Leader explains gesture
Preston’s Labour councillors support peace across Israel and Palestine, and, like everyone, we are heartbroken that the ceasefire has broken down.
The council’s gesture in allowing the Palestinian flag to be displayed for a few minutes to highlight a humanitarian crisis has been misunderstood as support for Hamas who have been firing rockets into Israel. We have continually made clear our abhorrence of Hamas’s actions.
What we were doing was showing solidarity and empathy with a beleaguered people. In thtree weeks over 1,500 Palestinians, including over 200 children, have been killed in Gaza. Gaza is where the humanitarian crisis is, not currently in other parts of Palestine and not in Israel.
Our action wasn’t taken because we wanted to take sides in the conflict. We are against this conflict and pro-humanity. I am certainly not anti-Semitic as anyone who is aware of my family background will know.
Twelve years ago today, David Harris-Gershon’s wife was nearly killed by a Hamas bomber in Jerusalem. He has written a controversial memoir about that day, and what happened afterwards. He said the other day: “My empathy for the suffering in Gaza does NOT make me anti-Semitic, nor pro-Hamas nor anti-Israel. It makes me human.”
Unfortunately, our humanitarian action has been attacked by many people from across the world who have chosen to defend and justify Israeli military action rather than seeing our action for what it is. This has been very disappointing but this is their prerogative and although we have failed to change their point of view, they are not going to make us change ours.
Preston may not count for much in the grand scheme of international affairs but many of our residents pay attention to what is happening in the outside world and feel strongly about it. I believe we were quite right to focus on the extreme bloodshed in Gaza, which has killed and maimed many innocent men, women and children.
Lastly, some people have complained that we replaced the Union Jack with the Palestinian flag last Friday. We have four flagpoles: three above the entrance to the town hall and one at the top of the building. There is always a Union Jack flying from at least one of our flag poles.
Last weekend there was a Union Jack flying from the top of the building which was lowered to half-mast for the weekend in recognition of all of those killed in this conflict, including the three Israeli boys so cruelly murdered at the start of the latest outbreak of violence. Since Monday we have been flying the flag of World Peace with the message that there are no Christians, Muslims or Jews; there are only innocent human beings who are caught up in conflict and suffer the deadly consequences.
Coun Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council
Conservation area is scruffy
We live in the forgotten area of the so called conservation area surrounding Winckley Square. For over eight years we have complained about bins and boxes blocking pavements, rubbish and weeds everywhere in and around Starkie Street and Regent Street.
After consultation with the council in May they said they would clean up the area and contact the residents about moving bins and boxes away after collection. Now we find they have removed the boxes and supplied wheelie bins instead which has made it even worse. I have just counted 15 overflowing bins in Starkie Street and ten in Regent Street as well as black bags strewn on the pavement.
Starkie Street is one of the main routes from Winckley Square to the park so next time the planners are in the square please just take a walk along this forgotten area and let’s bring back a little pride to a lovely area of Preston.
Terry C, via e-mail
Well done to gardeners
Three cheers again this year for the staff and volunteers who keep Preston’s parks in such good order, especially at a time when other authorities are reported to be abandoning theirs.
So that must mean another three cheers for the council which provides the money.
I miss the flower filled grass verges of last year, however, they must have provided something extra for the cyclists to enjoy as they hurtle along the Mike Atkins Way.
Incidentally who is or was Mike Atkins and who invited him into the Boulevard ? I can’t find anyone down who has heard of him.
Joan Higginson, via e-mail
l Editor’s note: Mike Atkins was one of the leading lights behind the creation of the Guild Wheel who sadly passed away last year.
Taking supplies for granted
Strange, how only when something gets cut off do we truly miss it.
I speak here of water but I could just as easily be talking about gas or electricity.
Amazing how fast one’s hands get dirty and need washing when the taps run dry and it is about then that all the other things that can’t be done without water come to bear.
If I may paraphrase William Shakespeare (with a little tweaking): To wash, to wash, perchance to clean – ay, there’s the rub; that one is robbed of when the water’s going off.
As it did for circa 12 hours due to a burst on Chorley Road this week - when six bottles of water dumped on the doorstep made no impression in the bath.
Joseph G Dawson, Withnell
Pride in kind volunteers
Just back from Lourdes in the south of France, I wondered if I can thank the 60 plus young people who travelled out to help with the sick and infirm, young and not so young pilgrims.
They were splendid! Not only did they push wheelchairs but they sat with people and chattered.
Many friendships were made. Thank you also to nurses, doctor and helpers. We are very proud of you.
Val Tudor, via email