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
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...
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 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...
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
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...
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
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...
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
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...
Here's how you can volunteer to help Labour in the General Election in Islington -
Need more information? Please contact Islington Labour by -
- Email - email@example.com
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
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...
Following the terrible attack on London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday 3 June, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, issued the following statement:
"Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts are with the people killed, injured and affected by this cowardly attack, and their friends and families.
"We're once again hugely grateful to London's emergency services, whose bravery and professionalism saved lives, and who put their own lives on the line to help others.
"As with other recent atrocities, this attack seeks to divide us, and sow hatred. This will never succeed - we will stand together, support each other, and continue. London is a great city with a huge heart, spirit and toughness and will never give in to cowards, bullies and hatemongers."
Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council
Following the terrible attack on London Bridge and Borough Market on Saturday 3 June, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, issued the following statement: "Our heartfelt condolences and thoughts...
Following the tragic attack in Manchester on Monday 22nd May, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, made the following statement:
“On behalf of Islington Council and everyone in Islington, I send our deepest condolences to the family and friends of those killed and injured in Manchester last night.
“We send our support and friendship to the people of Greater Manchester as they pull together, helping one another as is the tradition of that great city.
“Events like this remind us of the importance of standing together, and not allowing cowardly acts of terrorism to dictate to us how we live our lives.”
Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council
Following the tragic attack in Manchester on Monday 22nd May, Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, made the following statement: “On behalf of Islington Council and everyone in Islington,...
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
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...
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
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...