Gazette letters: Haggerston baths, right-to-buy, Sorsby Medical Practice and Hackney in spring

Haggerston Baths will not longer be used for public recreation.

Haggerston Baths will not longer be used for public recreation. - Credit: Archant

On Saturday (March 30), Castleforge Partners, “a UK-based property investor established in 2010”, and Kanda Consulting, hired by Castleforge to run consultation exercises, held a public exhibition of the plans for Haggerston Baths, writes Pat Turnbull, Hackney, full address supplied.

The history of the baths was outlined: “...its top-lit pool hall was used not only for swimming but ... as a venue for boxing matches, dancing and community events.

“The building underwent further substantial change in the mid-to-late 1960s when it was adapted to focus principally on swimming and exercise.

“Interiors continued to be modernised throughout the late 20th century, including the conversion of the original pool into a 25-metre pool with a smaller children’s pool at its northern end between 1985-8...”

After this long history of public recreational use, the exhibition says the pool has been closed to the public since 2000. We know that in previous consultations run by Hackney Council the overwhelming majority of respondents said they wanted it reopened as a pool.

However, in August 2018 developer Castleforge signed a lease agreement for the building with Hackney Council. It plans to transform it into “flexible workspace”. People will pay to use a bit of the building. Apart from a small cafe and rooms available for hire, it will no longer be used for public recreational purposes. Clockwise, created by Castleforge in 2017 to hire out office space, will manage the building.

And so a building for public use will be transformed into something to make private profit.

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As a persistent member of the public had put on a post-it note, in answer to the question, what would make you most likely to use the building? A swimming pool!

This year the majority of mortgages were for 40 years for the first time.

So “owning your own home” now consists of getting into a working lifetime of debt and for your home to be the collateral. And you have to have a big deposit to start with, writes Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

The housing association Peabody has a form of tenancy called Rent To Buy. It assumes the rent level is low enough to allow the tenant to save a deposit and thus assumes that this tenancy is just a staging post on the journey to debt that everybody is supposed to aspire to.

Housing association practice matters because so many council homes have been sold by councils to them, such as The Pembury to Peabody and The Old Kingshold to Sanctuary in Hackney alone. And the associations have welcomed the proposed extension of Right To Buy to them, as well as selling off homes such those in Gore and Bethune Roads recently.

The permanent loss of homes on stable, secure tenancies in solid communities for lifetime rent by working families is the problem and housing associations are proving to be part of it, not the solution.

Practice closure community blow

I’m writing to you just for some clarification about my medical practice, Sorsby Medical Practice, as you may be aware it is closing down on June 30, 2019, writes Miss Donna Carr, full address supplied.

We have all been made aware that we need to change practices, which is something unfortunate as from my personal experience I have a great GP who is there to help me and my family when needed.

This letter is not just about me or my family. This is also about the rest of the community, we have a large number of elderly persons as well as disabled adults and children who use this service. When the practice closes our nearest one is at least a five minute walk for able people, a minimum of 10 minutes by bus if the bus, 242, is not on diversion. I believe that the surgery, government or NHS have not fought hard enough to keep this open for people who are unable to travel.

Sorsby has been around for many many years, it’s held the community together when it’s needed, for example when Clapton Square has a fund raiser or when information is needed to be handed out for the community.

This is also going to effect 20 or more people out of their work place.

Spring 2019 has opened with novelty, a couple of brand new London sights (for me, at least), writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

First, on a run zig-zagging the waterways of north London, leaving the grass verge along the new river south of Manor House and heading into Finsbury Park, I glimpsed darting blue.

Excited at the prospect of a kingfisher, I stopped to look into the willow it had headed into. Sure enough, a blue bird perched there – but not, as a kingfisher would have, still on an overhanging branch.

Instead, this – more dulled blue – bird gripped the bark of the tree as a woodpecker might.

Perhaps spooked by my stare it moved suddenly – but instead of flying, or hopping, or shuffling along, it began to climb – not upwards, but upside down-wards: a nuthatch, possibly searching for long lost seeds stowed away in the bark crevices.

Second, a new patch of green: Radnor Street Gardens. The blossom – heavy white flowers obscuring all tree beneath them – was almost incomparable in scale, the entire park completely enveloped in chocolate-box springtime.

As I stepped out of the park I watched a robin, so overwhelmed and incapable of flight, crash straight into a lamppost. After an immediate laugh of shock, I turned thoughts to how I might play the role of hero and land myself with an injured robin to rehabilitate, but before I could take a step closer the robin had set off again through the park fence.