Gazette letters: Pregnant spiders, Gillett Square, fox poo and council tax reductions

The pregnant spider. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

The pregnant spider. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Archant

The morning creak of my bicycle chain tells me the nights are getting colder, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

The air is sharper and the ground harder; the chill is making its way indoors. Piles of plane tree leaves gather overnight on every street corner and the rowan’s leaves rust a deeper brown each day.

Walking down Southgate Road, I stopped to watch a garden spider settle in the centre of its newly made orb. Heavily pregnant, her swollen body still hung slightly on her silk, perhaps up to a thousand eggs soon to be laid. That is, of course, if the cold doesn’t slow her down so much as to fall prey to a hungry bird.

With my own hands red from the cold it did lead me to wonder how insects and spiders, with their tiny bodies, survive the long, cold nights. Three main tactics, apparently: avoid it by moving abroad, get on with it because they’re just that tough, or enter into a dormant state known as the diapause. It’s a little like the hibernation of mammals.

The most impressive sight of the week, however, was the American thorn tree by the tennis courts on Hampstead Heath. Gnarled trunk, and stripped of its leaves, the sharply woven dark twigs make for a haunting canopy – it is, I think, the best tree to visit for Halloween.

Adam Hart, Hackney Co-operative Developments, writes:

As a current member of Hackney Co-operative Developments and having worked for HCD for over 25 years (I was its CEO from 1996 to 2012), and also as a resident of Hackney, and co director of the Vortex Foundation, and ex-chair of Hackney CVS, I am writing to congratulate the Hackney Gazette on your accurate and compassionate account of some of the human problems associated with HCD’s current plans for the redevelopment of the Bradbury Street workspace, that among other consequences will entail removal of the award-winning market pods in Gillett Square (“1.6m plan to revamp Gillett Square leaves small traders fearing for their futures”).

There are many issues besides this covering the viability, logistical impacts, and design aspects of this current HCD’s GLA-funded plan that are cause for grave concerns. Some of these were raised at HCD’s community consultation event held at the Vortex on Friday. Of note is that it seems there were no positive public endorsements of this scheme at that meeting.

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These concerns will be further discussed at the next Gillett Square Stakeholder Group meeting to be held at the Vortex at 2pm on Monday. Proposals for an alternative, less ambitious but viable plan that would bring all the advantages of the current plan but does not have its negative impacts, will also be outlined at this meeting.

All people who value what HCD with its partners the Vortex, Dalston Studios and many others have achieved in Gillett Square, and its future, are welcome to attend this meeting.


A couple of months ago, a fox pooped on our communal staircase, writes a Lockner Estate resident.

It is still there. I approached the cleaner about it and he said it was nothing to do with me.

The stairs have been jetwashed twice since then and it is still there. A cleaning meeting for Lockner Estate was advertised for this morning so I thought I would attend.

I then saw the same cleaner taking down the posters before most residents had a chance to see them. However, a fair few of us did attend this very one-sided meeting. When we tried to speak we were told to be quiet. I tried to have my say but was told to leave. I wasn’t the first to storm out saying this was a farce and maybe there were more after me.

This meeting was scheduled for 9.30am in the hope that not many would come, I assume. It is now gone 5pm and I have just looked at the stairs. The fox poo is still there.

Who do I have to tell?


At its monthly meeting last month, Hackney Trades Union Council agreed to call on its members to oppose Hackney Council’s proposal to increase the amount the poorest people in the borough must pay toward the council tax, writes Alan Gibson, joint secretary, Hackney Trade Union Council.

At the moment, Hackney residents of working age must pay at least 15 per cent of the current council tax. The council is now consulting resident associations and so on about the proposal to raise this to 20pc.

Many residents are already struggling to pay 15pc of their tax, and raising it will only increase the possibility that they will fail to do so, and thus fall foul of the council taking them to court – a process that could see them charged up to £518, plus the balance on the council tax they still owe.

HTUC is calling on Labour councillors not only to vote against the council’s proposals but to demand it re-instates a 100pc council tax reduction for all low-income residents.