Gazette letters: bird count, the 106 and parking rules

Help experts count our wildlife. Picture: PA WIRE

Help experts count our wildlife. Picture: PA WIRE - Credit: PA WIRE

Spring has arrived, crawling over the finish line in a blur of green, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Drooping willows along the Lea look less weedy, fleshed out by thousands of yellow-green buds. It will be some time before the impact of its delay is understood, before we’ve tallied up the birds and the blossom; a while before we can see which visiting fauna return to us from across the sea.

It is the time of year to begin the British Trust for Ornithology’s survey work – each square kilometre of Hackney has been allocated to a volunteer whose job it is to record the birdlife (and mammals and butterflies too if they can) that live there in as methodical a manner as they can. I have been allocated one at the north end of the borough towards Tottenham. If you happen to be commuting to work or going for a run in the early morning and see birdwatchers, binoculars in hand, walking extremely slowly down a nondescript avenue, then they are likely also volunteering.

Surveys like this help us understand the ways our environment is changing – the number of birds relates directly to the number of insects, the health of the trees and plantlife, the changing climate. They are also a testament to the goodwill of thousands of volunteers who come together across neighbourhoods, giving their time to contribute their knowledge and observations to build a national picture of the state of our wildlife. If you’re interested in taking part in any of their other surveys, or want to bag a patch for next year, find out more at

Unless you share the US National Rifle Association’s belief that Clint Eastwood films are documentaries, nobody will be surprised that the police fired 13 times to injure the person they targeted in a residential street (Gazette, March 22, p3), write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

After all, Southwark Cathedral is still waiting for compensation for the damage caused by strays during the London Bridge action against terrorists in June last year. Such a level of accuracy from specialist firearms officers faced with a target who is escaping or resisting is really rather good, because hand guns are unstable and long guns are unwieldy. It is only when the target is immobile, such as those in the grip of mental health episodes, such as Dean Joseph in Islington or James Fox in Enfield, or those constricted by sitting in cars such as Jermaine Baker in Wood Green, that they can be killed with a single shot.

Fortunately this victim hasn’t died of his wounds. But this does mean that there will not be an inquest with a jury to bring a truly independent determination of what happened. The record of the newly re-named Independent Office of Police Conduct, the long standing Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police’s own Directorate of Professional Standards in finding truth, justice and accountability for the victim’s family is such a poor one that confidence in them is at an all-time low.

I write further to the letter from Geoff Twist, “Hackney’s bus woes aren’t new”, writes Alexander Henriques, Lordship Park, Stoke Newington.The 106 route was reduced in frequency by TfL in November 2017 without any form of consultation with the public or Hackney Council. The reduction was from a maximum peak number of vehicles of 17 to 14. In off-peak that number fell to 11. The buses are now much less frequent, more crowded, and as the 106 passes through a number of traffic pinch-points at Bethnal Green, Hackney Central, Clapton Pond and Stoke Newington High Street, the now reduced frequency is ever subject to further hold-up and delays, often resulting in gaps of 20 to 25 minutes. One recent Saturday early evening (and it was raining) I had to wait 45 minutes at Finsbury Park, along with over 100 other increasingly angry customers!!This situation is detrimental to disabled people, the elderly and shoppers, many with heavy bags and children in push-chairs. During school travel times the buses are even more chaotic. TfL does not seem to care about its customers and so far, the council seems to be sitting on its hands.In recent years we have had a number of accidents involving residents, pensioners and schoolchildren forced off the footpath in Wilmer Place, N16, writes Damian Duggan-Ryan, Wilmer Place resident and Community Advisory Panel member for Stoke Newington Central. Most of these incidents have been caused by the illegal parking of delivery vehicles for WholeFoods, whose delivery bay is in Wilmer Place. Instead of using the Hackney Council car park in Wilmer Place, many of these WholeFoods delivery vans park on the white line footpath in Wilmer Place, which has double yellow lines with yellow blips that prohibit the parking and unloading of vehicles.Residents, pensioners and schoolchildren walking to and from Church Street via Wilmer Place should have more serious protection from illegally parked delivery vehicles, which also frequently block the entry and exit gates of 2-16 Wilmer Place.What we really need is a Hackney Council parking service surveillance camera that can focus on the affected area in Wilmer Place and initiate the prosecution of illegal delivery vehicle offenders. It would also be helpful if our white line designated footpath, which was installed by Hackney Council could be refurbished with some white plaster/paint. An increased police and parking warden presence would also be appreciated in Wilmer Place.