Gazette letters: Pigeons, housing and Hackney Marshes

Wood pigeon. Picture: RSPB

Wood pigeon. Picture: RSPB - Credit: RSPB

Hello from Lake Glendale, CA (land of rain), writes: Paul Bloomberg, Glendale, California (long-time Gazette reader since an Iain Sinclair-inspired visit).

Glad to see pigeon story. They make a horrible mess!

We have had major problems with pigeons. Their removal is most difficult.

We had to have our balcony screened to prevent them from laying eggs on it.

When I first moved in pigeons laid some eggs on my balcony. Thinking to be a good person I fed them Irish oatmeal.

Then two pigeons were born.Well, when I got them all to fly away they just kept flying back! Hence, the screening.

I thought birth control pills could be mixed with bird feed to slow them down. They do this in Venice.

Over the last few weeks the Hackney Gazette has carried a myriad articles reflecting the dire straits of the homeless; local businesses facing massive rate, and rent rises; the proposed demolition of Britannia Leisure Centre to make way for 400 luxury flats, writes Brian Debus, convener, Hackney Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

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At the same time, due to Tory cuts Hackney Council has cut £152m from its budget since 2010. This year it is proposing a further cut of £13.8million and a 3 per cent increase in council tax at this year’s budget setting meeting.

Hackney is one of the boroughs hit hardest by this Tory government’s austerity measures. Labour councillors rather than put up a fight have preferred so-called efficiency savings as their main tactic. This has led to hundreds of job losses and those of the workforce left behind struggling to cope with a much increased workload. Now all tenants and residents of Hackney will have to pay more for less.

It is not as though there is not an alternative. TUSC has written to all councillors and the mayor so far without one positive reply. We told them: “It is possible for Labour councils to produce ‘legally balanced’ budgets that avoid cuts in the short term and provide a breathing space to build a campaign. [...] A co-ordinated campaign by Labour councils using their health scrutiny powers – combined with trade union and community resistance to the inevitable cuts from the ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ (STP) process to find £22 billion ‘efficiency savings’ from the NHS by 2020 – could throw back the Tories’ plans.”

Housing is a basic human right but the policies of the council of handing over estates and land to private developers is not the answer. Many of these schemes just end up with less council housing available and more luxury flats at anything between £500,000 and £1million a pop being built. The consequence of this is higher market rents and massive profits for the developers.

Join the TUSC lobby and show the council there is an alternative: 6pm to 7pm, Wednesday, Hackney Town Hall.

It may surprise your readers who frequent the marshes to know that the River Lea was once the boundary that separated the nation of England from that of Denmark, writes Caroline Day, Save Lea Marshes.

Hackney Marshes resided in England whilst the area of the former golf course, part of historic Leyton Marshes and now known as the Waterworks, was part of the Danish nation!

Today, this area belongs again to the English as it is currently part of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

However, for Hackney residents the Waterworks may as well be located in another nation.

Over 5,000 have now signed a petition against de-registering this protected land and constructing flats on it in order to finance a new ice centre on Lea Bridge Road.

However, Waltham Forest Council have decided that they will not be counting Hackney’s signatories to the petition, which number well over 1,500, when deciding whether or not the petition has been signed by enough people to trigger a debate at full council.

They have stated they require 4,000 signatures from Waltham Forest alone.

This is despite the fact that this area is adjacent to a larger number of Hackney than Waltham Forest residents.

If the boundaries happened to be different, the petition would have triggered a full council debate in Hackney, since the number of signatories required in Hackney is just 750!

Hackney residents who oppose the plans for sale of part of Leyton Marshes for private housing can appeal to both councils to protect this regional park, which Hackney Council pays a precept to maintain.

Otherwise this land, which we both enjoy and pay for, may be lost without our say.