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Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Simple season, responding to rumour and TfL

PUBLISHED: 08:00 01 December 2018

Spring bulbs are keeping Will occupied. Picture: PA

Spring bulbs are keeping Will occupied. Picture: PA

Hannah Stephenson/PA

Autumn is coming to a close, slowly whimpering its way towards winter as the last of Hackney’s trees lose their leaves to curbside clumps of faded oranges, yellows and browns, writes Will McCallum, Newington Green.

Clissold Park’s promenades have lost their seasonal lustre, reduced to bare silhouetted branches against the now near-permanently grey sky. Running fast along the bark-strewn paths it makes for a depressing early morning sight – like the sorry remains of a work Christmas party; stripped back and hopeless in the face of advancing darkness.

To enjoy this season’s nature, though, is not hard, it just requires a more slow approach – finding beauty and interest in the detail.

A single spray of remaining red berries on a rowan tree in Springfield Park; frosted over bracket fungus on a tree stump in Hackney Marshes.

Nature is still on our doorstep, and worth exploring even in the colder, darker weather.

Sitting on a bench at the south-side of Clissold I watched a jay steal away fallen nuts from the ground, its beak propped open with the gluttony.

My favourite chore of late autumn, however, remains planting bulbs; a simple activity to build anticipation for the colours of new year blooms, as well as delight at how they will surprise my housemates when the unexpected flowers pop up in a few months’ time [so long as they don’t read the Gazette and I’m sure they all do – ed].

Simple pleasure to pass the shorter days.

I have been attacked because it is claimed that I knew the price of everything and the value of nothing (Gazette letters), writes Christopher Sills, Dunsmure Road, Stamford Hill.

This myth about me arose because I had the sole responsibility of fixing the rates (now council tax) for 1970/1971 because the person nominally in charge had a nervous breakdown

I found a surprising amount of expenditure in two places in the council budget and so these were rightly cut out, but it gave the Labour Party a chance to unfairly accuse me of cutting services. It did, however, force council officers to control expenditure because their hidden reserves no longer existed.

An easy service that I could have cut was the training of cyclists in schools, which was a borough responsibility although the then Inner London Education Authority then ran all other education services.

I refused to cut this service because as a former cyclist I knew the value of training children to ride cycles safely.

I passionately believe that the way the homeless in London are treated is a disgrace and have done since the television documentary called Cathy Come Home just before the 1968 elections shocked the nation.

When the Conservatives got control of the council we were determined to find a solution although on election day in 1968 we had no idea how we were going to do it.

First we closed the blocks set aside for the homeless because we realised that a few bad apples were making life hell for those who were homeless through no fault of their own using bed and breakfast accommodation as a temporary solution.

By May 1970 we had closed bed and breakfast accommodations, but we had two houses with nine bedrooms each and a full-time warden to house additional people overnight who had become homeless for whatever reason. To its eternal shame, the Labour Party reversed our policies on cycle training and the homeless on taking office.

The Gazette has done a public service in highlighting the way the council treats the homeless, but sadly too many of the public do not care and hope they will disappear. This attitude is shared by too many politicians of all parties.

Having read Geoff Twist’s letter (“Bus cuts”, Gazette), I could not agree with him more, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

It seems everything TfL does ends up as a disaster – take the removal of the 277 bus from Dalston to Highbury, for instance.

There is an N277 that goes to Islington via Highbury, but the gap between the last N277 and the first 30 going past Dalston to Highbury is 30 minutes, during which there is no bus service at all in St Paul’s Road.

It now wants another disaster in Stoke Newington: namely, removing the gyratory system and putting a southbound lane for buses as well as a cycle lane along the narrowest part of the A10. I have a book titled the Tramways of Stamford Hill and even before the First World War they could not have a separate track for both north and southbound trams – they had to share one track through the high street. Just think of the jams that will be caused by the 73, 393 and 476 buses waiting to turn right into the bottom end of Stoke Newington Church Street.

The great problem of course is TfL itself. It appears that, to justify its existence, it has to turn something that is not necessarily a problem into one for the excuse to solve it. We have a saying in the engineering industry: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It appears to me that TfL look for things to fix that don’t need fixing.

TfL should be abolished and replaced with a body that is capable of doing the job it seems either incapable or unwilling of doing. Take the Elizabeth line for instance. It should be ready to run through central London. What happens? A year’s delay. Surely it is not impossible to dig a couple of tunnels under London to run a train service and be both on time and on or under budget. I don’t think this exactly calls for rocket science technology: after all, the builders of the original Tube lines way back in the late 1890s early 1900s had little better than picks and shovels and manual labour and they managed to do the job.

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