Ham&High letters: Policing, protect Royal Free, invest in libraries, English, dementia support, Queen Mary’s, volunteers, fundraising and race horses

The woman was stabbed to death in Neasden. Picture: PA

The woman was stabbed to death in Neasden. Picture: PA - Credit: PA WIRE

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

Standing by police claims

Jessica Learmond-Criqui, local campaigner, writes:

I read John Stratton’s powerful letter in last week’s Ham & High.

It is clear that he is passionate and committed about his views. In that we share a common characteristic. I could say that Mr Stratton was a Labour supporter but I won’t because I applaud his energy and right to freedom of speech irrespective of whether or not his views are partisan.

He stands four square behind Andrew Dismore’s scathing attack on my article regarding the mayor being responsible for police cuts and suggests that my politics are partisan. I responded to Mr Dismore’s scathing attack in the Ham and High’s May 3 edition and note that Mr Dismore himself has not continued the open correspondence on this issue. Mr Sutton has taken up the baton on his behalf.

In the past, readers may remember I have attacked the government on police cuts of £500m which were started by ex-mayor Johnson many years ago and I was present in the media when ex-chancellor Osborne threatened to make an £800m further cut in the Nov 2016 Spending Review which he backed down on. So why, given my previous attacks on the government have I now changed my attack to the mayor? The police service which the public has taken for granted for the past century is becoming emaciated, in large part due to cuts in its funding. The mayor is the head of the Met and in charge of where the money comes from to pay for the Met and of how it spends its funds. Mr Stratton quite rightly makes the point the mayor is responsible for not just the police but also for transport, housing, taxi licensing, environment/pollution with a heavy call on public funds. I agree.

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But, it is also his job to raise the funds to meet those costs - whether he raises them from the government or elsewhere. The government won’t give him any more money and are reducing the grant they do give him. The government are not in charge of the Met – the mayor is. If he does not get the funds from the government, he must get it from somewhere else and stop looking to point the finger at someone other than himself.

To his credit, in his LBC radio interview with James O’Brien on May 10, the mayor accepted responsibility for the state of the police and crime. The reality is attacks are increasing, mothers and children cower in their homes while burglars rampage, moped enabled and other crime is on the rise and the public’s confidence in the Met is tanking – that reflects on the mayor, not on the government.

The mayor ordered a reduction in police numbers in his last budget – he did, not government.

The situation is to get worse and what will your answer then be Mr Stratton? Continue to point a finger at the government or kindly ask your mayor to do more? I await your reply.

Join People’s March and protect hospital

William Welbank, Pond Street, Hampstead, writes:

The problems Brexit would cause locally are often overlooked. Living next to the Royal Free hospital, I am only too aware of the big problems Brexit, if it was to happen, would cause the hospital.

Firstly, the end of free movement of people within the EU is likely to bring staffing shortages at the Royal Free.

Particularly serious would be a lack of doctors at the Royal Free’s expanded Emergency department. Also, increasing numbers of EU-trained ambulance staff are quitting the NHS which only intensifies the anticipated impact to the Royal Free’s emergency services.

It looks like the biggest negative though would be in nursing, the Royal College of Nursing reported a 92 per cent drop in registrations of nurses from the EU27 countries.

The failure to provide EU nationals in the UK with sufficient security about their future is surely a part of this.

In addition there is the need to stay in Euratom (European Atomic Energy Community) and protect our NHS and the Royal Free.

It is a little known fact that being part of Euratom means that NHS cancer patients can get critical radiotherapy treatments without the disruption and uncertainty related to the supply of radioactive isotopes.

All this, though, is not inevitable, there is a people’s march at noon on Saturday, June 23 to demand that we the people are given a vote on the final Brexit deal (peoples-vote.uk/march).

It would be great if patients and potential patients in the Royal Free’s catchment area could join this march to help protect our hospital’s services.

Invest in libraries for kids and adults

Bob Jacobson, Save Barnet Libraries, Greenway Close, Totteridge, writes:

“Barnet children services inadequate”…Ofsted’s report July 2017.

In April 2018 Ofsted says Barnet is now taking better account of “vulnerable children at risk of gang affiliation, radicalisation and criminal exploitation…”

Now council leader Richard Cornelius comments on “…positive progress we have already made…but there is ...hard work to be done.”

What hard work, councillor? Can’t pin it down?

How about making our 14 libraries fully available to 10 to 15 year olds who might want to – might need to – come along after school without qualified adult accompaniment.

Ten year olds on their own - unrealistic?

No, this is the way it has been, before the current administration’s library asset-stripping of paid staff and free community space.

All kids (and adults) need libraries.

Shakespeare adds touch of class

John Walde, visiting from Australia and staying in Hampstead as usual, writes:

On my regular visit to London from Australia, I foolishly thought that I wouldn’t hear the abominable expression ‘No worries’ here. Alas, it has infiltrated the language like a wildfire.

Would Shakespeare have approved?

No, he would have opted for ‘It’s my pleasure!’

Week highlighting dementia support

Linda O’Sullivan, head of region, London Alzheimer’s Society, writes:

I want to thank everyone in London who united with us during Dementia Action Week (May 21 – 27) to help the 72,000 people with the condition in our city.

We saw the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, pledge to make London the world’s first ‘dementia-friendly’ capital city where people affected by dementia – no matter who they are or where they live – are able to live well with the condition and enjoy all that London has to offer.

There is still much work to do. New Alzheimer’s Society research shows that for 50 per cent of people in London, dementia is the greatest concern for old age.

We know that too many people face the condition alone, without adequate support.

If you missed out during the week, it’s not too late to take action on dementia in London. Visit alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlylondon to find out how you can get involved and make a difference.

Queen Mary’s: no decision to sell

Sir David Sloman, group chief executive, Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, writes:

In response to your article ‘Protest at plan to sell Queen Mary’s’, I wanted to clarify a number of points.

No decision has been made to sell the Queen Mary’s House site.

To gauge the level of potential interest we engaged Knight Frank to market the property.

They have been openly marketing the site since March 2018.

Residents were informed in February when we also wrote to local neighbourhood groups and other key stakeholders.

If ever a decision is taken to sell the site, the trust is committed to finding alternative accommodation for the tenants of Queen Mary’s House who are all on short term leases.

In addition, if sold, any purchaser seeking planning permission would have to meet Camden Council’s affordable housing policies.

The trust has a duty to ensure that it gets the best value out of our estate. Queen Mary’s House is no longer suited to the delivery of modern 21st century healthcare. Any income we may generate from a sale will be ploughed back into helping us deliver world class care for our patients.

We all play a role in an emergency

Simon Lewis, head of Crisis Response, British Red Cross, writes:

The British Red Cross responds to an emergency every four hours in the UK - from fires, extreme weather and flooding, to national emergencies including acts of terror.

However, it’s not just emergency services and the government that can help in these response efforts.

According to a new report published by the British Red Cross and Aviva, the large majority of people (88 per cent) in London say that if an emergency happened in their community they would want to get involved, yet more than half (52pc) of people would not know what to do if a disaster struck. In partnership with Aviva, we are calling on people across London to sign up to a new scheme called community reserve volunteers, to help create a national network of 10,000 people ready to help in a local emergency.

Last year we faced an unprecedented number of major emergencies including in London and Manchester.

These incidents brought tragedy to so many people, but we also saw remarkable acts of kindness, as people and businesses rallied to help in any way they could. We saw that people want to help those in crisis.

Everyone has a role to play when disaster strikes, even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference.

It’s quick and easy to sign up online, you don’t need specialist skills and we need your help now more than ever.

So please sign up today, it takes just ten minutes redcross.org.uk/reserves

Summer cancer charity fundraiser

Gaby Roslin, TV and radio presenter, writes:

I really love being active, especially the feeling after and that’s why I’m supporting Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer’s latest fundraising campaign to get sponsored to do 30 minutes of physical activity for 30 days in June.

Step up for 30 is a fantastic way for you to be more physically active to reduce your risk of bowel cancer – the UK’s second biggest cancer killer. This can be anything from yoga, walking in the sunshine (I walk everywhere!) or taking your favourite class at the gym.

Whilst you’re getting fitter and feeling healthier, you’ll be raising money to fund the highest quality research and essential information and support services that will save lives from bowel cancer.

Take on the challenge and sign up here: bowelcanceruk.org.uk/stepupfor30

Thanks to special volunteer network

Julie Meredith, Cats Protection, head of volunteering development, writes:

In the run up to National Volunteering Week (June 1- 7), Cats Protection would like to extend our thanks to the many thousands of volunteers throughout the country who offer their time and expertise to help cats and kittens across the UK.

In 2017 our 10,200-strong volunteer network contributed an incredible 5.5 million hours, each volunteer gifting a wealth of expertise and immeasurable passion to the charity. Their dedication enabled Cats Protection to help around 200,000 cats and kittens nationwide.

Cats Protection is always on the lookout for new volunteers to join the UK’s biggest cat community. Though a large part of our work is helping cats, through fostering and rehoming, our volunteers have the opportunity to become involved with a range of interesting activities such as organising fundraising events, helping with publicity or managing funds and resources to benefit the greatest amount of cats.

Volunteering can offer the chance to develop skills such as time management, interpersonal skills and teamwork, making CVs much more attractive and of course helping cats!

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer can go to our website cats.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering to find out more.

Help us stop horse deaths

Fiona Pereira, campaign manager, Animal Aid, writes:

It may come as a shock to readers that 64 horses have been killed as a result of racing in Britain this year to date (May 24, 2018).

Many more have been seriously injured and others have been killed in training.

This awful situation looks set to continue for as long as the racing industry is allowed to remain autonomous and regulate horse welfare itself.

Animal Aid’s petition, which urges the government to step in and take action over horse deaths, has been signed by more than 68,000 people. If it reaches 100,000 signatures it will have the chance to trigger a government debate.

Readers who wish to help horses can sign the petition at animalaid.org.uk/horse-petition.

• Email letters@hamhigh.co.uk with your opinions.