Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Letter from the editor: Bring back hanging baskets


It’s easy to see that the rioters and looters of the past few days are not gardeners. One drop of rain and they scarper. Perhaps their hoodies evaporate upon contact with rainwater.

The forecast for the weekend is, thankfully, rain and more rain, so that should dampen the current enthusiasm among certain sections of the population for going out on the streets and making a nuisance of themselves.

I’m a keen gardener, so tend to see rain as a blessing rather than a curse. But looking at a heavy downpour outside the windows of i Towers yesterday, it made me wonder if perhaps the most fitting punishment for those who have disfigured our streets with broken glass and burnt-out cars is to be put on some sort of street-planting task.

Instead of setting fire to branches of Miss Selfridge, they could be watering the pelargoniums. Instead of smashing windows, they could be deadheading petunias.

Who knows, a breath of fresh air and a job that involves positive and noticeable results could be the making of some of these ne’er-do-wells. Instead of learning how to pickpocket from their cell-mate, they could learn how to propagate. Instead of nicking trainers, they could learn how to take cuttings.

They might even – and here I’m aware that I’m straying well into the realms of fantasy – find that the process of nurturing their neighbourhood flowers gives them a sense of ownership and pride in their community.

Bring back hanging – baskets, that is!

Stefano Hatfield is away