Letest stories

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Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is keeping up the pressure on Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Islington

Today, MPs are continuing their debate on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, signalling the beginning of talks in Parliament about what the UK might look like after the EU. Unfortunately, yet again with this Tory Government, there is very little detail and people are being left in the dark.

I am particularly concerned that the Bill does not mention EU nationals currently living in the UK and what their rights might be after Brexit. The EU nationals living and working in Islington, an estimated 30,000 of them, are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. They form not only a significant part of our population but also our identity.

EU nationals’ contribution is vital to all aspects of UK life, from our public services to our small business community. Islington is fiercely proud of its identity as a diverse and welcoming borough that is home to people from across the world.

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 but believe we have to accept to result. This does not mean however that the government can engage in scapegoating in their ever increasingly desperate attempts to hold on to power.

The only indication we have had from the government is a draft Home Office document that was leaked last week, which suggests the Government is determined to keep out EU citizens and even split up families. It refers to valued members of our community in terms like “Type and Volume”. It has rightly been slammed as economically mad and socially divisive.

We will not let politics be played with EU nationals’ lives and have been repeatedly calling on Government to guarantee the status of EU nationals post-Brexit, which they have had many opportunities to do.

In June, the Council also passed a motion resolving that we would continue to keep up the pressure on Government and work with our partners and the voluntary sector to co-ordinate practical support for EU nationals who want to remain in Islington. 

As part of this, I recently spoke at a legal advice event, jointly organised by the Council, Islington in Europe and expert immigration solicitors, which offered support and advice to EU nationals in Islington about their options for remaining in the UK. It was genuinely one of the most important events I have attended as a councillor. Due to the level of demand we will be holding another session in November.

The battle is not lost. With millions railing against them and the global community shocked by the arrogance of a Government that falsely believes it is above scrutiny, I believe we will start to see a shift behind all that posturing.

Islington Labour is on the side of its residents, including EU citizens, and we will continue to make our support and demands for them loud and clear.

 

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

On the side of EU nationals in Islington

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz, Executive Member for Community Development, blogs about how Islington Labour is keeping up the pressure on Government to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Islington Today,...

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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, congratulates Islington’s students for their outstanding English GCSE results

Congratulations to Islington’s fantastic GCSE students, who bucked the national trend and outshone their peers nationally in English language and English literature this year.

More Islington GCSE students achieved top results than last year, despite changes in the grading system which meant that results fell across the country.

Some 20.6 per cent of pupils gained a grade 7 or better in English literature – equivalent to A and A* grades under the old system. This is a huge improvement on last year – a rise of 2.5 per cent on 2016 and 3.7 per cent higher than this year’s national average.

In English language, 15.9 per cent of pupils gained a grade 7 or better – a rise of two percent.

English literature and language are two of the most important GCSEs for young people to have under their belt, so it’s great news that the proportion of Islington pupils achieving a grade 4 or better in those subjects – equivalent to a C or better under the old system – also rose this year and again beat the national averages. In English literature this was a rise of 2.5 per cent to 76.1 per cent, and in English language of 1.3 to 72.8 per cent.

There was a brilliant atmosphere across Islington’s schools as students received the results they had worked so hard for. It is fantastic that so many of them have achieved and even exceeded the grades they hoped for, and they thoroughly deserve them.

An exciting future now lies ahead for these young people, whether they are starting A-levels, vocational qualifications or training.

And, of course, a huge thank you to Islington’s exceptional headteachers and teachers and the students’ families for their support and hard work. The transformation of performance in local schools in recent years would not have been possible without them.

 

NB: All results are provisional. Full comparative results will be available once they have been verified early next year.

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

 

Islington students shine bright in English GCSEs

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families, congratulates Islington’s students for their outstanding English GCSE results Congratulations to Islington’s fantastic GCSE students, who bucked the national...

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After years of campaigning for the Archway public space, Islington Labour councillors alongside Jeremy Corbyn MP and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, opened the new Archway public space on 22nd August 2017. 

The previous one-way gyratory for many in the local community was inefficient, outdated and congested with traffic. For years the local community had asked for it to be changed. After some tough campaigning from councillors, it has now been replaced with a two-way traffic system, better pedestrian crossings on Holloway Road, separated cycle routes and a more connected town centre, opening up safer access to shops and businesses.

The Archway public space would not have been possible without the joint partnership with the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL), alongside the £12.6m investment to make the new public space at the heart of Archway’s transformation.

As part of the celebrations, Islington Council is now running a naming competition, where members of the public are invited to suggest a name for the new public space. Suggestion boxes are located in local shops and can be submitted until 3rd September or alternatively the public can email town.centre@islington.gov.uk with their suggestions.

The shortlisted suggestions will be announced in a live event on the public square on 16th September where people can vote for their favourite names, as well as enjoy food, live music, market stalls, an Arsenal penalty shootout and Zumba lessons!

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Cllr Kaya Comer Schwartz, Executive Member Community Development said: “As someone who was born here and has lived in the area for over 30 years it has been wonderful to see a dangerous road transformed into a public square. Now the Jeremy has officially opened the square I look forward to the many activities that will created for and by our community, starting with the live event on 16th September. This beautiful square belongs to and should be enjoyed by local people.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport said: “This once in a lifetime scheme is the culmination of a massive joint effort to transform what was once a fragmented, traffic dominated area into a safe, attractive public space that local communities and visitors alike can enjoy; encouraging more to walk and cycle and lead healthier lives. This massive transformation would not have been possible without the patience and support of local residents, whom we wholeheartedly thank.”

More information about the Archway Improvement Scheme is available on the Council’s website.

For more information about Archway see www.archwaylondon.com

 

Pcitured: Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington councillors and members of the public at the opening of the new Archway public space

New Archway public space officially opens

After years of campaigning for the Archway public space, Islington Labour councillors alongside Jeremy Corbyn MP and the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, opened the new Archway public space...

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Junction Ward councillors are supporting an exciting educational project in Foxham Gardens, which aims to raise awareness of the park’s wildlife and history.

Seven sign boxes have been placed around the park and will be updated on a seasonable basis with rolling information displaying information about plants and creatures, as well as history of the park.

The signs will change with the seasons and provide different information on what to see and smell in the gardens and alert visitors to unusual sights. The next change will be in September to mark the start of Autumn. One of the signs will tell visitors about the history of the gardens, from the bombings of the street in the 1940s through to the present wildlife park.

£700 has been awarded to Friends of Foxham Gardens through Islington Council’s Local Initiative Fund (LIF), a small grants scheme that supports activities and improvements across Islington. The funding will cover the cost of purchasing and installing the seven sign boxes in the park.

Janet Burgess, Executive Member for Health and Social Care and Junction Ward councillor, said: “I am delighted to support this important project by Friends of Foxham Gardens, which everyone who visits the park will enjoy and benefit from.

“Islington Council’s LIF grants scheme plays an important role in supporting community projects like this. As a councillor, it is very rewarding getting involved in what may seem like a small project that actually has a big impact on the local community. I urge other local community groups with exciting ideas to apply for LIF funding.”

Christine Wise, Chair of Friends of Foxham Gardens, said: “It is fantastic to have councillors’ support on our new project. All park users will benefit from the signage, especially local children and dog walkers who come from further afield to make use of the dog friendly space.”

 

Pictured: Junction Ward councillors Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwartz and Cllr Janet Burgess, and Chris Wise, Chair of Friends of Foxham Gardens, in front of the new signs

Junction councillors award funding to exciting Foxham Gardens educational project

  Junction Ward councillors are supporting an exciting educational project in Foxham Gardens, which aims to raise awareness of the park’s wildlife and history. Seven sign boxes have been placed...

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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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Canonbury councillors have ensured improvements to New River Walk, a small picturesque park along a stretch of the New River.

The walk, which can be accessed from Canonbury Grove, St Paul’s Road and Willowbridge Road, is frequented by local residents. However, the lack of level access previously made it more difficult for wheelchair users and disabled people to visit the area.

Local Canonbury Ward councillor Clare Jeapes was keen to improve access to the area so more residents could enjoy New River Walk. She awarded £3,000 from Islington Council’s Local Initiative Fund (LIF), a small grants scheme that supports activities and improvements in the borough, which went towards the accessibility improvements, with the remaining funding for the works coming from elsewhere.

Level access has been created at various points throughout the walk, including from a previously dis-used gate and by raising existing walkways so they are now step-free. Some parts of the path along New River Walk are not straight and can only be reached by steps, so a new path has been laid to cut along the garden area and existing parts of the path have been widened.

The changes, while seemingly small, will improve access for wheelchair users, disabled people and parents with pushchairs, allowing them to explore the area more easily.

Cllr Clare Jeapes, councillor for Canonbury Ward, said: “I am grateful to local residents and the Council’s Greenspace team for bringing these accessibility improvements to New River Walk. Islington is a densely populated borough, so it is essential that residents can get off pavements and onto footpaths to exercise and breathe cleaner air.  

“Islington Council’s LIF scheme has helped to make these changes a reality. I encourage other local community groups with great ideas to come forward and apply for LIF funding.”

Jack Lambert of Friends of the New River Walk, added: “We are pleased that our concerns about the lack of level access to New River Walk have been listened to and acted upon. These changes to create step-free access are relatively simple and in keeping with the aesthetic of the rest of the walk, and will make a big difference to residents who would otherwise struggle to visit this lovely part of Canonbury.”

 

Pictured - Diane Brace and Jack Lambert of Friends of New River Walk, and Cllr Clare Jeapes of Canonbury Ward, on the new pathway cutting along the garden area and on one of the raised walkways leading to New River Walk

 

Local councillors improve accessibility to New River Walk

  Canonbury councillors have ensured improvements to New River Walk, a small picturesque park along a stretch of the New River. The walk, which can be accessed from Canonbury Grove,...

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Labour-run Islington Council is rolling out more on-street bicycle parking to residents as part of its plans to encourage cycling in the borough.

Bikehangars are secure, covered, lockable units that take up just a single car parking space on the road, but each one provides rental space for up to six bicycles. They offer a safe and effective way of protecting bikes from the weather and theft in places where storage space is at a premium.

A pilot scheme, which last year installed two Bikehangars in Crayford Road in St George's ward and Hanley Road in Tollington ward, was so successful that there is now a waiting list of more than 600 residents who have requested a space in a unit.

The Council has secured external funding for 18 Asgard hangars across Islington, meaning 120 bicycles can be kept secure and protected from the weather in lockable on-street units. This is in addition to more than 700 spaces on public bike stands around the borough, and the numerous bike stand spaces and similar secure covered lockable bike shelters on the borough’s council estates.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “Islington Labour is firmly committed to encouraging more residents to cycle, which is healthier and better for the environment. Bikehangers are an ideal solution to help address the concerns of those who may otherwise be worried about cycle theft of vandalism.

"The borough is densely populated and built-up, so it is important we provide a secure space for residents who cannot store their bike at home.

"I hope more residents will make the most of the health and financial advantages of cycling as we roll out more Bikehangars in Islington"

Residents have been consulted on proposed locations for these units, and more will be rolled out borough-wide, subject to winning further funding and localised consultation.

The council is developing an application and payment system for residents on its website, but until then residents can email publicrealm@islington.gov.uk to signal their interest.

 

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, at the new Bikehangar in Crayford Road, St George's ward.

 

 

Bikehangars roll-out encourages more Islington residents to cycle

Labour-run Islington Council is rolling out more on-street bicycle parking to residents as part of its plans to encourage cycling in the borough. Bikehangars are secure, covered, lockable units that...

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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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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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