Gazette letters: Zero Waste Hackney, racism in Labour and dementia champion in Hackney

A 29ft plastic bottle designed by Lulu Quinn, delivered by Greenpeace to Michael Gove, is removed.

A 29ft plastic bottle designed by Lulu Quinn, delivered by Greenpeace to Michael Gove, is removed. Picture: PA - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

High in the branches there is an increasingly omnipresent feature; exacerbated by windy days and more visible amongst bare winter twigs, plastic bags seem to have proliferated in the city canopy, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

From my kitchen window I can see two – one blue, one black – flags of human destruction fluttering and ballooning in the gusts. So animated by the breeze, they seem almost as in dialogue with one another – strange, misshapen birds rustling aggressively towards one another.

They are beautiful, as those who remember watching American Beauty will no doubt agree: airborne, lifeless jellyfish, they drift along our streets.

Last week I joined colleagues and volunteers (including several from Hackney) in delivering a 29-foot bottle to Michael Gove, its message: “Gove, don’t lose your bottle”. As the government consultation on plastics remains open for another few weeks, it’s important people across the UK voice their thoughts on how we might dramatically reduce the amount of single-use plastic being produced; and deal better with the plastic we are already producing.

We are lucky enough to live in a borough with a significantly better than average recycling collection system – and yet our streets and waterways are still filled with litter (there is no sight more depressing than Ridley Road Market emptied of people but strewn with plastic at the end of the working day).

We can see that, no matter how good the recycling is, ultimately there is too much packaging out there to deal with. If you’re interested in ways you can help reduce plastic, then please join Greenpeace in responding to this consultation; or for more day to day ideas then both Plastic Free Hackney and the council’s own “Zero Waste Hackney” have plenty of tips and initiatives you can get involved with.

I am not a Labour member, but over the years I have worked with and known some of the local activists including Jewish members of the CLP who voted for this motion, writes Adam Di Chiara, Upper Clapton, Hackney.

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Going by figures recently produced by the Labour Party general secretary and actions being taken by the party that it is doing more to stop antisemitism and racism in its ranks than all the other parties put together. It is clear from these latest statistics and the history of its current leftwing leadership who have been on the frontline of fighting racism, from Apartheid to defending minorities and refugees, that the Labour Party is not institutionally racist.

Unlike how it was in the not-so-distant past. Go back to the infamous “immigration mugs” during Ed Miliband’s time as leader, the disastrous intervention by New Labour when invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and all the scaremongering, demonisation and hate speech towards Muslims that started then, and continues to this day across the political spectrum. This now common racist narrative was pushed by the very same newspapers that all of a sudden seem so exercised by antisemitism in the Labour Party. By comparison, Labour is less racist now than then.

Just 0.08 per cent of the membership have been expelled for antisemitism. This is 0.08pc too many antisemites, but in no way do these figures show an institutionally antisemitic organisation.

To base the accusation of institutional racism on such thin gruel isn’t rational and should be investigated, just as those Labour Party members that do make antisemitic remarks or hold antisemitic views are.

It strikes me that the North Hackney CLP is clearly stating facts. It hasn’t been antisemitic and it does not condone antisemitism in its motion. Anybody suggesting otherwise is being disingenuous and using antisemitic charges as a political weapon against the party and the antiracist left as a whole.

It is troubling that those least likely to be seen defending local synagogues from attacks by the far right are now attacking the antiracists within Labour and in the wider movement, who did defend Jews against attacks at their synagogue in Upper Clapton in 2015.

I just wanted to let readers know of our concern about dementia in Hackney, writes Grace Olori, BAME officer, Hackney South Labour.

According to AgeUK, one in 14 people over 65 in the UK lives with dementia. Having explored this issue, Hackney South Labour Party BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) decided to highlight the issue and its impact on the family and friends, including social care sector, at a meeting last month.

Mayor Phil Glanville emphasised the importance of Hackney becoming a dementia-friendly borough. He said there are about 1,300 people here living with dementia – a figure that will increase. So too will demand for local dementia-friendly services.

According to Cllr Yvonne Maxwell, dementia champion for Hackney, all new staff are going to have dementia training. But it’s also everyone’s responsibility in the community, including business, schools, leisure and transport.

The need for the care support service was raised by some of those present. Cllr Feryal Demirci explained the council is doing all in its capacity to support care service staff within the borough; Cllr Sem Moema enlightened us on the impact of living with dementia; and Harry Johnson (City & Hackney Alzheimer’s Society talked about the stages of dementia.

When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it affects their whole family’s psychological well-being. Therefore, there is a need for a free therapeutic service to be provided.