Gazette letters: Policing Plan, feed the vulnerable, traffic and visiting your GP

Hackney Town Hall Square will be lit up. As the festive season is approaching, we'd love to see what decorations you're...

Hackney Town Hall Square will be lit up. As the festive season is approaching, we'd love to see what decorations you're putting up this year. Let's brighten up our streets and put a smile on our neighbours' faces as we head into an unusual Christmas. Email: gazette.letters@archant.co.uk. Picture: Hackney Council. - Credit: hackney council

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

Met’s plant to rebuild trust while serving community

Jennette Arnold OBE , London Assembly member for North East (Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest), writes:

The mayor and the London Assembly are committed to tackling all forms of crime, and as Londoners, we all must play our part in this.

Underpinning this is the fact that the police must have the trust and confidence of the communities they serve to protect.


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A continuing key concern revolves around the disproportionate use of policing powers against BAME Londoners. Increasingly, where some powers have been used, it has been found that no crime had been committed.

Stop and search is an important tool in the fight against violent crime, but it needs to be carried out properly and appropriately if it’s to be effective.

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Our police officers work extremely hard and put themselves in the face of danger every day to keep Londoners safe. Sometimes, the police do things wrong and need to be held to account when this happens.

It has been encouraging to see the mayor recently publish an Action Plan which seeks to comprehensively address these issues.

Central to the plan is a new target to ensure 40 per cent of new recruits to the force are from BAME backgrounds by 2022, backed by increased investment in officer training.

Communities across London will also be given a more significant role in working alongside the Met in examining the use of police powers and tactics.

Over the coming months, I will continue to monitor the Metropolitan Police’s progress on implementing this plan.

Christmas hamper

James Burton, Feed London Miracles project director, writes:

I wanted to let you know about an amazing project being launched in December by the children’s charity, Miracles.

The project is called Feed London and aims to support hundreds of vulnerable families predicted to go without a meal on Christmas Day.

We will provide a nutritious and healthy Feed London Christmas hamper to families in London, which will include all the ingredients needed for a sumptuous Christmas dinner, plus healthy recipe ideas, a box of Christmas crackers, supermarket vouchers and some wonderful treats for the children.

By donating £25, people can give the gift of Christmas dinner. Businesses and corporations are also invited to purchase a family hamper for £175 which they can donate to their clients as an alternative corporate Christmas gift.

We desperately need the support of the London community – from local business and from local citizens in each borough. To find out how to get involved and to donate, please visit our website: feedlondon.org/

In London there are 700,000+ children living in poverty, which is more than in Scotland and Wales combined. The five boroughs with the highest rates of poverty (after housing costs) are: Tower Hamlets, 53 per cent; Newham, 43pc; Hackney, 41pc; Westminster, 41pc; and Islington, 40pc.

There are many reasons why a family might be living in poverty but for children it’s simple: they are born into it.

At Feed London, we believe in taking a whole family approach. We want to encourage long-term healthy eating and to introduce children to the fun of cooking because nothing tastes better than food you have cooked yourself.

Save The Children’s survey of households on universal credit or working tax credits found nearly two thirds had run up debts over the past two months. 60pc had cut down on food and other basics and over a third had relied on charities for food and clothes. According to this research, over a quarter of respondents said it was harder to afford food compared to the start of the pandemic, while 22pc reported using a food bank.

For more information about Feed London – how to donate or get involved - please contact me, James Burton, on 07545174243 or email james@miraclesthecharity.org.

Traffic

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party and candidate for mayor, writes:

I welcome the news that Rishi Sunak is considering action to create smart incentives to reduce growing traffic.

I have been pushing for years for London to introduce a smart, fair road pricing scheme to replace the blunt daily congestion charge.

This could be done well or very badly and the government’s recent record on delivering new initiatives really concerns me.

One major issue is that one size will not fit all, so we must ensure that local areas have control over the smart levers and share in the revenue.

Unless the process is devolved, there is a very real threat that all the funds would go to the treasury.

Every penny raised must go to cities and regions so they can improve and invest in public transport and alternatives to driving, and help reduce the need to travel too with more public services within easy reach.

And for a smart road pricing scheme to work, privacy must be baked in from the start. This means not collecting any more data than is needed, not relying on promises that our privacy will be protected which will erode over time.

Above all, the government should not be making traffic worse, which is another reason Grant Shapps giving the go ahead for the Stonehenge road tunnel was the wrong decision.

We are in a climate and ecological emergency and should be investing in alternatives to driving.

The £27 billion road-building budget is the right source for funding this, and all major road-building schemes should be cancelled now.

Visiting your GP

Dr Anthony Cunliffe, Macmillan GP advisor for London, writes:

I am writing to you to remind your readers how important it is to contact their GP if they have concerning symptoms that could be cancer during the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic has meant far fewer people in London have come forward with symptoms that could be cancer.

In June, during the first lockdown, 31 per cent (around 10,000) fewer people than expected saw a specialist for suspected cancer after an urgent GP referral.

Additionally, according to recent figures, 4,500 fewer people in London started cancer treatment since the start of the pandemic compared to the same period in 2019.

Now, during the second lockdown, we are urging Londoners to get in touch with their GP immediately if they experience common symptoms of cancer.

These can include changes to their body, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite, lumps or bleeding, coughs or new, unexplained pain anywhere in your body which doesn’t go away after three weeks.

Surgeries are now offering appointments over the phone or virtually, and will still see patients face to face where required.

Cancer is often easier to treat the earlier it is diagnosed, so GPs still want to hear from anyone with worrying symptoms.

I also want to ask people who have appointments, including tests and check ups, to still attend. NHS staff have worked hard to make sure cancer treatment can still be given as safely as possible so we are also encouraging people to attend these appointments too.

For information, support or just a chat, call Macmillan free on 0808 808 0000 or visit macmillan.org.uk.

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