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Following the tragic incidents at Westminster on Wednesday 22nd March, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, made the following statement - 

Yesterday, an act of horrific barbarism came to the streets of London once again.

It came to shake us. It came to divide us. It came to break us.  

But it shall achieve none of these things.  

On behalf of Islington Council and Islington Labour, I send our heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of those who lost their lives in and around Parliament. The Town Hall is flying the Union Jack at half-mast today in a sign of respect for the victims, and observed a minute's silence at 9.33am to coincide with the start of the Parliamentary day.  

I would like to place on the record my immeasurable thanks to the emergency services personnel who ran towards the chaos and danger that was brought to Westminster on Wednesday. We are fortunate to have so many who put themselves in harm's way to protect us in our daily lives. PC Keith Palmer did just that, and undoubtedly saved the lives of others in doing so.  

I would also like to thank our local police and council emergency teams for their response to these tragic events, which ensured that calm and vigilance were brought to our borough swiftly.  

In the coming days there will be much discussion and conjecture regarding the events of yesterday. I ask that we remember that the actions of one person do not represent anyone but themselves.

Islington's strength comes from our diversity, acceptance and shared values. We must never allow the cowardly actions of those who seek to sow hatred and suspicion to divide us. 

Islington united

Following the tragic incidents at Westminster on Wednesday 22nd March, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, made the following statement -  Yesterday, an act of horrific barbarism came to...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall

This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March, officially beginning the UK’s withdrawal from EU membership.

Last week, I spoke at a packed ‘Islington IN Europe’ rally at Islington Town Hall, where I promised to defend the rights of the 17,000 EU citizens living in Islington to stay in Britain. I spoke alongside some high profile speakers about our future relationship with the EU: campaigner Gina Miller, columnist Professor Anthony Grayling and dramatist Bonnie Greer.

You can watch a video of the rally and my speech here:

I am proud to call Islington home. It is a fiercely multi-cultural borough, where people from across the world live, work and contribute to our community. These people are our friends, neighbours and family. They are also business owners and entrepreneurs, and many of them work for our vital public services.

Islington Labour campaigned hard to remain in the EU and a record number of people turned out to vote in Islington – 75% of whom voted to ‘remain’. Many of us were heartbroken that the UK as a whole voted the other way.

The priority for us now is to ensure that Islington remains a tolerant, diverse and welcoming borough, as it always has been. We will not see politics played with the lives of our neighbours.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, speaking at the 'Islington IN Europe' rally (with thanks to 'Islington IN Europe' for producing the image and video)

Standing up for EU citizens in Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger...

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This March, Islington has been undergoing a serious spring clean. Labour-run Islington Council, schools and colleges and the wider community have been coming together this month to tidy up local streets, communities and parks.

Islington Labour is committed to keeping the borough clean, which is why it took Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘The Great British Spring Clean’ weekend campaign further by running it for four weeks.

Town centres will be deep-cleaned with specialist teams jet-washing pavements, removing graffiti and chewing gum, washing commercial bins, litter-picking, filling in potholes in the road, clamping down on fly-tipping, dog fouling and drivers who leave their engines idling.

This month, cutting-edge new technology is being introduced to improve long-term efficiency of rubbish and recycling collections and quicker responses to reports of fly-tipping and other issues. Labour-run Islington Council’s ongoing effort to clean up the borough also include a clampdown on fly-tippers and new ways of driving up recycling rates.

Members of the community are also invited to get involved to keep Islington’s town centres, estates and green spaces looking spick and span, long into the future.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, launched the spring clean campaign with a visit to Nag’s Head shopping centre in Holloway, joining council workers who will be leading the clean-ups. She also met children and teachers from Copenhagen School who got involved with picking up litter and helping to keep nearby streets spotless.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This is about the community coming together. We all share Islington’s streets and town centres and feel passionately about keeping them clean.

“We are committed to improving our environment for the benefit of everyone and hope to see everyone doing their bit for the borough.

“New innovations, alongside community spirit and involvement, as well as our dedicated teams, are what’s needed to keep the borough clean and tidy.”

You can sign up here to volunteer at an upcoming spring clean day in your area.

 

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, and council workers cleaning up Nag's Head

Islington Gets a Thorough Spring Clean

This March, Islington has been undergoing a serious spring clean. Labour-run Islington Council, schools and colleges and the wider community have been coming together this month to tidy up local...

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Councillors, members of the Irish community in Islington, representatives of Irish organisations in London, and council staff, joined together on Monday 13th March ahead of the Town Hall flying the Irish flag to mark St Patrick’s Day on 17th March.

From Tuesday 14th March to Monday 20th March, the Irish flag will be flown from Islington Town Hall, to mark St Patrick’s Day and to celebrate the contribution of the Irish community to Islington.

Organiser of the event Cllr Troy Gallagher, Labour councillor for Bunhill ward and Chair of the London Irish Councillors Network, said of the occasion:

“The Irish community in Islington remains central to the foundations of the diversity that makes Islington such a wonderful place to live.

“By raising the Irish flag at the Town Hall on St Patrick’s Day, we will be celebrating the contribution Irish residents continue to make to the community.”

Joining councillors, the Mayor, and council staff, were representatives of the London Irish Centre and members of the local Irish community.

The 2011 Census found that there are approximately 8,000 Irish residents living in Islington, approximately 4% of the total population, with many more people having Irish ancestry. 

 

Pictured - Islington Labour councillors and representatives of Irish organisations in London raising the Irish flag

Islington Town Hall to fly Irish flag to mark St Patrick's Day

Councillors, members of the Irish community in Islington, representatives of Irish organisations in London, and council staff, joined together on Monday 13th March ahead of the Town Hall flying the...

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington

This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I attended a number of events across Islington celebrating the contribution that women make to the borough, and heard from many inspirational female speakers.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The theme for 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’, with individuals and organisations declaring bold actions to forge a more gender inclusive world. Through collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash unlimited potential.

We are committed to making Islington a fairer place for everyone, which also means making it a fairer and safer place for women. Our recently-launched Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy prioritises prevention and early intervention, addressing perpetrator behaviour and responding to complex pressure on individuals. VAWG is everyone’s business. We are sending a clear message that it will not be tolerated in any form.

I am proud of Labour-run Islington Council’s record in supporting women in the borough. Since 2014, we have helped 981 parents – mostly women – into work. Employment is one of the key routes out of poverty, which is why we are prioritising supporting residents into sustainable employment.

This year, the Islington Women’s Staff Forum asked the local community to nominate women who live and work in the borough who have made a bold contribution to gender equality. Six women were chosen from the nominations and their stories have been made into a digital artwork, which was unveiled on Thursday 9th March. These women are:

  • Suzanne Lee, Artistic Director of community arts organisation All Change
  • Liz Hogarth, criminal justice campaigner
  • Jamad Abdi, Bilingual Family Support Worker
  • Anita Grant, Director of Islington Play Association
  • Jennifer Savage, Practice Manager of the Pause project
  • Polly Mann, who has run the St Luke’s History Group as a volunteer for over a decade

From actresses to activists to mothers to mechanical engineers, Islington is home to inspiring women from all walks of life. Of course, we should be celebrating and supporting them throughout the year – not only on International Women’s Day.

 

Pictured - Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development

Celebrating Islington’s inspirational women

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I...

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Labour-run Islington Council has become the first council in the capital to call for all diesel vehicles to be banned from London.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, has called on the Mayor of London to bring forward plans to commit to banning diesel vehicles from the city by 2025. 

Cllr Webbe said: "A blanket ban in the capital on all diesel vehicles, including the ones meeting the Euro 6 standard, would have a dramatic impact on air quality for the millions of us who work and live in London.

“The capital’s air pollution is nothing short of a public health crisis, reducing the quality and shortening the lives of all Londoners. The answer has to be bold and co-ordinated across all levels of government.

“It is encouraging that the Mayor is determined to tackle the issue, and we will do everything we can to help him achieve these aims.

“But I am urging him to go further still and commit to brave, truly life-changing measures. It is never too soon to start reclaiming London’s air for the sake of those who breathe it every day."

Islington is calling on the Mayor to:

  • expand his proposed Emissions Surcharge, or T-Charge to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
  • enable the earlier introduction of the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in October this year, expanded out to the M25 in 2019.
  • use the ULEZ as a transitional arrangement towards removing all diesels from Greater London by 2025. This would need support across London’s authorities including the GLA and TfL, for the necessary infrastructure to replace them – from electric vehicle charging points and electric bus fleets to cycle route improvements and more.
  • strengthen the Emissions Surcharge with fewer exemptions and a re-examination of the emissions standards being used for petrol and diesel vehicles.

Cllr Webbe added: "Islington Council has been at the forefront of developing pioneering, innovative policies to tackle poor air quality where we have opportunities to.

"From introducing the country’s first 20mph speed limits on all council-managed roads, to the introduction of the diesel surcharge on residents parking permits, to tackling idling hotspots with the threat of fines – we have made bold, often initially unpopular decisions to tackle the growing threat from air pollution, despite cuts to the council’s central government funding that will reach 70 per cent in a decade by 2020.

"We have also pushed forward with schemes to install more electric charging points and made it easier for people to walk and cycle in the borough.

"We agree more needs to be done to tackle air pollution, and we support further action.  However Islington Council cannot solve air pollution alone.  We know that the majority of harmful pollutants in our borough come from buses and lorries travelling through Islington, and we need action from higher levels of government.

"That is why, in response to his latest consultation on air quality, we have called for the Mayor of London to ban diesel vehicles from the capital, including Euro VI diesels as we do not believe there is any clean diesel yet produced.

"It is time for radical action like this at a city-wide level, to head off potentially disastrous health impacts in years to come."

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport

 

Calls for Mayor to ban diesel vehicles from London

Labour-run Islington Council has become the first council in the capital to call for all diesel vehicles to be banned from London. Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and...

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The Tory Budget has been slammed by Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council's Executive Member for Economic Development, for not offering more support for local small businesses that will be hit by massive Government increases in business rates bills. 

Islington's Labour-run council has been supporting efforts by Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel Business Improvement District to call on the Government to freeze the massive business rates increases that will hit local firms from 1st April.

A massive petition - which has now attracted more than 13,600 signatures - was presented to the Treasury last week (1st March) to make the case for a freeze in the implementation of the new higher rates and for more generous support for local businesses. 

However, the Tory Budget delivered on 8th March offered little new support for businesses in Islington, which will see the third highest business rates increase in the country at an average of 45 per cent. 

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: “Small businesses in Islington face massive central government increases in business rates bills from 1st April and the announcements by the Chancellor will do little to ease the pain.

“Islington Council has supported our small businesses by working with Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel BID to organise a petition against the business rates increases – that has been signed by more than 13,600 local people.

“The cap on increases for small businesses that will lose Small Business Rates Relief announced today is welcome, but this is for a limited time only.

“The total business rates bill for Islington’s businesses will increase by almost £100 million from 1st April, so the extra money for discretionary relief will make very little difference.

“Islington is very lucky to have such diverse high streets and the impact on smaller firms from this increase will be severe. We’ve already seen rents go up significantly over recent years and I am worried that the hike in business rates will put more pressure on local shops to close or move elsewhere.

"Our local businesses provide jobs and vital services for local people, and we are deeply concerned about the impact the Tory Government’s hike in business rates will have.

“Islington Council will not receive any extra funding from the increase in business rates bills. We will continue to push the government to bring forward genuine support for local businesses and will offer support to those affected by the government’s increase in business rates bills.”

Please add your name to the petition to call for further action to help local small businesses.

Pictured - Cllr Asima Shaikh and Islington business owners and representatives submit petition to HM Treasury. 

No real help for small businesses from Tory Budget

The Tory Budget has been slammed by Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council's Executive Member for Economic Development, for not offering more support for local small businesses that will be hit...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington.

Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’ plans for the country’s finances. Unfortunately, this Tory Budget has once again failed to deliver for working people in Islington.

For all the press coverage and attention the Budget receives today, it offers little of real value to Islington residents. There will be no help to build more genuinely affordable homes, no new funding for local council services that help people into work and no real help for local businesses that will be hit by the massive increase in Government taxes.

The Chancellor offered warm words to small and medium businesses in Islington who are set to see their business rates rise significantly. However, despite rigorous campaigning from Islington Labour and business representatives, there will not be a freeze on business rates rises. Also, the relief being offered to small businesses is nowhere near enough to support all those who need it.

Despite inflicting 70 per cent cuts on Islington Council, the Tory Government has miraculously found hundreds of millions of pounds to bring back divisive grammar schools. There is overwhelming evidence that grammar schools undermine social mobility and do not increase overall educational performance, so this move is entirely dogmatic. 

Although it is welcome that the Budget promises more money for social care, this is still only a sticking plaster that lasts for a mere three years. Once again the Tories have proven they are anything but the party of the NHS.

By contrast, Islington Labour will continue to build new genuinely affordable homes, with the largest council home building programme for 30 years. We will also continue to help more local people into work, building on the more than 3,000 people we have helped find secure jobs since 2014.

The Tory Budget will also disproportionately hit young people, who will be saddled with the ideological decisions of this Government for years to come. That is why we will support young people by protecting youth services for all and invest in targeted support for those at risk of turning to crime.

The Chancellor did not address the elephant in the room while he was delivering his Budget – Brexit. Despite repeated calls, the Tories have failed to confirm that vital EU funding to councils will be protected post-Brexit. It was also quietly announced today that billions more pounds have been put aside to cope with the effect of Brexit, proving that the Tories do not have a clear plan.

Today’s Tory Budget shows that only Islington Labour is on the side of working people. 

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

This Tory Budget lets down Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington. Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’...

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Today (1st March) an Islington Labour councillor and business representatives delivered a 12,658-strong petition to the Treasury. The petition calls on the Government to freeze plans to dramatically raise Islington’s business rates.

The Tory Government’s proposed business rates rise will see Islington businesses’ rateable values rise by 45 per cent – the third highest rise in England.

The Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel Business Improvement District, supported by Islington Council, handed the petition to Treasury officials ahead of the Chancellor’s Budget announcement on 8th March.

12,658 signatories asked the Government to freeze the implementation of the business rates valuation until after Britain leaves the EU. The petition also urges the Treasury to extend reliefs, which will help small and medium businesses cope with the effect of a significant rise.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, said:

“A big increase in business rates could force small and medium businesses to close or move – damaging the diverse and independent nature of our business communities.

“We urge the Treasury to stop these plans and support our shops and services in these turbulent times ahead.”

You can still add your call to the ongoing petition against the business rates rise on Change.org.

 

Pictured - Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, and business representatives delivering the business rates petition to the Treasury

Islington Labour councillor and businesses deliver business rates petition to Treasury

Today (1st March) an Islington Labour councillor and business representatives delivered a 12,658-strong petition to the Treasury. The petition calls on the Government to freeze plans to dramatically raise Islington’s business rates....

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission.

This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which will explore how we can create a truly child and youth friendly community.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. That is why in 2017 there will be a focus on all children and young people to help them better reach their full potential.

Islington is a fantastic place to grow up, with brilliant parks, museums, sports facilities and cultural venues right on the doorstep. However, for far too many children and young people, growing up in Islington is challenging. We want to take a radical look at how the Council and its partners can help to change that.

Since taking control of the Council in 2010, Islington Labour has been working hard to make the borough a place where all children, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to succeed.

We have had significant achievements in and are continuing to work hard on key areas, such as building more genuinely affordable homes, helping local people into work, and targeting support to young people who need it most. Local schools continue to improve, with the progress pupils make in Islington’s secondary schools ranking in the top 20 in the country.

Despite significant cuts to council funding by the central Government, we have kept all our children’s centres open and invested millions in youth services. Our pioneering universal free school meals programme means no child in Islington has to start their day hungry.

But there is still more that can be done to ensure all children and young people get the best start in life.

There are challenges but also opportunities to drive innovation and positive change. The only way to achieve this is to listen to everyone, inspire others and challenge ourselves.

I am delighted that Jermain Jackman, a former Islington Arts and Media School student and winner of TV talent show The Voice in 2014, will be chairing the Fair Futures Commission. High profile academics, psychologists, Islington parents and young people, will also serve on the Board. This meeting of talented minds will mean the Commission can provide independent advice and support by bringing everyone together who wants to make Islington a fairer place for all.

We are keen to hear from everyone who is passionate about creating a fairer Islington for children and young people. If you are interested in getting involved in the Commission please visit the website.

I look forward to sharing the Commission’s story with you over the coming year.

Pictured - Jermain Jackman, Chair of the Fair Futures Commission, and Duncombe Primary school pupils at the launch of the Fair Futures Commission

Helping Islington’s children and young people get the best start in life

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission. This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which...

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