Gazette letters: Get out in the cold, moped crime, Britannia and Kindertransport

Get out in the cold and enjoy nature including sleeping swans. Picture: WILL McCALLUM

Get out in the cold and enjoy nature including sleeping swans. Picture: WILL McCALLUM - Credit: Archant

There is no hiding from the fact that the next four weeks up until and immediately after the solstice is my least favourite time of the year to be outdoors in the city, writes Will McCallum, NatureWatch, Newington Green.

As much as braving the elements can be a chore in itself, it is the constant flash, glare and boom of passing traffic that gets to me.

The weekend, then, provides necessary respite – vitamin D and light-filled colours restore faith in my ability to cope with the season. Get up high to breathe in a view – Parliament Hill, Springfield Park, Lordship Park, Stamford Hill; discover again that London is not as flat as those who only ever travel underground claim, and enjoy the golden winter light in those hours when it bathes the city canopy.

I am not alone in finding the encroaching darkness difficult. Mental health in the winter is a problem for many – longer evenings with fewer distractions; memories of seasonal winter cheer gone wrong. I am lucky – work and friends bring me out into the grey. Forcing myself to continue to exercise can subdue the nagging cold.

If there is one message for NatureWatch in this season it is to explore and get outside in nature together.

Invite on a walk those friends and relatives you suspect may need company. Find a new bench to sit and watch overfed squirrels argue with crows and fall off fenceposts. Watch the swans sleep peacefully, braced against the cold on the island in Clissold Park ponds. There is peace and humour in winter’s nature once you manage to get outside to find it.

And remember, if you need to talk, the Samaritans are there for you and brilliant at their work. You can phone them any time of day or night free on 116 123.

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In an attempt to combat moped crime in London, police have to resort to desperate measures. This includes a tactic to knock thieves of their bikes, writes Terry Wood, Deepdene House, Manor Road, Stoke Newington.

I have seen in Hackney moped gangs terrorising people while they go on their stealing sprees.

Mobile phone theft is linked to organised crime.

Pregnant women and even and elderly lady waiting for an ambulance have been robbed.

Decent people don’t want to walk the streets in fear. They want the police to do more. This new crackdown has led to a dramatic fall in moped crime yet Diane Abbott accuses the police of being above the law.

If you are a victim of crime look to the police to defend and protect you. Not our MP, the shadow home secretary.

The Save Britannia Leisure Centre campaign is very disappointed that the mayor of London is “content for the Planning Authority [Hackney] to determine the case itself” in regard to the Britannia development plan, writes Pat Turnbull, Save Britannia Leisure Centre.

He has decided to leave Hackney residents at the mercy of an over ambitious scheme that exposes the council to risk to the tune of up to £360million, and therefore makes other council services a hostage to fortune in the future.

Already parents at Shoreditch Park Primary School, which will lose 776 square metres of its playground to a 16-storey tower block, are saying that now the plan has been approved, they are being told improvements they thought they would get as compensation are too expensive. How many promises made to head off opposition to the scheme will be broken?

In the Gazette the mayor repeats the claim that “Hackney needs [...] hundreds of more school places” in the face of the council’s own Britannia application, which states that there are “41 secondary schools located within three miles’ walking distance of the site [...] operating at 86 per cent of their capacity” which “could increase by over 5,100 pupils and they would still be within capacity”.

The current Britannia Leisure Centre, by the council’s own admission, could be fully refurbished for half the cost of building a new one (on Shoreditch Park). The council’s declared motive – a new school and leisure centre – for building 400 luxury flats, in towers up to 25 storeys high, falls flat on its face.

The mayor mentions public meetings. It was the Save Britannia campaign, not the council, which organised four public meetings to inform people about what the plan really meant, and give them a full opportunity to discuss it.

Just over 30 years ago Kindertransport started which rescued about 10,000 Jewish children in the following nine months from its start until August 31, 1939, writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

Sadly, another train due to leave September 3 never arrived for obvious reasons, and anyone who blames Chamberlain for this is a disgrace.

I believe a similar scheme should be started for the refugees from the Middle East trouble spots. This includes Syria, but other areas must be included. It is also vital that Christians are included. Sadly because we are Christian country some people think that including Christians is racist. This is obvious nonsense and this thinking must stop as all races must be treated equally.

There was a group of Yhardis trapped on a hill in Syria threatened by Isis. I want to know why the government did not rescue them as our special forces are the second best in the world.

Many people say 20,000 should be accepted. In my view it should be 30,000. I wish a certain Mr Trump would help by taking a lot more.