Gazette letters: Wetlands, Tory housing advice and BuddyHub

The east reservoir at Woodberry Wetlands. Picture: PETER O'CONNOR (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The east reservoir at Woodberry Wetlands. Picture: PETER O'CONNOR (CC BY-SA 2.0) - Credit: Archant

I had the luxury of visiting the reservoirs twice this last week, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

The last of autumn’s sun gave a welcome opportunity to sit outside and enjoy the water’s inhabitants at play.

Having always thought of West Reservoir as Woodberry Wetlands’ less interesting neighbour, it was satisfying to be proved wrong as we watched the swans whoop after each other – beaks stretching out in desperation as they gave flight gracelessly.

The first signs of white feather are showing through the cygnets’ grey down – adulthood is around the corner.

Wandering along the path between the two reservoirs I watched as two carp gloomily drifted upstream.

Slow beasts of the shallows, they were each at least two foot long and looked entirely out of place sharking amongst the reeds.

I struggle to imagine their journey to get here through north London along this narrow, shallow waterway.

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At Woodberry Wetlands, the cormorants dominated the vista from Coal House Café – outstretched wings drying in the sun, lined up along the platform in the middle of the reservoir, they make for an eerie silhouette.

I strained to try and see without binoculars any of the water’s less common residents and visitors, a catalogue of which is updated each week and pinned to the noticeboard at the centre’s entrance.

Gulls, ducks and coots were insistent on crowding out my vision, though, and I gave up and contented myself watching a small family of tufted ducks nibbling at the banks.

On my way out, before re-entering Hackney’s crowded streets, I stopped, eyes closed, and remembered how easy it is in these patches of city wilderness to escape.

Ex-councillor, Christopher Sills, suggests (“We can do more to help the homeless”, Gazette letters, September 27) that the council might be “using the homeless as a political weapon”, writes S Brann, full name and address supplied.

Does he not remember that the Conservative Party got his enthusiastic support, then and now, when it pushed through legislation to sell off council housing?

Does he still think it sensible that councils were constrained from using revenue from these housing sales to build new stock?

Has he noticed the connection between mass homelessness and the fact that one third of ex-council housing is now owned by private landlords charging full market rent?

It is amazing to remember that back in 1980 Hackney’s streets were not full of homeless people and beggars. Rents were affordable and homeless women living on the streets, whether or not they had dependent children, would have received immediate assistance.

London’s future prosperity relies on the development of a strong and pioneering tech sector, writes Jennette Arnold OBE AM.

However, it is essential that digital innovation is also used to find solutions to some of the most intractable social and health issues and inequalities that Londoners face.

This is why I am delighted that social enterprise Buddy Hub, which creates social circles for older people, has been awarded £15,000 as part of the Mayor’s Civic Innovation Challenge to work with Hackney Council to promote social integration for the elderly in the capital.

On a local level, we need to continue to support our creative businesses to ensure London stays on track to becoming the world’s smartest city.

However, it clear that the government needs to urgently address the pressing issue of rising rents and business rates, which have presented huge obstacles to growing enterprises.