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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Government needs to guarantee the future of Islington schools’ funding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance

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

Islington is no place for anti-Semitism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Working together for Islington’s refugees

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

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the stark differences between the Labour and Conservative Parties' manifestos.

Last week, the Labour and Conservative Parties published their manifestos to set out their visions for the UK if they formed the next Government. They could not be more different; Labour’s a carefully costed plan on the side of working people and the Tories’ an uncosted shift from poor to rich.

Labour will introduce free school meals for all primary school children, funded by introducing a VAT on private school fees. This would mean only a small group would pay for a policy benefiting hundreds of thousands of children, but the Tories’ plan to end the current provision of free school meals means everyone loses out.

Labour-run Islington Council’s pioneering free school meals programme means that every primary school and nursery pupil receives a free hot and nutritious meal every school day. The policy has helped each family save over £500 every year per child and helped children to focus on learning. It is shameful that the Tories would deny this to the rest of the country.

The Tories are failing miserably on education as they waste money on their vanity projects like grammar schools and free schools. Islington parents and teachers have been campaigning hard against the estimated 10 per cent funding cuts set to hit their schools over the next four years.

Labour will reverse the £3bn of cuts to schools’ budgets faced by 2020 and protect the core schools budget through a £4.8bn annual real-terms funding increase. These education plans will be funded by reversing Tory cuts to corporation tax. This is a costed policy that would see much-needed funding shift from the richest to those who are less well off.

The Tories have presided over record low house building levels and have no plans to fix the housing crisis. Labour will build at least 100,000 council and housing association homes a year and end insecurity for private renters by granting them new consumer rights.

I am proud of Islington Labour’s record on housing. The Council is undertaking its largest council house building programme in 30 years and has delivered 709 new genuinely affordable homes in the past two years, prioritised for local residents.

We have also been campaigning hard against the Tories’ plans to end secure lifetime tenancies and force the Council to sell hundreds of desperately-needed council homes every year. A Labour Government would scrap the Tories’ plan to end secure lifetime tenancies, offering security to Islington’s many council tenants.

The Tories will make people pay more towards the cost of social care, a sector in crisis thanks to their successive cuts. Labour will increase the social care budget by £8bn over the next Parliament but also establish a National Care Service to find a long-term solution. The fact that the Tories have already U-turned on their social care plans demonstrate they are anything but ‘strong and stable’.

By 2020, Islington Council will have had its budget cut by 70 per cent in a decade. At the same time, Tory Councils, such as former Prime Minister David Cameron’s home in Witney and the leafy shires, have been spared the same level of cuts. The idea that the Conservatives want to redistribute the wealth and stand up for working people is laughable.

The Tories are far more concerned with alienating our neighbours in Europe for the sake of a hard Brexit, stripping working people of their rights and dignity, and bringing back fox hunting. They are determined to further shift funding from the poorest, who need it most, to the richest. Labour’s policies are fully-costed, the only ones that benefit working people in Islington and worthy of your vote on 8th June.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

The manifestos prove that only Labour is on the side of working people

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the stark differences between the Labour and Conservative Parties' manifestos. Last week, the Labour and Conservative Parties published their manifestos to...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about what Labour's schools funding policies mean for Islington.

Last week, the Labour Party pledged to stop the cuts to schools' budgets and increase funding in real terms if it formed the next Government. It committed again to these policies in its manifesto, launched this week (16 May). This will be welcome news for the teachers, parents and pupils who are experiencing first-hand the impacts of the Tories’ damaging cuts to schools’ budgets.

Every child has the right to reach their full potential and schools must have the funding they need to provide an excellent education for all. Unfortunately, the Tories’ cuts and planned changes to how they fund schools make this more difficult to achieve.

Under the Tories’ planned funding changes to schools, schools in Islington South will lose £583 per pupil between 2015 and 2019, and this rises to £603 per pupil in Islington North. These cuts will be to the detriment of our children’s futures, as schools are forced to make savings or reduce resources.

Thanks to the dedication of parents, teachers and our community, Islington’s schools have gone from strength to strength. Since 2010, GCSE results have jumped from 143rd out of 151 local authorities to the top third. Islington’s primary schools are in the top 10 in the country for helping children from poorer backgrounds achieve good results. We cannot risk this progress with further cuts.

Labour's education plans, which include a real terms increase in schools budget funding, will be funded from the £19.4bn that will be raised by reversing cuts to corporation tax.

Only a Labour Government will deliver the funding our schools need so they can ensure a bright future for our children. On 8th June, the day of the General Election, we have a chance to make this a reality at the ballot box.

 

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

Ensuring a bright future for Islington's schools

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about what Labour's schools funding policies mean for Islington. Last week, the Labour Party pledged to stop the...

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Cllr Claudia Webbe, Member for Environment and Transport, blogs about tackling poor air quality.

Here in Islington we have already been working for years to tackle poor air quality. From the first ever borough-wide 20mph speed limit, action on engine idling, introducing a diesel surcharge on parking permits, to support for businesses to reduce emissions - the Labour-run council has been implementing measures that make a difference.

Sadly, the Tory Government is still refusing to fully engage with the dangers that continued poor air quality poses to local people. The courts had to intervene to force the Government to publish its plan to improve air quality, which has been described as ‘woeful’. The Government’s reluctance to take a lead on this issue makes it clear that the election on 8th June is a chance for a clean start on air quality.

We need a Labour Government that will back the Mayor of London’s calls for a diesel scrappage scheme to remove the oldest polluting cars from London’s roads. We then need to go further and for Islington Labour’s calls for all diesel vehicles to be banned from London by 2025 to be accepted. But we also need a Labour Government that will fight hard to maintain the important environmental safeguards we currently receive from the European Union and that commits to fully implementing the Paris climate agreement.

In Islington we understand that tackling the real causes of poor air quality – polluting diesel buses, lorries and cars – is not just a public health campaign, it’s a social justice campaign because poorer residents live closer to the most polluting roads. It’s no wonder then that the Tories are failing to take action when their focus is on the few, unlike Labour who is standing up for the many.

 

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Islington Council

Election is a chance for a clean start on air quality

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Member for Environment and Transport, blogs about tackling poor air quality. Here in Islington we have already been working for years to tackle poor air quality. From...

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about The Great Get Together.

In my role as Executive Member for Community Development, I am struck often by the generosity and kindness the people of our borough display in caring for their neighbours.  However events across the world, the Brexit vote, the election of Trump and global terrorist attacks have left many of us feeling that our communities are divided.

As the austerity cuts by the Government continue to pile on; the majority of people’s lives feel insecure. There is a real danger that people look increasingly inwards. Islington Labour’s values of fairness are central to tackling the risks associated with fear and division. We know if everyone in the borough has a real chance to a decent life, we will all benefit.  

In Islington there is so much to celebrate and understanding our common challenges means being able to tackle them together.

In order to encourage unity in our community, Islington Council has decided to join in with the Jo Cox Foundation’s new initiative, The Great Get Together - which looks to bring together neighbours and communities – on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of June 2017.

Last year, the Labour Party lost one of its greatest community champions, Jo Cox MP, in a brutal act of extremism. She had worked tirelessly to bring people across the UK and across the developing world together, to show us that “we have much more in common than that which divides us”– as she herself had proclaimed during her maiden speech in Parliament.

In Islington we have hosted events that celebrate and champion community, such as the Love Islington rally, where we got 400 local residents together to Say No to Hate Crime with our faith leaders present and our local MPs.

Altogether, the council’s VCS Grants programme, Local Initiative Fund, Community Chest Fund and our Festivals Fund, has invested £3.3 million into the social fabric of our borough. This is vital not only in terms of supporting our most vulnerable residents but also in bringing members of our community together.

But as ever we want to go further, by supporting local people to take control and organise their own community events, from picnics in the local park to tea dances; whether it’s a coffee morning or a party. Let’s celebrate the Great Get Together! And to back this, the Council is awarding grants of up to £500 per group or event. Residents have up until Sunday the 7th of May 2017 to apply.

Hate, division, ignorance and fear are destructive and have no place in Islington. Through the simple things in life, such as love for family, food or music we can find great commonality, an increased understanding of each other that benefits everyone.

So, I hope you enjoy getting together and finding out what you have in common.

To find out more information please visit: https://www.islington.gov.uk/advice/voluntary-community-organisations/funding/council_funding/the-great-get-together-17-to-18-june-2017

 

Applications are to be submitted via email to: partnerships@islington.gov.uk. The closing date for applications is Sunday 7 May 2017 (11:59pm)

 

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

 

Bringing Islington together through The Great Get Together

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about The Great Get Together. In my role as Executive Member for Community Development, I am struck often by the generosity...

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Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development at Islington Council, writes about why this election is about stopping the Tories’ devastating housing policies.

Speak to any local councillor in Islington, or either of our two brilliant local Labour MPs, and they’ll all tell you that the number one issue people come to see them about is housing.

We face a housing crisis in London. Too many people live in over-crowded homes; people struggling to afford private rents and the dream of owning your own home being out of the reach of most people in Islington. That’s why this General Election is for me, and many people in Islington, all about housing.

Islington Labour has been working tirelessly to build more new genuinely affordable homes for local people, including new council homes. In fact our council home building programme this year is the largest for 30 years in Islington. We’ve also set-up a council-run not-for-profit private lettings agency to provide tenants and landlords with a better deal. We’ve also introduced targeted landlord licensing schemes to improve standards for private renters, and we’ve secured fines of over £50,000 against landlords who weren’t treating tenants fairly.

But the Tory Government is determined to make the housing crisis in Islington worse, not better. We were able to stand alongside local residents to defeat the Tory Tenant Tax, which would have forced working people to pay more tax just because they are council tenants, but other disastrous Tory housing plans remain in place.

Such as the Tory plans to force the council to sell-off council homes, which will see Islington lose up to 300 council homes each year, making it far harder for us to find people who need them secure and affordable homes. The Tories also want to ban lifetime tenancies for council tenants, something we strongly oppose.

That’s why on the 8th June, people in Islington have a clear choice between Labour - who will build a million new homes, including 500,000 council homes, across the country, as well as introducing caps on rents and banning letting fees – and the Tories, who have plans that will only make the housing crisis worse for local people. 

This election is about housing

  Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development at Islington Council, writes about why this election is about stopping the Tories’ devastating housing policies. Speak to any local...

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Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, blogs about the importance of supporting carers in Islington.

In the UK, there are currently 6.5 million people who provide unpaid care for older, disabled and seriously ill relatives and friends.  In Islington that amounts to thousands. This means that our care service is heavily dependent on unpaid care that ordinary people, like you and me, provide every day to their family and friends.

Currently, the Government supports unpaid carers, through a Carer’s allowance, which is £62 per week and payable only to those unpaid carers on low incomes who work 35 hours per week. But imagine how tough it is, if your salary is low and you have full time caring responsibilities - the emotional and physical strain is immense.

I am proud that Islington has a package of offer that means more for unpaid carers. For example, we offer a Direct Payment scheme of up to £30 a week for leisure, social, training and or other activities to help improve the wellbeing and quality of life of carers themselves, which is vitally important in helping them to carry out their role.  There is also a Flexible Breaks Fund, which unpaid carers can bid in for to help them with much-needed respite. The aim is to ease the pressure of unpaid caring. 

We commission the Islington Carers Hub run by Age UK which provides a range of support to adult carers and the Young Carers service by Family Action, which provides support to young carers.

Every day Islington Labour is looking for new ideas and innovative ways to help those who care for others voluntarily. The Labour Party recently announced it will raise Carer’s allowance to £73 per week, funded by reversing the Government’s planned inheritance tax cut for the wealthiest, to recognise the contribution of Britain’s unpaid carers.

I welcome this policy announcement and wait to hear if other Parties are also giving carers the priority they need.

If you think you might be entitled to any form of carer’s support, please get in touch with the Islington Carer’s Hub at 020 7561 5517 or visit https://www.islington.gov.uk/social-care-health/carers for more information 

 

Pictured - Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care

Standing up for carers in Islington

Cllr Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care, blogs about the importance of supporting carers in Islington. In the UK, there are currently 6.5 million people who provide...

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