In Islington, we have a severe problem with late night drinking. It’s not unique but it’s worse than in most other London Boroughs. We have one of the highest densities of licensed premises anywhere in the country. And we experience some of the highest rates of alcohol-fuelled crime. The consequence of so much late night drinking is a huge cost in policing and clean-up. And, in tough times, it’s another financial pressure that puts great pressure on public services, especially the police and NHS.

Why has this happened? Over about 25 years the received wisdom in Islington was that the “night time economy” brought economic and social benefits to the Borough. Much of that remains true. And most of our residents enjoy having a wide, diverse range of cafes, bars, restaurants and entertainment places. But in 2005, when the last Labour Government handed licensing powers to local authorities, Islington adopted one of the country’s laxest policies. That resulted in a sharp rise in late night drinking. Almost 500 premises in Islington now have a license to serve after midnight and, in many cases, until very late indeed.

So, what to do about it? When Labour took control of the Town Hall in 2010 we promised to get a grip on late night licensing. The problem is not just pubs and clubs opening late, it’s also the epidemic of 24 hour grocery shops that have off-licenses. I often ask the question: who the hell needs to buy a bottle of vodka at 3am on Holloway Road? The answer is depressing – it’s normally people already pretty drunk who want to get even more slammed.

There is no one single solution. So Islington Council is using several regulatory tools.

First, we’ve adopted a new licensing policy which sets out a framework of closing times which are 11pm weekdays and midnight on weekends. This will apply only to new licenses or to premises so it’s going to take some time before the impact is felt widely.

Second, we’ve designated large parts of the Borough as “saturation zones”. Put simply it means no new licenses will be granted anywhere south of Angel or the areas along Upper Street, Essex Rd, Holloway Rd, at Nags Head, Finsbury Park and (for off licenses) around Archway and Tufnell Park.

Third, we’re considering something called the Late Night Levy. This is a new power which allows the Council to charge a little extra on business rates to places that sell alcohol after midnight. The Levy rules are strictly set by the Government so we have to abide by them. Smaller drinking places would pay £299 per year with the largest only £1,493 although this can rise to very big establishments which “primarily or exclusively” serve alcohol. The maximum that a mega club or pub would pay is just £4,500 a year.

This money would raise about £300,000 in Islington and, although that’s only a small part of the late night trade’s actual policing and clean-up costs, it will go some way to offsetting the burden. The people currently covering these costs are the general public who pay Council tax. Don’t forget, the Government and Mayor of London are cutting the Met Police budget by 20% and Islington Council by almost 40%. The law says that nearly three quarters of money raised by the Levy must be spent on policing. Islington Council would promise to ring-fence the remainder to offset clean-up costs and cut crime further.

Critics of the Late Night Levy say it will harm the licensed trade. In Islington, two thirds of premises will not pay the Levy because they don’t serve alcohol after midnight. And if we can financially encourage some pubs, clubs and grocery shops to stop serving at midnight, then they can avoid the Levy.

It’s time for the late-night licensed trade to step forward and take responsibility for the ill effects of excessive late night drinking. The Levy is a responsible and reasonable measure alongside other changes that Islington Council is taking to restore a more civilised eating, drinking and entertainment culture in our Borough.

Why we need a late night levy on our bars

In Islington, we have a severe problem with late night drinking. It’s not unique but it’s worse than in most other London Boroughs. We have one of the highest densities...

Cllr Richard Greening spoke in support of our fire stations at last night’s public meeting (Thursday 25 April), organised by the FBU. Here is a copy of his speech:

“Earlier this year we learned the full extent of the cuts planned to London’s fire services. The Conservative Mayor of London’s £45 million worth of cuts over the next 2 years mean that 12 Fire Stations are set to close, 18 Fire appliances are being de-commissioned and 520 Fire Fighters will lose their jobs.

For Islington this means the loss of two fire stations which proudly serve our borough: Clerkenwell and Kingsland.

Nothing is more important than people’s safety. That’s why we pay our taxes so that we have a fire service to protect us when we need it. Cutting our protection to make a 0.4% saving in Boris’s budget cannot be justified.

You can’t slash 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and over 500 fire fighter posts without jeopardising public safety – and in a borough with over 200,000 people, Islington is set to suffer.

None of these proposals were announced during Mr. Johnson’s election campaign, and Londoners are rightly furious that they have been betrayed.

The recent helicopter accident in Vauxhall showed the importance of having a properly-funded, well-resourced fire service in the capital, and it is worthy of note that the first crew at the scene was mobilised from a station – Clapham – earmarked for closure, and arrived within four minutes. Under the Mayors proposals this would not have happened.

This council is on the side of our residents and we have passed a unanimous motion to publically oppose the Mayor’s plans. Our council leader, Catherine West has written to the Mayor to convey our serious concerns about the impact on the safety of Islington residents. We took a delegation to city hall on the 25th February to hand in our petition against the closures. We are organising in conjunction with the FBU a protest about the closure threat to Clerkenwell on 8th June.

Islington is the most densely populated borough in the country and many of our residents live in high rise blocks of flats, particularly in the parts of the borough served by Clerkenwell. The draft London Safety Plan admits that response times will increase in Islington, but real response times for residents living in tower blocks are much longer than the six minutes target in the plan. If a fire appliance arrives at the bottom of a tower block in six minutes, it can take twice that time for a crew ascending to an upper floor to actually reach the incident.

Unlike residents in street properties, residents in tower blocks cannot easily escape to a place of safety, so the risks for them are much higher.

The Lakanal House fire in Southwark demonstrated the dangers of fires in tower blocks and it also highlights one further issue. 18 fire appliances attended the Lakanal House fire, the same number that Boris is proposing to remove. So his plan has the same effect on the rest of the fire service as having to cope with a permanent major incident on the scale of Lakanal House.

Our fire fighters do a fantastic job keeping us all safe, now it’s our turn to repay that gratitude by making sure they have the resources needed to do their jobs.

The Labour council in Islington is determined to create a fairer borough. Fairness must include equal protection against the risk of fire for council tenants living in high rise blocks as it does for residents living in street properties

The mayor’s proposals put our residents at risk and all because he is so incompetent that he can’t find a 0.4% saving elsewhere in his budget. He needs to change his priorities. He needs to start supporting ordinary Londoners and the fire fighters that serve them.

Our council stands shoulder to shoulder with the FBU in opposing these dangerous and unnecessary cuts and we will continue our campaign until we have saved not just Clerkenwell and Kingsland, but all the stations, appliances and jobs which are under threat.”

Save Clerkenwell and Kingsland fire stations

Cllr Richard Greening spoke in support of our fire stations at last night’s public meeting (Thursday 25 April), organised by the FBU. Here is a copy of his speech: “Earlier...

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has been radically transforming local government. Many changes have not been for the better.

The Tory-led government has decimated local government funding. They have vigorously pushed their free schools and academies agenda, moving an increasing number of schools out of local education authority control. Ministers have vilified any cash strapped councils that consider raising council tax or altering bin collections.

Proposed changes to planning legislation undermine Councils and fly in the face of the Localism Act. Tory MPs have been depicting local government as obstructive and wasteful. Councils are portrayed as NIMBYs blocking economic growth when they raise objections to plans to sell-off forests or school playing fields or plans to build on the greenbelt.

So much for localism. Given the relentless attacks on local Councils, it is no wonder many Tory Councillors dislike Grant Shapps, Eric Pickles and Michael Gove even more than we do!

Shamefully though, it is local authorities in some of the country’s poorest regions that are being hardest hit by central government cuts. These councils are predominantly controlled by Labour. This Tory-led government cut the tax of the countries top earners while increasing council tax for the very poorest. This says it all really.

Not content with undermining local government, including the hundreds of Conservative run Councils, Tory Ministers have also been attacking Councillors, school governors and other hard working, community minded people who are the lifeblood of local government. Ministers have suggested Councillors should be volunteers “of independent means”.

Politics is for everyone and local politicians should reflect the communities they represent. Without modest allowances, local politics would become even less diverse than it is now. Perhaps this is a hard thing for the cabinet of predominately white, male, millionaires to grasp.

Given all this, who would want to be a Councillor? Politicians don’t have a great reputation right now. When I was thinking of standing in a Council by-election in 2011, a friend and Labour Party staffer told me “I must be mad.” “Why would you want to be a Councillor now, it’ll be rubbish. You’ll have to make all these cuts. People hate all politicians – being a Councillor is utterly thankless.”

I can see where he was coming from but he’s totally wrong. Being a Councillor is brilliant. Even now. We must beware negativity and fatalism. Local government still has the power to change people’s lives. In tough times, with the huge reduction in central government funding, Councils can still make a dramatically difference to their local communities.

There are many, many ways Councillors can radically improve the communities they serve. We can champion progressive planning policies that prioritise delivering more affordable family housing. We can ask that new developments employ local people as apprentices. We can use the section 106 money from developments to fund community projects and urban regeneration. We can use licensing to tackle obesity, alcoholism and anti-social behaviour. Our licensing team can work with trading standards to tackling rogue landlords. We can use our public health brief to address health inequalities and hold Clinical Commissioning Groups to account. Through progressive energy policies we can work to alleviate fuel poverty and lower our carbon emissions. We can lead by example and pay all our workers the living wage. We can insist all our contractors do the same. We can do so much. Local government leaders probably have more impact and influence than many backbench MPs.

Some Conservatives would have you believe that Councillors are merely competent administrators who commission services. Labour Councillors must prove they are much, much more than just administrators passively passing on government cuts. Labour Councillors must differentiate themselves through progressive policies that make a real difference to their communities.

Difficult decisions need to be made. Councils must set legal and responsible budgets. But Labour Councils can show they are much more than just a dented shield by enacting policies with fairness and social justice at their heart.

For many voters, particularly in areas with high levels of deprivation, the choice is not between voting Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, the choice is whether or not to bother voting at all. What is the point if all politicians are the same? We need to demonstrate the real different we make in local government. We need to inspire our communities to come out and vote for us. We need to show them we are on their side.

If we fail, we can’t expect our voters to support us. If we succeed, and combine progressive local policies with positive campaigning, we’ll be on track to win the 2015 general election and build a better future for all.

This article was first published in the March/April 2013 issue of The Chartist

New Localism, New Britain

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government has been radically transforming local government. Many changes have not been for the better. The Tory-led government has decimated local government funding. They have vigorously...

The country is in the grip of a housing crisis. Raising the deposit for a mortgage to buy a home these days is hard. Social housing is in short supply. And so people are being funnelled into a private rented sector that is too often insecure, indecent and unaffordable.

In Islington, the most densely populated and fourteenth most deprived local authority in England, our response has been to mount the second biggest affordable house-building programme in the country, behind only Birmingham (which is the largest local authority in Europe). We are on target to build 2,000 genuinely affordable new homes by 2015.

The Coalition government’s response? To oversee the lowest levels of house-building for a century, with annual completions at less than half the level we need. Instead, they are playing with the deckchairs, at the expense of those who can afford it least.

So, today’s Bedroom Tax means that if you’re a social tenant of working age and you have one ‘spare’ room, you’ll lose Housing Benefit to the tune of 14% of your rent, and if you have two ‘spare’ rooms, you’ll lose 25%. As of today, this new Bedroom Tax will affect 660,000 households nationally, each losing on average £728 a year, including 220,000 families with children. Over 3,000 of these households live in my community in Islington.

Yet the Department of Work and Pensions’ own impact assessment says that there are not enough smaller properties for those affected to move into, so it won’t actually address under-occupation; it will just make those who are already poor poorer.

And there certainly aren’t enough accessible one-bed flats for the two-thirds of households hit who have a disabled family member, many of them single disabled people in two-bed flats with a room for their carer. Because it is disabled people who will bear the brunt of this reactionary policy. People who need a room for a carer, but not every night; people who often need family to stay with them after a spell in hospital; people with a room for all their wheelchairs and other equipment; people who have had aids and adaptations fitted that make moving impractical; and people who have built up networks of support they can’t afford to lose by moving out.

And it won’t just be disabled people getting hit. Parents who have separated and have a room each for the child they share will also be stung. So, if your 12-year-old son lives with you, his dad, four nights a week, his bedroom is classed as ‘spare’.

And, in the end, will it save any money? Of course it won’t. To the extent that people do move, it will push them into the private rented sector, where rents are higher, and so the local housing allowance bill will rise. While for social landlords like councils and housing associations, it will mean rising rent arrears and all the cost and grief of chasing them.

In the budget earlier this month, George Osborne announced his Help to Buy scheme, which, as well as helping to blow the next housing bubble, will offer government support to existing homeowners to buy a second home. So, the message from the Tory-led government is this: “Existing owners, we’ll help you buy a spare home. But if you’ve got a ‘spare’ room in social housing, pay the Bedroom Tax”. The same Coalition government will, in a few days’ time, cut the income tax paid by millionaires in their second homes, while today it whacks disadvantaged and disabled people for £15 a week for having a second room. Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, calls them ‘bedroom blockers’. He should hang his head in shame.

The bedroom tax isn’t funny – and we’re not April fools

The country is in the grip of a housing crisis. Raising the deposit for a mortgage to buy a home these days is hard. Social housing is in short supply....

I support the UK joining 11 other EU countries including France, Germany and Italy, in introducing a Financial Transaction Tax. This new tax could raise an additional £20 billion annually in the UK alone. This money could be invested in growing the UK economy through funding house building, education and infrastructure. It would help address London’s urgent housing crisis, fund the reintroduction of Educational Maintenance Allowance, and create jobs and opportunities for thousands of workers.

Governments across Europe and in the USA have spent vast sums of money bailing out their financial services. A tiny Financial Transaction Tax is a neat and progressive way for governments to recover some of this money. All members of society are being asked to make sacrifices to restore public finances following the collapse of Lehman brothers and subsequent the financial crash. Our financial services must pay their share too.

As writer in the Washington Post, making the case for introducing the Financial Transaction Tax in the USA, put it “The good news is that it’s a tax so small it could be mistaken for a rounding error. It’s so small, Wall Street could easily afford it and the average E-Trade investor would barely notice it. If this were a tax on coffee, it would cost you $1 for every 800 cups you bought at Starbucks.”

There are many compelling arguments for introducing a Financial Transaction Tax in the UK. A Financial Times opinion piece explains “At a time when many countries are facing budgetary pressures due to the financial crisis, the new tax would contribute towards fiscal consolidation without directly impacting the real economy. The tax might also deter excessive trading and, in the process, promote market stability and long-term investing. Financial services would no longer enjoy an exemption from value-added taxes, thereby reducing competitive distortions. Several countries impose financial transaction taxes, for example, a stamp duty on share purchases has been levied in the UK for centuries.” Compelling indeed.

Critics of the tax argue that it will make the UK less attractive, encouraging financial traders to abandon the UK for other countries. This same argument is used when people call for taxes on bankers’ bonuses. Well, Mr Mayor, I am unconvinced by this argument. I am unconvinced because the UK, London and Islington are fantastic places to live, work and do business.

If the government wants to encourage international business, they should focus on providing our young people with world-class education, training and skills. And you know, it is ironic that the government is probably doing more harm to the UK economy with their regressive attitude towards immigration than a Financial Transaction Tax ever could. Just go to Canary Wharf and see how cosmopolitan and ethnically diverse the workers are, how those leading international companies attract talented people from around the world. These talent individuals make the choice to come to work in London.

Who can blame them?

Voted “The World’s best tourist city” by Tripadviser, London has fantastic history and culture. From our theatres to our football clubs, from our museums and art galleries to our fashion and shopping, London is a top destination and this tax would not change that. We have excellent schools, including some really excellent state schools that any young person would be proud to attend.

Whatever country you come from, your community will be represented in London, where you can enjoy the best cuisines from around the world. We are even in arguably the best time zone for doing business internationally. London is the best place in the world. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I second this motion.

Supporting a Financial Transaction Tax

I support the UK joining 11 other EU countries including France, Germany and Italy, in introducing a Financial Transaction Tax. This new tax could raise an additional £20 billion annually...

With youth unemployment running at just under one million, and 1,500 Islington residents aged 18-24 on job seekers’ allowance, Islington’s Labour council are taking action on jobs and apprenticeships. In Caledonian ward, in particular, there is: the King’s Cross Construction Centre to support local young people into apprenticeships in construction on the King’s Cross Central site; a pre-apprenticeship scheme running to help young people into jobs in painting and decorating; and an apprenticeship programme in bicycle maintenance providing employment and training for young people.

The council’s youth employment strategy, passed by Council in February 2012, set out that by 2015 all young people aged 16 to 18 in Islington would be in education, employment or training, and we would seek to reduce youth unemployment to below 1000 for those aged 19-24. In Caledonian, we’ve taken a big step towards that, with support from the Council, as well as a range of charitable, business and public sector partners.

During National Apprenticeship Week (11th-15th March), we will officially launch K&M McLoughlin’s painting and decorating academy on Brewery Road in Caledonian. This five week voluntary programme sees young people aged 16-24 learn the basics of painting and decorating in work conditions. The programme is a partnership of K&M McLoughlin Ltd, Islington Council and City and Islington College, and has so far supported over twenty young people into employment or apprenticeships. The partnership of an employer, the local college and the council, mean young people can be effectively supported into the programme, receive excellent training, and be ready for a work or an apprenticeship when the programme is finished.

On the Bemerton estate in Caledonian, Get More Bikes will this week open their bicycle maintenance workshop – a social enterprise delivering bicycle maintenance and cycle safety training, delivered by apprentices supported by experienced staff. This programme aims to employ young people from across Islington, but particularly those living on the Bemerton, as apprentices in bicycle maintenance, while serving the public and cyclists travelling across London. This will all happen from what used to be empty garages on the Bemerton, and is supported by the Council and the Bemerton Villages Management Organisation (BVMO), and run by the social enterprise Get More.

In Caledonian, we also have the King’s Cross Construction Skills Centre on York Way, which is run through a partnership of Camden and Islington Councils and Carillion. So far, seventy Islington residents have benefited from the training programme, which includes apprenticeships and more specialist training. The Team Cally ward partnership also manages a job brokerage scheme, the BIG Alliance, supported by Islington Giving, Macquarie and Argent, and run by the East London Business Alliance (ELBA). This programme supports Islington residents into employment by working in partnership with large firms to develop training and work placements which lead directly to jobs. The programme runs for two years, and already has some notable successes with large employers in the City of London and on the King’s Cross Central site.

For National Apprenticeship Week and beyond, in Islington, and particularly Caledonian, we are making sure that youth unemployment is tackled, jobs and training sought, so that each Islington young person can find the education, training or employment that suits them.

Islington and National Apprenticeship Week

With youth unemployment running at just under one million, and 1,500 Islington residents aged 18-24 on job seekers’ allowance, Islington’s Labour council are taking action on jobs and apprenticeships. In...

Local Government cuts have finally made the news. The difficult decisions that Eric Pickles has forced on authorities like Newcastle and Birmingham underlines the double unfairness of the Tory-led Government’s undeclared war on councils. First, council budgets – that pay for popular services like libraries, children’s centres and, crucially, social care – have been cut more than any other bit of the public sector. Second, that Mr Pickles has chosen to cut councils in the poorest area far more than those in Tory-voting leafy shires.

As Labour council leaders get together for the party’s annual Local Government conference there is a growing consensus that the traditional model of local government is broken. Unless there is a dramatic change of direction in Government policy, within a few years Councils will simply no longer be able to provide the services we are legally obliged to, such as decent care for the elderly and disabled children, let alone services like culture and youth clubs that we aren’t.

In the short term, a fairer distribution of the existing resources would help. More affluent areas need to shoulder their fair share of the cuts. But this is only a sticking plaster. There are three fundamental challenges: 1) that the cost of social care, the largest part of local government spending, is spiralling upwards, 2) that many local councils are very heavily dependent on central Government for most of our funding, and 3) the Council Tax system is broken because the regressive nature of the tax means it is an invidious choice to increase it. The last Labour Government ducked all of these issues. The next one cannot.

But there is more to this than doom and gloom. On the whole, Local Government has responded very well to the scale of the cuts imposed on it. Already the most efficient part of the public sector, councils have found ways to save money and improve services that out-of-touch and sclerotic central government bureaucracies could never.

The last time Labour was in opposition some of its local administrations were an embarrassment to the party. Now Labour in Local Government has become the most dynamic part of the labour movement at campaigning and developing policy. Our challenge is to show how local government can meet the interests of local residents and businesses.

Labour has to recognise that local areas are different. At times, we’re scared of the accusation of services being a ‘postcode lottery’, and lack the courage to argue that areas with different needs actually need different services. Take housing: Islington as a inner London borough with a huge disparity in local incomes is concentrating on the creation of affordable rented homes to stop everyone other than the super-wealthy being forced out. In Oldham there is a greater need to encourage the local private housing market and concentrate on attracting aspirational families into the borough who will support the local economy, drive up standards in schools, and, bluntly, broaden our council tax base when we currently have 80% of our properties in the lowest council tax bands.

Both Oldham and Islington share an ambition to create more local jobs. However if we are going to make progress the Labour Party has to recognise a fundamental truth. The Work Programme is failing not because it is a Conservative policy but because it is an over centralised and prescriptive programme that has no understanding of local labour markets. Sadly such programmes are the default position of central government, including Labour ones. Barely 20% of public expenditure is under the direct influence of local councils. The rest is controlled through a myriad of government departments, executive agencies and outsourced commercial interests all with competing agendas and little motivation to work together. Those involved barely understand any remit beyond a bewildering set of nationally imposed targets and there is absolutely no local accountability to local people either as citizens or consumers.

It will be difficult to reverse this tide of centralism and it has powerful friends in the vast army of lobbyists, advocates and national media who prefer the easy life of having all the decision makers concentrated in the Westminster village. There is also no desire on our part to return to a past when every local decision was made by a council committee. But as the Work Programme and the inability of the NHS to become anything like as efficient as councils shows the current centralisation of power leads to poor decision making and a massive waste of public monies. There are three urgent issues for this or future governments:

First; it is vital that the future way of funding social care is decided quickly with defined financial responsibilities for the individual and local government. Without this, all Councils will be bankrupt within a decade.

Second; recognise the limitations of national employment programmes and devolve the budgets and responsibilities to local councils either individually or as part of a consortium such as the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities.

Third; generate economic growth through much needed infrastructure projects. But crucially, to allow more flexibility that the last Labour Government over the procurement of this work so all of the contracts don’t go to the usual same few major construction companies and myriad sub-contractors that leach money out of local areas.

Our task as responsible local leaders is to make this case before the next General Election and show that we have the knowledge and leadership to transform public services and the economic futures of our towns. We want to work with the Labour Party, cross party through the Local Government Association and with Trades Unions and businesses to make that case. As another politician once said there really is no alternative.

(First published on www.labourlist.org, Thursday 7 February)

A message from local government – 3 urgent issues for Westminster

Local Government cuts have finally made the news. The difficult decisions that Eric Pickles has forced on authorities like Newcastle and Birmingham underlines the double unfairness of the Tory-led Government’s...

Last Thursday I made the following speech at Full Council:

Since the leaked memo last October revealed a secret list of London fire stations facing being axed, Islington Labour has been campaigning hard to save Islington’s Fire Stations. It is testament to this campaign and the strength of feeling among local people that the Tory Mayor Boris Johnson was forced to rethink his plans to close our Fire Station on Upper Street. It is appalling that in one of the most densely populated parts of the country, Boris Johnson is still trying to push ahead with his plans to close Clerkenwell (and nearby Kingsland) fire stations.

We have held numerous street stalls and been out knocking on doors, asking people to sign our petition to Save Islington’s Fire Stations.

You know what, every single person we have asked in St Peter’s, Boris Johnson’s own ward, has signed the petition to save our fire stations from his reckless cuts. People have queued up to sign the petition. Mums and dads have called out all their other family members to sign it. Whatever political party people support, no one supports these cuts to our local fire stations.

The Fire Brigade is facing cuts of almost £65million over the next two years – a quarter of its budget.

London is facing unprecedented cuts to its emergency services. This is due to the irresponsible actions of Tory Mayor Boris Johnson and his Tory friends in Government. Reckless cuts to frontline policing, the fire brigade, the ambulance service and hospital Accident &Emergency departments threaten the safety and security of Islington residents.

The Metropolitan Police’s budget has been cut by 20%. Our local people stations are being closed. Many wards across the borough have lost their dedicated Safer Neighbourhood Sergeants.

The London Ambulance Service has also received massive budget cuts, with hundreds of frontline ambulance staff at risk of losing their jobs. Accident & Emergency waiting times are at their highest levels for years, yet Tory-Lib Dem cuts mean seven A&E departments across London face closure by 2020.

Enough is enough.

London’s fire fighters are heroes. They have selflessly served their community – particularly when the capital has faced its biggest challenges, whether through war, rioting or terrorist attacks. Our fire fighters deserve better. As do our police, doctors, nurses and ambulance drives.

It is reassuring to see Islington residents coming together to send a strong message to the Tory Mayor and his friends in government. Let’s unite to save our local fire stations.

Boris Johnson’s emergency service cuts

Last Thursday I made the following speech at Full Council: Since the leaked memo last October revealed a secret list of London fire stations facing being axed, Islington Labour has...

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