Diarmaid_Ward.jpg

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the Government's housing white paper

Last week, after months of waiting, the Government issued its housing white paper, which promised to fix our broken housing market. Instead, all we got was a damp squib.

Once again, the Tories have failed to take any meaningful action to help ease the housing crisis. There is no new money for council homes, yet we all know that Islington desperately needs more genuinely affordable housing. That is why the Council is investing £40 million in this year alone to deliver the biggest house building programme for 30 years.

It is clear that the Government does not understand that working people in Islington need secure and affordable homes. In 2014, Labour-led Islington Council pledged to deliver 2,000 new genuinely affordable homes, including 500 council homes, by 2019, and we are on track to meet this target.

For private renters, promises of more security and protection are welcome, but warm words alone do not lead to secure warm homes for families trapped in private renting.

The Government cannot pretend to take security for families seriously if they are also pressing ahead with plans to end lifetime tenancies for council properties and forcing councils to sell off council homes.

Once again, the Tories have failed to properly deal with the housing crisis. Labour-led Islington Council will continue to fight the most damaging elements of the Government’s housing plans and will continue to build more genuinely affordable homes.

 

Pictured - Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development

Tories once again fail to tackle the housing crisis

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the Government's housing white paper Last week, after months of waiting, the Government issued its housing white paper, which...

Islington Labour backs calls for Government to freeze business rates hike

img_0645.jpg

Islington Labour is supporting calls by local business groups for the Tory Government to freeze the implementation of higher business rates across the borough.

Business rates are set by national government and the valuations of all businesses in the country were recently reviewed. Many businesses in Islington, including small businesses, will see business rates bills increase significantly.  

The average 45% increase in rateable values for Islington is the 3rd highest in England.

Islington Chamber of Commerce and Angel Business Improvement District (BID) have organised a petition calling on the government to -

  • freeze the implementation of the new rates;
  • extend support for businesses affected by higher business rates;
  • give more help to small businesses by increasing the threshold for Small Business Rate Relief in inner London, funded by national Government.

Labour-run Islington Council is supporting the initiative.

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

“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.

“I’ve been working closely with businesses and business groups, and many people are really worried about what these massive increases in bills will mean for them.

“We are calling for the Government not to go ahead with these plans and the council is offering local companies advice on how they can manage the changes ahead.”

The petition can be found here and will be handed to the Government before the national budget is set on 8th March.

Please join the campaign and add your name to the petition today.

Freeze business rates hike

Islington Labour backs calls for Government to freeze business rates hike Islington Labour is supporting calls by local business groups for the Tory Government to freeze the implementation of higher...

IMG_2317.JPG

The iconic LGBT flag will be flying over Islington Town Hall once again this February to mark LGBT History Month.

Islington has a proud LGBT history, where it played host to the UK’s first gay rights demonstration on Highbury Fields in 1970.

LGBT History Month 2017 has particular significance, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, which decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years and in private.

To mark the start of LGBT History month, a rare artwork purchased through the generosity of anonymous donors and an Art Fund Grant went on display for the first time at Islington Museum.

‘World of Cats’, a five-and-a-half foot, four panel screen decorated with a collage of cats, was created in 1966 by artist Kenneth Halliwell. Halliwell lived with his playwright partner, Joe Orton, between 1959 and 1967 in Noel Road, Islington.

Halliwell and Orton notoriously stole books from Islington libraries then defaced and returned them in the 1960s. Eventually they were caught and imprisoned for sixth months and it is thought their sentence was in part so harsh because of their then-illegal homosexual relationship. In 1967, Halliwell killed Orton before committing suicide.

The defaced book jackets are kept permanently in Islington Museum, along with ‘World of Cats’ until 13th March 2017.

Cllr Aysegul Erdon, Equalities Champion, said: “Islington’s LGBT community contributes so much to our borough. Without them, we would not be the diverse and eclectic society we are today.

“It is fantastic that ‘World of Cats’ has been returned to its home in Islington. It is a valuable piece of our borough’s cultural history and I encourage everyone to see it while it is on display.”

 

Pictured - Islington Labour councillors fly the LGBT flag at Islington Town Hall

Islington Labour marks LGBT History Month

The iconic LGBT flag will be flying over Islington Town Hall once again this February to mark LGBT History Month. Islington has a proud LGBT history, where it played host...

Claudia_Webbe.jpg

Islington Labour councillors have secured significant concessions on the Archway transformation works from Transport for London (TfL) on behalf of residents and passengers.

The removal of the gyratory will create a new public space and two-way traffic system, along with cycle lanes and improved pedestrian crossings. The works are expected to be completed by summer 2017 and will also allow new genuinely affordable homes to be built.

However, TfL’s works have resulted in the relocation or removal of bus stops in Archway, as well as traffic congestion on residential roads. Long before the works began, Islington Labour councillors have been pressing TfL to introduce measures to mitigate any negative impact for residents and passengers. Islington Labour have committed to campaign every day to ensure TfL gets this major transformation right, so as to maximise the benefits for all.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, has been raising concerns about the works for months. In December 2016, she wrote to the Mayor Sadiq Khan to express frustration with TfL’s communication with the Council and local community about the Archway bus consultation report.

Following ongoing campaigning from Islington Labour, TfL have agreed to -

  • Monitor and review putting bus stops at other locations, so that route destinations and stop locations work for passengers
  • Reroute certain buses to terminate at Whittington Hospital and/or St John’s Grove near Upper Holloway station
  • Introduce new clearer signage in the area to let passengers know about the changes
  • Deploy uniformed transport information helpers in the area, to help residents and visitors alike for the duration of the works and beyond
  • Introduce ‘live’ next bus information boards at Archway station, and countdown signs at a number of bus stops around Archway
  • Introduce a clean bus fleet at Archway as quickly as possible
  • Ensure bus drivers comply with Islington Council’s anti-engine idling agenda
  • Take action now to design out crime and anti-social behaviour, including rubbish at bus stop locations
  • Undertake traffic modelling once the works are complete and take corrective action as necessary
  • Undertake corrective measures and changes if traffic monitoring shows significant increases in traffic volumes on local roads
  • Allow residents to take ownership of the look and feel of the new public space
  • Monitor and review the information arrangements for cyclists whilst the public square is being built, and take action to eradicate any pedestrian and cyclist conflict once built
  • Provide a modest improvement to the Archway station façade
  • Support the Council on planting at Pauntley Street and additional trees and hedges to mitigate the effect of the bus stands
  • Consult on and implement a border of trees and other greenery at Vorley Road outside the children’s centre
  • Consult and reach a resolution on the Despard Road loading bay

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Throughout TfL’s work to transform Archway, Islington Labour councillors have been putting residents and passengers first. We have demanded and secured these key concessions from TfL on their behalf, and will continue to hold TfL to account.

“For years, we campaigned for the removal of the Archway gyratory. It will bring the greatest transformation to the area in a generation, giving the town centre a much-needed boost in terms of safety and economically. Everyone who uses the area will benefit from these exciting changes.” 

Val Shawcross, London's Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: “‘The Archway scheme will bring significant benefits to people living and working in the area – including substantial safety improvements for walking and cycling.

“TfL have been working very closely with Islington Council, Assembly Members and particularly councillors like Claudia Webbe to ensure the scheme is the very best it can be. This includes looking at small further changes – specifically reconsidering the location of a bus stop, some signage improvements  and  improving pedestrian access to a bus stop across a cycle lane.”

 

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

Islington Labour councillors secure more Archway concessions from TfL

Islington Labour councillors have secured significant concessions on the Archway transformation works from Transport for London (TfL) on behalf of residents and passengers. The removal of the gyratory will create...

1.jpg

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017.

Today (Friday) is Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers us an opportunity to reflect on the millions of people around the world who have lost their lives to genocide. We openly commit to standing against intolerance and, through our awareness of the Holocaust’s atrocities, pledge never to let it happen again.

As someone whose family was profoundly shaped by the Holocaust, Holocaust Memorial Day has a particular significance for me and my family. My grandfather survived Dachau concentration camp and came to the UK as a Refugee. I have always been aware that my existence was predicated on the people being brave and willing to help others. 

From the Holocaust to Rwanda to Bosnia, genocides are humanity’s darkest nightmares realised. We must never forget these tragedies and learn from history so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. And we must never be silent when confronted with racism and hatred.

Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us why we must counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms. Why we must continue to respond to global crises like the conflict in Syria with compassion.  I am proud to call Islington my home, where people can practice whatever religion they choose without fear of being persecuted. I am even prouder that as a council we have been able to make Islington a home for over twenty refugees from Syria.

It is obscene that, in this day and age, many people in this country have been attacked because of their religious affiliations and confronted with racist graffiti, verbal threats and even physical violence. That is why the Council has set up the Anti-Hate Crime strategy, so we can bring the perpetrators to justice and send a clear message that hatred has no place in Islington.

We must lead by example, both in the UK and internationally, and stamp out hatred wherever we find it.

 

Pictured: Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others at Islington Council's Holocaust Memorial Day reception

Hate has no place in Islington

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. Today (Friday) is Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers us an opportunity to reflect on the millions...

OurSchoolsOurSay.jpg

Islington now ranks in the top 20 in the country for boosting pupils’ attainment, new figures released this week reveal.

Islington has been ranked 18th out of 151 local authorities for the academic progress made by pupils between the end of primary school and their GCSE results across eight key subjects.

This represents a radical transformation in the performance of Islington’s schools. In 2008, the borough ranked in the bottom 20 local authorities for its GCSE results.

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, says: “We now have some of the best schools in the country that are helping young people in Islington progress faster than many other areas.

“These results are a ringing endorsement for the quality and high standards in our schools, and are a testament to the hard work of all teaching and support staff, as well as the pupils themselves.”

New figures from the Department for Education (DfE) show that Islington pupils’ GCSE results are far ahead of the national averages in several key subjects. 64.2% of pupils gained a grade C or better in GCSE Mathematics and English Language or English Literature. These compares with 59.3% in England, a new measure introduced this year.

Some 58.7% of Islington pupils achieved five or more GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Mathematics, up by 0.8%. This was again above the national rate, which fell by 0.3% to 53.5%.

The Progress 8 score showed that Islington pupils’ GCSE results were almost one-fifth of a grade better than their peers nationally in 2016.

The figures also build on the progress in primary schools. Recent DfE figures revealed the performance of disadvantaged children in Islington primary schools for reading, writing and maths combined last year was the 11th best in England.

Islington schools in the top 20 in the country for pupil progress

Islington now ranks in the top 20 in the country for boosting pupils’ attainment, new figures released this week reveal. Islington has been ranked 18th out of 151 local authorities...

Richard_Watts.jpg

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, responds to the Prime Minister's speech confirming the Government will be pursuing a 'hard Brexit.

Today, the Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her Government would be pursuing ‘hard Brexit’ at the expense of people’s jobs, wellbeing and rights.

Hard Brexit not only risks the economy but also the regulations that guarantee workers’ rights, human rights and environmental protection. It is no wonder some Tories are so excited at the prospect.

This chaotic Brexit offers nothing for Islington, where 75 per cent of residents voted to remain.

May’s Brexit plan is far removed from reality. She claims that the UK will continue to work with and welcome its neighbours but refuses to guarantee the rights of the 30,000 EU nationals living in Islington. She claims immigration must be cut to protect public services but it is really years of damaging Tory cuts that are to blame.

It is obscene that the Tories scapegoat immigrants for the problems they have created.

I am proud to represent a borough where people from all over the world have set up businesses and contributed to our economy, from the NHS to our very own Council. The Tories have removed much of the NHS’ money. Now they seem determined to starve it of staff too.

Hard Brexit will be felt by everyone who lives and works in Islington. The Government has refused to guarantee that vital EU funding, which helps councils support local people, will be protected. This is despite promises that were made throughout the election campaign. Of course, the Tories have also abandoned that promise of an extra £350m per week for the NHS.

The road ahead will be hard and the effects of leaving the European Union will be felt for generations to come. Thanks to the Government’s chaotic Brexit, even further cuts will come. However, Islington Labour will continue to fight for a fairer borough and protect spending in the areas that are most important to working people.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

Hard Brexit is the worst-case scenario for Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, responds to the Prime Minister's speech confirming the Government will be pursuing a 'hard Brexit. Today, the Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her...

Archway_improvements.jpg

Removal of one-way gyratory traffic system and introduction of two-way operation is a historic change for Archway.

Islington Labour councillors have been keeping a close eye on the progress of Transport for London’s (TfL) project to transform Archway, something for which the local party has been campaigning for years.

TfL’s improvements will create a new public space, replacing the gyratory, along with cycle lanes and improved pedestrian crossings. The works are expected to be completed by summer 2017.

In December 2016, the change from the one-way gyratory traffic system to a two-way operation marked a significant step forward in the project, which will open up new employment opportunities and improve safety in Archway.

The traffic switch-over, which is the first of its kind in Archway, has meant that TfL has had to make some changes to bus services passing through the new road layout and bus stop locations.

Following pressure from Islington Labour councillors, TfL agreed to install clearer signage in the area to inform passengers of the changes and review the possibility of some bus routes terminating elsewhere.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “I am pleased that we are edging closer to this major change in Archway. The removal of the gyratory will radically transform the area, benefitting all who use it.

“Islington Labour councillors are pushing TfL, on behalf of residents, to reduce the impact of the changes to buses and traffic flow. However, once the works are complete, everyone will benefit from a safer, more accessible town centre, which will also open up new employment opportunities in the local area.”

Cllr Marian Spall, councillor for Junction Ward, added: “Islington Labour has long campaigned for the removal of the Archway gyratory, which will transform the area. It will give the town centre a much-needed boost, both in terms of safety and economically, which everyone who lives and works in the area will benefit from.”

 

Pictured - Archway improvements design (TfL)

Archway one step closer to major transformation

Removal of one-way gyratory traffic system and introduction of two-way operation is a historic change for Archway. Islington Labour councillors have been keeping a close eye on the progress of...

RW.jpg

Islington’s Labour-run council has announced details of the council budget for the coming year (2017-2018), with a commitment to continue to make a difference on Islington’s top priorities.

The budget includes £40 million of investment in new council homes, new funding for targeted support for young people most at risk of being involved in crime and protects the budget for services that help local unemployed people into work.

Continued cuts imposed by the Tory Government will mean that by 2020, the council will have lost 70 per cent of its central government funding in a decade. This year’s budget brings the total savings the council has been forced to make to £170 million since 2010.

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, commented: “Despite another year of massive cuts from the Tory Government, I am proud that Islington Labour will deliver a budget for Islington's top priorities.

"By 2020, the Tory Government will have cut funding to the council by 70 per cent in a decade.

"But our commitment to making a difference for working people in Islington means that we are continuing to deliver on the issues that matter most.”

This year's budget will see a further £40million invested in delivering new council homes, as we work towards building 2,000 new genuinely affordable homes by 2019. The 131 council homes we will build this year will be the most built in Islington in a single year for 30 years.

Funding will be protected for services that help local people find decent and secure jobs, allowing the council to build on the success of our services that have seen 2,700 people helped into work since 2014, including 700 young people.

The budget will also help young people in Islington achieve their potential with further investment in targeted services, as well as protecting youth services budgets and our pioneering policy of free school meals for all primary school pupils.

Islington will, from April 2017, also scrap council tax for young people leaving care. This will help care leavers as they make the transition into adulthood and will mean that they will not have to pay council tax in Islington until they are aged 25. 

The council budget can be viewed here and will be presented to the Full Council Meeting on 23rd February 2017. 

Budget to build new council homes

Islington’s Labour-run council has announced details of the council budget for the coming year (2017-2018), with a commitment to continue to make a difference on Islington’s top priorities. The budget...

Angela_Picknell.jpg

St Mary’s Ward councillors are supporting a vital project that offers shelter to homeless people in Islington in the cold winter months.

The Margins cold weather shelter project, which offers homeless people a lifeline between January and March, runs in conjunction with CARIS (Christian Action and Response in Society) Islington. Seven churches in the borough take turns to provide shelter on a different night to provide week-round cover. One of these churches is the Union Chapel in St Mary’s Ward, which opens on Wednesday nights. 

St Mary’s Ward councillors have contributed over £2,300 to the Margins cold weather shelter project through Islington Council’s Local Initiative Fund (LIF), a small grants scheme that supports activities and improvements across Islington. The funding will support Margins to provide vital and potentially life-saving services for homeless people.

At Margins, up to 17 street sleepers are catered for and have access to a range of support; warm beds, good food, clothing, laundry facilities, showers, medical support, books, games, television and, perhaps most important of all, the company of others.

The people who use the shelters may not necessarily be Islington residents but it is a reciprocal arrangement, meaning there are homeless people originating from Islington being offered a lifeline in another borough.

The project relies on 35 dedicated volunteers, some of whom will be from the wider community and others who are ex-clients. This is the result of Margin’s work to support clients to move away from the streets.

Cllr Angela Picknell, of St Mary’s Ward, said: “I am proud that we are supporting Margins again this year. It’s impossible to be content knowing that, in the cold after-Christmas days, people are on the streets, exposed and uncared for. The project offers a vital lifeline to homeless people who are particularly at risk at such a cold time of year.”

Cllr Nurullah Turan, of St Mary’s Ward, added: “The Margins project does vital work for the homeless and I am pleased we are able to support it through Islington Council’s LIF grants scheme. Many of the people who rely on Margins have nowhere else to turn to and, by the end of each season, some of them will be settled and housed. This funding will help to change vulnerable members of society’s lives for the better.”  

 

Pictured - Cllr Angela Picknell, St Mary's Ward 

Local councillors award funding to Islington homeless shelters

St Mary’s Ward councillors are supporting a vital project that offers shelter to homeless people in Islington in the cold winter months. The Margins cold weather shelter project, which offers...

More Stories >

Welcome to Islington Labour