Gazette letters: Diane Abbott, Britannia, Hackney Half and Middle East

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has been criticised for

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington has been criticised for being able to say how much Labour's policing plan would cost. Picture: ISABEL INFANTES - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

I’ll respect any politician who says, in response to a question: “I don’t have the figures to hand but they will be in our manifesto.”, writes Simon Molloy, Hackney, full address supplied.

What I cringe at is a politician who gives the wrong figures and then says: “I misspoke.”

Misspoke? This wasn’t a mispronunciation or a grammatical error. Diane Abbott gave us wrong information. She should have said so.

We feel our nine-strong deputation to the cabinet meeting on April 19 deserved more than the passing mention it received in your article , writes Pat Turnbull, Save Britannia Leisure Centre.

We were representing 3,200 people who have so far signed our online petition, plus the many who still do not know the Britannia is scheduled for demolition.

Your article concentrates on the proposed school that is part of the development plan. The council’s own documents show there is not a shortage of school places in Hoxton.

The illustrations of a “garden school” give little indication of what a 1,000-pupil school, at the bottom of a block of luxury flats, in the middle of a 400-luxury flat development, would be like.

At the cabinet meeting, the mayor was unable to give a guarantee the replacement leisure centre would offer the same access, at the same hours and prices, as the Britannia now does.

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The Britannia has something for everyone. We are concerned that building another 400 luxury flats would drive up rents for homes and businesses still further and force more people out of Hackney.

How is the council assessing the risk of taking responsibility for sales of 400 luxury properties? What are the implications for the council’s financial resources if sales are not achieved at the rate expected? What if there is a big drop in sales value or a major market disruption like 2008, when many of Hackney’s regeneration plans (like the one for neighbouring Colville Estate) had to be stopped and drastically revised? And what is the real chance of selling these properties without marketing them to overseas investors, as is happening with 198 luxury properties on the Colville?

I ran my second Hackney Half yesterday, writes Julia Crask.

I wasn’t going to as I’d had only three hours’ sleep but my running partner persuaded me – even as I checked in my bag I still wasn’t convinced! But, wow, I’m SO glad I did. My running partner is a local lass and gave me running commentary and a history lesson as we ran.

The support from everyone on the route was amazing and made me a little tearful (in a good way).The children were delightful as they handed out jelly babies and high-fives – plus all the chalked good luck messages on the roads! The highlight for me (apart from finishing, obviously) was running past the Hackney Empire as a gospel group sang Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Thank you all! I’ll be back next year.

Mr Gibson (Gazette letters, April 29 ) is wrong to believe all problems of the Middle East are due to the second Iraq War and the Libyan bombing, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

The real problem was that the Americans and to a lesser extent the British failed to plan for the peace.

Using chemical weapons has been banned since 1925 and battlefield chemical weapons were not been used until Saddam Hussein used them in the Iran-Iraq War in the late 1990s, and was allowed to get away with it until President Bush insisted they were destroyed before the second Iraq war. His failure to allow international inspectors to verify they had been destroyed led to the second Iraq War.

The second Iraq War did not cause the revolt in Syria, which was caused by President Assad’s brutal treatment of dissenters and aggravated by sectarian issues.

President Obama did not want to get involved and hoped the problem would go away. When President Assad started using chemical weapons on a small scale he rightly told him to stop or there would be consequences. When he was ignored, the west lost all influence

This resulted in the rise of Isis, the rise in refugees, the Syrian Civil War, Russian interference in Syria, and, indirectly, Brexit.

It looks as though Syria and Russia have learnt their lesson and stopped using chemical weapons.

Peace in Syria will only be possible when all concerned realise Assad cannot remain in power.