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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 19 July 2007
Public inquiry is essential after tragic death of Salma

AN inquiry should be held following the tragic death of Salma ElSharkawy simply because it throws up so many questions.   And the more public the inquiry the better.
We recognise that social services in Camden – and elsewhere – have been operating under great strain for years.
Staffing is often at too low a level. Sometimes, morale takes a knocking from the occasional sensational headlines in the tabloids.
But, nonetheless, when one considers  the last two sad years of Salma’s life, we feel that only an inquiry can bring matters to a close.
From our interviews with her parents, and a study of available documents, it seems difficult to believe that Salma’s behaviour presented such multiple problems that could only be resolved by placing her with foster parents. A letter from the police suggests they were far from happy with the case.
Then again, judging by one of the complaints by a representative of social services who visited the family there appears to be attractive evidence that at root of his observations lay a clash of cultures.
It would not be the first time that customs and behaviour considered quite normal in the culture of an ethnic minority is  misconstrued as abnormal by officialdom – including psychiatrists – of the host country.
Lessons should be learned from Salma’s short and tragic life. 
They should not be discussed behind closed doors.

PM puts housing back on the agenda

WE have declared many times that the only way to solve our growing housing crisis is to return to the old ways of doing things – that is, building local authority housing.
It provided hundreds of thousands of homes every decade from the 1950s onwards until Mrs Thatcher brought an end to it. Tony Blair blindly continued her policies.
However many homes are built by housing associations it has always been obvious there would never be enough of them to meet the demand.
We agreed that London Mayor Ken Livingstone was right to insist that 50 per cent of new housing developments be allocated to low-rent property.
But we also emphasised that that would never solve the problem.
We championed council tenants in their campaign to attract more investment in local housing.
Now, at last, the government is listening.    Gordon Brown made it clear over the weekend that local authority housing is on the agenda.
The Prime Minister’s only condition is that future estates should contain a mix of local authority and housing association properties.
At last, government statements on housing begin to make sense.

Send your letters to: The Le
tters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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