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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, explains how Islington Council is working to tackle inequality through its London Borough of Culture bid.

Labour-run Islington Council is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. That includes reducing access, educational and employment inequalities through the arts.

Islington has a wealth of arts, heritage and cultural offers, and yet too many of our residents do not see the benefit from or take part in what is on their doorstep. We want to change this by increasing access to our cultural institutions, so that they are inclusive of everyone in Islington, regardless of their background.

Culture means different things to different people but, for me, it is all about a distinctive character. I believe that Islington has a unique vibe, with over 160 cultural organisations doing some amazing work. They have the power to make a creative difference, together with local communities.

Islington Council is bidding to be the Mayor’s London Borough of Culture 2019 so that we can deliver our vision to make Islington a place where everyone can develop, share and value their creative talent. That way, we can tackle inequalities in the borough by engaging residents who currently miss out.

Whether you are from a local community group, an established artist or organisation, or a resident, we want to hear from you about how we can achieve this. We will use the strongest ideas that you submit to shape Islington’s London Borough of Culture bid and help bridge some of the gaps in the culture, heritage and arts sector to create a fairer Islington.

The deadline for submissions is 12pm on Friday 10th November, so get applying and good luck!

How to submit a proposal:

For more information and to download the proposal form, visit the Council website. If you feel you have a good idea but would like help with completing the application form, the Arts Service will be providing sessions every weekday until Thursday 9th November. To book a session call 020 7527 5243 or email arts@islington.gov.uk  

 

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

Creating a Fairer Islington for All through the Arts

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, explains how Islington Council is working to tackle inequality through its London Borough of Culture bid. Labour-run Islington Council is committed to...

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Cllr Paul Smith, Labour councillor for Holloway ward, writes about the transformation coming to Caledonian Park following a ground-breaking ceremony last week.

Work has begun to improve the Cally Clock Tower in Caledonian Park, including the building of a new heritage centre and café.

The scheme will benefit the local community with -

  • The Tolpuddle Café – including an interior depicting the historic struggle to free workers;
  • Community volunteer facilities, an education room and much needed toilets;
  • A restored Clock Tower, with public access to the tower’s panoramic views of London.

The project demonstrates and celebrates the power of local people to achieve change, and to deliver a transformational project for the local neighbourhood.

People achieving change - In Caledonian Park in 1834, 150,000 people rallied to free the six men from the village of Tolpuddle who had been transported to Australia for being trade union members. It has been said that the demonstration was the first successful political demonstration in the world, with the sight of so many well organised people forcing the Government of the day to return the six men from Australia. This proud history will be marked in the new Tolpuddle Café.

Changing the local neighbourhood - When I was first elected as a local councillor in 2006, the park was underutilised by the public because of a reputation for anti-social behaviour and having very few facilities. Many people who lived in the surrounding estates had never been to the park and, quite frankly, had no reason to. Holloway’s Labour councillors have worked hard to change this and the project is the final step in achieving change in the neighbourhood.

In the future the park will have a full time ranger and CCTV to provide a feeling of safety for those who want to visit. People will be able to take their children to play knowing there are well maintained toilets. Local people will have a reason go in the park with friends and family to enjoy the panoramic views, as well as the fascinating interior of the Clock Tower itself. Volunteers will be encouraged to become involved in the park through volunteer facilities and programmes supported by a ranger and dedicated staff.

Getting people to enjoy the second largest park in Islington will be transformational to the lives of local people.

The emphasis on the park’s rich local history also includes its role as London’s cattle market, and the place where the world’s first four and half minute mile was run. By helping people to learn that the place where they live is where important things happen, and that it is people like them make them who make them happen, we will be giving them a new sense of pride in their community.

If people learn that they too can make history by affecting change, that would be truly transformational. 

Pictured - Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Cllr Paul Smith and Cllr Rakhia Ismail breaking ground at Caledonian Park. 

Cally Clock Tower - a history of people achieving change

Cllr Paul Smith, Labour councillor for Holloway ward, writes about the transformation coming to Caledonian Park following a ground-breaking ceremony last week. Work has begun to improve the Cally Clock...

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Islington Labour petition calls on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union.

Islington Labour is turning up the pressure on the Tory Government, calling on them to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union living in the borough.

Sign the petition now.

Islington Labour has launched a petition which calls on the Tory Government to:

  • Immediately guarantee the full rights of all EU citizens living in Islington
  • Stop using our friends, family and neighbours as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations
  • Guarantee that EU citizens’ rights will not be affected in the event of no Brexit deal being reached

The petition is the latest stage of Islington Labour’s ongoing campaign to stand up for local people from countries in the European Union.

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, says: “Islington is one community and around 30,000 people from countries in the European Union have made their home here. They are our friends, family and neighbours and it is an outrage that the Tory Government is continuing to treat them as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations.

“Islington Labour is on the side of local people, including EU citizens. Ever since the Brexit vote, we have repeatedly called on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee their rights. This petition, which we are encouraging everyone to sign, is part of our ongoing campaign to make the Tories see sense.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwarz, Executive Member for Community Development, says: “People originally from countries in the European Union make a huge economic, social and cultural contribution to Islington. It is not an exaggeration to say that we would be poorer in every sense of the word if we lost them because the Tory Government have not guaranteed their full rights.

“I have been working with local community groups to coordinate advice for EU citizens in Islington who are uncertain about their future. We will not rest until the Tories have guaranteed the full rights of people from countries in the European Union, who are an important part of Islington’s community.”

Islington is home to people of all backgrounds, including around 30,000 people from countries in the European Union. They make a huge contribution to the community and many work in vital jobs such as the NHS. Despite this, the Tory Government is continuing to use them as bargaining chips in their Brexit negotiations and has failed to guarantee their rights at every opportunity.

EU workers represent 13 per cent of London’s workforce and made a net contribution of £20bn to public finances between 2000 and 2011. They also represent 10 per cent of doctors and 7 per cent of nurses in London’s NHS. Their potential departure would have serious economic and health repercussions for London and Islington.

Despite the Tories’ posturing, there are still many unanswered questions about the rights of people from countries in the European Union. It is unclear which of their rights the Government wants to retain, whether people who have lived in the UK for less than five years will have fewer rights, what the cost for applying for ‘settled status’ would be and what would happen in the event of no Brexit deal being reached.

Shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU and in the face of increased reports of hate crime, Islington Labour held a rally on Highbury Fields to send a clear message that Islington remains united. It has also demanded the Tory Government protect vital funding to help local people back to work, which is backed by the European Social Fund, after Brexit. Islington Labour councillors have also voted for two motions in support of EU citizens and to pressure the Tory Government at Full Council.

The Labour Party has consistently called on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union since the Brexit vote.

Standing up for Islington

Islington Labour petition calls on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union. Islington Labour is turning up the pressure on the...

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Labour-run Islington Council has called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to go further with plans to improve transport in the capital by banning diesel vehicles from London and pushing forward with major transformation projects to create more space for walking and cycling.

Responding to the Mayor’s consultation on the draft Transport Strategy, Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport, has highlighted key policies that have been pioneered in Islington and should be taken forward by the Mayor.

Islington has called for –

  • More major transformation schemes, like the Archway Gyratory removal, across London to create more space for walking and cycling alongside improved public transport links;
  • A default 20mph speed limit on all roads across London;
  • A commitment to make London diesel-free by 2025;
  • Replication of the success of ‘Bunhill Heat and Power’, capturing waste heat from London’s Underground to provide low-carbon domestic heating, saving Londoners at least 10% on their annual energy bills;
  • Electrification of all rail lines in London to improve air quality;
  • Consideration of bringing some disused railway stations back into public use to increase capacity;
  • Reduce disruption to residents from construction works of major projects like Crossrail 2;
  • Adequate and fair funding for local councils to deliver the Transport Strategy. 

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport, said: “Islington has been at the forefront of pioneering many policies now being adopted across London, from 20mph speed limits to major transformations of road systems like the removal of Archway Gyratory. 

“The Mayor’s strategy sets out a clear and positive plan for improving transport in London, as well as real action to tackle important issues like poor air quality. But we are calling for the Mayor to go further by backing our calls for diesel vehicles to be banned in London by 2025 and for more space for walking and cycling to be created. 

“A key part of our efforts to make Islington a fairer place for all is to help people to lead healthier lives. We need a transport system that helps us to do that by encouraging walking and cycling, as well reducing poor air quality.” 

The council’s response welcomes the Mayor’s commitment to the ‘Healthy Streets’ approach, which seeks to improve local ‘streetscape’ design to encourage walking, cycling and to support travel by public transport. Also welcomed are plans to eliminate road traffic casualties by 2041, making London a zero carbon free city by 2050, and freezing Transport for London (TfL) fares up to 2020. 

However, the council has repeated calls for all buses using Holloway Bus Garage to be hybrid-only, an expansion of electric vehicle charging points, free Wifi to be introduced on buses and for the retention of night bus services. A proposal has also been made to reopen disused stations, such as Maiden Lane on the Overground, to increase capacity and reduce congestion.

You can read the full consultation response here. 

Council urges Mayor to ban diesels and create more space for walking and cycling

Labour-run Islington Council has called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to go further with plans to improve transport in the capital by banning diesel vehicles from London and...

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Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, writes about how Islington Council is working hard to make sure new development in the borough helps provide jobs and opportunities for local people. 

Islington is a great place to live, work and visit. You’d expect me to say that, but it is also true.

With many international businesses based in the borough, and thriving local high streets made-up of independent traders with long histories as part of our communities, our local economy is diverse and Islington Council is committed to supporting it to grow. 

Studies have shown that Islington can expect to see 50,000 new jobs created in the next 20 years, and we are determined to help local residents benefit from this growth. Our vision of this growth is that it must me 'inclusive growth', or to put it another way, 'good growth'. We want to see Islington have an economy that works for everybody, where sustainable, inclusive growth is harnessed to reduce unemployment, poverty, and inequality of opportunity.

Just in the last few weeks we saw a further example of how the council is leading the way in London to deliver inclusive growth with innovative partnerships and strategies to secure new job opportunities for local people. The new White Collar Factory near Old Street will deliver space for 99 new jobs and 74 new chef positions for local people. 

I’m really excited about the deal we have struck at the White Collar Factory – not least because renowned chef, Nuno Mendes, will be bringing all sorts of delicious food closer to us. But what’s really exciting about this is that a new office development on the fringe of the City is going to create full-time new jobs and training opportunities for new chefs, and all this is going to be done in partnership with the council’s ‘iWork for Business’ team, so that people from Islington benefit from these new opportunities. 

It’s not an easy process to secure deals like this, but thanks to robust planning and employment policies the council has pioneered, we are making progress. 

These new policies are helping us to ensure that local people share the economic benefits of new developments, in particular by allowing us to secure affordable workspace as part of new developments. What is really crucial is that we are securing this space – where new businesses can start, or training providers can help people learn new skills – at virtually zero rental cost and on lengthy leases.

We have all seen examples where a shiny new development promises all sorts of things for the local community, only for them to be slowly eroded and taken away once the planning permission has been signed and the spotlight moved away. But by securing deals that run for decades and at extremely low rents, Islington Council is saying that we will not accept development that does not work for local people now and in the future. 

Islington Labour is committed to helping more local people into work, and we are proud to have supported more than 3,300 unemployed residents find employment since April 2014. Securing more affordable workspace across the borough, including in under-used council-owned buildings, is a key part of how we will be supporting more local people into work in the coming years. 

New development will always be something our borough has to contend with. But in Islington, we are clear that the benefits must be shared with the many, and not just the few. 

Making new development work for Islington

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, writes about how Islington Council is working hard to make sure new development in the borough helps provide jobs and opportunities for...

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Labour-run Islington Council has launched Angelic Energy, London’s first municipal energy provider in more than a century. The move is the latest in the Council’s efforts to make Islington a fairer place for all by reducing inequality.

Angelic Energy is a not-for-profit energy company with no shareholder dividends or directors’ bonuses to pay. It will help residents in Islington and London with the rising cost of living by delivering a fairer and local solution to rising energy bills. Fuel poverty is a serious problem in the borough, with an increasing number of households being forced to choose between feeding their meters and their families.

Angelic Energy will be one of the best value on the market for Pay as You Go customers (those with a prepayment meter) who are particularly impacted by rising and unfair energy prices. Over 23,000 Islington households, including around 40 per cent of social housing, use prepayment meters. Those who have never switched or have not switched for a long time could save over £277* on average by moving to Angelic Energy.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, says: “"Under the Tories, energy bills have risen by 36 per cent above inflation. The rise in zero hour contracts, unfair benefit sanctions and benefit payment delays provide a real threat to the health of many Islington residents as they also struggle to heat their homes.

“Islington is the 24th most deprived local authority in England and has one of the biggest gaps between the wealthiest and poorest residents. By tackling the broken energy market and the Big Six, we can help thousands who are suffering.

“We are committed to making Islington a place where everyone can enjoy a good quality of life. The idea for Angelic Energy was born at an Islington Labour fringe event at Party Conference in 2014 and I am pleased that, by working together, we have brought it to life.”

Older people and social and private renters are the least likely to switch energy supplier, meaning they are paying well over the best deal. In many cases, they do not realise that this is an option. The Council will be working hard to reach out to and encourage them to switch to a better deal with Angelic Energy.

The Council is committed to tackling fuel poverty and cold, damp homes so that Islington residents do not have to endanger their health by choosing between heating and eating. Each year, dozens of people in Islington die and hundreds are admitted to hospital in emergencies due to winter conditions.

Angelic Energy’s energy is supplied by Robin Hood Energy, owned by Nottingham City Council, who have entered into a strategic partnership with Islington Council. The two Labour-run councils share many values and have formed this alliance to deliver fairer energy bills not just for Islington residents but all Londoners.

Islington residents and Londoners can visit the Angelic Energy website to find out more and get a quote.

 

*Based on the cheapest proposed Angelic Energy fixed tariff, compared to the mean average of the big six energy providers’ standard variable tariffs for a medium-use, duel fuel customer, paying by direct debit and receiving paperless billing, living in London, on 20 September 2017. Prices may change.

 

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, and Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, at the launch of Angelic Energy

Islington Council powers up new not-for-profit energy company

Labour-run Islington Council has launched Angelic Energy, London’s first municipal energy provider in more than a century. The move is the latest in the Council’s efforts to make Islington a...

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Islington Labour councillors have been offering civic leadership during National Hate Crime Awareness Week (14 – 21 October) and are sending a clear message that hatred will not be tolerated in the borough.

On Monday (16 October), Islington Labour councillors, along with Islington North’s Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, the police, the fire brigade and the community-led Hate Crime Forum, among others, all signed a pledge reaffirming their collective commitment to unite against hatred by taking action to prevent hate crime in Islington and to challenge those responsible for it.

The signing of the pledge took place at an event at Finsbury Park Mosque, at which Muslim women who have been affected by physical and verbal Islamophobic attacks spoke of their experiences of hate crime in front of a large crowd.

The pledge includes commitments to:

  • Unite against hatred or hostility directed at anyone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender;
  • Challenge those responsible for hate crimes when they occur, if safe to do so, to demonstrate that we do not tolerate hate crime in Islington;
  • Learn about what counts as a hate crime and share this information with others;
  • Report to the police any hate crime they witness or suffer or of which they become aware; and
  • Support any victims of hate crime too.

National Hate Crime Awareness Week has particular significance for Islington this year, following the cowardly terrorist attack that took place near Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park in June. The attacker then sought to sow hatred but Islington united in defiance instead. The Council, emergency services and the borough’s residents rushed to offer support and rally together in a show of unity, proving that we will not be divided by hate.

Islington Council is running a number of activities throughout National Hate Crime Awareness Week, including a workshop for adults with learning disabilities at Centre 404 and an event for young people at the Emirates stadium.

Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, says: “This Labour Council is committed to creating a fairer borough for everyone. That includes ensuring everyone can be themselves without fear of persecution, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.

“It is right that we are once again supporting National Hate Crime Awareness Week and making it clear that hatred will not be tolerated here in Islington. We are working hard to encourage more people to report hate crime to the police, with specific details wherever possible; improve victim support; and secure action against the perpetrators.

“Islington is a richly diverse borough that is home to people of all backgrounds. The vast majority of our community treat each other with dignity and respect. We will continue to challenge the small minority who don’t.”

For more information on hate crime and how to report it, visit the Council website.

 

Pictured - Islington Labour councillors, Islington North Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, and community and faith representatives at the panel event at Finsbury Park Mosque

Islington Labour councillors take a stand against hatred with new anti hate crime pledge

Islington Labour councillors have been offering civic leadership during National Hate Crime Awareness Week (14 – 21 October) and are sending a clear message that hatred will not be tolerated...

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Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, responds to the Government's policy announcement aimed to regulate the purchase of acids.

As you may have heard, the Home Secretary has announced at last a new government policy to prevent the sale of acids to under-18s. This comes after Islington Council’s own calls for local businesses to avoid selling acid to under-18s and to adopt a ‘Challenge 25’ approach to the sale of corrosive substances. The scheme is already widely and successfully used across the UK for products such as alcohol and tobacco.

Islington Council called on shops in the borough to use the approach to regulate the buying of acids. We also called on retailers not to stock corrosive substances in locations where they can easily be stolen, such as shop entrances.

Whilst it remains unclear exactly how the government plans to prevent the sale of acids to under-18s with its new policy, the announcement comes not a moment too soon.

In Islington, we have already taken action, sending out leaflets to relevant businesses in the borough and to local traders’ associations, encouraging them to use the Challenge 25 scheme – where teenagers and young adults attempting to buy acid are asked to present a form of ID to prove they are over 18.

Islington Council also supports tougher penalties for those who do use acid and corrosive substances as weapons.

We hope to see some movement from Government on that front soon too. 

 

Pictured - Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety

Government action on acid sales comes not a moment too soon

Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, responds to the Government's policy announcement aimed to regulate the purchase of acids. As you may have heard, the...

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Help is on the way for Islington's small businesses that are being hit by massive Tory Government increases in business rates bills, courtesy of a new 'relief scheme' designed by Labour-run Islington Council. 

Earlier this year, the council worked alongside local businesses and business groups to oppose the Government's business rates revaluation, which will see local firms facing an average 42 per cent rise in rate bills by 2020/21. A 14,250-strong signature petition was presented to HM Treasury, demonstrating the strength of local opposition to the rate rise. 

Following Islington's campaign, and pressure from business groups, the Government was forced to announce a relief scheme to soften the impact of the rate rises. Islington received £8.6 million in relief funding, which the council has agreed will be distributed to small businesses facing the biggest rate rises. However, with businesses across the borough having to pay a combined £315 million extra in business rates, the relief funding is far below what is needed. 

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, said: "The Government's rate rise is going to be really hard for many local businesses to cope with, so I am pleased that the council is able to provide some relief for the worst affected businesses.

"Small and independent businesses in Islington are incredibly important to our borough, and we are working really hard with them and local business groups to support them.

"However, we need the Government to realise that small businesses need more support and we urge them again to rethink this damaging hike in business rates."

For more information about business rates, including advice on how to appeal, please visit – https://www.islington.gov.uk/business/business-rates

Pictured – Cllr Asima Shaikh and local business owners submit petition to HM Treasury. 

Help for small businesses to cope with Government rate rise

Help is on the way for Islington's small businesses that are being hit by massive Tory Government increases in business rates bills, courtesy of a new 'relief scheme' designed by...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, explains why Islington’s newest youth centre is the place for young people to hone skills for the future.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all where everyone, regardless of their background, can realise their potential. Soapbox, Islington’s newest youth centre in Old Street, is an excellent example of how we are working towards that goal.

What was once an old Council office has now been transformed into a vibrant hub equipped with cutting-edge technology. From the virtual reality cave to 3D printers to coding classes to radio and music studios, there is truly something for everyone.

Soapbox’s technological offering is about much more than giving young people exciting things to do. Old Street’s tech industry is rapidly growing and yet child poverty in Islington is still among the highest in the country. If local residents are to enjoy and take part in the area’s economic growth, it is essential that they have access to education and activities that can help them get a step ahead in digital, creative and other tech industries.

As Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, has written, ‘regeneration’ is a word that has understandably become tarnished and is now viewed with suspicion. Too many developers argue that erecting a shiny block of flats or opening an expensive restaurant will be something the local community will feel the benefits of. But these examples are neither affordable nor welcoming to local communities, and they do not employ them. Islington and indeed the whole of London risks becoming a more unequal and unaffordable place to live.

The growth of these industries, including those in Old Street, is unsustainable if they do not employ and engage with local residents. That is why Islington Council is working hard to link them with growing sectors in the local economy, such as the tech industry, so we can support local people into jobs and apprenticeships. Soapbox is the latest chapter in this story.

Soapbox will enable local residents to truly be a part of Old Street’s growth. Its opening is part of a wider redevelopment and improvement plan of the Redbrick Estate. 39 much-needed new genuinely affordable homes are also being built on the estate, alongside improved outdoor spaces and new retail units. These are changes to Old Street that all local residents will benefit from.

We cannot create a fairer borough for all our residents if they are not included in the new opportunities provided by our borough. I am very excited about Soapbox and the possibilities it presents for Islington.    

Preparing Islington’s young people for a technological future

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, explains why Islington’s newest youth centre is the place for young people to hone skills for the future. Islington...

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