Gazette letters: Clissold Leisure Centre, home repairs and Tory criticism

Clissold Leisure Centre. Picture: DAVID HOLT (CC BY 2.0)

Clissold Leisure Centre. Picture: DAVID HOLT (CC BY 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Today I went to Clissold Leisure Centre, which is run by Greenwich Leisure Ltd (a charitable social enterprise, whatever that is) but paid for by Hackney and its citizens, writes Helen Mackintosh.

In many ways it is a great place with good facilities and an excellent café, and it’s great it exists. But staff, who are extremely personable and helpful, seem deprived of initiative, which is certain to be the fault of central management.

When you want to make a comment/complaint, you are told glumly to contact “head office” as it is “the only way to get any change”. There is no suggestions box.

My main problem today is that just as the rest of the world is learning to give up plastic, this morning, arriving to go into the pool changing area, we are suddenly handed blue plastic covers to put over our shoes. There are bins to put them in when we leave from where they will doubtless go for landfill or to pollute the seas.

If it has suddenly been decided that hygiene is a priority, why no signs to explain, and why this plastic? Just ask users to take off outdoor footwear before entering the changing area. We are going to be doing so in two minutes in any case. If Greenwich Leisure would like to know why this is so important, I’ll lend them my Blue Planet DVDs!

So how about thinking through new policies more carefully and maybe actively asking users what they think? How about a suggestions box and a board where management post their responses, and the name and e-mail of the local manager? But none of that will be any use if staff are not given the support, encouragement and means to respond to their users and to make their own good decisions.

Following two cancelled start dates by Keepmoat Regenaration (July 12 and July 28) for a kitchen refurbishment, and the inconvenience caused to me by unnecessarily emptying my kitchen twice, I complained to Hackney Council writes William Shellito.

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Following the outcome of a meeting with Keepmoat Regeneration, and a Hackney Council representative, I accepted an apology from Keepmoat Regeneration, and a promise of compensation for the stress they had caused me – as yet, no compensation has been offered or paid to me. Having completed my kitchen, I was glad to be rid of the builders – or so I thought.

Being a disabled 72-year-old male with mental health issues, and increasing difficulty in bathing, I was then assessed and granted permission by an occupational therapist for a power shower and grab rail to be fitted at my address. Unfortunately for me, Keepmoat Regeneration was assigned the job.

Having stated in a letter that a power shower would be fitted on February 2, I assumed Keepmoat Regeneration would this time be more sensitive to my needs and the installation would take one or two days to complete. But on the first day, operatives, having only worked two hours, left for the day. There were six hours left in the day, yet no one returned to continue the work.

The same pattern of showing up for two hours and then leaving continued up to February 9. To add salt to the wound, the builder was carrying out refurbishments in my small block, yet cannot find the time to complete my work.

This meant I could not bathe as I want to, make hospital appointments or go shopping for fear they turned up when I was not there. I have spoken with my Keepmoat Regeneration’s residential liaison officer, and asked why I was not given a completion date, and why the work was/is taking so long but have not been given a satisfactory answer, only platitudes.

Contrary to Christopher Sills’ claim that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn regard homeless people as inferior, writes Alan Gibson, Richmond Road, Hackney,

I am very much in favour of them being housed, and very quickly – unlike Sills’ Tories, who have overseen a huge hike in homelessness over the past 10 years, and also unlike the private developers that Sills appears to be so much in favour of,

Take Lendlease, Haringey Council’s favoured developer. Having promised residents of the Heygate Estate in Southwark they would have the right to return post-redevelopment, just three households have been able to move back. The rest have been dispersed, with many no doubt ending up far from friends and relatives.

This is one reason Corbyn was right to criticise councils such as Haringey for getting into bed with such developers. These companies have only one aim in life: profit. They don’t give a damn if people can return to their homes, or if rich landlords buy up the posh flats they develop to rent them out at extortionate rents.

Given the ferocity of the Tories’ funding cuts to local authorities, councils like Haringey and Southwark have come to believe the only option they have is to reach rotten deals with private developers in the hope they will attract investment into their boroughs.

There are, however, two other options. One, to fight the Tories’ austerity policies and, two, to make sure Corbyn becomes the next prime minister and kicks out the shabby mess that has become “housing policy” in the UK.