Gazette letters: Dalston hit and run, Victoria Park, 253 and 254 buses and an open letter from Hackney Stand Up to Racism

The scene of the hit and run in Dalston. Picture: DAVID PEAT

The scene of the hit and run in Dalston. Picture: DAVID PEAT - Credit: Archant

I couldn’t help mixed feelings on hearing about the Dalston hit and run last week that has left a pedestrian with critical injuries after a collision with a cyclist on an e-bike, writes Kevin O’Sullivan, principal solicitor, Cycle Legal Solicitors, Stoke Newington.

The accident occurred by the Rio Cinema in Dalston and the e-bike was later found dumped in Stoke Newington. The positive development since last Thursday’s Gazette front page, “’Woman fights for life after bike hit and run,’’ is that the cyclist has handed himself into police. I’ve checked the news regularly hoping for good news about the pedestrian’s recovery but can find no further news at the time of writing. I hope she makes it.

My feelings are mixed simply because I have represented so many cyclists who have been the victims of hit and runs by motorists, many who have sustained life changing injuries. Indeed, we have several such cases for cyclists ongoing at present and a civil claim for damages can still be made after a hit and run.

Also, it’s more common than not in my experience that, despite all the cameras around us, many motorists who flee the scene evade detection. It is vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists, who are disproportionately the victims of hit and run accidents and it is overwhelmingly motorists who are the perpetrators.

This is partly because it is physically easier for a motorist to flee the scene; the cyclist or pedestrian is often motionless or at least injured so not in the right condition to take down a vehicle registration. The motor vehicle is rarely so badly damaged by a bicycle or pedestrian as not to be driveable and very many hit and runs take place in the hours of darkness when there are fewer or no witnesses around and CCTV is less effective.

Indeed, the other issue with CCTV is that skeletal police and local authority resources mean that the checking of footage will be cursory if it takes place at all. A police case officer told me in December 2017 that if they looked at all the footage that they were meant to following road accidents, they would simply not be able to do their job.

If we’re able to make the application to the council for footage within 30 days of an accident (after which it is deleted), the council sometimes emails to say the camera wasn’t working or was pointing in the wrong direction and so did not record the accident.

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In addition, TfL’s policy is only to release footage if there has been a fatal accident and so a badly injured cyclist or pedestrian is often unable to access the footage that could assist their case.

The CCTV has been crucial in the Dalston case and that is great news for justice. This is an extremly rare case where the cyclist (who was injured himself) has left the scene after colliding with a pedestrian. Sadly, it is overwhelmingly much more common for a hit and run accident to leave a cyclist dead or injured on the road after a motorist drives away, sadly enjoying a fair chance of evading detection.

Our friend and neighbour Alan Thomas is right that we who live on Victoria Park have become used to Tower Hamlets making no effort to involve us before taking decisions about shutting us out of chunks of our park that are rented to private enterprise and protected by paywalls during school holidays, write Mary Pimm and Nik Wood, Gore Road, Hackney.

But our retail and recreational spending in Approach, Roman and Old Ford Roads suggest this isn’t unique to our Hackney side. Shop-keepers and publicans we speak to there say they know nothing about the decisions beforehand, such as replacing Lovebox and Field Day with All Points East or Make More on August Bank Holiday, and get just as little and late information as us. So it isn’t just Tower Hamlets ignoring Hackney voters: they also fail to involve those whose livelihoods are affected by this in their own borough.

Tower Hamlets’ keenness for privatising our park, which was created to provide free access for the East End, does suggest that the current regime in the town hall is less socialist than Queen Victoria and is unenthusiastic about transparency.

TfL should increase the number of 253/254 buses in peak times, writes a reader, name supplied.

Every day the buses get so full that people are constantly left at bus stops for sometimes three or four more buses to go past before they can get on.

An open letter from Hackney Stand Up to Racism

Cllr Susan Fajana Thomas; Dave Davis, secretary NEU; Red Saunders, founder, Rock against Racism; Patrick Vernon OBE, campaigner and activist; Muhammed Misbah, vice chairman, MEND; Metin Sagir, Day-Mer Turkish and Kurdish Community Centre; Ali Aksoy, Hackney Refugee Forum; Terry Stewart, Rainbow Hackney and LGBT+ Network; Revd Elizabeth Welsh, Clapton Park United Reformed Church; Heather Mendick, secretary, Hackney South and Shoreditch Labour Party and another 135 people, signed this statement:

Far right activist Tommy Robinson’s release on bail will give succour to the racist and fascist right across Britain.

They will see it as a success for their campaign for his release and for the international support they received from far right figures like ex Trump chief of staff Steve Bannon, who described Robinson as the “backbone of this country”.

Robinson has become a rallying point for forces from Ukip to the alt-right and the Democratic Football Lads Alliance.

His supporters have staged violent demonstrations in his support where anti-racists and police officers were attacked.

Robinson himself was an inspiration to the Finsbury Park attacker Darren Osborne, who murdered Makram Ali, and to the far-right terrorist Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in 2012.

We oppose the racism at the heart of Robinson’s message and defend the migrants, refugees and the Muslim community that he seeks to scapegoat.

The racist right is growing across Europe spreading racism, Islamophobia, antisemitism and bigotry. We will not allow them to rebuild here in Britain. Robinson is likely to celebrate his victory by touring our towns and cities and attempting to drum up support for the racist right. We will make sure Robinson and his supporters are not welcome whereever they seek to build their hate-filled movement.

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