Gazette letters: London Fields, Youth Theatre, rent controls and “Hopper” fare

Mess: London Fields after a hot Sunday earlier this month

Mess: London Fields after a hot Sunday earlier this month - Credit: Archant

We had a last-minute meeting on Wednesday in the Pub on the Park and everyone is concerned about the way the park is being misused, writes Mike Martin, chairman, London Fields user group.

It’s a very busy and normally a well used and enjoyed space by everyone; except on warm summer weekends when the visitors invade.

Most of them aren’t regular users of the park, or even local residents. They appear to come from all over London, because their local parks don’t allow them to have BBQs or stay all night drinking or whatever. The “experiment” of allowing BBQs in the park has to come to an end. It was started against the opinion of local residents in the first place.

The noxious fumes and dense smoke from all the fires alone is anti-social enough, without the bad behaviour, the burnt grass, the rubbish left behind, like broken glass, bottles and bottle tops – a danger for babies and bare feet for weeks afterwards.

While the toilets are closed of a night those staying (normally drunk and/or out of their heads on something else) defecate where they can – anywhere.

Local people and their children avoid the park for days after the invasion. We are the ones who pay the rates that pay for the clear up, the bins and the making good afterwards.

We are a group of 12- to 16-year-old mainly black and ethnic minority children from deprived backgrounds, living or schooling in Hackney on a mission to develop our French, confidence and social skills through theatre, write Hannah, Savannah, Jordan, Rianna, Marcus, Kianna, Damas, Mia, Tolu, Lola, Tobi and Yannick from Hackney French Youth Theatre Group.

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We are pleased to announce award-winning French artist and director Michel Ocelot has given us his full support and endorsement, after hearing about us adapting his famous animated film Kirikou et la Sorcière into a play that we performed at the Arcola Theatre last year. To celebrate our relationship we have two major events taking place.

We have a gala dinner on May 27, which is an African-themed dinner with traditional music and dance from Hackney. We will be hosting Michel Ocelot during his visit to London and giving him a feel of the diversity of the area of our local area at 6.30pm at the Rose Lipman Community Centre, De Beauvoir Road, Haggerston. Entry is £50.

In October 2015, supported by Eurostar and Societe Generale, we were invited to visit Michel Ocelot in Paris. We were introduced to Legrand Bemba Debert, a budding producer from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Legrand inspired us with his story of rags to riches in the very competitive theatre world in France and is now a mentor to the group. He is currently the producer of another amazing piece of work by Michel Ocelot, Princes et Princesses. We will welcome the cast from France to The Shaw Theatre, Euston Road, on May 28 from 2pm. Entry is £30. We also have a JustGiving page for people to support us

I’m a private renter, and saw my rent go up days before I was elected to the London Assembly on May 5, writes Sian Berry, Green Party Member of the London Assembly.

I spent most of the campaign putting up with a toilet that keeps breaking. I know first-hand why we need rent controls, more secure tenancies, a ban on letting agent fees, and many other reforms to make renting fairer.

Sadly, our new Mayor of London doesn’t have the power to introduce these changes, but can lobby the government to give him the powers to do it. Mayors in other cities like Berlin and New York have these powers, so why not London? I want to work with private renters’ groups over the next four years to help them set up a Renters’ Union to give us all a stronger voice. Working with council and housing associations tenants too, we can get a better deal for Londoners.

The Mayor’s announcement that from September he will introduce a one hour “Hopper” ticket on London buses is hugely welcome, writes Jennette Arnold OBE AM, London Assembly Member for North East (covering Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

So many Londoners rely on buses to get to work but, with bus fares disproportionately increasing under the previous Mayor, transport costs have become a heavy burden.

The ticket will undoubtedly help Londoners on lower incomes. These steps make a massive contribution to helping people to stay in work.