Ham&High letters: carols for Nazanin, care services, Osborne Grove, People’s Vote and more

Richard Ratcliffe and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt MP sing carols with Free Nazanin supporters outs

Richard Ratcliffe and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt MP sing carols with Free Nazanin supporters outside Downing Street. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

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

Linda Grove, Belsize Park, writes:

Despite the pouring rain, on the evening of Tuesday December 18, there was a large gathering of Nazanin’s family including about 10 residents from Belsize Park who came together in solidarity.

We were all delighted to see the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt at the carol singing, marking our third year of gathering for Nazanin and her family. Boris Johnson (former mayor) never came.

As you may well know, Richard Ratcliffe and his mother Barbara met with Jeremy Hunt about a month ago and on the strength of this meeting he tried to visit Nazanin in jail in Iran. He was shamefully denied access but he did get to visit Gabriella, Richard and Nazanin’s daughter who is temporarily living with her Iranian grandparents in Tehran. Nazanin had made a doll for Jeremy Hunt’s daughter who was about the same age as Gabriella, which Gabriella gave to him and he was moved greatly.

Jeremy Hunt spoke about how his team are trying behind the scenes to bring Nazanin home and that his department were doing their best, but his door was always open and if anyone had any suggestions on how to get Nazanin’s release then he urged them to please come knocking! So let’s knock!

It is heartwarming to see so many people join the Ratcliffe family at every gathering that they organise, especially those related to other people who have been detained in foreign countries giving their support past and present.

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Matt Hedges, the pardoned acamedic who was released from a UAE jail, and his wife were there and Mrs Hedges spoke about how important it was for her that so many people had shown support to her and her husband. It gave them hope and the strength to carry on the campaign and they said they would be presonally supporting Richard Ratcliffe and Nazanin until her release from the notorious Evin prison.

One could sense a real kinship with all these people who had been detained, a club which none of us ever hope to join.

Please pray for Nazanin this Christmas.

Autistic people need day centres

Dr Michael Fitzpatrick, Ridge Road, Crouch End, writes:

In her hard-hitting critique of Haringey Council’s policy of closing day centres for people with autism and learning disabilities (Word on the Street, H&H December 13), Mary Langan draws attention to the importance of day care services in relation to wider issues of physical and mental health.

As the parent of a young man with autism and severe learning disabilities, who is also a GP, I am well aware of the particular health problems of this group of patients – notably epilepsy, anxiety and depression, and other mental health conditions.

It is well known that people with autism and learning disabilities have difficulties gaining access to primary care services and hence suffer delays in diagnosis and treatment of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, that contribute to a drastically reduced life expectancy.

Day centres can play a vital role here, allowing experienced staff to detect early signs of illness – or neglect and ill treatment – and to arrange appropriate medical interventions.

In addition to causing distress to service users and putting increased stress on family carers, closing day centres deprives people with autism and learning disabilities of a crucial health care resource.

Osborne Grove staff not at fault

Liz Squire, East Finchley, full address supplied, writes:

I want to thank you for running the article about Osborne Grove nursing home the other week and clarify some issues to this complex situation.

Our issues and concerns are not with the staff at the home who are outstanding in their care and have been my support when families were let down by former councillors and are still being let down by London Borough of Haringey.

I want to clarify there is good practice with the high commissioner and her team in conjunction with the clinical commissioning group (CCG) for the future planning of Osborne Grove nursing home.

Being on the inside of the day to day running and the reference group for future planning, the problems stem I believe from the way the home is currently being directed by Haringey adults and health and how this cascades down to the home’s manager and some of the clinician deputy nurses...not all nurses.

Why is this still happening? Why can’t they manage a home, with only six residents, to a good standard when they have achieved this with other homes in the borough?

Might I add the reference to residents not having baths is an unfair criticism. My mother has not had a “bath” in years but she regularly has bed baths. Giving my mother a bath would risk her catching pneumonia arguably putting her at risk of death.

Companionship this Christmas

Mrs P Jefferys, Church Crescent, Muswell Hill, writes:

As a 90 plus-year-old woman, you may be interested in my letter to Santa Claus, with my Christmas wishes.

1 – Some hand-written Christmas cards sent through the post to cheer my living room in the run-up to Christmas, not given on Christmas Day with my present.

2 – No e-cards.

3 – At least one hand-written letter from an old friend coming in the post in Christmas week.

4 – Some telephone calls on Christmas morning from friends and family wishing me a happy Christmas. No voicemail.

Otherwise I shall have to give up believing in Santa Claus.

A happy Christmas to all at Ham&High.

Time to push for a People’s Vote

Phil Thornton, Open Britain, Hampstead, writes:

While the House of Commons was dissolving into chaos over the latest failed attempts to put together a Brexit deal, supporters of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union were building strong and stable support in Camden for a People’s Vote on any deal that Theresa May can put together – or indeed on the idea of no deal.

The stalls run by the local Open Britain campaign group in Hampstead and Muswell Hill this month attracted hundreds of passers-by who wanted to know how they could have a say in the withdrawal deal that has attracted little support in the House of Commons and which no one voted for back in 2016.

The answer is to give control back to the voters who started the whole thing and ask them to decide on whether they want the deal that May will come back from Brussels with – again – in January, or remain in the EU.

Out of the scores of people there less than a handful wanted no deal, May’s deal or the Norway Plus option (that even Norway doesn’t want us to use).

The person best placed to make this happen is local MP Sir Keir Starmer, who is also Labour’s Brexit spokesperson. It was he who persuaded the Labour Party to pass a motion backing a public vote on the deal after trying and failing to secure a general election. Now he needs to go one step further and embrace the People’s Vote now to end the deadlock.

That is why I started a petition on change.org (change.org/p/sir-keir-starmer-must-back-a-people-s-vote) two weeks ago to gather signatures from people who want Sir Keir to push for a People’s Vote to give 40 million people the final say in a decision that 650 people in the House of Commons are plainly unable to make.

The petition also calls on him to table a motion to revoke Article 50 to ensure we don’t crash out by accident on March 29.

So far more than 1,000 people have agreed with me, and that number will grow as residents and businesses in Camden look on in horror at the argy-bargy in the commons between the various Brextremists and watched in dismay as the prime minister toured Brussels only to find that the Europeans are true to their word – the deal is not up for re-negotiation.

Now everyone has all the information and facts that were not widely known, this referendum will be a true test of what people want. Whatever the result – Leave on May’s terms or Remain in the EU – it will be seen as a decision taken in full knowledge of the facts and without all the reports of interference by Russia and the far right.

Camden voted three to one to stay in the EU.

It is time to make sure that Westminister listens to us – and not just to Jacob Rees-Mog and his fellow wreckers.

Appreciation of cllr Higson’s work

Linda Grove, Belsize Park, writes:

I want to thank and acknowledge the dedicated work our new councillor Maria Higson is putting into her new job as Conservative councillor for Hampstead and Belsize.

On Friday she was out on the dust cart working with the men so she can learn how they work and try to help make changes for a more efficient service.

She also recently met my grandson, Sebi, who is staying with me for Christmas.

Councillor Higson popped up again this week at the carols for Nazanin Ratcliffe in the pouring rain.

She works on a committee with me on the Royal Free Hospital Pears build, the estates team, improving pavements in Belsize Village and Haverstock Hill by Budgens.

That’s just the committees I know about and I’m sure there are more but I hope you all join me in thanking cllr Higson for getting her hands dirty and trying to improve the rubbish collection in our area.

A positive lady who enables us to all work in a team.

Brexit will then lead to Irexit

“Rainbow” George Weiss, Hildridge Court, Highgate, writes:

On December 14 1984, my name appeared in the newspapers with the result of my participation in a parliamentary by-election that had been conducted in London’s Enfield and Southgate constituency.

I stood for a party called Captain Rainbow’s Universal. Michael Portillo won and I finished coming 8th of the nine candidates with 48 votes.

The by-election had been caused by the death of Sir Anthony Berry in the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton on October 12 which was the day before my 44th birthday.

The Captain Rainbow campaign was for Britain and Ireland to join together to transform into the world changing Wise Islands – WalesIrelandScotlandEngland – leading the way to one world, peaceful and harmonious. A country free future.

Now, exactly 34 years later I seem to be more or less back to where I started and wearing my apprentice prophet’s cap.

I predict that our Brexit will be joined by an Irexit that will bring the Wise Islands into wonderful being.

Meanwhile, watch out for a new party called The Wonder and check out a lyric that I scribed more than 10 years ago on YouTube called Scoring Goals Auditions.

Squirrel’s should not be sold to eat

Belinda Hasted, North End Road, Golders Green, writes:

I was absolutely horrified to read your article (Ham&High, November 15) about Budgens Supermarket selling squirrel meat.

Squirrel meat being sold in Budgens Belsize Park is a total affront. Squirrels are wildlife. To be sold, for financial gain, is morally offensive and completely deplorable.

Wildlife in this country is under complete threat.

Selling squirrels for meat is the worst scenario possible. Shame on you Budgens.

Welcomed at another eatery

Caroline Schenk, Muswell Hill, writes:

I am writing further to the front page article for the Broadway edition of the Ham&High published on December 20.

Readers maybe interested to know that once we left the Yien after being told we needed to leave because of my disabled brother, we walked 50 yards down the road to the New Happy Swan.

This is also a Chinese restaurant where we were welcomed without hesitation. The restaurant was full when we left.