have doubled NHS spending on private health providers since 2010 and who privatised the NHS blood supplier to US private equity firm Bain Capital in 2013.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who forced a seven-day contract on junior doctors.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who deported members of the Windrush generation who helped build the NHS.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who created a “hostile environment” against the immigrants without whom the NHS couldn’t function.

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“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories whose government’s “strategy” toward the Covid-19 pandemic was to let it run through the population and “take it on the chin” in the pursuit of “herd immunity”.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories whose government ignored 2016’s Operation Cygnus – an exercise which proved that Tory cuts to the NHS meant it was too run down to cope with a pandemic and that unless there was proper funding there would be a lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) for health workers and an inadequate numbers of ventilators for patients.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories whose leader, PM Boris Johnson, couldn’t be bothered to attend five emergency COBRA meetings in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories whose government have repeatedly failed to provide NHS staff with adequate PPE.

“We clapped for the NHS workers too” say the Tories who hate the NHS because its about public service and not private profit.

We have a serious and potentially dangerous problem on Stoke Newington Church Street with approximately 40 metres of pavement that was dug up about three months ago outside William Patten primary school and has not been replaced, wrote Damian Duggan-Ryan (journalist and fiction writer as Phil Rowan) to Mayor Glanville, Diane Abbott MP and Stoke Newington councillors.

There have been two incidents where cars have accidentally rammed into the protective barriers around the dug up pavement and one incident where a young child was knocked into the defective protective barriers.

I contacted the contractor Volker Highways who dug up the pavement, and they told me that they had been instructed by Hackney Council not to replace this potentially dangerous pavement, but to instead maintain the barriers. Residents and some parents are concerned that if this pavement is left as it is there could be serious problems for primary school pupils when they go back to school.

I have contacted Hackney Council’s road repair manager, who has raised the matter with his manager. But nothing has happened and the manager has not contacted me, although I was assured that he would.

It would be very helpful – particularly for the safety of young William Patten primary school pupils – if something could be done to please address this potentially dangerous problem as soon as possible.

I’m writing to honour Rabbi Pinter, a great man who dedicated his life to serving our borough with steadfast determination and humility, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

I was fortunate to get to know Rabbi Pinter through his work as a community leader and a Hackney councillor. Much has been said about his humour and kindness, both of which I will greatly miss.

I also want to pay tribute to him as a peacemaker, and as a man who brought people together from all backgrounds and across all boundaries. He was always outward looking, blending his understanding of the world and of his faith to help us understand each other better. His passing is a great loss to us all.

May his memory be a blessing and his mourners be comforted.


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