Gazette letters: Early mornings, homelessness, Murray Grove and lost graves

Beresford Road, Newington Green. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Beresford Road, Newington Green. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Will McCallum

Clissold Park was stunning, smooth gold light gradually spreading across the green. In an almost Disney-esque scene, a flock of 20 waxwings swarmed around a tree to my right to feast on the last of its berries, their song disrupting the cold air. These birds arrive on the east coast at the start of winter, but as food grows scarcer in the cold weather they come inland in search of more.

The ponds at the north end of the park always give cause to stop and admire the waterbirds. Today a couple of moorhens were darting beneath the fountain, seemingly oblivious to the freezing temperature.

Finally, the sun only just properly appearing above the shadows of the surrounding buildings, I chose to zigzag home down tree-lined avenues. The plane trees lining Highbury New Park were slowly getting undressed by the rising light as I ran beneath them; exposing the clumps of rotting mistletoe almost indistinguishable from the neighbouring crow’s nests balanced high in their branches.

To finish I headed up one of my favourite roads in Islington – Beresford Road.

Passing through the grove of trees in the centre of the road, the sun now clearly visible and my front door just round the corner, it was about as good a start to the day as you can have in London’s winter.

The solution to the scandal of homelessness, and to all the problems of housing provision, is to stop treating flats and houses as assets and start treating them as homes, writes Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

At the individual level, people get into 30 years of debt and the building society lets them live in the collateral. Once the mortgage is paid off they own something which is only realisable as an asset if they don’t have to buy anywhere else to live, usually when they die. So their home goes back on an inflated market where nobody earning the equivalent income they had at the start can afford to buy it.

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At the landlord level much the same applies to buy-to-let private landlords who exploit ever higher rents and ever more precarious terms. But it affects corporate landlords like councils and housing associations as well. The Guinness Trust cashing in on Northwold would see the disappearance of a whole estate of protected and secure tenancies. The sale of New Era aimed at the same objective but was thwarted by the tenants. Peabody has sold one home a year on my Victoria Park estate since buying it in 2011 despite commitments to secure letting to key workers.

Councils should have the money and powers to provide flats and houses to let that are not inanimate bricks and mortar to be traded, but homes for people who need them. That way families forced out by the vagaries of the housing market would have a secure basis for life and not just a five-year stop-gap on the road to indebtedness. Homelessness and the exploitation of so-called social or affordable housing are inextricably linked.

Let us hope that the political pressure which has seen much that is worst about the recent Housing and Planning Act stalled will continue and will halt the plans in the hovernment’s recent white paper on housing.

I am writing having just found out about plans to make Murray Grove into a two-way street, which will blight the area with higher pollution levels and a more dangerous environment, writes Christine Burke, Murray Grove, Hoxton.

It has been a one-way street for over 30 years.

Murray Grove is already much busier with more car ownership in the area from all the luxury flats being built around us and blighting our area. Murray Grove is a T-junction. How is a two way street going to feed into a T-junction?

I am a resident in Murray Grove but the council have not put leaflets through the door about this. I heard about it by accident in the Post Office.

I applaud those who got together in December to make their opposition clear.

The deadline seems to have passed for submissions and I can’t get through to anyone at Hackney Council to tell me if they have made the decision yet.

On the night of May 31, 1915, Stoke Newington became the first district in London to be bombed from the air, writes Reg Sharpe, Bedfordshire.

Two young sisters died in this raid, Elsie and Elizabeth May Leggatt.

I have been trying, unsucessfully, to discover where these two sisters were buried.

Abney Park have no record of the two but it may well be that a reader of the Hackney Gazette knows of their final resting place.

If anyone does know, perhaps they would be kind enough to e-mail me with details.

•If you can help Reg, please e-mail the Editor: