Gazette letters: Daffodils, school run, Active 10 App, terror attack and new hostel


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It began some weeks ago when a housemate bought home some daffs from the florist on Essex Road for St David’s Day, writes Will McCallun, Newington Green.

Another friend, round for dinner, condemned them as glib. Quite what that means I don’t know, but the rumour was confirmed by another housemate who told us he was brought up to think them tacky.

I defended them to the hilt – the sight of a splash of colour on the grey London verges has never failed to lighten the mood in my opinion. That daffodils appear early in the season has even made them a particular favourite. And so I thought nothing more of it. But then this week I saw the battle continue between some giants of the conservation world.

Mark Avery, formerly of the RSPB, launched a scathing attack on the flower, condemning the bright roadside patches of yellow. His reason? They are artificial (i.e. not the variety you’d find in the wild).

The comments beneath his article ranged from effusive agreement to furious anger. My own take is that in a city we have little choice but to appreciate all the nature and wildlife we can. Although I was pleased to spy the paler, smaller, more “natural” variety in Albion Road, I am equally happy with the big, brash, deep yellows in London Fields. Flowers where otherwise there would be none should be appreciated.

Spring highlight this week: four great, grey-white swan eggs in an enormous nest near Woodberry Down, being guarded ferociously by

their parents.

It was very disappointing to see the headline of the article about the School Streets initiative in Hackney that gave it such a negative slant (“Fines for driving children to school”), writes Brenda Puech, Living Streets Hackney.

It was good to see the more positive editorial in favour (“Clampdown on school run is long overdue”).

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The school run would not be banned – it would just mean a small zone around the school entrance would be motor traffic free for 45 minutes at drop-off and pick-up times. This would benefit the majority of children who walk or cycle to school and reduce pollution and danger around the school at these critical times when children have to be on the streets. Blue Badge holders would still be able to drop off children nearer the school.

This is an excellent initiative and we are very happy with Hackney Council for taking it up. As volunteer coordinator for Living Streets in Hackney, the most requests I get for assistance are from parents wanting to make their children’s journey to school safer and less polluted.

We really want motor traffic-free zones as far as possible outside every school at drop-off and pick up times (with relevant exemptions as necessary). This is critical for small lungs that can easily be damaged by pollution, to keep children safe and to encourage them to lead more active lives by making is easier to walk and cycle to school.

Great to see Hackney Council and its cabinet member for health, social care and devolution backing the new Active 10 App from Public Health England (“Walk briskly to be fit, council urges”, Gazette, and on posters around the borough), recommending we walk at least 10 minutes a day, walk a few bus stops and get out of our cars, writes Celia Coram, Millfields Road, Hackney.

Thoroughly agree, but is this the same council currently reducing walking space and increasing car parking space on Hackney Marshes, with the construction of a Cricket Pavilion, right where local people regularly walked and currently fenced off? Surely not... [Hackney Council’s application to increase car parking space on the marshes was turned down in 2015 – ed]

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community strongly condemns the barbaric attacks that took place in Westminster, write Adeel Ahsan and Imaam Arif Khan, Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, Hackney and Waltham Forest.

Our sympathies and prayers are with the people of London and all those affected.

Such attacks and violence against innocent people can never be justified under any circumstances.

The worldwide head and Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who resides in the UK, has said regarding terrorism and extremism: “All forms of terrorism and extremism are completely against the true teachings of Islam. The Holy Quran has said that to kill even one innocent person is akin to killing all of mankind. Thus under no circumstances can murder ever be justified and those who seek to justify their hateful acts in the name of Islam are serving only to defame it in the worst possible way.”

London’s housing system is at breaking point, and the number of people applying for a council home or at risk of homelessness in Hackney is at record levels, writes Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney.

These problems need national solutions – but in Hackney we’re doing all we can to build more homes and find appropriate accommodation for families most in need of somewhere to stay or those fleeing abuse.

The new hostel in Seven Sisters Road will help achieve that and ensure more people are able to be temporarily housed locally until they can find a permanent place to call home.