Gazette letters: Remembering the Holocaust, housing crisis, snow of ‘47 and bat watching

Meg Hillier MP signing the Holcaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

Meg Hillier MP signing the Holcaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment - Credit: Archant

Last week I signed the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, writes Meg Hillier MP, Hackney South and Shoreditch.

In doing so I pledged my commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who were murdered during the Holocaust, as well as paying tribute to the extraordinary Holocaust survivors who work tirelessly to educate young people.

Friday will mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration and death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, the site of the largest mass murder in history.

We must never forget the Holocaust.

As the living memories fade and survivors get older we have a duty to ensure future generations learn about the horrors of the Holocaust and other genocide, and work to stop such evil.

What an inspiring thing to see the Hackney Gazette campaigning to tackle the housing crisis on its front page last week, writes Cllr Ian Rathbone, Lea Bridge ward.

My caseload as a Hackney councillor has increased dramatically in the last three years with more and more people desperate for housing, and being hit by the growing shortage of temporary accommodation for them within reach of Hackney where all their networks are.

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It makes me so angry to see so much private housing being built for sale by greedy developers in Hackney when what we urgently need is social housing.

People are falling more and more into debt as they struggle with the ever-rising rents in Hackney’s private sector which have spiralled out of control and all proportion to income.

I see the clock alarmingly turning back towards the time of the dark ages when we suffered from Rachmanism, and Ken Loach and Tony Garnett produced the shock of the Cathy Come Home TV film (in 1966) which brought the spotlight to publicly bear on the then homeless crisis.

It has to be stopped! I totally support your call for urgent government investment in new affordable homes, three-year minimum tenancies in the private sector and rent stabilisation measures.

Thank you for campaigning.

For the sake of those many who are now suffering in the worst housing crisis in 50 years, let’s hope we win.

My grandmother was buried on January 30, 1947, writes a reader, full address supplied.

Two or three days later, snow fell on London and stayed for six weeks.

I would love to know if any Hackney Gazette readers remember.

One of my memories is a photo of residents queueing up at the bombed gas works to buy coke, which had been brought up by

barge from a neighbouring gas works.

At this time public transport consisted of trams, trolley buses, and ordinary buses.

The Gazette was at this time published three times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – and was broadsheet size.

On Monday night, between the silhouetted trees lining the New River Path, I saw a couple of pipistrelles (London’s most common species of bat), writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

I’ve not seen them in such a built-up area before – previously my sightings have been along the Regent’s Canal and up the Lea River. It was fun to watch them speed around together, almost possible to convince myself they were playing.

Awkward creatures of the night, they seem always on the verge of careering aimlessly into their surroundings, wings beating furiously. Utterly graceless and pug-ugly, they are not the most attractive of Islington’s wildlife, constantly threatening to crash into the side of your head as you walk along the towpath at night.

They are probably the creature I find most mysterious, though. Their eating habits are phenomenal: one of those pipistrelles might consume up to 3000 small insects in a single night. Each one of these insects will be found using echolocation; they emit soundwaves, which echo off solid objects telling them where they are in relation to their surroundings, and their unfortunate prey.

Even more amazing to me, when I checked out London Bat Group’s website, was that there are more than seven species of bat in Greater London – and that one of the best places to see bats is in the nearby Highgate Tunnels. If you’re interested in finding out more about these bizarre little flying mammals, search online for London Bat Group and the Bat Conservation Trust where you’ll find loads more information, including details of any upcoming bat-watching events in London.