Gazette letters: Finsbury Park, local papers and birdwatching

Finsbury Park regeneration conference lasted over five hours. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Finsbury Park regeneration conference lasted over five hours. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

I was delighted to speak at last week’s Finsbury Park Regeneration Conference, writes Philip Glanville, mayor of Hackney.

I was alongside other community leaders trying to make our corner of London a better place to live, work and visit.

Four in five new homes for outright sale at our Kings Crescent regeneration scheme in Green Lanes have gone to Londoners rather than overseas investors, who too often leave properties empty – inflating prices and making it even more difficult for local people to find a genuinely affordable home. In total, more than 700 homes at Kings Crescent will be built or refurbished by the council.

The model of our 3,000-home, borough-wide estate regeneration programme is simple. More than half of new homes are for social rent and shared ownership, with the rest for outright sale to help pay for them in the absence of any government funding.

And while we can’t guarantee 80 per cent of the homes we sell on every scheme will definitely go to Londoners, our sales strategy for any of the homes we’re building is clear – local people and workers will always get first dibs and we’ll advertise and promote new properties in Hackney first.

From online platforms and social media to the traditional newsletter or weekly paper, local news sources such as yours are an indispensable way for me to communicate with my constituents, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest.

That is why I’m supporting the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) campaign this week: Local News Matters.

Most Read

Whether it is a telegram from the Queen or the provision of local policing, local news matters. In my borough of Hackney, local media outlets are the eyes and ears of the public – an important way to stay informed about what is going on. There is no doubt in my mind that independent, well informed local newspapers are vital to our communities.

It worries me that in just over 10 years, over 200 newspapers have closed and the number of newspapers overall has

halved. We are in real danger of losing our local press, and with it some of our local knowledge

and scrutiny. In this era of

“fake news” and “alternative facts”’, trusted local journalists and stories highlighting issues that matter to residents of Hackney are more important than ever.

So I do hope readers will join the NUJ’s Local News Matters campaign.

Spring is firmly in the air – as those whose hay fever is affected by tree pollen will be well aware, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

This week I’ve taken some time to enjoy spring in full force, before it starts to accelerate too quickly towards summer.

I headed down to Hackney Marshes to seek out the skylarks I had heard were in song down there. The skylark display is one of the most amusing – they hover some metres above the ground while singing furiously; their ability to do this for hours on end, seemingly with no purpose, gives us the phrase “larking about”. Unfortunately I wasn’t in luck.

But I did enjoy the small flock of sparrows wittering loudly in the trees en route in Daubeney Fields, a bird often thought of as common, but whose numbers have declined by more than 70 per cent, especially in city centres. Simple measures like providing bird baths and feeders in any garden you have access to can go a long way to helping our city’s birds. Have a look at the RSPB’s website for tips on how to make your garden more bird-friendly.