ES Views: Battersea was never going to help the housing crisis

Your front-page story on the sell-off of the Battersea Power Station project [January 18] tells us all we need to know about what has been wrong with British housing policy, ignored by successive governments, for decades.

A Malaysian government-backed group buys a stalled project which a private Malaysian company has given up on and which aimed to provide tax-avoiding Apple with a UK HQ, a giant food hall and 353 luxury apartments including “spectacular penthouses” that are unaffordable to almost every Londoner.

From the Malaysians’ point of view this probably makes sense but not for the UK. Why are we selling off iconic buildings in key central locations so that foreign developers can make their millions while our people get nothing?

The current housing crisis has been growing for decades and no one in power has done anything even to try to stop the rising house prices, largely fuelled by money from global billionaires and enterprises with no loyalty or even concern about Britain or its people.

Ignoring the fact that the development of Battersea has stalled for 30 years, why have successive governments done nothing about foreign investors buying properties across London? They are selling off our land to the highest bidders so they can make more money out of the situation they are creating.

It’s time we had a government that put British people and their needs centre-stage.
David Reed


Jonathan Prynn calls Battersea Power Station “London’s flagship regeneration project” [“Blockbuster £1.6 billion deal for Battersea”, January 18]. But at a time when Londoners need genuinely affordable homes, even the Daily Telegraph criticised “an oversupply of luxury homes flooding Zone One at a time of slowing demand”. Pull the other one — if the power station is the flagship, where are the able seamen going to sleep?
David Murray


I couldn’t help but despair when I read about the Battersea Power Station sale. In the article, it includes the term “spectacular penthouses” rather than “affordable apartments”. We have too many of the former and not enough of the latter. When will we learn not to price Londoners out of their own city?
Mark Cross


Jonathan Prynn says the escalating costs for the Battersea Power Station project was in part due to the costs of stripping out “far more asbestos than expected”.

However, I was part of the team that stripped all the asbestos out of the building in 1986, so I wonder how this can be factored into the costing?
Karl Milligan


Don't gush too much over Macron

Your columnists’ admiration for President Macron seems rather over the top. He may have boosted French economic growth to 1.8 per cent but this is rather modest by non-European standards.

Unemployment in France, meanwhile, is still double the British figure and Macron aims only to get it down below eight per cent five years from now.

He has also forced our weak government into handing him an extra £45 million to police the UK-French border at Calais, which raises the embarrassing question: is the French state so weak that it cannot maintain law and order inside its own frontiers without outside help?

Finally, there is no evidence that Macron is the leader of Europe in any sense. His plans for a common eurozone budget and finance minister have been rejected by almost everyone, and only 28.5 per cent of the French people support a federal Europe. He is neither a diplomatic wünderkind nor a real friend.

We should not be blinded by the loan of a tapestry.
Professor Alan Sked, London School of Economics


Knife crime has now gone too far

The suggestion by DCS Sean Yates, head of the Met Police knife crime unit, that five-year-olds should be taught about the dangers of knives shows just how endemic a problem this has become in our capital.

We know from our work with young Londoners that for some, carrying a knife is now, shockingly, an accepted part of their daily routine. They may feel it is necessary for their own protection, when in reality they place themselves in danger.

We know online influences can act as a catalyst to violence. Material is increasingly posted online by gangs to taunt their rivals, escalating reprisals and increasing violence as young people seek to protect their status and reputation. To protect our children we must address the complex reasons behind the spike in knife violence and understand the factors that influence and endanger them, from early childhood.

To wait until they reach adolescence is to leave it too late.
Lynn Gradwell, director, Barnardo’s London


Rail chaos out of Southern's control

I would like to correct Alastair Noble’s misunderstandings about Southern rail services [Letters, January 17].

The majority of delays are caused by infrastructure problems beyond the company’s control, such as power, signal and track failures. Train faults account for around 10-12 per cent of cancellations and only six to seven per cent of delays. In perspective, a power failure on the Brighton main line on December 8 caused twice as much disruption as all train faults in the entire month.

Additionally, safe rail travel does not require guards to control the doors. Both Her Majesty’s Inspector of Railways and the Rail Safety & Standards Board have confirmed that door operation by the driver is just as safe, and potentially safer.

Since we modernised working practices more than a year ago, we have more safety-trained staff on more trains, with more time to focus on passenger service, support and security.
Angie Doll, passenger services director, Southern Railway


Craven Cottage plan is so welcome

As a resident of Fulham, I was dismayed at the disingenuous nature of your article on Fulham FC’s proposed expansion of Craven Cottage [January 18]. This beloved and historic stadium is an important part of the fabric and identity of the area, having been home to the club since 1896.

The article fails to state that Fulham FC got planning permission in 2013 to increase the capacity of Craven Cottage to 30,000. The application serves to improve the design and function of the redeveloped stand.

The proposals do not just serve to benefit the football club — the opening of the River Walk will unlock the final stretch of the river between Putney Bridge and Hammersmith.

Local residents, myself included, welcome what Fulham bring to our community, and fully support these improvements to the area.
Chris Gilbertson

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