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On Sunday 13th March, Islington Labour councillors joined thousands of other demonstrators to march against the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Bill. 

As Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, has written elsewhere the Housing Bill is an attack on social housing, an attack on working families, and an attack on the mixed communities that we in Islington and across London are proud of.

The Bill contains plans that would be extremely damaging for Islington -

  • Forcing the council to sell-off thousands of council homes on the open market;
  • Introducing ‘Pay to Stay’, forcing families on modest incomes to pay up to market-level rents;
  • Scrapping secure tenancies for new council tenants;
  • Making ‘affordable housing’ a meaningless term by applying it to include homes for sale up to £450,000.

Islington Labour continues to fight this Bill and councillors were proud to march against the Bill alongside tenants and Islington residents.

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, commented: "This Tory Bill is an attack on Islington and we will fight it every step of the way. It was heartening to see so many Islington residents on the march, and I was proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with them, alongside many Islington Labour councillors.

"The Tory Government must listen to the chorus of opposition to this Bill and scrap it."

Pictured: Islington Labour councillors and Labour councillors from across London at the anti-Housing Bill March. 

 

 

 

Councillors march against Housing Bill

On Sunday 13th March, Islington Labour councillors joined thousands of other demonstrators to march against the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Bill.  As Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing...

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Transport for London (TfL) has today announced that Cally Road Tube station is set to remain open while its lifts are repaired, thanks to legal action taken by Islington council.

The council first raised concerns with TfL last year, after plans were revealed to close the station for eight months in order to carry out lift repair work.

TfL halted its plans in January, after legal action by the council drew attention to the impact that closing the step-free station would have on disabled and elderly residents.

Today TfL has confirmed a revised plan for the works, which will see the lifts repaired one after the other over an 18-month period so the station can remain open throughout.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for environment and transport, said: “We very much welcome the decision to keep Caledonian Road Tube station open while its lifts are repaired.

“This is great news for everyone who relies on the station – especially for elderly and disabled residents, and also the surrounding businesses, which would have faced a dramatic drop in trade.

“I’d like to thank TfL for making this decision, which is the right one for our community and means this important work can go ahead with much less disruption.”

Local Labour councillors for Holloway and Caledonian wards have also welcomed the decision.

Cllr. Paul Smith, Holloway ward councillor, added:

‘This is a huge victory and I’m delighted that TfL have made the right decision to keep the station open. I’d also like to thank the residents who have supported our campaign to make TfL think again.”

TfL have yet to confirm the dates for the start of the works, but will be communicating with station users as soon as this has been announced. 

Council victory to keep Cally Road station open

  Transport for London (TfL) has today announced that Cally Road Tube station is set to remain open while its lifts are repaired, thanks to legal action taken by Islington...

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Islington residents who switch their energy provider to a new council-run energy partnership are set to save around £200 per year, after Islington Council announced plans to take on the 'Big Six' energy companies.

The council is set to work with a non-Big Six energy provider to offer affordable gas and electricity deals to local residents, which will help to tackle fuel poverty and give residents a fairer deal. 

The new 'Islington Energy' scheme will particularly help residents that use pre-payment meters by switching them to cheaper tariffs and by installing smart meters that allow for better monitoring of energy usage and cheaper ways to top-up.

It is thought that around 1 in 5 households in Islington use pre-payment meters, with surveys suggesting as many as half of all residents on housing estates using them. 

Announcing the new scheme - the first of its kind in London - Islington Council's Executive Member for Environment & Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, commented:

"Fuel bills are a major part of the rise in the cost of living that so many Islington residents have had to deal with in recent years, and that's why we are taking radical action to save residents money.

"We've been working since September 2014 on this deal, the first of its kind in London. This partnership will particularly benefit residents that are struggling because of the extra costs involved in using pre-payment meters.

"By moving more residents to the new partnership, we will help give them better control of how they use energy and make it cheaper and easier for them to top-up when they need to."

The average pre-payment household in Islington paid over £170 more for their energy bills than someone paying via Direct Debit - in some cases, pre-payment customers paid as much as £432 more than the cheapest Direct Debit tariff. 

Proposals to establish the energy partnership will be debated at the council's Executive Meeting on Thursday 10th March. 

 

 

Council to take on the 'Big Six' energy firms

Islington residents who switch their energy provider to a new council-run energy partnership are set to save around £200 per year, after Islington Council announced plans to take on the...

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On Thursday 25th February, a meeting of Islington Council agreed the council budget for 2016/17. 

This budget will - 

  • spend an extra £500,000 to support young people in the borough most at risk of turning to gangs and crime, and to offer them an alternative;

  • protect existing budgets for youth work and maintain the Islington Bursary to help disadvantaged young people go to college;

  • protect libraries, care for older people, and other vital services.

The new investment and protection of services came despite the Tory Government's continued cuts to the council.

By 2020, Islington Council will have lost over 70% of its government funding in a decade. 

Commenting on the successful agreement of the budget, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, said:

"This budget protects vital services and will help us to make a difference on the things that matter to local people - building more affordable homes, helping more people into work, and investing in the future of young people in our borough.

"We are continuing with the £100 Council Tax discount for older residents; protecting the bursary for less well-off young people that want to go to college; sustaining the Free School Meals policy; and all libraries are protected.

“Protecting young people in our borough is absolutely vital, and we will be spending an extra £500,000 to help those most at risk of turning to gangs and crime.  

"However, with the continued massive cuts this Tory Government are imposing on our borough - which include proposed devastating changes to housing rules that we are fighting against - working to make a difference for our residents becomes ever more important.

"The council I lead will always be on the side of local people, and we will continue to stand up against this Tory Government and its attack on our community."

The council budget for 2016/17 was passed with the sole Green Party councillor abstaining. 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts 

Council budget agreed

On Thursday 25th February, a meeting of Islington Council agreed the council budget for 2016/17.  This budget will -  spend an extra £500,000 to support young people in the borough...

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Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, writes about the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Bill, and how Islington Labour is fighting back against this attack on Islington. 

Fighting the Housing Bill

Let's be clear: the government's proposals in their Housing Bill are an attack on social housing, an attack on working families, and an attack on the mixed communities that we in Islington and across London are proud of.

If it becomes law, their Bill would force councils like Islington to sell off thousands of council homes on the open market – hollowing out London and putting even greater pressure on the council homes that would be left. It would let developers build less genuinely-affordable housing, whilst making the term 'affordable' meaningless by redefining it to include homes for sale at £450,000. And it would hit council tenants hard, by banning lifetime tenancies in the future and by introducing plans for 'pay-to-stay' that would potentially force families earning over £40,000 to pay up to market-level rents.

We've been fighting this Bill since its proposals were first suggested back in May last year, just after the general election. We brought to the attention of the national press the devastating effect of the forced council home sell-offs; we urged housing associations not to extend the right-to-buy and passed a unanimous council motion against their plans to do so; we've worked with other councils across London to help Labour MPs to oppose this Bill in Parliament; and we've used detailed evidence and research to argue and fight against 'pay-to-stay' that will hit working families hard.

As the government keeps pushing this Bill through Parliament, we at the council and in the local Labour party will keep fighting it. We'll use every means possible to oppose its damaging measures that will harm our borough. At the council, we are planning to hold a meeting at the Town Hall, at 6:30pm on Tuesday March 8th, that we would urge people in Islington, and especially council tenants, to attend. Come along to find out the details about what the government is proposing and to hear what the council is doing to oppose the government's plans.

We need to come together as elected representatives, members of political parties, tenant activists, and members of the public who want to oppose this Bill, and we need to fight the government's plans. If they go ahead, their plans will be profoundly damaging and wrong for Islington – we must unite to fight them.

Fighting the Housing Bill

Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, writes about the Tory Government's Housing and Planning Bill, and how Islington Labour is fighting back against this attack on Islington. ...

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During a visit to Islington Council's pioneering Bunhill Energy Centre - an energy plant that uses waste heat to keep council homes and local businesses warm and provided with electricity - Labour's candidate to be the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan MP, announced his plans for a clean energy revolution in London. 

Sadiq Khan unveils plan for London clean energy revolution

Speaking on a visit to the Islington Bunhill Energy Centre, Sadiq Khan announced ‘Energy for Londoners’, a not-for-profit company that will take a lead on clean and green energy across the city. 

He used the launch to pledge to be the 'greenest Mayor London has ever had'. 

He made the announcement on a visit to the construction of Phase 2 of the Bunhill Energy Centre in Islington, a district heating scheme, which will draw heat from the Tube to warm over 1000 homes. 

Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, said: “I want to be the greenest Mayor London has ever had. I want my daughters to grow up in a city that is cleaner and greener, in which people aren’t dying because the air is so filthy. But I also want London to be at the cutting edge of new green technologies, generating the growth and jobs of the future.  

“Energy for Londoners will bring a renewed focus to our drive to make London a cleaner, greener city.
 
“It will expand the use of solar across the city, and support communities who want to set up their own green energy generation schemes. And it will roll out schemes like the Bunhill Energy Centre that take waste heat from the tube and make the most of buildings across the city to generate energy from solar.
 
“All of this will help London reduce its carbon emissions and generate more of its own energy in a much cleaner way."

Sadiq was joined by Islington South & Finsbury MP, Emily Thornberry, Islington Labour councillors Claudia Webbe and Paul Smith, and Assembly Member Murad Qureshi.  

The visit came in the same week that Islington Council announced the installation of 1,800 solar panels on three council buildings that will help generate electricity to those buildings, with excess being sold back into the National Grid. 

Commenting on the solar panels, Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: "These solar panels are a win-win for the council and residents.

“Not only will they significantly reduce the council’s carbon footprint and electricity bills, they will also generate much-needed income, helping to reduce the pressure on the council’s budget in the long term and help protect us against fluctuating electricity prices.”

 

Sadiq Khan backs Islington's clean energy plans

During a visit to Islington Council's pioneering Bunhill Energy Centre - an energy plant that uses waste heat to keep council homes and local businesses warm and provided with electricity...

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Islington Labour councillors joined with councillors from across London today (9th February 2016) to oppose Tory government cuts to councils that are leading to a £1.7billion black hole in adult social care funding across London. 

Independent research, commissioned by the Red Lines campaign group, has shown that cuts to councils by the Tory government will threaten the most vulnerable and undermine the NHS. 

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council and Labour’s London Councils Shadow Lead Member on Adult Social Care, said: “Labour councillors are standing up for Londoners against Tory government cuts to social care. The government’s decision to keep slashing councils’ budgets hits the vulnerable the hardest and spells serious trouble for the NHS. The NHS cannot survive if the social care system is decimated.”  

The £1.7billion black hole will mean a cut of £4,000 for each person that receives adult social care in London.

Red Lines is a campaign run by Labour councillors to stand up for Londoners against damaging Tory government cuts. The group has come together from across the capital to speak out against the government’s short-sighted austerity and to protect the vital public services on which Londoners rely. 

Sign the Red Lines petition here.

Follow @LondonRedLines and on Facebook.

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Mind the Gap - Red Lines Campaign

Islington Labour councillors joined with councillors from across London today (9th February 2016) to oppose Tory government cuts to councils that are leading to a £1.7billion black hole in adult...

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Pictured - Local councillors, Jennette Arnold AM, Cllr Webbe, Cllr Watts, and local residents

Transport for London (TfL) has been forced into a climb down on its proposal to close Caledonian Road Tube Station for 8 months, as a result of Islington Council taking legal action against TfL.

In a letter to Islington Council, TfL has stated it will “withdraw and reconsider” the proposed closure for 8 months after recognising it failed to consider the impact the closure would have on disabled people who use the station, which the Council said they were legally obliged to do.  

Local Labour councillors for Holloway and Caledonian wards have welcomed the decision are were joined by local residents at the station on Tuesday to celebrate TfL’s climb down.  
 
Cllr Paul Smith, Holloway ward councillor, said: "This is a great victory as we believe TfL has never before been forced by legal action to stop a proposed temporary station closure."

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Pictured: Holloway ward councillors Rakhia Ismail, Paul Smith, and Diarmaid Ward

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, added: “We welcome TfL’s climb down, which shows the council was correct in starting legal proceedings against the decision to close the station for eight months. 

“I want to thank the residents that supported our campaign to make TfL think again.”

A big win but not the end of the fight!

TfL has now been forced to go back to the beginning in considering its options for upgrading the tube station lifts.
 
Following the Council’s intervention, TfL will have to consider the impacts on people with disabilities in making its decision. Importantly, TfL has agreed to take into account the views of the Council before making a final decision.
 
Your Labour council will continue to argue strongly that TfL should use common sense and keep the station open by repairing one lift at a time.
 
Let's keep up the pressure on TfL so they make the right the decision this time.
 
Sign the petition and encourage friends and neighbours to sign as well.

Victory in fight to keep Cally Road Tube Station open

Pictured - Local councillors, Jennette Arnold AM, Cllr Webbe, Cllr Watts, and local residents Transport for London (TfL) has been forced into a climb down on its proposal to close...

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It’s a much trumpeted truism that young people are our future. But all too often it is young people who lose out when cuts are on the horizon. That’s why I’m proud to say that our budget, which we have published today, is a budget for young people.

The council’s government funding has already been cut in half since 2010, and by 2020 we will have lost 70 per cent of our Government funding. That means that we have been forced yet again to make some difficult decisions in this year’s budget.

However, despite these huge cuts, we have taken a decision that we are going to prioritise investing in services for young people. Over the next four years we will be protecting the funding from the council for both universal AND targeted youth services.

We are going to listen to young people and ask them to help us shape youth services that not only match their interests and needs, but are accessible and safe.

Islington’s young people are energetic, vibrant and full of potential, and the overwhelming majority stay clear of trouble and take the right path.

However, we have to recognise that over the last 12 months this Borough has seen a worrying surge in serious youth violence including the tragic deaths Vaso Kakko, Stefan Appleton, and other high profile victims of youth crime in the borough.

The community rightly expect us to take a leadership role in reversing this worrying trend. In response we have introduced a new Youth Crime Strategy and are bringing in a new specialised Gangs Unit and have made big changes to our Youth Offending Service.

We will also continue to support out excellent Targeted Youth Service which provides support to vulnerable young people which is much valued and trusted by young people and their families.

But we have to do more.  That’s why I’m delighted to announce we have decided to invest an additional £500k in on a new package of targeted support for young people who may be at risk of being drawn into youth crime, as perpetrators or victims. This new programme will enable us to provide top quality mentors and independent case workers for young people who need it most, building their resilience, providing positive role models and helping them access education training and employment.

We have to take an early intervention approach – identifying vulnerable young people and offering them positive support BEFORE they are drawn into making unhealthy and dangerous choices.

At a time when central government is cutting funding for public services and cutting welfare benefits for families, investing in services for our young people is more important than ever, so all young people in Islington can thrive and achieve their full potential. This lies at the heart of our ambition for a fairer borough.

Cllr Joe Caluori

Executive Member for Children & Families, LB Islington

Labour Member for Mildmay Ward

@Croslandite

Budget Blog - Cllr Joe Caluori

It’s a much trumpeted truism that young people are our future. But all too often it is young people who lose out when cuts are on the horizon. That’s why...

Islington Council's 2016/17 Budget Announced

On Tuesday 12th January, Islington Council's proposed budget for 2016/17 was published. You can find out more about the budget here.

The Tory Government has already cut Islington Council's funding in half since 2010, meaning the Council has had to make savings of around £150 million in the last 5 years. However, the recently announced Comprehensive Spending Review will see yet more cuts to Islington, meaning that by 2020 the Council will have lost more than 70% of our Government funding in 10 years. 

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, explains more about a budget that, despite massive Government cuts, protects vital frontline services and makes a difference in tackling the issues that matter to our borough. 

A budget to protect Islington - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

Today we have announced proposals for Islington Council’s budget for the year ahead.

This year’s budget is one that protects Islington and prioritises the future of young people in our borough.

The council I lead is committed to making a difference on the issues that matter to us all. The increase in serious youth violence in the past year has been extremely troubling. Three teenagers have lost their lives in Islington after being stabbed in 2015, and we are not going to sit back and see this continue.

This budget will –

  • spend an extra £500,000 on additional support for young people most at risk of turning to gangs and crime.
  • protect existing budgets for youth work and maintain the Islington Bursary to help disadvantaged young people go to college.
  • protect libraries, care for older people, and other vital services.

This budget will help to protect young people and help tackle youth crime, as well as continuing to defend the services we all rely on.

However, this investment in protecting Islington is made all the more difficult by the continued cuts from the Tory Government to the council’s funding.

The council's Government funding has already been cut in half since 2010, and by 2020 the council will have lost a massive 70 per cent of its Government funding. Again, the Tories have hit inner city areas, like Islington, harder than leafier areas of the country.

That means that we have been forced yet again to make some difficult decisions in this year’s budget. For example, Council Tax will rise by 1.99 per cent and we will have to start charging for bulky waste collection from street properties as other London boroughs do.  

Despite the challenges we face, an Islington Labour run Council will continue to make a difference on the things that matter. 

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A budget to protect Islington

Islington Council's 2016/17 Budget Announced On Tuesday 12th January, Islington Council's proposed budget for 2016/17 was published. You can find out more about the budget here. The Tory Government has...

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