Gazette letters: Autumn walking, Brittania Leisure Centre and youth project funding

Autumn in Hackney. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Autumn in Hackney. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Archant

I arrived back in London this week after working down at the Antarctic Ocean Commission, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

The welcome back to Hackney was as expected – wet and grey; dark overcoats and cold faces crowding the path as I walked back from Dalston Kingsland station.

The weather matched my mood. I just spent two depressing weeks watching governments fail to agree on a proposal to create an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, a campaign supported by many in Hackney and Islington who, through the work of local Greenpeace groups, helped persuade politicians and retailers like Boots and Holland & Barrett to support this proposal.

Suffering from jetlag has its upsides, though – dawn runs along Hackney’s streets have kept me entertained. Unable to sleep beyond the first dawn-shimmer (and the inevitable, accompanying robin song), I’ve left the house in darkness to run through sunlight’s descent on the city streets.

There is a joy in re-exploring the neighbourhood in the morning half-light: watching the mist rise from the top of Springfield Park, catching the waders sleeping on Woodberry Wetlands, getting deafened by the hundreds of parakeets that seem to have taken over Hackney Marshes, kicking the leaf litter on Parkland Walk. Above all the relative silence of early morning gives opportunity to reflect – on the natural world we rely on, and the journey ahead we have to protect it, before it’s too late.

I wish to object, in the strongest possible terms, to Hackney Council’s proposed development of the Britannia Leisure Centre site, Shoreditch Park (local planning authority reference 2018/0926) writes, James Pain, Chatsworth Road, Hackney.

The grounds for my objection are as follows:

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1. The proposed development will destroy a large area of designated open park space, which, in a shocking show of cynicism, Hackney Council has offered to replace with only a meaningless marginal strip of land, which is of significantly lesser proportion and potential utility than the lost plot of communal five-a-side-football pitches.

2. The proposed development will leave existent dwellings of council tenants languishing in the shade of luxury high-rise apartments.

3. The proposed development will allocate less than 10 per cent of its residential units for the creation of genuinely affordable housing.

Thank you for considering these issues of immense social importance.

This week it has been very positive to see ELATT, Groundwork London, St Giles Trust, Headliners and The Access to Sport Project awarded funding from City Hall’s Young Londoners Fund to deliver key local youth and early intervention projects in Hackney, writes Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest).

This should be seen as a testament to all the crucial work they do to support young people in our community.

It is vital that we properly invest in the next generation of Londoners to ensure that they have equal access to all the opportunities our city has to offer, and to prevent the most vulnerable in our society from becoming caught up in crime.

Whilst City Hall is setting a good standard in this respect, we now need the government to follow suit. For too long, charities and community organisations have had to step forward and plug the gaps left by the complete lack of investment being made into key services.

To ensure no more young people are left behind, the government must stick to its pledge to abandon austerity and reverse the ruthless cuts it has made to policing and youth services.