Gazette letters: Nature, policing, housing crisis and postcards to Cola

The butterfly by Downs Park Road. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

The butterfly by Downs Park Road. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Will McCallum

The streets are quiet in August, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

While central London heaves with tourists, Hackney and Islington enjoy temporary relief from the twice-daily rush hour queues of traffic (except on the A1 which is always foul regardless of the season).

It’s a rare few weeks when exhaust fumes aren’t the only roadside scent and cycling is pure pleasure. It’s a good time for exploring. I’ve enjoyed nosing around front gardens in the neighbourhood: bursting lavenders, competing crowds of comfrey and nettles, even a couple of cacti proudly out of place behind Balls Pond Road.

Around Downs Park Road I stopped to watch a butterfly in trouble. Its damaged wings made it hard to identify but I think it was a Painted Lady. Alighting on a low wall its antennae remained lively, but no amount of its effort could catch the wind. It found in Hackney a final resting place after migrating from north Africa – an astonishing feat given how fragile these creatures are.

Heath swimming season still in full swing, I headed up to enjoy the last few weeks of the warmer water – the silence of the ponds interrupted only by parakeets above and a great crested grebe chick annoying

its parents with incessant pleas for attention.

In the not so distant past Stoke Newington police station had a well deserved reputation for brutality,writes Nik Wood, Gore Road.

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In 1998 they even had to pay Olympic heavyweight boxing champion Audley Harrison compensation for an assault on him by officers there.

In 1999 Sarah Thomas died there after she was arrested instead of being taken to hospital. Since then, there has been a clear-out and the current regime has a better record – but the reputation has stuck.

Police with such a reputation need to be held to account by clearly independent and transparent institutions. The problem is that neither the IPCC nor the CPS demonstrates those qualities unequivocally.

The concerns Rashan Charles’s family have (“Family has concerns about ‘openness’ over IPCC probe into Rashan Charles’s death”, Gazette), is exemplified by your report on February 19, 2009, of the CPS opening a branch office in Stoke Newington police station. You headlined it: “They’re singing from the same hymn sheet.”

The concern is that this harmonious relationship with the police they supposedly oversee counts for more than the needs of the bereaved, and of democratic accountability, in the thinking of the IPCC and CPS.

Your article on Right to Buy (“Why Right to Buy makes me so angry”, Gazette, August 3) is unjust , writes “An upset leaseholder”, no name or address supplied.

Check before you judge.

Remember leaseholders are living in their home for five years or more. Yes, there’s a reduction in buying. Leaseholders subsidise each person in their block. Whenever the council do major repairs, one can be billed for up to £40,000 depending on the scale of work.

Some people cannot pay this demand plus service charges and their mortgage, and they end up having to sell their property. These bills keep rising yearly.

The council does not put the sale of these properties’ money towards building new houses. Many regret taking up these offers to buy.

There is nothing for nothing from the council. We have no rights. People are always blaming leaseholders for the shortage of housing.

[I wasn’t blaming leaseholders for the housing shortage – I was blaming the government for tying the council’s hands in terms of how the money it gets from selling social housing is spent. Ed]

Volunteers from the Shoreditch Greenpeace group on Friday afternoon travelled to Coca-Cola’s London HQ on Wimpole Street, off Oxford Circus, writes Conor Sneyd, Greenpeace activist, Stoke Newington.

We delivered postcards, signed by 300 Hackney locals, to Damian Gammell, CEO of Coca-Cola Europe, urging him to take meaningful action to stop the company’s excessive plastic production, which is polluting oceans, beaches, canals and rivers.

Coca-Cola seems to be hiding from the consequences of its excessive plastic production, so we came to its office to remind it to take responsibility. We’ve seen the impact of plastic pollution on our local community in Hackney, with countless bottles ending up in the Regent’s Canal and other waterways, and flowing out to sea.

A recent Greenpeace report [“The Case Against Coca-Cola”, 2017] estimated Coca-Cola manufactures 100billion single-use plastic bottles every year – more than 3,000 a second.

In Britain alone, 16m plastic bottles are dumped every day, ending up in our oceans and rivers, and on our beaches or in landfill.

What’s worse, Coke’s use of throwaway plastic bottles has actually increased, up 12 per cent between 2008 and 2015.

Over the last few months, Shoreditch Greenpeace volunteers have been engaging with local people in Hackney, setting up stalls in Broadway Market to raise awareness about plastic pollution and Coke’s role in the problem.

We have collected messages on postcards from over 300 concerned locals, calling on Coca-Cola to stop clogging our waterways and oceans with plastic before it’s too late.