Gazette letters: Anna Fiorentini gala, memories of Cardinal Pole School, NHS plans and Jeremy Corbyn

Young dancers at Hackney Empire on Saturday. Picture: Peter Gettins

Young dancers at Hackney Empire on Saturday. Picture: Peter Gettins - Credit: Archant

On Saturday night [at our 15th anniversary gala celebration], I felt immensely proud of my students and team, writes Anna Fiorentini, Anna Fiorentini Theatre and Film School.

They showed such professionalism on Saturday night they deserved the standing ovation that they received.

Lack of any significant funding has made it very difficult to keep the school in Hackney over the past 15 years but when I see the results of all our hard work I know I have to keep on trying.

If we get the support we deserve hopefully we will be in this borough for at least another 15 years!

To see our gallery of pictures from the gala evening at Hackney Empire, click here.


Every time I look at the website of Cardinal Pole, I recognise fewer and fewer teachers, writes Joe Coughlan, former Cardinal Pole teacher, now of Madrid.

Now I only recognise four members of staff.

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I arrived in 1987. There was no ICT at the school then. But I, John Mc Nulty and Ms Hartigan introduced ICT across the whole school. We were pioneers.

My memories of the school were in general very positive.

I remember Mr Mannion’s first day January 1989. He was presented on stage. His stature more than made up for his height. I knew then that this man would go on to greater things.

I think the darkest day of my time at this school was January 1996. Our first day back with the children, and we were to learn of Guidance’s death.

Poor Jason Williams, a brave boy, recounted the last moments of his friend’s life, and the pointless murder of someone so young and so innocent.

I was to leave in July 2000, for sunnier climes in Madrid, Spain. I am still here now. I often wonder what became of the staff. I know Paul Kehoe was the head at Mount Carmel for many years and John Casey is still a head in Reading.

If you would like to share your memories of Cardinal Pole or any other Hackney schools, e-mail


Your issue of September 22 is to be commended for alerting readers to the dangers posed by the government’s latest reorganisation of the NHS – the Sustainability and Transformation Plans, Nick Bailey, Hackney Keep Our NHS Public.

The chronic underfunding of the NHS has led to a situation where NHS trusts’ debt for England for 2015/16 is £2.45billion.

The fear is that these STPs are all about forcing local areas to impose cuts and closures to try to balance the books. We are already facing a real possibility of losing the pathology lab at the Homerton as part of these “savings”.

In the Editor’s Comment of the same issue you state that Hackney North MP Diane Abbott has “remained silent” on these plans. In fact she led the opposition debate in the commons on the STPs on September 14 – a debate the secretary of state for health, Mr Hunt, could not even be bothered to attend – and has been vocal in her opposition to these plans and the secrecy surrounding them.

A fair point but, despite her national portfolio, when approached by the Gazette for comment on plans for north-east London Ms Abbott was, indeed, silent – Ed


The Labour Party conference is over and, despite the tremendous victory by Jeremy Corbyn, his 62 per cent of the vote could have been even higher, writes Bob Faulkes, Amhurst Road, Hackney.

Many thousands who would have voted for him were denied a vote by the actions of the Labour Party’s NEC and the mysterious “compliance committee” – a body no one voted for and is answerable, it seems, to the NEC.

Some 130,000 were either expelled, suspended or never received a vote. The Tory media, the establishment and the 172 MPs waged an all-out war to defeat Corbyn and now, despite all the talk and offers of olive-branches and unity, the Blairites will never accept him.

Lord Mandelsohn stated their aims: “To have an election as soon as possible so Labour can be smashed and Corbyn can be got rid of.” This founder of New Labour speaks for all those 172 MPs, even if they all won’t say it now.

But the many thousands who have joined the party becauase of Corbyn have a different agenda: to get to grips with this reactionalry Tory government, whose leadership change alters nothing.

Reselection or deselection will loom large over the coming period. Unless we clear out much of this garbage and get some real fighting MPs who will fight for a socialist change, we will carry these deadweights to our cost.