Britannia Leisure Centre, Covid vaccines, race horses and run for Macmillan

The Britannia Leisure Centre

The Britannia Leisure Centre before redevelopment started - Credit: Ken Mears

Time for a rethink on the Britannia Leisure Centre

Pat Turnbull, Save Britannia Leisure Centre campaign, full address supplied, writes: 

It has been reported that much of Hackney Council’s £227m capital spend this year – a particularly hard financial year – is on the Britannia Project. This figure contrasts starkly with the maximum of £17m which the council quoted to the Save Britannia Leisure Centre campaign for a full refurbishment of Britannia Leisure Centre. Instead, the council decided to knock down the Britannia and build a replacement on Shoreditch Park.

The cross subsidy model which Mayor Glanville has referred to in the case of the Britannia Project is the construction of 481 dwellings of which only 48 will be social rented and 400 will be for market sale. This project will therefore produce very little of public good, and contribute to the maintenance of the high house prices in London which are causing so much misery to so many Londoners.

That is, if the dwellings can even be sold. The achievement of the cross subsidy depends on these sales. Otherwise the council is left with the bill. This is the risk of depending for financing on the fluctuations of the property market.

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So it is disappointing that the mayor appears to be persisting with this model. He is quoted as regretting in the case of plans for refurbishment of King’s Hall Leisure Centre only that an “easy set of sites” is not available to do the same as in the case of Britannia. The set of sites at Britannia has in fact not been achieved quite so easily: it has meant cutting down 60 trees round Britannia and building on Shoreditch Park, and will mean building a 16 storey tower in the playground of Shoreditch Park Primary School, and tower blocks of 25, 20 and 10 storeys where Britannia currently stands. It also means years of misery for local residents from noise, dust and traffic disruption.

Forty five per cent of the UK’s carbon emissions come from the construction industry. Prominent campaigners are calling for a national policy of refurbishment rather than demolition and construction. So such a model also does not seem to fit in with Hackney Council’s green credentials, especially at a time when road closures are being implemented to so much controversy, also in the name of meeting green targets.

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Time, surely, for the council to have a hard rethink about this way of operating.

Vaccine net

Geoff Twist, Stoke Newington, full address supplied, writes:

Could I use your paper to ask how do people who are not registered with a GP get the Covid vaccination?

The last I heard, close to providing an answer, was on the Today programme. They said you will be on your GP’s list. If I were still on my GP’s list, I could not trust them to get this correct. Hence I left them and have not found a satisfactory replacement to date. I am also denied doing so as I have not access to the internet.

My question leads me to ask, how do any illegal residents access the vaccination?

Schools plan

Cllr Elizabeth Campbell, London Councils’ executive member for Schools and Children’s Services, writes:

London’s children are facing massive disruption to their early education because of the Covid-19 pandemic. If we do not act now, this could have serious consequences when they start primary school and beyond, especially for children from more deprived communities. Nobody wants to see children not being “school ready” and failing to catch-up as they get older.

London Councils’ new report outlines a five point plan for local and national government that will reduce the impact of the turbulence of the past year on these children.
We have recommended protecting existing nursery budgets by using last year’s headcount figures, as well as announcing long-term funding plans for maintained nursery schools to give them future certainty.

Evolving unspent allowances to local government would also ensure money already committed to early years is not lost when it is most needed. We propose investing this funding in local initiatives to reach out to families with young children and improve attendance, as well as further supporting childcare and nursery providers at this challenging time.

Protecting horses

Horses and jockeys go past the bend at Wincanton Racecourse on February 04, 2021 in Wincanton, Engla

Animal Aid monitors injuries and deaths of race horses - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Fiona Pereira, campaigns manager, Animal Aid, writes:

Animal Aid is at the forefront in campaigning for race horses. We expose disturbing issues that affect their welfare. Figures just released by Animal Aid for 2020 show shocking deaths and whip abuse across racecourses in Great Britain.

Readers may be surprised to know that 130 race horses were killed as a result of racing in 2020 – all of the horses suffered horrific deaths. Animal Aid’s Horse Deathwatch website names racing’s victims and the circumstances surrounding their fatal races.

We have also led the campaign to ban the use of the whip in racing. Racing allows jockeys to hit their horses for “encouragement” with seven strikes deemed “acceptable” in a flat race and eight strikes in a Jump race. Alarmingly, these rules are repeatedly broken year-on-year. In 2020 there were 299 breaches of the rules for hitting horses above the strike limits or on the “wrong” part of their body or for using excessive force.

  • For readers who wish to find out more about our horse racing campaign, and to help bring an end to the use of the whip, please visit:


Lynda Thomas, CEO Macmillan Cancer Support and London Marathon runner (2018), writes:

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a complete beginner, taking on an event like the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon is a huge personal challenge.

However, I know first-hand taking part and crossing that finish line is a feeling like no other, and I can guarantee every runner really does make a huge difference to charities like Macmillan Cancer Support.

As Macmillan CEO, I know our work relies on the fundraising of our extraordinary supporters, who are willing to go that extra mile – or 26 miles in this case - to raise the vital funds that enable our services and healthcare professionals to do whatever it takes to support those affected by cancer.

Regardless of time or ability, not only can each of the 100,000 participants who sign up for this year’s record-breaking event feel immensely proud of their achievement, but also every pound raised and every step taken towards that finish line directly enables charities like Macmillan Cancer Support to edge closer to their aim to be there for everyone who needs it most.

This is an acutely challenging time for everyone, particularly those people currently having to deal with not only the stress and anxiety the Covid-19 pandemic has brought, but also living with cancer.

The pandemic means people with cancer need our help more than ever, but at the same time it has stopped us from raising the money we need to support them.

This means many of our services are underfunded and at real risk, so your donations and fundraising efforts have never been more important.

Money fundraised through events like the 41st Virgin Money London Marathon will help Macmillan do whatever it takes to help everyone living with cancer.​ From financial to emotional support, over the phone or online, we will move mountains to make sure people with cancer feel supported, reassured and informed and this is only possible thanks to our supporters. 

Which is why Macmillan - who are hugely proud to be the official 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon Charity of the Year – would love to invite your readers to consider joining #TeamMacmillan and run for us – and those living with cancer - in October.

For the lucky runners who have bagged themselves a ballot spot in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, please do consider joining Team Macmillan, and for those who may have missed out, there is still time to apply for a Macmillan charity place or sign up to the Virtual Virgin Money London Marathon.

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