Gazette letters: Summer’s arrival, Hackney South hustings, school cuts and Joiners Arms

Elderflower growing locally. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Elderflower growing locally. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Archant

I caught my first sniff of summer on Monday, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Running down Skipworth Road towards Victoria Park the strong, sweet smell of elderflowers caused me to turn and look. With the first sprays of the small, creamy flowers hung temptingly over the front garden wall, I nearly reached out to taste a few before a twitch of the curtains reminded me how odd that might look. There is no need to fear the year rushing past too quickly, though; as I continued back up north through London Fields, every other elder tree I passed was still safely in bud – summer not yet on the horizon.

The swan eggs I have been watching up by Finsbury Park are no longer there, leaving behind instead a bare straw nest. Continuing downstream I kept watch for cygnets but saw none – I hope hiding in the bushes rather than prey to foxes. Ducklings and moorhen chicks provided entertainment, taking awkward first steps on the verge before tumbling into the weeds below; or letting out squeaks of terror after straying too far from the flock and finding themselves alone.

This week’s spring highlight: never before had I stopped to examine the blossom on horse chestnut trees. What a bizarre shape – like great, gaudy candles poking out at all angles to make “a haberdashery of wholesome woods” (Norman MacCaig, from the poem Green Stain).

On behalf of the De Beauvoir Association I should like to invite residents in the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency to the electoral hustings, writes Fiona Darbyshire, vice chair, De Beauvoir Association.

They are being held on Monday, May 22 at 7.45pm in St Peter’s Church, Northchurch Terrace, N1 4DA.

This is your opportunity to ask the candidates the questions that are important to you.

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Everyone in Hackney is extremely concerned and worried by the damage the government’s savage and senseless cuts to schools will have on our children’s future and their opportunities, writes Meg Hillier, Labour and Cooperative Party candidate for Hackney South and Shoreditch.

The Tories are demanding that schools in England make a total of £3bn of efficiency savings by 2020 and planning changes to the funding formula that will reduce Hackney’s school funding by 2.8 per cent or more than £5m a year.

For Hackney it’s a double whammy. Not only are schools already reducing teacher numbers and axing classroom assistants but they face more to come if the Tories go ahead and take money away from Hackney to give to schools outside London.

It is a disgrace. Young people are our future and the Tories are failing them.

This attack on the future prospects for our children amounts to £914 less per pupil per year and up to 700 fewer teachers. It will mean bigger classes and possible cuts in some subjects being offered.

Make no mistake – Labour cares for Hackney’s young people and has heavily invested in providing what have now become some of the country’s top improving schools. Previous Labour governments have made it their number one priority – and these senseless cuts to schools that are among the top schools in the country are just crazy.

Labour will stop these cuts. Labour will invest in our schools – and offer free school meals for all primary pupils.

We are very pleased to announce that the much loved and famous Joiners Arms Shoreditch is back in business, writes Giuliano Pistoni, manager, Joiners Arms, Hackney Road.

After an absence of two years, the former Joiners management has teamed up with Ye Olde Axe on Hackney Road.

The Axe, itself a famous East End pub and former gin palace, is the ideal location and setting for the Joiners and its loyal customers. As a venue, we could not imagine anywhere more suitable. A truly landmark pub that is just over the road from the old Joiners.

The first event took place on Sunday, April 30. We attracted some 250 of the old Joiners crowd for a party night to celebrate our relaunch and the return of the good old times that made the Joiners such a favourite haunt of the LGBT and wider community.

The next event will be on May 28 and is called Back in Time. A trio of our regular and top DJs has been lined up to deliver a fantastic night: Eduardo Herrera, Jeffrey Hinton and Pierre Parnis. This will be some party!

To follow, the Joiners will then commence weekly every Sunday night from June 11. In addition, we expect there to be frequent special events on other nights. This is just the start as we re-establish the Joiners at the heart of Shoreditch nightlife.