Ham&High letters: Covid travel, pharmacies, Shaun Bailey, mob-rule, West Hampstead bridge, Whittington Hospital and lying politicians

Cyclists ride past shuttered shops on Camden High Street. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

Cyclists ride past shuttered shops on Camden High Street. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images - Credit: PA

We need a thought out travel plan

Janine Sachs, Hampstead, full address supplied, writes:

Pathway widening is already under way to accommodate social distancing, without prior consultation. There are already Temporary Traffic Orders in place to facilitate this. Roads are being blocked, disabled bays in Camden High street have been removed.

This is clearly a ‘permanent’ measure to facilitate the “walking and cycling” agenda now being promoted to achieve pollution reduction targets.

As has been borne out, “modality shift” is just a theory; people do not suddenly give up their vehicles for this noble cause. Proposals to block non-compliant traffic in residential streets will severely restrict the freedom of movement for the poorer sections of the community, especially the vulnerable and elderly in that group - because of the prohibitive cost of purchasing electric vehicles and using public transport.

Heavily subsidising an improved public transport network and electric vehicle purchasing schemes will enable everyone to freely and safely travel, and pollution reduction targets can be fully met. The £100billion HS2 treasure pot would go a long way towards financing this.

Cycling should be fully encouraged as a chosen mode, not a forced one. Cycle quietways should be upgraded and promoted, and existing main route cycle lanes made safer by clearer markings and improved traffic light phasing. Wider pavements mean less room for cyclists.

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Covid-19 is not here to stay; the government should not be using this temporary pandemic as an excuse to permanently limit the lives of so many to achieve its pollution-free target. Anything less than a well thought out travel plan will mean either more congested, polluted roads from displacement traffic, or a kind of social cleansing for those who can no longer afford to travel (and so live) in London.

A real lifeline

Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, writes:

So many essential businesses and their workers have worked incredibly hard to keep our country going during lockdown. Community pharmacies in particular have been a lifeline for so many people in Hampstead and Kilburn, whether it’s by dispensing vital medicines or providing advice with many GP surgeries closed. Their inspiring efforts have also helped to keep pressure off hospitals and other health services.

Not only have pharmacies had to keep operating under very difficult circumstances, they have also faced new pressures as a result of the pandemic. There has been a huge increase in demand for their services at a time when they are struggling with escalating costs for medicines and staff shortfalls due to self-isolation and shielding.

The tragic Covid-related death of a pharmacist in Kilburn was a stark reminder of the need to make sure pharmacy staff have the protections they need. I have written to the health secretary to raise concerns about PPE and funding, which local pharmacies have shared with me recently.

Pharmacies have worked so hard to be there for us when we needed them – let’s make sure we now do the same for them.

Out of touch

John Stratton, Thurlow Road, Belsize Park, writes:

I find Shaun Bailey’s letter re the increase in the congestion charge incredible. It just shows how out of touch he is with his own party and government.

Sadiq Khan did not “decide” to increase the congestion charge. The amount is irrelevant. The government did not ask him to do so – he was directed very clearly that he must do so if he is to receive the government bail-out in view of the desperate financial situation TfL finds itself in at present.

Needless to say, this is not only due to the coronavirus and lack of patronage but also to the long-delayed Crossrail completion due over a year ago, from which TfL had planned to receive a tremendous cash boost from the increase in travel; likewise the planned bus route changes along Oxford Street in anticipation of much greater use of the new line instead of bus travel.

It doesn’t say much for Mr. Bailey’s capabilities as a potential mayor if he can’t even keep up with his own government’s latest decrees!

Mob-rule society

A Hampstead resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

We have a pandemic going on and the economy is in dire straights yet everyone seems to be concentrating on what other people are doing.

The UK was once a great civilised society but now seems to have become a mob-rule society where people judge and demand justice when they’re not in possession of the full true facts. We now have trial by media and it’s a media that’s blatantly and obviously biased and at times are not completely honest with the stories they print or transmit on television.

I stopped watching the news on TV two years ago, and if I read a story in the papers which has could, may or maybe in the first paragraph, I skip the story because usually it’s just that person’s opinions and more often than not it’s not 100 per cent accurate.

I was hoping we all had learned something from Covid-19 lockdown - we haven’t - instead we’ve become more spiteful, more resentful, self-righteous armchair politicians with mob rule mentality who, because they take a dislike to a person or their opinions, publicly ridicule, character assassinate or even threaten that person!

What’s frightening is it’s becoming, if not become, more acceptable. We expect the younger generation to behave responsibly and “grown up”, yet we behave like spiteful spoilt children who’ve just had a toy taken away - just what sort of example is that for them?

Of course the government have made mistakes, just like governments all over the world have, but they’re doing the best they could, dealing with a pandemic no one really knows anything about. Lockdowns have happened all over the world, remember, and although the UK’s death toll is 30-odd thousand, it’s obvious if lockdown didn’t happen the death toll would have been much, much higher.

I would also like to thank everybody from Kentish Town and Hampstead Volunteers Corp - in particular Emillie and Mark from Hampstead – for getting my shopping during this crisis (still are). I have COPD and other illnesses and am so appreciative of their contribution and help. Thank you very much.

Your MP

Dr Saul Zadka, Barnet, writes:

All MPs in constituencies covered by this newspaper should express outrage at the way the PM navigates this country through the pandemic crisis.

It starts with its late reaction to the virus and it ends with the refusal of Johnson to boot out his top advisor. The readers should make it clear that they would not vote for them in the future if they are reluctant to do so.

Back to art school

Marcia MacLeod, Dennington Park Road, West Hampstead, writes:

If the image on the West Hampstead bridge is meant to be John Henderson, then the artist better go back to art school. I gave books to John, I bought books from John, I bought food for Sugar and sometimes for John - and nothing on that bridge looks anything like him to me.

I am an art lover - but the bridge is just plain ugly. I avert my eyes when I walk past it. I would love for it to be painted over.


Baroness Julia Neuberger DBE, chairwoman, Whittington Health NHS Trust, writes:

I wanted to write to thank your readers for their amazing kindness over the past few weeks.

Across Whittington Health NHS Trust we have been humbled by the support and generosity we have received. From making and delivering thousands of hot meals, donating chocolates, hand-creams and other treats, providing NHS staff with freebies and discounts, to the team of volunteer flight and cabin crew who have set up a ‘first class lounge’ in our hospital, your kindnesses have been overwhelming.

Incredibly, our Covid-19 staff emergency welfare fund has topped £100,000. This money is being spent on things like new furniture for staff rest areas, little things to make things easier for staff such as mobile phone chargers, and food, drinks and snacks to keep them going.

We have also been able to provide discharge packs with essential food and toiletries for patients when supermarket stocks were low or because they could not get out because they needed to shield themselves.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, donated to us, clapped for us, sent cards, letters and emails or simply stayed at home to stop the spread. When things were tough, it really did feel like as a community, we really were all in it together.

Pay rise

HE Taylor, Finchley, writes:

I had cause to attend the Royal Free’s A&E on Tuesday evening, after being too overenthusiastic with a bread knife during dinner. The most north London of injuries aside from ‘avocado hand’. Despite being told there could be a two to three hour wait, I was seen within 30 minutes and sent on my way. What an incredible job from doctors and nurses who are under immeasurable stress from the Covid-19 pandemic. A good reminder that if you need urgent care in an emergency, you should be using NHS services as usual, even with coronavirus ongoing.

Forget suggestions of medals or bonuses after the crisis, NHS staff should be the recipients of a proper, long-term pay rise when this is all over. They deserve it. Now more than ever.