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Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the future of the former Holloway Prison site and how it could help to tackle Islington’s housing crisis.

In July 2016, the last prisoners left what is now the former site of Holloway Prison, 164 years after the prison opened. The now-empty site represents a key opportunity to build more genuinely affordable homes for local people in Islington.

The history of Holloway Prison is intertwined with the pursuit of social justice. The suffragettes imprisoned there fought for votes for women. Today, the fight is about decent housing and making sure that everyone has a safe and secure home.

Islington faces a housing crisis, with over 19,000 people on our housing register and 806 households placed in temporary accommodation. While the land of the former prison is owned by the Ministry of Justice, any new use for the site must be approved by Islington Council’s Planning Committee.

Our planning policies require that at least 50 per cent of the new homes that are delivered in Islington are genuinely affordable to local people, so we are determined to see as much genuinely affordable housing as possible built on the former site of Holloway Prison.

Today (16 August) a consultation on the Council’s Holloway Prison Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) begins. The SPD offers a vision of what would be expected from the site’s future development and is an opportunity to ensure that any new development works for the local community.

The SPD is now being consulted on and we are seeking views from the local community, before a final document is taken to the Council’s Executive for adoption in Autumn 2017.

Any plan for the Holloway site will take time, but the Ministry of Justice has the opportunity to make a real difference to Islington’s housing crisis immediately. Just beyond the perimeter wall of HMP Pentonville sits Wellington Mews, with a total of 28 flats originally used as accommodation for prison staff. The vast majority of these homes have been empty for many years and the Council is ready to work with the Minister of Justice to ensure they are put back into use.

Islington Council is already committed to seeing 2,000 new genuinely affordable homes built in the borough by 2019, including 500 new council homes. More than 200 genuinely affordable homes are currently under construction. 2017-18 will see 131 council houses for social rent completed, the most council homes built in Islington 1987.

The future of the former Holloway Prison site could add to this legacy of creating much-needed genuinely affordable housing in Islington. To have your say on the SPD, visit the Council website.

 

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

Have your say on building more genuinely affordable homes on former Holloway Prison site

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the future of the former Holloway Prison site and how it could help to tackle Islington’s housing crisis. In...

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Canonbury councillors have ensured improvements to New River Walk, a small picturesque park along a stretch of the New River.

The walk, which can be accessed from Canonbury Grove, St Paul’s Road and Willowbridge Road, is frequented by local residents. However, the lack of level access previously made it more difficult for wheelchair users and disabled people to visit the area.

Local Canonbury Ward councillor Clare Jeapes was keen to improve access to the area so more residents could enjoy New River Walk. She awarded £3,000 from Islington Council’s Local Initiative Fund (LIF), a small grants scheme that supports activities and improvements in the borough, which went towards the accessibility improvements, with the remaining funding for the works coming from elsewhere.

Level access has been created at various points throughout the walk, including from a previously dis-used gate and by raising existing walkways so they are now step-free. Some parts of the path along New River Walk are not straight and can only be reached by steps, so a new path has been laid to cut along the garden area and existing parts of the path have been widened.

The changes, while seemingly small, will improve access for wheelchair users, disabled people and parents with pushchairs, allowing them to explore the area more easily.

Cllr Clare Jeapes, councillor for Canonbury Ward, said: “I am grateful to local residents and the Council’s Greenspace team for bringing these accessibility improvements to New River Walk. Islington is a densely populated borough, so it is essential that residents can get off pavements and onto footpaths to exercise and breathe cleaner air.  

“Islington Council’s LIF scheme has helped to make these changes a reality. I encourage other local community groups with great ideas to come forward and apply for LIF funding.”

Jack Lambert of Friends of the New River Walk, added: “We are pleased that our concerns about the lack of level access to New River Walk have been listened to and acted upon. These changes to create step-free access are relatively simple and in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the walk, and will make a big difference to residents who would otherwise struggle to visit this lovely part of Canonbury.”

 

Pictured - Diane Brace and Jack Lambert of Friends of New River Walk, and Cllr Clare Jeapes of Canonbury Ward, on the new pathway cutting along the garden area and on one of the raised walkways leading to New River Walk

 

Local councillors improve accessibility to New River Walk

  Canonbury councillors have ensured improvements to New River Walk, a small picturesque park along a stretch of the New River. The walk, which can be accessed from Canonbury Grove,...

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Labour-run Islington Council is rolling out more on-street bicycle parking to residents as part of its plans to encourage cycling in the borough.

Bikehangars are secure, covered, lockable units that take up just a single car parking space on the road, but each one provides rental space for up to six bicycles. They offer a safe and effective way of protecting bikes from the weather and theft in places where storage space is at a premium.

A pilot scheme, which last year installed two Bikehangars in Crayford Road in St George's ward and Hanley Road in Tollington ward, was so successful that there is now a waiting list of more than 600 residents who have requested a space in a unit.

The Council has secured external funding for 18 Asgard hangars across Islington, meaning 120 bicycles can be kept secure and protected from the weather in lockable on-street units. This is in addition to more than 700 spaces on public bike stands around the borough, and the numerous bike stand spaces and similar secure covered lockable bike shelters on the borough’s council estates.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Islington Labour is firmly committed to encouraging more residents to cycle, which is healthier and better for the environment. Bikehangers are an ideal solution to help address the concerns of those who may otherwise be worried about cycle theft of vandalism.

"The borough is densely populated and built-up, so it is important we provide a secure space for residents who cannot store their bike at home.

"I hope more residents will make the most of the health and financial advantages of cycling as we roll out more Bikehangars in Islington"

Residents have been consulted on proposed locations for these units, and more will be rolled out borough-wide, subject to winning further funding and localised consultation.

The council is developing an application and payment system for residents on its website, but until then residents can email publicrealm@islington.gov.uk to signal their interest.

 

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, at the new Bikehangar in Crayford Road, St George's ward.

 

 

Bikehangars roll-out encourages more Islington residents to cycle

Labour-run Islington Council is rolling out more on-street bicycle parking to residents as part of its plans to encourage cycling in the borough. Bikehangars are secure, covered, lockable units that...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about how only Islington Labour will guarantee the future of Islington schools' funding.

On Monday (17 July), the Tories had another chance to guarantee the future of Islington schools’ funding. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, they failed once again.

The Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening, promised that schools in England would receive an extra £1.3bn over two years, but this is being funded without a penny of new money. The funding comes from savings made elsewhere within the education budget, including from important projects that keep our children healthy.

Per pupil funding for schools will be maintained in real terms for only two years. That is no better than applying a sticker plaster to a much bigger problem. The Government needs to be looking well beyond 2019 so schools can plan for the long term.

Rising pupil numbers and inflationary costs mean that the Government needs to stop recycling announcements and reshuffling money, and urgently pledge new funding to our schools.

Despite continued pressure from teachers’ and parents’ campaign groups, the Government is going ahead with its National Funding Formula. The Tories claim the Formula will level the playing field for schools across the country. In reality, schools in wealthy shires will benefit and schools in poorer areas like Islington will be hit hard.

I recently wrote to the Government urging them to guarantee sufficient funding for Islington’s schools. Their response expertly dodged the question and was lacklustre at best. Clearly, there is much more work to be done before their words become actions.

Only Labour will stand up for Islington’s schools. We will continue to work alongside local campaign groups, who were so well represented at last weekend’s march, to call for fairer funding for Islington’s schools, so they can continue to deliver an excellent education for all.

Pictured: Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families

Government needs to guarantee the future of Islington schools’ funding

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about how only Islington Labour will guarantee the future of Islington schools' funding. On Monday (17 July), the...

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Labour councillors, local vicars, local residents, staff from the Whittington Hospital and Catherine West MP, have joined together to demand an end to Transport for London’s (TfL) delays in installing suicide prevention barriers on Archway Bridge.

Gathering together at Archway Bridge this week (20th July), Islington Labour councillors led calls for decisive action to be taken by TfL to install the barriers as soon as possible. The calls follow another tragic death on 29th June, which saw the Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, declare “I am furious these vital safety measures have not been put in place.”

Planning permission was granted in October 2015 by both Islington and Haringey Councils for the installation of suicide prevention barriers along Archway Bridge, which has been the scene of multiple suicides and attempted suicides. Delays have meant that TfL has failed to produce a compliant sample panel of the prevention barriers 21 months after permission was granted.

Cllr David Poyser, Labour councillor for Hillrise ward, said: “Every suicide is a tragedy, especially for the loved ones left behind, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of suicide. We know these barriers will work in stopping others from taking their lives. It is utterly unacceptable that TfL has not been able to get a compliant sample panel produced, and there can be no more excuses. The strength of feeling about this is clear to see and we need TfL to listen to the community and to make our bridge safe.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Labour councillor for Junction ward and Executive Member for Community Development commented: “The suicides at Archway Bridge could and should have been prevented. There is no justifiable reason why the barriers have not been installed, given that planning permission was granted 21 months ago.”

Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Community Safety, added: “This saga has been running for years, and as a council we have done all that we can to help TfL produce the barriers. We have even taken to offering to find manufacturers ourselves. Thankfully, the CCTV we have installed near to the bridge has helped us prevent several suicides, but clearly it is not enough as the tragic death a few weeks ago shows.

“I am pleased that a positive meeting took place this week between Islington, TfL and Haringey. Haringey are now managing the project and are responsible for its delivery, and we will support them in any way we can to ensure the barriers are installed as soon as possible. To help speed-up the process, Islington has agreed to purchase specialist steel needed for the fencing.”

Need help?

Please visit NHS Choices website here – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Suicide/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Helplines for those needing support – 

  • Samaritans – 116 123
  • Childline – 0800 1111
  • Papyrus (specialists for teenagers and young adults) – 0800 068 41 41

- Pictured from right to left – Catherine West MP, Cllr David Poyser, Dr Janice Gibbons (NHS), Cllr Andy Hull, Andrew Robins (Consultant – Whittington Hospital), Revd. Peter Vannozzi (St Augustine of Canterbury, Highgate), Carol Hansen-Vessa (local resident), Bisi Williams (local resident), Jan Whelan (local resident), Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Steve Clarke (Vicar, St Andrew’s, Whitehall Park), Cllr Paul Convery, Cllr Marian Spall, Jan Tucker (Archway Town Centre Business Group), and Juliet Penrice (Consultant – Whittington Hospital).

Community demands end to TfL’s Archway Bridge delays

Labour councillors, local vicars, local residents, staff from the Whittington Hospital and Catherine West MP, have joined together to demand an end to Transport for London’s (TfL) delays in installing suicide...

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Local councillors and Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, gathered this week (Wednesday 19th July) to celebrate the completion of works at Caledonian Road Station to replace both lifts whilst keeping the station open throughout. 

The works, carried out by Transport for London (TfL), were originally planned to close the station completely for 8 months from January 2016 – causing massive disruption to local residents and businesses, as well as significantly impacting residents with disabilities and mobility issues who would have had to travel far further to be able to make journeys on the underground network.

However, thanks to intervention by local councillors - including the threat of legal action - and a petition supported by local residents, TfL was forced to radically changed its plans and agreed with the council that the station could remain open whilst the lifts were replaced on after the other, leaving one lift in operation throughout.

Importantly, the council’s intervention has changed TfL policy, so that in future when it considers closing a station, it will perform an equality impact assessment.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, commented: “I am delighted that TfL has now completed works at Caledonian Road station to install the two new lifts. When TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months, we immediately recognised the massive impact this would have on local residents, businesses and particularly passengers with mobility issues and disabilities. We are on the side of local people, and that’s why we began legal action against the decision, which led to TfL seeing sense and subsequently agreeing to our alternative proposal that kept the station open throughout the works.

“I am really proud that we were able to work together to not only keep the station open, but that we secured agreement from TfL that they had to consider the impact of station closures from an equalities perspective in future. That’s a big change that will make a difference for many people.” 

Local Holloway ward councillor, Cllr Paul Smith, added: “Keeping the station open was a great victory and just goes to show what a determined bunch of people can do when we stand up against decisions that are clearly unfair. I want to thank the 8,000 residents who signed petitions against the closure, those who attended public meetings and local businesses who spoke with us about the devastating impact closing the station would have had on their businesses and our community. The new lifts look great, and I want to also thank TfL for seeing sense and for completing these important works.”

In November 2015, TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months from January 2016 whilst both lifts were replaced. Swift action by local councillors saw several public meetings organised before Christmas to raise awareness of the issue and to organise the campaign against the plans. A petition was presented to Jeanette Arnold AM at City Hall at the end of November 2015, calling on TfL to rethink its plans.

Shortly before Christmas, Islington Council began the process to call for a Judicial Review of TfL’s decision and the way it was taken, particularly focusing on TfL’s failure to adequately consider the impact of the closure on disabled passengers and passengers with mobility issues. The threat of legal action meant that in January 2016, TfL announced it was reviewing its plans and the works were put on hold. In March 2016, TfL announced that it had agreed with the council’s view that the works could be completed whilst keeping the station open and a revised programme of works would take place over the next 18 months.

- Pictured – Cllr O’Halloran, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Cllr Webbe, Cllr Smith and Cllr Convery

Councillors celebrate completion of Caledonian Road Station lift replacements

Local councillors and Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, gathered this week (Wednesday 19th July) to celebrate the completion of works at Caledonian Road Station...

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Labour-led Islington Council’s services for vulnerable children and families have received a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and praise for ‘Outstanding’ leadership and governance.

That is the verdict of Ofsted, who last week (14 July) published the report of their joint inspection of the Council’s Children’s Services. To date, Islington is one of 42 out of 142 local authorities inspected by Ofsted to be awarded an overall ‘Good’ rating. Only nine are currently rated ‘Outstanding’ for leadership and governance. 

Inspectors found that high quality and effective early help services focus on improving children’s circumstances before they reach the threshold for statutory social care services, while action is taken quickly to protect those children at risk of serious harm. Social workers spend time getting to know children and families, listening to children and understanding what is important to them.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Despite seven years of Government cuts, this administration has always prioritised protecting funding for children’s services. As a consequence, our children’s early help and social care services have gone from strength to strength and this report shows the strong culture of excellence we have built up in Islington.

 “It is our mission to ensure that all children and young people are safe, protected and able to have the best start in life, whilst families who have problems are supported to grow stronger so they can overcome their difficulties and thrive.”

Islington Council is committed to helping children and young people reach their potential and keeping vulnerable people safe. In 2016, it pledged £2m to be spent over four years for youth safety, focussing on stronger early intervention to stop serious youth crime. The Council is also protecting spending on universal youth services, targeted youth services, mentoring, the youth offending service and gangs work.

The full report can be read here.

 

Pictured - Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families

Islington Council’s support for vulnerable children and families praised by Ofsted

Labour-led Islington Council’s services for vulnerable children and families have received a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and praise for ‘Outstanding’ leadership and governance. That is the verdict of Ofsted, who last...

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Islington Council has a strong tradition of celebrating diversity and championing equality. We work closely with and support our wonderfully diverse communities. I am also proud that Islington has a reputation not only as a multi-cultural borough, but also as one that is no place for hate.

Unfortunately, hate crime against Jewish people has increased in recent years. The Community Security Trust recorded 1,309 incidents in 2016, up by 36% in 2015. What is even more worrying is that we know many crimes are not reported in the first place.

One of the challenges we face in identifying and combatting anti-Semitism is that there has been at times a disputed definition of what anti-Semitism is. That is why this week Islington Council adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Every year in January, the Council observes Holocaust Memorial Day. We remember not only those who were killed during the Holocaust, but those who have been affected by genocide around the world since then. It is an opportunity to educate about genocide and reaffirm our commitment to seek tolerance, respect and fair treatment of all members of our society.

Sadly, hate crimes do occur in our borough, and we work with the police to ensure they investigate all incidents and support those affected. The terrorist attack in Finsbury Park, which targeted members of the Muslim community, was responded to quickly by the emergency services, and I am proud of how our community came together to stand shoulder to shoulder against hate.

In October last year, we launched our hate crime strategy, which sets out how we will seek to stamp it out. We recognise that there is significant under-reporting of hate crime, so we need to do all we can to give people confidence to come forward.

By working closely with our partners and the community, we will work to ensure a timely and effective response and appropriate support and protection. Critical to this is holding perpetrators to account.

As a council, we are committed to improving residents’ quality of life. We cannot achieve this without improving community safety, so that people are not afraid of being targeted simply because of their race, religion or otherwise. By adopting this definition of anti-Semitism, the council will truly be one that stands for equality.

  • Definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Islington Council on 29th June 2017 –

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

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

Islington is no place for anti-Semitism

Islington Council has a strong tradition of celebrating diversity and championing equality. We work closely with and support our wonderfully diverse communities. I am also proud that Islington has a...

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, reflects on Refugee Week.

Refugees, past and present, have made many contributions to our society, not only to the UK as a whole but to Islington specifically. It is vital that we commend these successes.

A number of inspiring refugees have called Islington home throughout history. This includes Nadya Krupskaya, the wife of Lenin, and Carl Ludwig Franck, a German-born architect and designer of Finsbury Library and Estate who fled from Nazi Germany.

Refugee Week, which has been running this week (19-25 June), gives us an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of refugees. It is also an important awareness-raising exercise of why so many are forced to flee their country of birth.

We must also call out negative stereotypes perpetuated by the media and certain individuals whenever we see them

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is ‘Different Past, Shared Futures’. Despite our differences, we all want the same thing: to be safe, to have a good quality of life and for our children to have the best possible future.

As part of Refugee Week, I have been meeting with the refugees who make Islington great, from member organisations of the Islington Refugee Forum to the individuals who run our vital small businesses.

But the Council’s support for the refugee community is throughout the year and not limited to just one week.

We have led the way in supporting refugees and calling on the Government to play its part. We currently have 60 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have presented themselves directly to the borough. We have also welcomed 25 Syrian refugees and are about to welcome one more. I hope they find Islington a welcoming, multi-cultural and diverse place, and we are working hard to ensure that all our refugees feel at home.

 

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

Working together for Islington’s refugees

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, reflects on Refugee Week. Refugees, past and present, have made many contributions to our society, not only to the UK as a...

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Bunhill Ward councillors have welcomed news that plans to tackle crime and build more homes on the Triangle Estate have been approved by the Council. The changes will significantly improve conditions on the estate and put local people first.

The plans will improve security and provide a long term solution to anti-social behaviour issues on the estate. The number of entrances to the estate will be reduced from 28 to 11 by building new homes into the entrances. The estate has been troubled with anti-social behaviour and crime, and the many entrances to the estate made this harder to tackle in the past.

The plans also address the pressing need to build more genuinely affordable housing, which is a priority for the Council. 54 new homes, of which half will be council homes for social rent, will be built. These will include family-sized homes and one-bed and two-bed dwellings, alongside the current mix of one and two bed units on the estate.

The new dwellings will be built by creating additional floors and an extension on existing residential blocks, demolishing a garage, retail unit and six existing dwellings, and filling in some of the entrances to the estate.

One of the blocks will also incorporate new bicycle storage for future residents.

A new landscaped communal garden will also be created in the heart of the estate, removing the unwelcoming podium that has structural issues.

Bunhill Councillors Claudia Webbe, Troy Gallagher and Robert Khan have campaigned hard for improvements to the Triangle Estate for the best part of a decade.  

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport and Bunhill Ward councillor, said: “My Ward colleagues and I are delighted that, after years of campaigning and working closely with both council tenants and leaseholders, we are on the way to improving the Triangle Estate in a way that puts local people first.

“It was argued by some that it was impossible and too costly to find a solution to the crime and anti-social behaviour issues on the estate, but as councillors we were persistent. By working together with the Council, the Triangle Estate tenant and resident association (TRA), the local police and others, we finally agreed a design that would improve the overall look of the estate and make it safer for local residents.”

Suad Ayanle, a resident of the Triangle Estate, added: “Anti-social behaviour has been a problem affecting the residents of the estate for years, so I am relieved that there are now plans in place to reduce it and design out crime. The creation of a new public green space and removal of the unsightly podium will make it a much nicer place for everyone living here. It is great to know that more genuinely affordable housing will be built on the estate, which will really help local people.”

 

 

Caption: (L-R) Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development; Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Bunhill Ward councillor; Cllr Troy Gallagher, Bunhill Ward councillor; Suad Ayanle and Lee Smith, Compton Street side residents.

Bunhill councillors welcome plans to significantly improve the Triangle Estate

  Bunhill Ward councillors have welcomed news that plans to tackle crime and build more homes on the Triangle Estate have been approved by the Council. The changes will significantly...

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