Blog

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Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward, blogs about Brexit and EU citizens in Islington.

As the triggering of Article 50 looms, signalling the beginning of the UK’s Brexit negotiations, the future of Islington and the country is a question I frequently hear from residents.

Islington did not vote for Brexit and many people, myself included, remain concerned and angry. A record number of residents turned out to vote in the referendum, 75 per cent of whom voted to remain, and many were heartbroken that the national vote went the other way.

I accept that the UK as a whole voted to leave the EU but what exactly did they vote for? This is a fundamental question that needs a proper answer, not ‘Brexit means Brexit’, so we can guarantee jobs and growth in Islington.

It is shameful that the Conservatives voted against Amendments, hard-won by Labour Peers, that would have guaranteed the legal status of EU nationals who are already living and working in the UK, and a meaningful vote on the final Brexit deal in Parliament.

I am proud to live in a multi-cultural borough that is home to people from across the world, including over 17,000 EU nationals. These people are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. We cannot ease off the pressure on the Prime Minister to do the decent human thing by guaranteeing their future early on in the Brexit negotiations.  

Brexit must work for everyone, not just the wealthy few, and only Labour can be trusted to deliver a deal that prioritises the economy, workers’ rights, human rights and environmental protection.

We must never forget that the referendum was only held to help Tory divisions, not in the interests of working people, or that it was the Liberal Democrats that put the Tories in a position of power to do so in the first place.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. The Tories’ Brexit will make this harder but we will continue to fight for and prioritise the issues that matter most to people in Islington.

 

Pictured - Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward

On the Side of EU Citizens in Islington

Cllr Dave Poyser, Labour Member for Hillrise Ward, blogs about Brexit and EU citizens in Islington. As the triggering of Article 50 looms, signalling the beginning of the UK’s Brexit...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall

This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday 29 March, officially beginning the UK’s withdrawal from EU membership.

Last week, I spoke at a packed ‘Islington IN Europe’ rally at Islington Town Hall, where I promised to defend the rights of the 17,000 EU citizens living in Islington to stay in Britain. I spoke alongside some high profile speakers about our future relationship with the EU: campaigner Gina Miller, columnist Professor Anthony Grayling and dramatist Bonnie Greer.

You can watch a video of the rally and my speech here:

I am proud to call Islington home. It is a fiercely multi-cultural borough, where people from across the world live, work and contribute to our community. These people are our friends, neighbours and family. They are also business owners and entrepreneurs, and many of them work for our vital public services.

Islington Labour campaigned hard to remain in the EU and a record number of people turned out to vote in Islington – 75% of whom voted to ‘remain’. Many of us were heartbroken that the UK as a whole voted the other way.

The priority for us now is to ensure that Islington remains a tolerant, diverse and welcoming borough, as it always has been. We will not see politics played with the lives of our neighbours.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, speaking at the 'Islington IN Europe' rally (with thanks to 'Islington IN Europe' for producing the image and video)

Standing up for EU citizens in Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the recent EU rally at Islington Town Hall This week (21 March), the Prime Minister announced that she plans to trigger...

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington

This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I attended a number of events across Islington celebrating the contribution that women make to the borough, and heard from many inspirational female speakers.

International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women. The theme for 2017 is ‘Be Bold for Change’, with individuals and organisations declaring bold actions to forge a more gender inclusive world. Through collaboration, we can help women advance and unleash unlimited potential.

We are committed to making Islington a fairer place for everyone, which also means making it a fairer and safer place for women. Our recently-launched Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy prioritises prevention and early intervention, addressing perpetrator behaviour and responding to complex pressure on individuals. VAWG is everyone’s business. We are sending a clear message that it will not be tolerated in any form.

I am proud of Labour-run Islington Council’s record in supporting women in the borough. Since 2014, we have helped 981 parents – mostly women – into work. Employment is one of the key routes out of poverty, which is why we are prioritising supporting residents into sustainable employment.

This year, the Islington Women’s Staff Forum asked the local community to nominate women who live and work in the borough who have made a bold contribution to gender equality. Six women were chosen from the nominations and their stories have been made into a digital artwork, which was unveiled on Thursday 9th March. These women are:

  • Suzanne Lee, Artistic Director of community arts organisation All Change
  • Liz Hogarth, criminal justice campaigner
  • Jamad Abdi, Bilingual Family Support Worker
  • Anita Grant, Director of Islington Play Association
  • Jennifer Savage, Practice Manager of the Pause project
  • Polly Mann, who has run the St Luke’s History Group as a volunteer for over a decade

From actresses to activists to mothers to mechanical engineers, Islington is home to inspiring women from all walks of life. Of course, we should be celebrating and supporting them throughout the year – not only on International Women’s Day.

 

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

Celebrating Islington’s inspirational women

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how the Council is supporting and inspiring women in Islington This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day (8 March), I...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington.

Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’ plans for the country’s finances. Unfortunately, this Tory Budget has once again failed to deliver for working people in Islington.

For all the press coverage and attention the Budget receives today, it offers little of real value to Islington residents. There will be no help to build more genuinely affordable homes, no new funding for local council services that help people into work and no real help for local businesses that will be hit by the massive increase in Government taxes.

The Chancellor offered warm words to small and medium businesses in Islington who are set to see their business rates rise significantly. However, despite rigorous campaigning from Islington Labour and business representatives, there will not be a freeze on business rates rises. Also, the relief being offered to small businesses is nowhere near enough to support all those who need it.

Despite inflicting 70 per cent cuts on Islington Council, the Tory Government has miraculously found hundreds of millions of pounds to bring back divisive grammar schools. There is overwhelming evidence that grammar schools undermine social mobility and do not increase overall educational performance, so this move is entirely dogmatic. 

Although it is welcome that the Budget promises more money for social care, this is still only a sticking plaster that lasts for a mere three years. Once again the Tories have proven they are anything but the party of the NHS.

By contrast, Islington Labour will continue to build new genuinely affordable homes, with the largest council home building programme for 30 years. We will also continue to help more local people into work, building on the more than 3,000 people we have helped find secure jobs since 2014.

The Tory Budget will also disproportionately hit young people, who will be saddled with the ideological decisions of this Government for years to come. That is why we will support young people by protecting youth services for all and invest in targeted support for those at risk of turning to crime.

The Chancellor did not address the elephant in the room while he was delivering his Budget – Brexit. Despite repeated calls, the Tories have failed to confirm that vital EU funding to councils will be protected post-Brexit. It was also quietly announced today that billions more pounds have been put aside to cope with the effect of Brexit, proving that the Tories do not have a clear plan.

Today’s Tory Budget shows that only Islington Labour is on the side of working people. 

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

This Tory Budget lets down Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, blogs about the impact of the 2017 Budget on Islington. Today (8 March), the Chancellor delivered his Budget statement, setting out the Tories’...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission.

This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which will explore how we can create a truly child and youth friendly community.

Islington Labour is committed to creating a fairer borough for all. That is why in 2017 there will be a focus on all children and young people to help them better reach their full potential.

Islington is a fantastic place to grow up, with brilliant parks, museums, sports facilities and cultural venues right on the doorstep. However, for far too many children and young people, growing up in Islington is challenging. We want to take a radical look at how the Council and its partners can help to change that.

Since taking control of the Council in 2010, Islington Labour has been working hard to make the borough a place where all children, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to succeed.

We have had significant achievements in and are continuing to work hard on key areas, such as building more genuinely affordable homes, helping local people into work, and targeting support to young people who need it most. Local schools continue to improve, with the progress pupils make in Islington’s secondary schools ranking in the top 20 in the country.

Despite significant cuts to council funding by the central Government, we have kept all our children’s centres open and invested millions in youth services. Our pioneering universal free school meals programme means no child in Islington has to start their day hungry.

But there is still more that can be done to ensure all children and young people get the best start in life.

There are challenges but also opportunities to drive innovation and positive change. The only way to achieve this is to listen to everyone, inspire others and challenge ourselves.

I am delighted that Jermain Jackman, a former Islington Arts and Media School student and winner of TV talent show The Voice in 2014, will be chairing the Fair Futures Commission. High profile academics, psychologists, Islington parents and young people, will also serve on the Board. This meeting of talented minds will mean the Commission can provide independent advice and support by bringing everyone together who wants to make Islington a fairer place for all.

We are keen to hear from everyone who is passionate about creating a fairer Islington for children and young people. If you are interested in getting involved in the Commission please visit the website.

I look forward to sharing the Commission’s story with you over the coming year.

Pictured - Jermain Jackman, Chair of the Fair Futures Commission, and Duncombe Primary school pupils at the launch of the Fair Futures Commission

Helping Islington’s children and young people get the best start in life

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the Fair Futures Commission. This week (22 February) Islington Council launched its pioneering Fair Futures Commission, which...

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Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the Government's housing white paper

Last week, after months of waiting, the Government issued its housing white paper, which promised to fix our broken housing market. Instead, all we got was a damp squib.

Once again, the Tories have failed to take any meaningful action to help ease the housing crisis. There is no new money for council homes, yet we all know that Islington desperately needs more genuinely affordable housing. That is why the Council is investing £40 million in this year alone to deliver the biggest house building programme for 30 years.

It is clear that the Government does not understand that working people in Islington need secure and affordable homes. In 2014, Labour-led Islington Council pledged to deliver 2,000 new genuinely affordable homes, including 500 council homes, by 2019, and we are on track to meet this target.

For private renters, promises of more security and protection are welcome, but warm words alone do not lead to secure warm homes for families trapped in private renting.

The Government cannot pretend to take security for families seriously if they are also pressing ahead with plans to end lifetime tenancies for council properties and forcing councils to sell off council homes.

Once again, the Tories have failed to properly deal with the housing crisis. Labour-led Islington Council will continue to fight the most damaging elements of the Government’s housing plans and will continue to build more genuinely affordable homes.

 

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

Tories once again fail to tackle the housing crisis

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, blogs on the Government's housing white paper Last week, after months of waiting, the Government issued its housing white paper, which...

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017.

Today (Friday) is Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers us an opportunity to reflect on the millions of people around the world who have lost their lives to genocide. We openly commit to standing against intolerance and, through our awareness of the Holocaust’s atrocities, pledge never to let it happen again.

As someone whose family was profoundly shaped by the Holocaust, Holocaust Memorial Day has a particular significance for me and my family. My grandfather survived Dachau concentration camp and came to the UK as a Refugee. I have always been aware that my existence was predicated on the people being brave and willing to help others. 

From the Holocaust to Rwanda to Bosnia, genocides are humanity’s darkest nightmares realised. We must never forget these tragedies and learn from history so we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. And we must never be silent when confronted with racism and hatred.

Holocaust Memorial Day reminds us why we must counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism and racism in all its forms. Why we must continue to respond to global crises like the conflict in Syria with compassion.  I am proud to call Islington my home, where people can practice whatever religion they choose without fear of being persecuted. I am even prouder that as a council we have been able to make Islington a home for over twenty refugees from Syria.

It is obscene that, in this day and age, many people in this country have been attacked because of their religious affiliations and confronted with racist graffiti, verbal threats and even physical violence. That is why the Council has set up the Anti-Hate Crime strategy, so we can bring the perpetrators to justice and send a clear message that hatred has no place in Islington.

We must lead by example, both in the UK and internationally, and stamp out hatred wherever we find it.

 

Pictured: Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others at Islington Council's Holocaust Memorial Day reception

Hate has no place in Islington

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs for Holocaust Memorial Day 2017. Today (Friday) is Holocaust Memorial Day, which offers us an opportunity to reflect on the millions...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, responds to the Prime Minister's speech confirming the Government will be pursuing a 'hard Brexit.

Today, the Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her Government would be pursuing ‘hard Brexit’ at the expense of people’s jobs, wellbeing and rights.

Hard Brexit not only risks the economy but also the regulations that guarantee workers’ rights, human rights and environmental protection. It is no wonder some Tories are so excited at the prospect.

This chaotic Brexit offers nothing for Islington, where 75 per cent of residents voted to remain.

May’s Brexit plan is far removed from reality. She claims that the UK will continue to work with and welcome its neighbours but refuses to guarantee the rights of the 30,000 EU nationals living in Islington. She claims immigration must be cut to protect public services but it is really years of damaging Tory cuts that are to blame.

It is obscene that the Tories scapegoat immigrants for the problems they have created.

I am proud to represent a borough where people from all over the world have set up businesses and contributed to our economy, from the NHS to our very own Council. The Tories have removed much of the NHS’ money. Now they seem determined to starve it of staff too.

Hard Brexit will be felt by everyone who lives and works in Islington. The Government has refused to guarantee that vital EU funding, which helps councils support local people, will be protected. This is despite promises that were made throughout the election campaign. Of course, the Tories have also abandoned that promise of an extra £350m per week for the NHS.

The road ahead will be hard and the effects of leaving the European Union will be felt for generations to come. Thanks to the Government’s chaotic Brexit, even further cuts will come. However, Islington Labour will continue to fight for a fairer borough and protect spending in the areas that are most important to working people.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

Hard Brexit is the worst-case scenario for Islington

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, responds to the Prime Minister's speech confirming the Government will be pursuing a 'hard Brexit. Today, the Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the community consultation meeting on Ladbroke House

On Monday (5 December), 115 local residents crowded into Highbury Fields School to take part in a community consultation meeting about the Ladbroke House site in Highbury Barn.

The Department for Education (DfE) purchased the building for £33.5m and the Meller Educational Trust are proposing to open a secondary free school and sixth form on a site with no outside space, along with luxury flats. This will bring over 1,000 pupils to an already congested and confined part of the Borough every day.

This proposal seems especially strange when you consider that the site is smack bang between two existing secondary schools, Highbury Grove and Highbury Fields, both rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

At the meeting, many local residents agreed that this proposal was a huge of money and will have a negative effect on neighbouring schools. Residents were also concerned about the safety of children and parents using already congested pavements and local transport.

At the end of the meeting, residents voted unanimously against this free school proposal and in favour of using the building to provide affordable housing for keyworkers, including local teachers, many of whom struggle to get a foot on the property ladder in London.

Please sign and share this petition and join the campaign.

 

Pictured - Cllr Caluori at the community consultation meeting

'Yes' to affordable homes for teachers, 'no' to an unwanted free school

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, blogs about the community consultation meeting on Ladbroke House On Monday (5 December), 115 local residents crowded into Highbury...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, reports on the latest Leader’s Question Time meeting

Last night (5 December), I took questions from residents in a lively Leader’s Question Time session. When Islington Labour was re-elected to run the Council in 2014, I pledged to make the Council more open to the public. These events represent an important opportunity for residents to have their say on local issues and hold the Council to account.

At Leader’s Question Time, Islington residents are invited to join me and raise issues that are affecting them. The latest meeting, at the Half Moon Crescent Community Centre in Barnsbury Ward, was attended by over 40 Islington residents.

I took questions on the allocation of council housing, overcrowding and leaseholders’ fees. It is glaringly obvious that there is a severe housing crisis in London, which is why the Council has embarked on the largest house-building programme in 30 years. This will see 2,000 affordable homes, including 1,500 council homes, built by 2020.

However, residents raised questions and concerns about a wide range of other issues affecting Islington. I responded to questions on how the Council is tackling crime and pollution in the borough, as well as how it works with TfL on major transport projects, and employment opportunities for young people.

I am proud of the Council’s work on making Islington a fairer borough for all, but there is still much work left to be done, which is why Leader’s Question Time is so well-attended. The Tory Government’s vicious cuts and punitive legislation mean that more people are struggling to make ends meet and want to see better value for money from Council services.

I am determined to deliver on Islington Labour’s promise to make Islington somewhere where everyone can achieve their potential and enjoy a good quality of life.

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, and Councillors at Leader's Question Time

Housing high on the agenda at Leader’s Question Time

  Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, reports on the latest Leader’s Question Time meeting Last night (5 December), I took questions from residents in a lively Leader’s Question...

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