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Ham&High letters: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, Crouch End trial, blue badge, Catherine West MP, Haringey Pension Fund, going green and Gumpy

PUBLISHED: 16:30 17 October 2019

Nazanin's husband Richard Ratcliffe, during his hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

Nazanin's husband Richard Ratcliffe, during his hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. Photograph: JONATHAN BRADY/PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Ham&High readers this week.

We have failed imprisoned Nazanin

Cllr Roberto Weeden-Sanz, Conservative London Assembly candidate for Barnet and Camden, writes:

It has now been three and a half years since Iran unlawfully imprisoned Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and almost four months since her and, her husband, Richard's hunger strike

Since then over two and a half million people have signed Richard's petition demanding her immediate release.

I am appalled that Camden Council, at the full council meeting this Monday, once again failed to debate a motion, which had cross-party support, calling on the government to do all it can to secure Nazanin's release and to reunite her with her family. At the same meeting at which Labour councillors found the time to vote to increase their allowances it is unacceptable that the mayor refused to use the remaining minutes of the meeting to discuss the motion.

Time and again politicians have failed Nazanin, it is heartbreaking that on Monday night her own council added its name to the list of those who have done so, for a second time. I and countless others joined Richard in solidarity during his hunger strike outside the Iranian Embassy earlier this year. We must continue to work every day to keep Nazanin's detention on the national agenda and to shine the media spotlight on her case until she is released.

As the mayor herself admitted, she wanted to leave to enjoy the privilege of going home to her baby after the meeting. It is a shame she didn't give a few minutes thought to Nazanin, who has not been able to have that same privilege and go home to her daughter Gabriella for over 1,000 days now. Nazanin and her family deserve so much better.

Nowhere is safe to cross the road

Bernard Battley, Cranley Gardens, Haringey, writes:

I am a committed environmentalist and fully support positive action to reduce traffic fumes.

Sadly, since the local Crouch End trial has begun, many local people have been subjected to an increase in toxic fumes caused by tail-backs and static traffic with engines constantly running.

However, I am naturally very sorry to learn of rat-runs in Middle Lane. We too have a shameful rat-run Cranley Gardens. Since my wife and I moved here six years ago (being visited almost daily by one or other of our four granddaughters, all under nine) I have tried to persuade anyone in authority to prevent the highly dangerous, excessive and illegal speeding of up to perhaps 60-70mph that occurs throughout the day.

There is nowhere to cross safely and so children and the elderly in particular are in terrible peril. My and others' appeals to safeguard them have utterly failed and I for one will feel exceedingly guilty when the predictable accident or fatality occurs.

Changes to Blue Badges 'draconian'

Sir Patrick Garland, Ranulf Road, West Hampstead, writes:

May I draw attention to the extreme raising of the bar for obtaining a blue badge?

Under the new criteria just issued many existing badge holders may well find that they have ceased to qualify. I write as one who could well have qualified under the old criteria but falls well short of the new which require an enduring disability lasting three years and consisting of:

- Inability to walk during the course of a journey.

- Very considerable difficulty in walking which may include very considerable psychological distress.

- When walking you pose a risk of serious harm to yourself or members of the public, including lack of understanding of road safety.

There follows five sides of A4 for a doctor or registered health professional to endorse the application.

It would seem many applicants would not be fit to drive and need a carer or driver to be able to use the badge. Blue badges have been abused, but are such draconian changes necessary?

Catherine receives our backing again

Celia Dignan, chairwoman, Hornsey and Wood Green Constituency Labour Party (CLP), writes:

I am delighted to inform your readers that Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West received a resounding endorsement from Hornsey and Wood Green Constituency Labour Party (CLP) members in Labour's recent national re-selection process

All 10 branches in the CLP and over 40 affiliated groups voted for her to continue to represent us.

We have one of the largest CLP memberships in the country and this ringing affirmation is a great tribute to Catherine's unstinting work on behalf of her constituents and her activity in parliament.

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Catherine has consistently represented the views of the majority of her constituents who wish to remain in the EU and supports the Labour Party's commitment to a second referendum with both remain and a credible deal as options.

Catherine's support for Labour's transformative policies to end the austerity measures that have caused rising poverty and inequality and that are destroying our public services; and to rejuvenate the economy through major investment and job creation in green industries, also reminds us that urgent challenges exist beyond the Brexit debate.

Carbon emissions and pension funds

Cllr Matt White, chairman, Haringey Combined Pensions Committee and Board, writes:

Haringey Pension Fund is once again leading the way in ensuring our investments have a positive environmental impact. Last week Haringey Pension Fund moved its emerging markets equities investments into a low carbon alternative.

This will reduce the carbon emissions associated with these investments by an estimated 73 per cent and cut the fund's overall carbon footprint by around a quarter at a stroke. It follows on from previous decisions to move half of our developed market equities investments into a low carbon fund and to invest £70million in renewable energy. This decision by the Combined Pensions Committee and Board is in line with Haringey Council's recent climate emergency declaration and demonstrates that we can make a contribution to combatting catastrophic climate change without reducing the returns on our investments.

I hope other Local Government Pension Scheme funds will consider reducing the carbon footprint of their emerging markets investments, following Haringey's lead.

Council hinders green residents

Cllr Oliver Cooper, Hampstead Town ward and leader, Camden Conservatives, writes:

This week, it was revealed that the UK generates more electricity from renewable electricity than from fossil fuels for the first time ever.

Since the Conservatives took office in 2010, renewables have increased seven-fold to over 40 per cent of all generation, while coal has fallen from 30pc to less than 1pc.

As I noted in last week's Camden Council debate on climate change, this decarbonisation of our electricity supply gives us lots of opportunities to switch away from other fossil fuels and slash our emissions: opportunities not taken up by Camden under Labour.

A fifth of all UK emissions - and even more in Camden - come from household gas boilers. Yet Camden's own planning policies actively discourage heating and cooling from electricity sources, even when they replace gas boilers.

So when residents propose spending their own money on reducing emissions, Camden's planning policies say no. If we're serious about combatting climate change, Camden has to get out of the way of residents trying to reduce their emissions.

Instead, Camden and local universities and hospitals have spent tens of millions on gas-fired district heating, despite the Committee on Climate Change finding these are far more expensive, far less effective at reducing emissions, and worse for air quality than heat pumps.

Camden's cabinet member for the environment this week tweeted yet another of his beloved attacks on electric cars, while linking to a paper that shows they emit 85pc less air pollution than petrol cars.

And, of course, thanks to decarbonisation, electric cars almost completely eliminate CO2 emissions - so why attack them, increase parking permit charges for them, and not roll out enough charging points for them? Nothing can substitute for the transition from fossil fuels to clean, green electricity, which should be at the heart of everything the council does.

By 2025, almost all UK electricity will be zero-carbon. Camden has been caught offside by the dramatic improvements in energy efficiency and decarbonisation under the Conservatives. Camden cannot be serious about decarbonisation unless it's serious about using the UK's newly-green electricity supply.

I Joined Gumpy world record bid

Sunjay Kakar, full contact details supplied, writes:

I took part in a Guinness World Record attempt for the largest gathering of Gumpys - a Gumpy is a character of limited intelligence and vocabulary from Monty Python, the ground breaking British comedy.

To be a Gumpy you need a moustache, a handkerchief on your head with knots in each corner, a patterned sleeveless tank top jumper, Wellington boots and fashion braces.

I looked the part and felt proud wearing them.

I was given a Gumpy kit, which contained a fake moustache, but I had already been growing one for this occasion.

Then I heard an announcement on the stage. "Ladies and gentleman, let's kickstart the silliness!"

This happened on the actual 50th birthday of Monty Python (October 5). People had travelled from Norfolk, Newcastle, Derbyshire, Germany and Holland to recognise the importance of Gumpys in the world.

I was in a room of about 200 people at the Roundhouse in Camden. We released our inner Gumpys.

I saw a baby that was 15 months old dressed as a Gumby and it was a memorable sight. I am sure they must be the youngest Gumpy in the world.

Actor and TV personality Sanjeev Bhaskar commented that it looked like it was a Gumby breeding programme. I got to meet him and had my picture taken with Monty Python member Terry Gillham, but he was not smiling. Then I realised that to be a true Gumpy, you have to look serious.

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