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Times’ letters: Altamira and questioning advice

PUBLISHED: 08:30 10 May 2020

What the Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

What the Altamira will look when it is demolished and replaced with a nine-storey building. Picture: Brent Council

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Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Times’ readers this week.

Save the Altamira building

Rev David Ackerman, vicar, St John the Evangelist, Kensal Green, writes:

May I add my voice to those seeking to save the Altamira building on Morlands Gardens?

The architect of this lovely villa also designed my church and if he could look at the times we are living in I think he might see the Altamira as a symbol of what the future might be!

So many have said to me they don’t want to go back to how things were before this pandemic, where money was more important than people, the rich more

important than people struggling with life and ‘leaders’ who have found it so difficult in recent weeks to lead.

This period has been a period where I have come to respect working people whose heroism lies in carrying on whilst so many of their managers sat at home.

The Altamara could be a symbol of a fairer society and a centre for healing of all the problems revealed - not caused - by recent weeks, especially as children and their families in particular will need such support.

Save the Altamira not because it is a lovely building, but because of what it can be for future generations whom I hope will build a better society.

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Brent must now suspend any plans until local people decide what they want the Altimara to be, and not what the council thought was best prior to the pandemic.

Question the sincerity of advice

Trevor Ellis, Chalkhill Road, Wembley, writes:

I am genuinely curious to know if other residents question the sincerity behind the messages on billboards, reminding us to “stay at home, and save lives” or “Thank you NHS”?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to undermine the motive behind those messages; after all, as of 5pm on April 24, 20,319 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died.

It’s unquestionable that Covid-19 presents a serious threat to our country and so if social distancing is found to reduce the chances of the disease spreading, then, by all means, we should all follow the advice.

However, if public health was habitually taken for granted and constantly put at risk by the dangerous and unnatural habit of smoking, prior to the outbreak of the aforementioned pandemic, and smoking continues to be the biggest cause of preventable deaths in England, accounting for nearly 80,000 deaths each year, shouldn’t we at least question the sincerity behind the advice from the government instructing us to “stay at home, and save lives”?

Just think about the reality of growing up in a country in which the health of the first, second, and third generation was put at risk of serious harm due to the lax attitude towards smoking on the part of the government.

Now that Covid-19 has reached our shores, all of a sudden, the government is advising us to act responsibly in the name of saving lives and protecting the NHS. I agree with the advice, but I oppose the hypocrisy and clear double standards for the aforementioned reasons.

I close with the following question: If research carried out in 2009,revealed that smoking costs the NHS more than £5bn every year, and places a “huge burden” on the health service, are we (including the government) truly showing appreciation for the NHS, and the invaluable help it provides in our time of need?


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