Gazette letters: LTNs, Side by Side school, feed kids, planning changes and Green London

A projected view of the new Side by Side school. Picture: The PR Office

A projected view of the new Side by Side school. Picture: The PR Office - Credit: Archant


Cycling lobby must accept need for motor vehicles

Imran Khan, Hackney, full address supplied, writes:

When I read the letter from Kevin O’Sullivan of Cyle Legal in Gazette letters, I had to look at my calender to make sure we weren’t near April Fool’s Day.

He is, apparently, very much in favour of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods but seems to live in a world where everything except disabled people and urgent medical supplies can go by bicycle.

Not only that he seems to believe that the reason people use cars is so they can wake up to pollution, congestion, obesity, diabetes, laziness, anger, road rage, and more that is caused by moving around a cycling city with a world class transport system.

It would be easy to dismiss Mr O’Sullivan as an isolated case but unfortunately he is representative of a growing misinformed and divisive eco lobby which is now increasingly dominating town halls and enforcing their own very particular view of how the world should be.

The reasoning, in so far as I can use that word in this context, seems to be as follows. Most journeys by cars, vans and lorries are unnecessary and are done so out of laziness.

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The streets need to be “reclaimed” by pedestrians and if life is made as difficult and costly as possible for motorists they will all change to bikes and public transport.

In terms of London there is just one problem with all of this, it’s a load of rubbish.

People and businesses do not buy, insure and maintain cars, vans and lorries when there is an alternative and at the moment there isn’t.

The other problem is that London cannot at the moment and for the forseeable future exist without the internal combustion engine because the electric alternatives aren’t available and the city needs basic things like food, clothing, building repairs and the multitude of other basics without which it cannot survive.

Non of this seems to have occurred to the cycling lobby even though they use and depend on these things every day. And, even if everything were electric the streets could not still be “reclaimed” as they would be packed with non petrol and diesel vehicles!

Mr O’Sullivan seemed to be worthy of investigation so I did some due diligence.

He is a solicitor and Cycle Legal is his company specialising, so his website claims, in suing on behalf of cyclists who have been injured by motor vehicles.

Like much if not most of what comes from the cycling/eco lobby this is childish foot stamping which actaully decreases support from the more grounded public.

For a sensible take on this subject look at Click My Thoughts and the latest article, The Road Less Travelled.

Time for school to finally relocate

John Hall-Brunton, Hackney, full address supplied, writes:

This article (Stamford Hill special needs school given free broadband to support its pupils) would appear to be a publicity puff for Community Fibre and the Avon Group of Companies but if Side by Side school really intends to end its decades old occupation (originally a squat) of a park in Big Hill then it’s really good news.

Especially if the site is returned to the people of Hackney and its original use as a much needed play area for the local residents of the recently redeveloped housing estates.

It is difficult not to be a little skeptical, however, as this same school was proposed to be rehoused in a basement at 128 Lordship Road in the late ’90s and this earnest intention was used as justification for the building of residential housing on that site.

Planning permission was granted on that basis and the development is now called Avigdor Mews, but Side by Side continues to occupy the Big Hill park site to date.

Feed ‘at risk’ kids in school holidays

Tulip Siddiq MP, shadow minister for Children and Early Years, writes:

Millions of families face the prospect of losing their livelihoods because the government has lost control of the virus.

It’s sink-or-swim plans for support could leave more than one million children at risk of going hungry over the school holidays.

Now is the time to act. Labour will not stand by and let families be the victims of the government’s incompetence. If Boris Johnson doesn’t change course, we will force a vote this week and give his backbenchers the chance to do the right thing.

Planning change risks high-street

Dr Alison Moore, Londonwide Assembly member, writes:

The Covid-19 pandemic is not the only threat to our high streets. Amongst the government’s proposals to overhaul our planning system are further attacks on our local shops.

The situation is already stark with the Centre for Retail Research finding that almost 14,000 shops across the country pulled down their shutters for the final time, this year alone.

Despite this, ministers have just pushed through an expansion of permitted development rights, enabling retail and office space to be demolished to give way to flats.

These proposals would also remove democratic control from councillors and bar local people from being able to formally object to these schemes which could permanently transform the face of our communities.

Whilst permitted development projects now have to abide by minimum space standards, they still do not have to be set at an affordable rent or provide outside space for tenants.

More permitted development and the gutting of our high streets is not the solution to our housing crisis. The government must urgently have a rethink on this.

Airport policy under scrutiny

Sian Berry AM, Green Party candidate for Mayor of London

Heathrow Airport started action in the Supreme Court this month, challenging the decision to send government policy on airports back to the drawing board.

Greens in London celebrated when the High Court ruled in February that the climate emergency made policies to support a third runway incompatible with new government commitments to prevent runaway global warming.

The idea that the greed of one business should override all our futures in this way is outrageous.

But also outrageous is the current Mayor of London’s continued support for the expansion of Gatwick Airport.

Climate change doesn’t care which runway emissions come from, and Sadiq Khan’s claim to be the “greenest mayor ever” falls apart while he keeps supporting new runways in this way.

My colleague in the London Assembly, Caroline Russell, has repeatedly challenged the mayor over this hypocrisy, and we’ll continue to hold him to account.

We are calling on all Londoners who want real climate action to join us in calling on Sadiq Khan to ignore the lobbyists and change his mind on Gatwick, and if he refuses to vote for a real Green mayor in May 2021.

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