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Despite the brutal cuts imposed by the Tory-led Government, Sure Start stands as one of the great legacies of the last Labour Government.

The excellent report by Labour MPs Frank Field and Graham Allen showing the vital importance of investing in children as early as possible was supposed to cement a cross-party consensus.  Coalition Ministers welcomed the report, yet with timing that would be comic if the consequences weren’t so awful, Sure Start funding was then un-ringfenced and has been remorselessly slashed every year.

Before I became a Councillor I served as Chair of the Advisory Committee of one of the early Sure Start centres – Mitford in North Islington.  At the time I also had a very young child and needed no persuading of the importance of decent and affordable childcare.  It was a life-line for me and my daughter got so much out of her time there.  I also saw that however important the Mitford centre was for me, there were some families for whom its services quite simply made the difference between them coping or not.

The life chances many children enjoy have been fundamentally changed and improved by Sure Start.  Labour ministers realised that children thrive, in part, because their family thrives. Living in poverty, as almost half of Islington families do, is stressful and a bit of extra help and support when parents really need it can make a big difference.

In the decade since these early Sure Start centres opened, early years services in Islington have become much more sophisticated.  Sure Start centres are now at the centre of a web of services run by the Council, NHS, voluntary organisations and schools.  Each centre has family support staff who provide help to vulnerable families.  This means every family in need can access a dedicated support worker able to understand their needs and ensure they get the right services. 

Each Children’s Centre is expected to contact every low income family in the area, knocking on their door if necessary, to ensure they are aware of its services.  We measure how well each centre is running this outreach and the extent to which they are engaging harder to reach families.

Crucially, Islington’s sixteen Sure Start centres all still provide universal services to every family in the community, regardless of their background.  Raising small kids is hard for everyone and meeting other parents can help provide valuable peer support.  So each Sure Start centre provides targeted services to families with specific needs, nursery care with fees on a sliding scale according to income and sessions like baby bounce (singing) and chatterpillars (reading and talking) for all families.

I believe Sure Start is crucial so despite being hit hard by this government’s cuts, we have kept all of our sixteen centres open.  But we’ve had to find savings and whilst we’ve protected the frontline, we’ve removed a layer of management at the centres so they work together in clusters to organise their outreach.   This wasn’t painless because we lost some high quality and dedicated staff, but it saved the equivalent amount of money as closing a centre, without anything like the same loss of services.  We have also stopped subsidising nursery places for the most affluent families in the borough, although the high quality of the Children’s Centre nurseries still means we have substantial waiting lists.

Finally, and crucially, the Labour Government invested in high quality new buildings for Sure Start centres.  In 2008 the Mitford Centre moved out of the Second World War era huts it has occupied for thirty years and into a new purpose-built centre.  No more were staff and children having to cope with cold, leaking rooms and computers could actually be used – the power supply in the old buildings wasn’t up to the strain!  Michael Gove likes to pretend that the quality of buildings for children doesn’t matter, which is why he’s slashed new build after new build; but he couldn’t be more wrong.  Having high quality buildings is important to running high quality services and it helps encourage more parents to use them.

The pressures on public spending mean that we will have to keep looking at ways of making Sure Start centre run as efficiently as possible.  In Islington protecting these vital services is a priority and we’ve been able to find savings so far that don’t affect the quality of the service too much, but I fear for the future if massive further Government cuts are imposed.      

A Labour Government set up Sure Start Children’s Centres because we understood that public spending needs to be focussed on preventing social problems in the first place not managing the consequences.  There can be no better investment in our society than protecting and enhancing the network of Sure Start centres.

(this article was first published in the Labour Friends of Sure Start 'Sure Start, Sure Future' pamphlet, July 2013)

The future of Sure Start

Despite the brutal cuts imposed by the Tory-led Government, Sure Start stands as one of the great legacies of the last Labour Government. The excellent report by Labour MPs Frank...

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Cllr. Groucutt’s speech on legal aid cuts at full council on the 27th June.

Mr Mayor, we all assume that in our most desperate moments the British Criminal Justice System will be there for us.  We all assume that we will have the right to a fair trial, be considered  innocent until proven guilty, and that all are equal before the law.  These are phrases we hear time and again, phrases that I believed meant something because surely, Mr Mayor, justice for all is the cornerstone of a decent society?

But sadly Mr Mayor, if the Government’s ill-considered proposals go through these basic beliefs that we all hold true will be at risk.  There’ll be no access to free legal aid if people want to challenge an unlawful Government decision.  In Islington, we’ve seen local cases brought in relation to the bedroom tax and the benefit cap, crucial issues for our borough where we’ve been hit harder than almost anywhere else in the country.  Yet, if these changes go through, ordinary people in Islington will see that door to justice closed to them.

If you’re accused of a criminal offence, forget about choosing your own lawyer as that choice will be gone.  You might even end up with truckers firm ‘Eddie Stobart’ handling your case!  A stark survey by the Bar Council revealed that more than 70% of people think these government cuts are more likely to see people convicted of crimes they didn’t commit.  I fear we’ll see more miscarriages of justice with people being found guilty because of poorly prepared cases and innocent people being pressured into pleading guilty.  That isn’t just a personal tragedy for those people – it’s also a false economy because it only leads to higher costs in appeal cases and in locking people up who shouldn’t be in prison.

These changes will also see legal aid restricted to people who can prove they have been in the UK continuously for at least 12 months.  If you don’t have a passport, maybe because you can’t afford one, you risk being turned away when you desperately need help.  Imagine a vulnerable, homeless resident pleading for urgent, critical legal advice but without the documents that tick the right boxes.  Imagine a woman and her children with No Recourse to Public Funds suffering from domestic violence but unable to get out of an abusive relationship because she can’t get the help of legal aid.  And imagine a newly arrived family, at the mercy of unscrupulous private landlords and living in appalling conditions, with no power to do anything about it.

Mr Mayor, a fair society is one where everyone can access good quality legal advice, not just those with the most money like David Cameron and his ‘Cabinet of Millionaires’.  Legal aid is a vital pillar of the welfare state – and we can afford it.  The civil legal aid bill has already been cut by a massive £350m per annum.  The current system costs less than 0.5% of annual government spending.  That’s less than half of one per cent to defend our basic freedoms, tackle injustice and stand up for the rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. 

I believe that’s a price worth paying.

Mr Mayor, I am pleased that Cllr Greg Foxsmith will be seconding this motion and want to thank the work he, Cllr Catherine West, our two MPs Jeremy Corbyn MP and Emily Thornberry MP, the Islington Law Centre and local community groups have been doing to oppose these dangerous, ill-thought out plans.

I hope this Chamber can stand united tonight and send a message to this Government that basic justice is not for sale and must never be the preserve of only the rich and the privileged.

Why We Should Fight For Legal Aid

Cllr. Groucutt’s speech on legal aid cuts at full council on the 27th June. Mr Mayor, we all assume that in our most desperate moments the British Criminal Justice System...

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Cllr Alice Perry’s speech to Full Council on 28th June  Islington’s Local Plan support Islington Labour’s commitments to fairness. Our local plan helps us build new social housing, protect and support our local shops and high streets, and will provide more employment opportunities for local people. 

With so many Islington families on the housing waiting list and with many people living in extremely overcrowded homes, the plan’s commitment to building 6,000 new homes is very welcome indeed.

New housing is important, but so too is greenspace. This Islington Fairness Commission noted that “despite having the least green space of any London Borough, Islington does have high quality green spaces available to the community, including 227 parks, gardens and open spaces…The Commission notes the importance of community assets such as public spaces in bringing people together. The smallest of spaces, used effectively, can really enliven densely built-up places.”

Parks and open spaces enhance our mental and physical wellbeing. It is great news that the plan includes the promise of five hectares of new or improved open public space.

We all know our local high streets are struggling so it’s fantastic that the plan includes more protection for small shops and local businesses. New developments will also be required to provide small shops within them.

We will also be able to place additional planning restrictions on new betting shops and pay day loan companies. Sadly the Tory-Lib Dem government’s recent changes to “permitted development” rights makes this harder. So much for localism.

As Islington’s Local Plan demonstrates, there are many ways Councillors can make a radical and positive impact on the communities we serve.

As Labour Councillors 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. For example, Islington’s Local Plan allows us to restrict takeaways and fast-food chains from opening near schools.

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.

Islington Labour leads by example and pay all our workers the living wage. Many of our contractors do now the same.

Times are hard. We all know this. Islington has to cope with £140 million cuts every year.

Our budget has been cut nearly halved since the Tory-Lib Dem government came to power. These cuts are almost beyond comprehension.

But despite all this, local government can make a real and lasting positive difference to the communities we serve. Islington’s Local Plan embodies this. It shows that even in tough times, Islington Labour is on your side.

Islington’s Local Plan supports Islington Labour’s commitments to fairness.

Cllr Alice Perry’s speech to Full Council on 28th June  Islington’s Local Plan support Islington Labour’s commitments to fairness. Our local plan helps us build new social housing, protect and support our...

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Speech given by Cllr. Claudia Webbe at Full Council on 27th June.

Mr Mayor, Wednesday’s Comprehensive spending review showed us that this coalition government just doesn’t get it. While Osborne and his lib dem counterparts were patting themselves on the back for a job well done, millions of public sector workers were left wondering if they will be 1 of 144,000 due to lose their jobs as announced in the chancellor’s plans. 

But the coalition government’s contempt for public services doesn’t stop there. Not being satisfied with slashing local government department by 60% forcing councils like ours to make £120million worth of savings – they have now forced another 10% of cuts on us which is another £17million worth of cuts.

There are over 200,000 people in Islington that this council serves – that’s 200,000 people in our borough who the tory government are letting down. Current statistics show that of the 50 worst hit councils in the country, 42 are labour run authorities. This isn’t about the coalition striving for efficiency or bringing the deficit down Mr Mayor, this is their political game-playing at its worst.  

The disregard to Local government and the public sector shown by this government speaks volumes – they fail to understand the vital role that local authorities perform and as a result are jeopardising the future of our youngest residents.

As a school governor I welcomed the news the Pupil Premium will be protected. But this was followed by the announcement that it will be distributed using a new national funding formula from, which is likely to have an adverse impact on London authorities. As usual it’s the Tories giving with one hand taking with the other.

The Chancellor failed to mention in his speech that the Education Services Grant for central education costs will be cut by £200m that’s over 20% in the next 3 years. This 20% cut equates to an estimated cut of £500k for Islington, £500k that we cannot afford.

Colleagues, even worse news was that the capital funding envelope includes provision for up to 180 new free schools, setting a worrying precedent for setting up schools outside of local authority regulation. Mr Mayor I ask -  Why do we need these costly and unnecessary developments at the same time the government is taking half a million from our own schools? Osborne and Gove should concentrate their efforts in protecting the budgets for the hard working schools that already exist in our borough.

The CSR had scarcely any welcome news for the people of Islington. Chancellor Osborne and his coalition government have shown that their inability to reduce the deficit has once again hits inner city authorities like ours the hardest.

The Chancellor’s Spending Review Saw Islington Again Lose Out

Speech given by Cllr. Claudia Webbe at Full Council on 27th June. Mr Mayor, Wednesday’s Comprehensive spending review showed us that this coalition government just doesn’t get it. While Osborne...

Hundreds of local residents marched through Islington on Saturday 8 June to protest against the Mayor of London’s plans to close two fire stations that serve our borough - Clerkenwell and Kingsland.

The major march and rally from Highbury Fields to Clerkenwell Fire Station showed the strength of local opposition to plans that will mean every ward in Islington waiting longer for a fire engine to arrive.

 

Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Council said: “We must not give up the fight.  Nothing is more important than people’s safety and cutting two stations that serve our borough cannot be justified.  Once again Tory cuts are putting our community at risk and hitting Islington people hardest”    

Emily Thornberry MP, who led the march, said: “Clerkenwell fire station has been serving Islington for more than 100 years and it is the most densely populated area in the country – we want to be properly protected”.

The march came at the end of a week where new evidence was revealed showing that residents in Islington will be among the worst affected in London by the cuts.
The London Fire Brigade evidence showed that under the Mayor’s proposals, over a quarter of all fire engine call outs in the borough will now take longer for the first fire engine to arrive than the recommended standard time of 6 minutes.  Based on the number of incidents in the borough for 2011/12 this would mean that 217 extra incidents would fall outside of the recommended 6 minute timeframe.

Islington Labour’s Fire Chief Cllr. Paul Convery said: ‘These figures are truly shocking. Every second counts when responding to fire emergencies and if well over 200 extra incidents fall outside the recommended response time the safety of Islington residents will be at risk. The LFB introduced standard response times for a good reason, and for so many extra call outs to fall outside this time is completely unacceptable.’    

The campaign continues.  Islington Council has submitted a formal response to the consultation, which you can read here, and Cllr Paul Convery has submitted a public question to the next London Fire & Emergency Planning Authority on 20 June demanding answers on third appliance response times.

 

Islington marches to save our fire stations

Hundreds of local residents marched through Islington on Saturday 8 June to protest against the Mayor of London’s plans to close two fire stations that serve our borough - Clerkenwell...

Cllr Barbara Sidnell and Islington Resident Champion Theresa Coyle MBE have set themselves a demanding eight week challenge at the Sobell Leisure Centre; improving their fitness whilst raising money to fund leisure industry training opportunities for local residents.

For every £500 raised by Cllr Sidnell and Mrs Coyle, Aquaterra will not only offer free gym instructor training for a local resident that will enhance their employment prospects, but will also match the funding and provide a second free place on the course.

Cllr Barbara Sidnell, Executive Member for Tenants, Residents & Communities said: “I know how important exercise is for staying healthy, but I don’t feel like I can promote it to other residents if I’m not doing it myself!  It’s a tough challenge but there’s no better motivator than raising money to help people into training – and hopefully into work.  I also want to get fit enough to take on the Race for Life next year”

A condition of the free place is that, once qualified, instructors will give back to the community by spending a number of hours promoting health and wellbeing to residents on the Andover Estate.

Starting on 8 June 2013, instructors Junior Telfer and Tony Lewis are providing a planned programme of exercise and weight loss for Cllr Sidnell and Mrs Coyle.  They are both hoping to lose at least a stone in weight.

You can sponsor the pair at https://mydonate.bt.com/events/8weekchallenge/

Councillor Barbara Sidnell uses fitness challenge to help residents into work

Cllr Barbara Sidnell and Islington Resident Champion Theresa Coyle MBE have set themselves a demanding eight week challenge at the Sobell Leisure Centre; improving their fitness whilst raising money to...

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At last night’s Annual Council Islington Labour looked back over the past three years at how the Fairness Commission recommendations had been implemented. I have included a few of the highlights below.

Fair pay

  • All Council employees are now paid at least the London Living Wage
  • Over 90% of the Council’s contracts now also pay at least the London Living Wage, with plans in place to reach 100% over the next two years
  • Cutting the Chief Executive’s pay by £50,000 along with the increase in pay for those on lower wages has reduced the Council’s pay differential to a ratio of 1:10

 Dealing with debt

  • We opened a new  a new Citizens Advice Bureau in 2010 (the first new CAB in London in 20 years)
  • The Council’s Trading Standards team has mystery shopped payday lenders, gold buyers and pawn brokers to ensure they operate within the law
  • A Shop a Shark campaign was against illegal loansharks
  • We promoted the London Capital Credit Union – its membership rose from 2,866 in 2011 to 5,658 by March 2013

Housing

  • By 2015, Islington Labour have delivered  2,000 new affordable homes
  • Islington became the first council in the country to introduce a Rent Guarantee Scheme for tenants who downsize
  • 151 homes were recovered from illegal subletting and 139 empty properties were brought back into use
  • Islington Council’s pension scheme has invested £20m in new house-building nationwide

Young people

  • Islington Council gives Free School Meals to all primary school children
  • We offers school-leavers a £300 student bursary to replace the Educational Maintenance Allowance that the Tory-Lib Dem government has cut
  • We have established a Youth Council to guide the Council’s work with and for young people

A cleaner, greener environment

  • Islington has become London’s first 20mph borough
  • Local residents groups have been given funding to maintain their local open spaces
  • Islington Council has insulated over 16,000 residents’ homes to help tackle fuel poverty
  • We have built a communal power station to provide Bunhill residents with cheaper, greener heat

While there is still more to do, and times will get tougher with more giant funding cuts ahead, we have made a great start making Islington a better place for all its residents. Through our fairness agenda, Islington Labour is demonstrating the positive difference local government can make to our local community.

Fairness in tough times: implementing Islington’s Fairness Commission

At last night’s Annual Council Islington Labour looked back over the past three years at how the Fairness Commission recommendations had been implemented. I have included a few of the...

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The fire brigade has revealed that its fire engines do not reach emergencies in Caledonian Ward within the target arrival time of 6 minutes. This will worsen under a cuts plan put forward by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.

The fire brigade this week was forced to publish figures showing the current response times for every neighbourhood in London – and what the response times would be if the Mayor’s plan – to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 appliances and cut 520 firefighters across London – is carried out.

The fire brigade promises Londoners that a 1st fire engine will arrive at any incident within 6 minutes and a 2nd one, if required, within 8 minutes. The brigade admits that response times across Islington will worsen if fire stations are closed. They claim that the 6 minute average response time can still be honoured. But in 3 parts of Islington this will not be the case if fire stations are closed.

In Caledonian Ward, the fire brigade is currently not meeting the target – the average response time is 6 minutes and 9 secs. Under Mayor Johnson’s cuts plan, the average in Caledonian ward is calculated to get worse by a further 8 secs on average.

Johnson’s plan would close Clerkenwell fire station which is located on Rosebery Avenue opposite the Mount Pleasant post office. Fire engines from Clerkenwell regularly attend incidents in Caledonian Ward including high profile spots like Kings Cross. Appliances from Clerkenwell were first on the scene at the worst incidents in local history such as the Kings Cross tube station fire and the 7/7 bombings.

Caledonian Labour Councillor, Paul Convery, says “Homes and businesses in Caledonian Ward are already at risk because the fire service cannot currently meet the 6 minute target. Boris Johnson’s crazy plan to close fire stations will put our residents at even greater risk. Why? Because he is obsessed with cutting Council Tax by 7p a week.”

“But the Mayor controls a budget of more than £16 billion a year. The cuts he has demanded from the fire service amount to 0.4% of his entire annual budget. Surely he can find that through efficiency savings somewhere in his City Hall empire”.

The LFB document showing how these cuts will affect every neighbourhood in London are at http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/Documents/ward-impacts.pdf 

Boris Johnson’s fire brigade cuts will put Caledonian residents at greater risk

The fire brigade has revealed that its fire engines do not reach emergencies in Caledonian Ward within the target arrival time of 6 minutes. This will worsen under a cuts...

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...

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