Ham&High letters: Observatory, cladding, Gerry Isaaman, Brexit, Royal Free garden and EU vote

The Hampstead Observatory is set to reopen in the autumn. Picture: HAMPSTEAD SICENTIFIC SOCIETY OBSE

The Hampstead Observatory is set to reopen in the autumn. Picture: HAMPSTEAD SICENTIFIC SOCIETY OBSERVATORY - Credit: Archant

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

Observatory set to reopen

Niko Menegas, Hampstead resident, writes:

I am writing to you in regards to the Hampstead Scientific Society and the Hampstead Observatory that they are the custodians of.

I have been a resident of Hampstead for my entire life, and one of the highlights of my life here has been the observatory.

It has a telescope from the early 20th century, one that was donated to the people of Hampstead and the Hampstead Scientific Society in 1928. Through this telescope, in the winter months (the sky stays too light and hazy in the summer), anybody can go up to the observatory and look in great detail at some of the amazing objects in the night sky like the moon and the planets.

The telescope in question is in fact the most powerful telescope that is regularly open for use by members of the public in central London.

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The observatory has been closed for the past two years due to water works occurring beneath where it is built, but will be most likely reopening in the autumn.

It is my opinion that the observatory is one of the finest services that are available in Hampstead and wish that more people were told and knew about it.

The observatory is not the only thing that the Scientific Society run, however. They also frequently host talks with experts on different topics that are great opportunities to learn more about science.

They do not get all the recognition that they deserve and I sincerely hope that this changes.

Building owners with Grenfell-style cladding must remove it swiftly

Andrew Dismore, chair of the London Assembly Fire, Resilience and Emergency Planning, writes:

Nearly two years after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, the government has finally put the safety of residents first.

Now building owners need to act quickly and fix ACM cladding that poses a clear and acknowledged risk to residents.

This is a well-deserved victory for leaseholders and the UK Cladding Action Group who have worked tirelessly to get justice.

There are still big questions for the government - not least concerning what they will do about other types of flammable cladding used on many tower blocks. Some London councils are already addressing this next step.

Private building owners are being bailed out despite their failure to protect residents; we must not accept these same building owners lagging behind the social sector again when it comes to other fire safety issues.

Forever thankful to Gerry Isaaman

Sioban Whitney-Low, director, External Relations, Wac Arts, writes:

We are sad to hear of the passing of Gerry Isaaman, former editor of the Ham & High.

Gerry was instrumental in saving the Old Town Hall so that we can call it home today. Gerry's passion to save the Old Town Hall from demolition in 2000 has meant that thousands of young people have had the opportunity to access the arts over the last 19 years. We are forever thankful to Gerry and the Ham & High for their support in 2000 to today.

Our thoughts go out to the family and the team at the Ham & High at this sad time.

Editor Gerry was a 'unique entity'

Andrea Taylor, Hampstead Hill School, Pond Street, writes:

The Isaaman family came into my life when they brought a young Daniel to begin his educational journey at Hampstead Hill school in Pond Street. What a lovely family, and what a privilege I felt it was to get to know them over the next few years.

I was always a fan of our local newspaper, the Hampstead and Highgate Express, and it was clear that this paper was becoming a national treasure in the hands of its brilliant and knowledgeable journalist editor.

Apart from knowing Hampstead as well as my mother did, and she had lived here all her life, Gerry was a sharp, intelligent, interested and interesting individual who was wonderful to have a conversation with and whose articles were gripping indeed to read.

We all waited every week for the edition of the Ham & High with the knowledge that we would have a profoundly good read and learn a lot at the same time, that reporting would be keen and accurate and that we would be able to respond to a well-balanced letters page if we needed to.

I shall always think of Gerry and the Ham & High as one unique entity and remember him with great affection and treasured memories .

Very sincere condolences to the lovely Delphine and now grown-up Daniel - I shall always be grateful to have known you all and learnt so much from the remarkable Gerry.

Don't be fooled by Brexit 'utopia' call

Doug Crawford, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

Nigel Farage, Jacob Rees Mogg, Boris Johnson et al - they all want us to believe that they are on the side of the average UK citizen, fighting for what is best for us by taking us out of Europe to a glorious utopian future in which we will all prosper.

Don't be fooled - they are only interested in furthering the wealth and prosperity of themselves and their fellow privileged elite! Whether you voted to remain or leave the EU one thing is now abundantly clear - any form of Brexit will only benefit the wealthy elite in this country.

Over the past decade we have seen wages fall and levels of poverty rise; we have seen overall life expectancy decrease and the number of people who are experiencing in-work poverty and are struggling to find good quality, affordable accommodation is at an all time high. These are all the inevitable consequences of inequality and the UK is now one of the most unequal countries in Europe as a result of 10 years of austerity.

Should Brexit happen then it is abundantly clear that we will have even less money to spend to address the social and economic ills of this country and there will inevitably be a push to create a low tax/low regulation economy in order to fill the trade gap created by leaving the EU. The only ones who will benefit from such a course of action are those at the very top and hence inequality will continue to grow - and we will be the ones who suffer.

We cannot allow our futures to be dictated by a small privileged minority who are only interested in furthering their own ends and this is why it is important to send a clear signal in the European Elections - vote for a party (Greens, Lib Dems or Change UK) that is committed to allowing us, the people, a say in our future through a second referendum.

The EU is not perfect but we now know that this government is incapable of negotiating a deal that will not diminish the UKs international standing and impoverish its citizens, so electing MPs who are committed to reforming the EU from within and putting the interests of all UK citizens first, not just the privileged elite, is vital for all our futures.

Thanks for help with garden dig

Linda Grove, full address supplied, writes:

Big thanks for all of those who have donated money to make the garden happen for the Royal Free hospital staff.

Recently about 10 men turned up to dig through the heavy clay, retrieving set concrete in bags, old bricks and rubble .

We are creating the garden using as little money as possible as it still isn't certain if the hospital will use this area to make a new entrance in years to come. The space dug here by Malcolm, Daniel and Stuart will be filled with new top soil and compost, to be donated by Wilmot Dickson and plants will be chosen that manage in shade in the same way as the other side of the wall.

The plants will be paid for by community donations which we are grateful for.

Last week we collected £1,200 and our goal is to reach £3,500. John, the flower stall holder, has collected a lot of coins, and it all adds up, in a bucket by his stall on Pond Street.

The barrels, that were originally on Haverstock Hill with a Christmas display in them, have been rescued and geranium planted in them. These will do well in this area and give staff a splash of colour. Free bark from Green Mantle has been used to cover the ground.

Big thanks to all the men who came to dig, it was just too tough a job for our volunteers.

Duty to improve road safety for all

Joanne McCartney, London Assembly Member for Enfield and Haringey, writes:

This week marks the UN's Global Road Safety Week, and it comes as a reminder that we all have a part to play when it comes to reducing the risks faced by pedestrians and all road users.

The latest TfL data shows that in 2017, 138 people were tragically killed or seriously injured on Haringey's streets. The pain and distressed suffered by their families cannot be overstated.

With the right interventions and level of ambition, we can save lives. This is why TfL is implementing its Vision Zero for London plan which aims to eliminate all deaths and serious injuries from our transport network by 2041.

The plan focuses on introducing lower speed limits across the capital, improving safety at junctions and imposing more rigorous standards on some of the most dangerous vehicles such as buses and HGVs.

However, as a community, it also falls to us to remain vigilant when using the roads and to reflect more often on the risks we pose to others, as well as educating the next generation of Londoners.

Brexit reminds me of Doughnut Week

Cllr Justin Hinchcliffe, Lib Dem, Fortis Green ward, Haringey Council, writes:

Catherine West's venture into Crouch End in support of National Doughnut Week (NDW) got me thinking about Labour's Brexit policy - which is just empty stodge with a hole in the middle where a jammy policy should be.

And that's the 'hole point': they want to keep both Remainers and Leavers thinking Labour is on their side. Labour's response to the government's shambolic handling of Brexit is a disgrace. Remainers of all parties looked to the main opposition party to challenge, expose and defeat the lunacy of today's embarrassment of a government.

The many have seen through Labour's vacuous Brexit policy, and the few who haven't yet, will have done so by polling day on Thursday, May 23 when we cast our votes in the European elections. A vote for the Lib Dems is two fingers to Brexit, and a vote to keep Britain at the centre of the European Union. Holes belong in doughnuts, not policies.

Support remain parties in EU vote

Sophie Erskine, Annington Road, Muswell Hill, writes:

It's time for us to elect those unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

I very much hope that there will be a big turn out of usually apathetic voters.

The current Conservative Party is beholden to a group of ultra right wing Eurosceptics who don't give a fig about anybody except themselves.

The current Labour Party can't decide what it wants to do as it tries unsuccessfully to please both leavers and remainers.

Ukip are literally standing Tommy Robinson as a candidate in Warrington.

The Brexit Party don't have a manifesto and is very reluctant to say where its funding is coming from.

None of these parties deserve our votes.

The Brexit crisis is deeper and more disturbing than Watergate. It is much worse than the Suez issue.

We are back to fighting the racists and the xenophobes, and standing up for a media that is unbiased, fair and happy to fact check.

Please go out and vote on the 23. A low turnout always favours extreme parties whose supporters are more motivated. Remain parties (Lib Dems, Greens, CHUK) need voters to turn out and be counted.

Personally, I'll be voting Lib Dem.