Letest stories

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Labour councillors, local vicars, local residents, staff from the Whittington Hospital and Catherine West MP, have joined together to demand an end to Transport for London’s (TfL) delays in installing suicide prevention barriers on Archway Bridge.

Gathering together at Archway Bridge this week (20th July), Islington Labour councillors led calls for decisive action to be taken by TfL to install the barriers as soon as possible. The calls follow another tragic death on 29th June, which saw the Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, declare “I am furious these vital safety measures have not been put in place.”

Planning permission was granted in October 2015 by both Islington and Haringey Councils for the installation of suicide prevention barriers along Archway Bridge, which has been the scene of multiple suicides and attempted suicides. Delays have meant that TfL has failed to produce a compliant sample panel of the prevention barriers 21 months after permission was granted.

Cllr David Poyser, Labour councillor for Hillrise ward, said: “Every suicide is a tragedy, especially for the loved ones left behind, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims of suicide. We know these barriers will work in stopping others from taking their lives. It is utterly unacceptable that TfL has not been able to get a compliant sample panel produced, and there can be no more excuses. The strength of feeling about this is clear to see and we need TfL to listen to the community and to make our bridge safe.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Labour councillor for Junction ward and Executive Member for Community Development commented: “The suicides at Archway Bridge could and should have been prevented. There is no justifiable reason why the barriers have not been installed, given that planning permission was granted 21 months ago.”

Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Community Safety, added: “This saga has been running for years, and as a council we have done all that we can to help TfL produce the barriers. We have even taken to offering to find manufacturers ourselves. Thankfully, the CCTV we have installed near to the bridge has helped us prevent several suicides, but clearly it is not enough as the tragic death a few weeks ago shows.

“I am pleased that a positive meeting took place this week between Islington, TfL and Haringey. Haringey are now managing the project and are responsible for its delivery, and we will support them in any way we can to ensure the barriers are installed as soon as possible. To help speed-up the process, Islington has agreed to purchase specialist steel needed for the fencing.”

Need help?

Please visit NHS Choices website here – http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Suicide/Pages/Introduction.aspx

Helplines for those needing support – 

  • Samaritans – 116 123
  • Childline – 0800 1111
  • Papyrus (specialists for teenagers and young adults) – 0800 068 41 41

- Pictured from right to left – Catherine West MP, Cllr David Poyser, Dr Janice Gibbons (NHS), Cllr Andy Hull, Andrew Robins (Consultant – Whittington Hospital), Revd. Peter Vannozzi (St Augustine of Canterbury, Highgate), Carol Hansen-Vessa (local resident), Bisi Williams (local resident), Jan Whelan (local resident), Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Steve Clarke (Vicar, St Andrew’s, Whitehall Park), Cllr Paul Convery, Cllr Marian Spall, Jan Tucker (Archway Town Centre Business Group), and Juliet Penrice (Consultant – Whittington Hospital).

Community demands end to TfL’s Archway Bridge delays

Labour councillors, local vicars, local residents, staff from the Whittington Hospital and Catherine West MP, have joined together to demand an end to Transport for London’s (TfL) delays in installing suicide...

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Local councillors and Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, gathered this week (Wednesday 19th July) to celebrate the completion of works at Caledonian Road Station to replace both lifts whilst keeping the station open throughout. 

The works, carried out by Transport for London (TfL), were originally planned to close the station completely for 8 months from January 2016 – causing massive disruption to local residents and businesses, as well as significantly impacting residents with disabilities and mobility issues who would have had to travel far further to be able to make journeys on the underground network.

However, thanks to intervention by local councillors - including the threat of legal action - and a petition supported by local residents, TfL was forced to radically changed its plans and agreed with the council that the station could remain open whilst the lifts were replaced on after the other, leaving one lift in operation throughout.

Importantly, the council’s intervention has changed TfL policy, so that in future when it considers closing a station, it will perform an equality impact assessment.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, commented: “I am delighted that TfL has now completed works at Caledonian Road station to install the two new lifts. When TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months, we immediately recognised the massive impact this would have on local residents, businesses and particularly passengers with mobility issues and disabilities. We are on the side of local people, and that’s why we began legal action against the decision, which led to TfL seeing sense and subsequently agreeing to our alternative proposal that kept the station open throughout the works.

“I am really proud that we were able to work together to not only keep the station open, but that we secured agreement from TfL that they had to consider the impact of station closures from an equalities perspective in future. That’s a big change that will make a difference for many people.” 

Local Holloway ward councillor, Cllr Paul Smith, added: “Keeping the station open was a great victory and just goes to show what a determined bunch of people can do when we stand up against decisions that are clearly unfair. I want to thank the 8,000 residents who signed petitions against the closure, those who attended public meetings and local businesses who spoke with us about the devastating impact closing the station would have had on their businesses and our community. The new lifts look great, and I want to also thank TfL for seeing sense and for completing these important works.”

In November 2015, TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months from January 2016 whilst both lifts were replaced. Swift action by local councillors saw several public meetings organised before Christmas to raise awareness of the issue and to organise the campaign against the plans. A petition was presented to Jeanette Arnold AM at City Hall at the end of November 2015, calling on TfL to rethink its plans.

Shortly before Christmas, Islington Council began the process to call for a Judicial Review of TfL’s decision and the way it was taken, particularly focusing on TfL’s failure to adequately consider the impact of the closure on disabled passengers and passengers with mobility issues. The threat of legal action meant that in January 2016, TfL announced it was reviewing its plans and the works were put on hold. In March 2016, TfL announced that it had agreed with the council’s view that the works could be completed whilst keeping the station open and a revised programme of works would take place over the next 18 months.

- Pictured – Cllr O’Halloran, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Cllr Webbe, Cllr Smith and Cllr Convery

Councillors celebrate completion of Caledonian Road Station lift replacements

Local councillors and Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Cllr Claudia Webbe, gathered this week (Wednesday 19th July) to celebrate the completion of works at Caledonian Road Station...

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Labour-led Islington Council’s services for vulnerable children and families have received a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and praise for ‘Outstanding’ leadership and governance.

That is the verdict of Ofsted, who last week (14 July) published the report of their joint inspection of the Council’s Children’s Services. To date, Islington is one of 42 out of 142 local authorities inspected by Ofsted to be awarded an overall ‘Good’ rating. Only nine are currently rated ‘Outstanding’ for leadership and governance. 

Inspectors found that high quality and effective early help services focus on improving children’s circumstances before they reach the threshold for statutory social care services, while action is taken quickly to protect those children at risk of serious harm. Social workers spend time getting to know children and families, listening to children and understanding what is important to them.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Despite seven years of Government cuts, this administration has always prioritised protecting funding for children’s services. As a consequence, our children’s early help and social care services have gone from strength to strength and this report shows the strong culture of excellence we have built up in Islington.

 “It is our mission to ensure that all children and young people are safe, protected and able to have the best start in life, whilst families who have problems are supported to grow stronger so they can overcome their difficulties and thrive.”

Islington Council is committed to helping children and young people reach their potential and keeping vulnerable people safe. In 2016, it pledged £2m to be spent over four years for youth safety, focussing on stronger early intervention to stop serious youth crime. The Council is also protecting spending on universal youth services, targeted youth services, mentoring, the youth offending service and gangs work.

The full report can be read here.

 

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

Islington Council’s support for vulnerable children and families praised by Ofsted

Labour-led Islington Council’s services for vulnerable children and families have received a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating, and praise for ‘Outstanding’ leadership and governance. That is the verdict of Ofsted, who last...

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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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Bunhill Ward councillors have welcomed news that plans to tackle crime and build more homes on the Triangle Estate have been approved by the Council. The changes will significantly improve conditions on the estate and put local people first.

The plans will improve security and provide a long term solution to anti-social behaviour issues on the estate. The number of entrances to the estate will be reduced from 28 to 11 by building new homes into the entrances. The estate has been troubled with anti-social behaviour and crime, and the many entrances to the estate made this harder to tackle in the past.

The plans also address the pressing need to build more genuinely affordable housing, which is a priority for the Council. 54 new homes, of which half will be council homes for social rent, will be built. These will include family-sized homes and one-bed and two-bed dwellings, alongside the current mix of one and two bed units on the estate.

The new dwellings will be built by creating additional floors and an extension on existing residential blocks, demolishing a garage, retail unit and six existing dwellings, and filling in some of the entrances to the estate.

One of the blocks will also incorporate new bicycle storage for future residents.

A new landscaped communal garden will also be created in the heart of the estate, removing the unwelcoming podium that has structural issues.

Bunhill Councillors Claudia Webbe, Troy Gallagher and Robert Khan have campaigned hard for improvements to the Triangle Estate for the best part of a decade.  

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport and Bunhill Ward councillor, said: “My Ward colleagues and I are delighted that, after years of campaigning and working closely with both council tenants and leaseholders, we are on the way to improving the Triangle Estate in a way that puts local people first.

“It was argued by some that it was impossible and too costly to find a solution to the crime and anti-social behaviour issues on the estate, but as councillors we were persistent. By working together with the Council, the Triangle Estate tenant and resident association (TRA), the local police and others, we finally agreed a design that would improve the overall look of the estate and make it safer for local residents.”

Suad Ayanle, a resident of the Triangle Estate, added: “Anti-social behaviour has been a problem affecting the residents of the estate for years, so I am relieved that there are now plans in place to reduce it and design out crime. The creation of a new public green space and removal of the unsightly podium will make it a much nicer place for everyone living here. It is great to know that more genuinely affordable housing will be built on the estate, which will really help local people.”

 

 

Caption: (L-R) Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development; Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Bunhill Ward councillor; Cllr Troy Gallagher, Bunhill Ward councillor; Suad Ayanle and Lee Smith, Compton Street side residents.

Bunhill councillors welcome plans to significantly improve the Triangle Estate

  Bunhill Ward councillors have welcomed news that plans to tackle crime and build more homes on the Triangle Estate have been approved by the Council. The changes will significantly...

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Cllr Richard Watts', Leader of Islington Council, statement on the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park - 

It is with sadness that I write this statement today, following the dreadful events in Finsbury Park in the early hours of this morning. 

Sadness for the senseless loss of life, and sadness that I am called to send this message so soon after other recent tragic events in London and Manchester.

The heartfelt thoughts of everyone at Islington Council are with the family and friends of those affected by the dreadful events in Finsbury Park.

From the early hours of the morning I was with Jeremy Corbyn MP and others on the scene, offering any support we could to the community. I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with community leaders, Emily Thornberry MP, Mayor Sadiq Khan and others at Muslim Welfare House later in the day to speak with residents. 

I will be even prouder to join our community in sharing in the Neighbourhood Iftar Dinner tonight at Muslim Welfare House, as we come together to celebrate breaking the fast in the month of Ramadan. 

We have also been working closely with the emergency services overnight and throughout the day to support those affected by this dreadful attack. 

This terrorist attack seeks to divide us and sow hatred. Finsbury Park, like the rest of Islington, is a diverse and open community and our mosques are a vital part of that community. 

We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community and will continue to work together and support each other. 

Islington is a vibrant and unified borough - this is our community, and we will not be divided by any terrorist.

 

 

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts

Shoulder to shoulder

Cllr Richard Watts', Leader of Islington Council, statement on the terrorist attack in Finsbury Park -  It is with sadness that I write this statement today, following the dreadful events...

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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about the Grenfell Tower fire and how Islington residents can help - 

We have all seen the devastating pictures of the Grenfell Tower fire in North Kensington, and on behalf of Islington Council, I have sent our deepest sympathies to all those affected and to the families who have lost loved ones.

The council has been providing support to Kensington & Chelsea Council since the fire, including offering accommodation to people from Grenfell Tower. We are also providing counselling support to the firefighters who were at the scene and who did so much to save lives.

I am immensely proud of Islington residents’ response to this dreadful incident – from donations of clothes and food, to offers of support for those affected. Kensington & Chelsea Council are currently distributing donations to residents and have requested that further support is made in the form of donations to the Grenfell Tower appeal here.

Understandably, this tragic incident has prompted concerns about the cause of the fire and whether there are any possible implications for residents in tower blocks elsewhere.

Our commitment to making sure Islington residents are safe remains our absolute priority, and we work hard on the side of local people to maintain our homes.

I am confident that in Islington we have good and robust management of our housing, including tower blocks. Islington Council always follows the most up to date advice on all aspects of building safety.

All tower blocks in Islington are hardwired with fire detection alarms in all estate dwellings. All dry riser and wet riser systems that help firefighters to tackle any fires are inspected every 12 months to ensure they are in a good working condition.

Since 2013, the council has spent £7 million on its fire risk assessment programme and associated fire safety works – and a further £38 million of works are set to take place.

Every council block has a robust Fire Risk Assessment at least every three years, with some blocks assessed every year, and all of these assessments are signed-off by the London Fire Brigade.

We have asked the Fire Brigade to inform us if there is any change to the advice given to residents in tower blocks in case of a fire. The advice from the Fire Brigade remains that if there is a fire elsewhere in your building then you are safer to stay in your flat, unless the heat or smoke is affecting you. Further information can be found here. It is important that residents remember that the Fire Brigade has stressed that people living in high rise properties are no more at risk of a fire than anyone else.

Whilst the cause of the fire is not yet known, we are aware of reports about the role of external insulating cladding in this fire. We are rapidly bringing together information about council-owned buildings with cladding to identify if any used systems similar to Grenfell Tower. In addition, we are reviewing records for privately owned buildings on a similar basis. Plans to install external insulation on additional council blocks to help residents cut energy bills have been put on hold until we know more about the cause of this fire.

This tragedy must be thoroughly investigated and any recommendations or changes to the law following these investigations will be fully adopted in Islington. 

For too long the condition of housing for some of the poorest people in our country has been far from the Government's attention. This tragedy demands that change comes and we will stand alongside residents to demand the safety of ordinary people is at the top of Government priorities. 

Our hearts go out to those affected by this fire, and our commitment to make sure Islington residents are safe remains our absolute priority.

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council 

Grenfell Tower Fire - How you can help

   Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about the Grenfell Tower fire and how Islington residents can help -  We have all seen the devastating pictures of the...

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On Thursday 15th of June, Islington Councillors joined in to mark the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day outside the Town Hall.

National Clean Air Day, which is being co-ordinated by Global Action Plan, is a chance for people across the country to work together towards cleaner air for everyone. On this day, people are encouraged to make a pledge to help make cleaner air possible for all.

Islington Labour run Council has already for many years been working towards better air quality, from introducing a diesel surcharge on parking permits and the first ever borough-wide 20mph speed limit, supporting businesses to reduce emissions and taking action on engine idling.

Islington Council has also called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to ban diesel vehicles from the capital by 2025 during the Mayor’s latest consultation on air quality this year.

Today on National Clean Air Day Islington Council has launched a new anti-idling campaign for ambulance drivers by putting up information stalls outside Archway Station and Whittington Hospital to inform commuters, patients, visitors and staff on the risks and effects of air pollution and ways to avoid it. The council’s Archway Zero Emissions Network team will be offering free coffee, pizza and advice to local workers and residents too. We also have electric scooters and cargo cycles available for local businesses to try out, in the aim to further cutting down on emissions from deliveries.

We are also recommending that everyone signs up to Islington’s airTEXT service. This free service provides air quality, UV, pollen and temperature forecasts for the borough.

To build on the council's implemented measures on air quality, we are encouraging ordinary residents to get involved with activities on National Clean Air Day.

There are many simple things that we can do to help make Islington cleaner, healthier and greener for us all - especially our children.

 

Make a pledge on National Clean Air Day to:

-          Leave your car at home

-          Switch off your engine whenever you can

-          Walk your children to school

-          Share tips to cut air pollution with others

 

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, Islington Council, said of Islington marking National Clean Air Day:

“In Islington we understand that tackling air pollution, is not just a public health campaign, it’s a social justice campaign because poorer residents live closer to the most polluting roads. We need residents to fight with us for cleaner air for everyone and I am proud that Islington Council is able to take a leading role on National Clean Air Day to show that we are standing up for the many” 

 

Will you help Islington and be part of the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day?

Find out more here: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/

You can also pick up information at the Town Hall on Upper Street or at the Customer Service Centre at 222 Upper Street on National Clean Air Day, 15th of June. 

 

Pictured - Islington Labour councillors mark National Clean Air Day outside the Town Hall

Pledging to reduce air pollution in Islington on National Clean Air Day

On Thursday 15th of June, Islington Councillors joined in to mark the UK’s first ever National Clean Air Day outside the Town Hall. National Clean Air Day, which is being...

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Here's how you can volunteer to help Labour in the General Election in Islington -

  • Find a campaign event near you - www.labour.org.uk/events

  • To help stuff envelopes, and to help with other office-based jobs, please come to our local campaign office at 65 Barnsbury Street, N1 1EJ. The office is open between 10am and 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. 

Need more information? Please contact Islington Labour by - 

  • Email - organiser@islingtonlabour.org.uk
  • Phone - 0207 607 8373

You can also sign-up to volunteer here - www.islington-labour.org.uk/volunteer

Please also make sure you register to vote, by visiting - www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

How you can get involved

Here's how you can volunteer to help Labour in the General Election in Islington - Find a campaign event near you - www.labour.org.uk/events To help stuff envelopes, and to help...

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