Gazette letters: Sweet smelling gardens, pub app, HS2 and NHS funding

Sweet smelling cherry blossom. Picture: PA IMAGES

Sweet smelling cherry blossom. Picture: PA IMAGES - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

January is the month when Hackney and Islington’s front gardeners show that they truly appreciate the finer things in life, in particular its olfactory pleasures, writes Will McCallum, Greenpeace UK, Newington Green.

Cycling down the backstreets from Green Lanes to Newington Green, the front gardens are filled with the splayed, dark glossy fingers of Fatsia leaves, punctuated by the acid yellow spikes of Mahonia flowers, lacing the air with a rich honeyed smell.

Cherry blossom too spreads throughout the neighbourhood, the gardeners of De Beauvoir seem to prefer the delicate pink of Autumnalis Subhirtella Rosea over its the white namesake. These cherries, which flower from December through to February are less showy then many of their double flowered cousins which line our borough's streets and carpet our pavements in spring, but their tight, perfectly formed petals against bare branches, grey sky and yellow London brick are a sight to savour. Many gardeners have placed them alongside viburnums with pom-pom clusters of tiny pink flowers, emerging from cerise buds in December to unleash a heady scent.

Over in Holloway, an estate I cycled past boasts a hedge of Saracocca. This incredible plant is evergreen and covered in tiny white flowers in December and January, which develop into dark-blue black berries, offering a feast for birds in early spring when there is often little food available.

The best thing of all about this hedge, was that it was bookended with Winter Sweet. Its cup shaped translucent yellow flowers, maroon-smeared in the centre, emanate a spicy, woody fragrance.

The planter of that hedge proving themselves a sommelier of winter aroma.

When I first heard there was an app to find a pub I was sceptical - in fact I laughed my head off, writes Janet Hart, London Fields, Hackney.

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But actually it's pure brilliance and the rationale behind it stacks up.

Pubs are a different breed now. They have to be to survive or they close like many have done. It's not just whether they do food, have Sky Sports or serve real ale.

It's about veganism, micro breweries, entertainment, maybe something a bit different or quirky. In central London you can find crazy golf, darts with a difference. Pubs are innovating and clearly the young people of Hackney are too.

I don't know these two lads behind the idea but I do think it's worth checking out The Local: Pub Finder app.

The success of an app is whether it solves a problem and because this clearly does that makes it an app worth having.

Tragically the Cobham PLC takeover (I have written about this recently) has gone through because as the law stands a bidder can withdraw a bid if circumstances change but shareholders cannot change their mind, even if it is clear as the judge admitted it is unlikely that the bid would have been accepted now, due to reduced political uncertainty, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

On a separate note, there is considerable controversy over HS2 due to rising costs. One way to reduce costs would be to terminate the line at Old Oak Common when the Elizabeth Line will (hopefully) be completed. This has the added advantage of reducing the considerable disruption at Euston station whilst construction takes place.

Finally there have been too many incidents recently where politicians and public figures have been criticised for their views on certain aspects of society, for example abortion. Abortion and similar issues are and must always remain an issue of conscious to the individual and have no bearing on their suitability for public office.

The recent election saw intense focus on our national health service, and rightly so, writes Dr Gary Marlowe, Chairman, BMA London Regional Council.

Years of underfunding have pushed the NHS to the limit. The UK now has the second lowest number of doctors in leading European nations relative to its population, according to research published last month, with waiting times for A&E care, cancer treatment and planned operations now dangerously high. General practice is also experiencing unprecedented pressures as GP numbers continue to fall while patient numbers rise.

We, as doctors, will continue to provide the best care possible with the resources at our disposal, however, without adequate investment the NHS will not be sustainable, and patient access to quality care will be reduced to an unacceptable level.

Politicians have promised more money, more staff and more resources, however, there remains concern that the Conservative NHS spending pledges will still lead to a shortfall by 2023/24 of £6.2 billion.

Therefore, we need MPs across London, who have been elected to make our voices heard in Westminster, to hold this government to account over the promises made on the campaign trail, while pushing for further commitments.