Gazette letters: Dark evenings, cycling, town hall protest and London Fields development

The 'supermoon' (Picture: Will Rose/Greenpeace)

The 'supermoon' (Picture: Will Rose/Greenpeace) - Credit: � Will Rose / Greenpeace

Early darkness is eating away at my memories of warmer, lighter days, writes Will McCallum, Hackney Wick

Each day I leave work and step into the landscape of the night. A couple of foxes, emboldened by the darkness, regularly emerge from the shadows of Canonbury Gardens as I leave, scurrying quickly across the path. Plumper than average, they must have found a decent source of food nearby. It’s likely one of our neighbours keeps them well fed, or they’ve found a healthy population of rats to deal with.

Contrary to popular belief most foxes (and there will always be exceptions) don’t survive on the contents of our bins.

The super moon was meant to be a treat to lift the spirits. I was looking forward to walking home along the canal beneath a bigger and brighter orb than usual. Instead, heavy autumn clouds treated me to a thin layer of drizzle. I hope our next chance to see it in all its glory on December 14 goes better.

Despite being one of the most light-polluted cities in the world, long winter nights still provide plenty of opportunity to look up at the sky to see the stars.

Find somewhere out of the direct glare of harsh night lighting and be prepared to wait a few minutes until your eyes acclimatise to the dark. With a bit of patience on a clear night you’ll soon start seeing hundreds of stars. I’m terrible at recognising constellations, but feel the smug satisfaction of picking out the few that I know (and guessing a couple more as well).

The recent overcrowding at Finsbury Park station highlights increasing pressure on Hackney and Islington’s transport network, writes Jono Kenyon, co-ordinator, Hackney Cycling Campaign, Finsbury Park.

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Finsbury Park remains one of London’s busiest zone 2 stations with more than 25 million passengers entering and exiting. This gridlock is set to get much worse as huge new housing developments come online in both Finsbury Park and further north towards Seven Sisters and Tottenham. Crossrail 2 may be a solution but it is a very long way off.

TfL has identified more than four million daily trips (23 per cent of all journeys) that could be made by bike in London. While not everyone can or will cycle, if conditions were radically improved, huge numbers of people would.

It is essential all commuters support plans for high quality routes by bike, to keep London moving. Other European cities are increasingly looking to cycling as a way to avoid overcrowding on their network.

As London’s population explodes, it is time we did the same.

As a result of a recent Freedom of Information request, writes Teresa Webb, Clissold Road, Stoke Newington,

the Hackney branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign has discovered Hackney Council has an information technology contract with US company Hewlett Packard (HP), which knowingly provides the Israeli state with the technology behind the occupation of Palestinian territory and the oppression of Palestinians.

HP systems are used in biometric ID cards which restrict and control Palestinians’ movement. The company provides technology and equipment to the Israeli Navy, which maintains the blockade of Gaza. HP technology also supports the Israeli military checkpoint system.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is launching a campaign to persuade Hackney Council not to renew their contract with HP when it expires in March 2017. We will start collecting signatures on a petition outside Hackney Town Hall on Saturday. When we have 750 signatures, the council is required to debate our request.

We urge Hackney residents to sign our petition. Please also refrain from buying new HP equipment. If you already have an HP appliance such as a printer, please seek alternative non-HP renewables such as ink cartridges.

Why we took on site developers

It can be hard to get your head around the size of the site in London Fields West, writes Helen Mead, Richmond Road, London Fields.

It’s tiny – it just held four garages and the developer was trying to get three flats on it, albeit over seven storeys: a three-bed for a family of five, a two-bed for two couples, and a one-bed for a couple. That’s 11 people, or potentially 12 if the three-bed had ended up housing three couples, living on a site that once housed four cars.

The plans represented a huge over-development of the plot. In terms of planning density, that plot can only support a development between a quarter and a half of the size they were proposing.