Gazette letters: Housing crisis, elite Hackney, parking ban and air pollution

Rough sleeper in porches of St John at Hackney (Picture: Cllr Ian Rathbone)

Rough sleeper in porches of St John at Hackney (Picture: Cllr Ian Rathbone) - Credit: Archant

Kipping on the steps of the Empire, sleeping in the porches of St John at Hackney, surviving under the arches in Morning Lane, sofa surfing, the homeless and vulnerable are on the increase in our so-called sophisticated society, writes Cllr Ian Rathbone.

I work with homeless people, and run a small foodbank.

They are the tip of an iceberg of many thousands more in B&B, in temporary accommodation, or still living at home unable to afford the sky-high rents of today’s Hackney.

This picture shows the stark contrast of Hackney and many other urban areas today – rich and poor, cheek by jowl. The council is working on a programme to help the homeless but to make any real and lasting changes for those in need, central government needs to urgently provide funds to build more social housing. And to introduce rent regulation and an end to discrimination by landlords against those on benefits.

Otherwise, there will be more and more under the arches. The housing crisis is not going away.

I did most of my growing up, throughout the ’50s and early ’60s, at Trederwen Road off London Fields so, whenever Meg Hillier and Diane Abbott come on the airwaves, I pay close attention, writes Edward Thomas, Collington Close, Eastbourne.

Ms Abbott was honest enough to point out recently that many of Britain’s deprived Labour heartlands voted enthusiastically for Brexit.

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In my time, Hackney was regarded as one of those deprived areas.

But now I hear Ms Hillier saying that her constituents voted by 78 per cent to stay in the EU.

Does this not suggest more than anything else that my old home district has been taken over by media types and other metropolitan elitists?

Just asking.

I just read your article about electric vehicles and parking in Hackney (Gazette, January 26, p9), writes Louie Stowell, Hackney, full address supplied. This sounds like a great scheme, and I’d love to see more like this.

I’m a Hackney resident, but I’d like to see London’s air cleaned up everywhere.

After the past few days of horrific pollution, this feels like an emergency.

London was engulfed in a haze of air pollution last week, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

What a sad state of affairs to have the mayor of your city advising children not to play outdoors for fear of the toxic emissions suspended in the air around us.

A report for City Hall last year featured half a dozen schools each from Islington and Hackney in their list of top 100 schools where students were breathing in more than the annual mean limit of highly polluted air. Last week, headteachers from more than 100 London schools wrote a letter to the mayor urging the expansion of the “ultra-low emissions zone” to tackle this problem (diesel vehicles account for more than 40 per cent of some of the worst offending pollutants).

There are loads of possible solutions to stopping these tiny toxic particulates entering the atmosphere. As well as options like lobbying local politicians to take action or choosing to cycle, there are campaign groups working to take on the worst culprits like the car companies that lied about how polluting their engines are.

I went to a meeting on the 7th floor of a building near Old Street and was amazed at how the fog hung heavy and yellow above the city. It reminded me of my great aunt’s living room, where cigarette smoke had stained the ceiling yellow above her chair.

I love this city, and I’d prefer the view didn’t make me feel quite so depressed.