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Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about today's Budget announced by the Tory Government.

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Today's Tory Budget was one for the privileged few, not the many. 

Islington needed a Budget to help us fix the housing crisis by - 

  • Allowing the council to build more new council homes.
  • Protecting existing council homes.
  • Helping us to prevent homelessness.

But instead we heard more of the same from a tired and uncaring Tory Government, which is continuing to impose massive cuts on the council - by 2020 we will have lost 70 per cent of our core central government funding. 

Islington Labour is working hard to make a difference for local people by tackling the housing crisis.

We are delivering the largest number of new council homes built in Islington for 30 years. By 2020, we will have delivered 3,000 new homes for social rent, prioritised for local people, in a decade. 

We have also taken action to protect people being treated unfairly who live in private rented homes. 

Despite this, too many people in Islington still cannot get genuinely affordable housing, or are forced to live in overcrowded and insecure homes.

I wrote to the Chancellor before today's Budget, urging him to announce measures that will allow the council to do more to make a real difference for local people. You can read my letter here.

Shamefully, the Tories have let Islington down again.

Islington Labour is committed to making our borough a fairer place for all. To do that we need to be able to tackle the housing crisis head-on. 

Sign-up to volunteer to help us make a difference today. 

A Tory Budget for the few

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about today's Budget announced by the Tory Government. Today's Tory Budget was one for the privileged few, not the many. Islington needed a...

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Islington Labour has taken another serious step towards tackling poor air quality in the borough, by becoming the first local council to introduce a new charge for diesel vehicles parking in any short stay bays in the borough. 

Diesel vehicles will have to pay an extra £2 per hour to park in any bays across Islington, and the council hopes this will encourage more people to stop using diesel vehicles. 

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport at Islington Council, said:

"Islington's air quality is not good enough. We are determined to take real action to help improve the air we all breathe, and to help local people lead healthier lives.

"Diesel emissions play a big part in contributing damaging particulates to our air, and this extra charge on short stay parking is the latest move in our efforts to reduce these harmful pollutants.

"Alongside the diesel surcharge on residents' parking permits, our anti-engine-idling policy and our calls for the Mayor of London to ban all diesel vehicles from London by 2025, Islington Labour is leading the way on making a difference to improve air quality."

Proceeds from the new charge will go into a ring-fenced account to be used for transport and parking related activities. The Council estimates that between 25-30% of the 1.59 million short-stay visitor parking sessions are made by diesel and heavy oil vehicles.

Pictured - Cllr Claudia Webbe

Tackling poor air quality

Islington Labour has taken another serious step towards tackling poor air quality in the borough, by becoming the first local council to introduce a new charge for diesel vehicles parking...

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To mark Trans Day of Remembrance (20th November), Islington Council is once again flying the Trans Flag above the Town Hall. 

The council has recently adopted a new policy to support trans staff, to help create a supportive and safe working environment for trans people. 

Cllr Osh Gantly, Labour councillor for Highbury East and one of the first trans elected representatives in the country, said:

"Trans Day of Remembrance is an opportunity for us all to highlight the continued persecution and attacks that trans people suffer. I am proud to represent my local community, and to do so as a trans woman is very important to me.

"The council's new policy to support trans staff is very welcome, and it's a great credit to our borough that once again the trans flag will be flying from the Town Hall."

Pictured - Cllr Osh Gantly 

Standing with the Trans Community

To mark Trans Day of Remembrance (20th November), Islington Council is once again flying the Trans Flag above the Town Hall.  The council has recently adopted a new policy to...

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For the first time, more than half of Islington Labour’s candidates at next year’s local elections will be female. If the Labour candidates are elected, Islington Council would have the highest proportion of female councillors of any council in London.

After the largest democratic process in the borough’s history, outside of a public election, almost 7,000 local party members have chosen 48 candidates to stand across the borough in the council elections on 3rd May 2018. 

14 new candidates will be standing for Islington Labour, with more female black and minority ethnic candidates standing than at the 2014 elections. 

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, said: “Islington Labour is on the side of local people and is making a difference for the many, not the few, on the issues that matter most. 

“Next year's election is a chance for local people to vote for a Labour council that will build more new council homes, help people find decent jobs and give young people the best start in life. Despite cuts of over 70 per cent by the Tory Government, we are making a difference with less by protecting essential services like recycling collections, keeping all libraries open and maintaining support for older residents. 

“I am delighted that, for the first time, more than half of Islington Labour’s candidates will be female. We have a wealth of talent and experience amongst our diverse range of candidates. 

“This election will also be an opportunity to send a clear message to the Tory Government that people in Islington reject their unfair policies. 

“We will continue to work flat-out all year round to win the support of local people.”

Islington Labour’s candidates for the 2018 local elections will be –

  • Barnsbury - Rowena Champion, Jilani Chowdhury and Mouna Hamitouche
  • Bunhill - Troy Gallagher, Phil Graham and Claudia Webbe
  • Caledonian - Paul Convery, Sara Hyde and Una O'Halloran
  • Canonbury - Clare Jeapes, Nick Wayne and John Woolf
  • Clerkenwell - Ben Mackmurdie, Matt Nathan and Kadeema Woodbyrne
  • Finsbury Park - Gary Heather, Mick O'Sullivan and Asima Shaikh
  • Highbury East - Osh Gantly, Sue Lukes and Chris Russell
  • Highbury West - Theresa Debono, Andy Hull and Roulin Khondoker
  • Hillrise - Michelline Ngongo, Dave Poyser and Marian Spall
  • Holloway - Rakhia Ismail, Paul Smith and Diarmaid Ward
  • Junction - Sheila Chapman, Janet Burgess and Kaya Comer- Schwartz
  • Mildmay - Santiago Bell-Bradford, Joe Caluori and Jenny Kay
  • St George's - Tricia Clarke, Kat Fletcher and Satnam Gill
  • St Mary's – Angela Picknell, Gary Poole and Nurullah Turan          
  • St Peter’s - Vivien Cutler, Martin Klute and Alice Perry
  • Tolllington - Anjna Khuruna, Richard Watts and Flora Williamson 

26 candidates are female (54%), and 22 male. The current Labour Group is 42% female. 

Of the 14 new candidates, 8 are female and 6 male, with 21% being BAME.

Pictured - Islington Labour candidates and volunteers campaigning in Highbury. 

Majority of Islington Labour candidates to be female

For the first time, more than half of Islington Labour’s candidates at next year’s local elections will be female. If the Labour candidates are elected, Islington Council would have the...

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Ahead of the Government's Autumn Budget on 22nd November, Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, has written to the Chancellor urging him to help fix the housing crisis Islington faces. 

Cllr Richard Watts said:

"Islington Labour is working hard to make a difference for working people in the borough by tackling the housing crisis.

"That's why Islington Council is currently delivering the largest building programme of new council homes, prioritised for local people, in the borough for 30 years.

"By 2020, we will have delivered 3,000 new homes for social rent in a decade.

"Despite this, too many people in Islington still cannot get genuinely affordable housing, or are forced to live in overcrowded and insecure homes.

"We need the Government to act in next week’s Autumn Budget to help us tackle the housing crisis by –

  • Allowing the council to build more new council homes.
  • Protecting existing council homes.
  • Helping us to prevent homelessness.

"I have written to the Chancellor today, urging him to announce measures that will allow the council to do more to make a real difference for local people. You can read my letter here.

"Please add your voice to our calls by tweeting @PhilipHammondUK calling on him to #fixthehousingcrisis. 

"We are committed to making our borough a fairer place for all. To do that we need to be able to tackle the housing crisis head-on."

Pictured - Cllr Watts on the site of new council homes being built in Islington. 

Help us fix the housing crisis

Ahead of the Government's Autumn Budget on 22nd November, Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, has written to the Chancellor urging him to help fix the housing crisis Islington...

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Islington Council has announced a new business ambassador scheme to encourage more Islington employers to become accredited Living Wage employers.

The new scheme, announced during Living Wage Week, will recruit businesses in Islington who already pay the Living Wage to communicate the benefits to their peers.

Islington has 118 accredited Living Wage employers so far, one of the highest levels of any local authority area in the country. In order to drive this number up higher, the Council will appoint a Living Wage business champion to lead a peer-to-peer Living Wage drive in Islington’s private sector.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, says: “The Living Wage is good for businesses. It means higher staff morale, improved retention and lower rates of absence. We can help more local people if we have more accredited Living Wage employers in Islington. The Living Wage can mean quitting that second job, getting enough sleep and spending more time with your family.

"Encouraging employers to pay the Living Wage is just one of the ways we are working to tackle in-work poverty. By working with employers and encouraging them to be London Living Wage employers, Islington's economic growth can be inclusive so that all residents see the benefits.

“We are committed to creating a fairer borough for all, which cannot be achieved if local people do not earn a real Living Wage.”

Islington Council has been leading by example to encourage more employers to become accredited Living Wage employers. Five years ago, it became the UK’s first accredited Living Wage local authority, securing the Living Wage for all of its own staff and apprentices. It also has a Living Wage requirement built into its procurement processes, meaning 98 per cent of the Council’s contractors are paid at least the Living Wage.

During Living Wage Week this week, Islington Council became the UK’s first Living Wage landlord. It also announced plans to encourage other local grant-giving organisations to become Living Wage Friendly Funders, meaning they would require grantees to pay the Living Wage. 

Council launches Living Wage business ambassador scheme

Islington Council has announced a new business ambassador scheme to encourage more Islington employers to become accredited Living Wage employers. The new scheme, announced during Living Wage Week, will recruit...

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Labour-run Islington Council has become the UK’s first Living Wage landlord. It will insist that all new tenants in the commercial properties it lets commit to paying at least the London Living Wage to all their staff working in its buildings.

The new policy, announced during Living Wage Week, is the latest in the Council’s efforts to tackle poverty and inequality in Islington by championing the real Living Wage. Its rate is independently set to meet the actual cost of living, unlike the Tory Government’s so-called national Living Wage, which does not go far enough.

Islington Council owns approximately 60 commercial properties which are let to a variety of large and small businesses. As a Living Wage landlord, it will require new commercial tenants entering into council leases to pay the Living Wage to all their staff working on the premises. Failure to do so will mean their leases will not be renewed when they expire.

Cllr Andy Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance and Community Safety, says: “Everyone deserves to earn enough to live on, not just survive. Unfortunately, too many people across Islington are struggling to make ends meet after a hard day’s work. That is why Islington Council has been leading the way on the real Living Wage campaign.

“Islington has 118 accredited Living Wage employers, one of the highest concentrations in the UK. By becoming the UK’s first Living Wage landlord, we can drive this number up still higher by requiring more Islington-based organisations to do the right thing by paying their staff at least the real Living Wage.

“Paying the Living Wage can help organisations to save money through better staff retention and increased productivity. For employees, it can make coping with the rising cost of living that little bit easier. Creating a fairer borough is at the heart of what we do, and that includes tackling poverty pay.”

Islington Council’s decision to lead the way on the Living Wage was driven by its Fairness Commission, the first in the UK. There are now more than 30 others across the country.

Five years ago, the Council became the UK’s first accredited Living Wage local authority, securing the Living Wage for all its staff and apprentices. It also has a Living Wage requirement built into its procurement processes, meaning 98 per cent of the Council’s contractors are paid at least the Living Wage, including all of its 500 homecare workers.

As well as now becoming the UK’s first Living Wage landlord, Islington Council is identifying Living Wage Ambassadors who will encourage other private sector businesses in the borough to become accredited Living Wage employers as well.

A report published by the Living Wage Foundation this week shows that workers in voluntary and community sector are particularly impacted by low pay, despite the vital work they do. Last year, Islington was the first council to become a Living Wage Friendly Funder, requiring its charitable grantees to pay their staff at least the Living Wage. It is now working to increase the number of other grant-giving organisations in Islington who are Living Wage Friendly Funders.  

 

Pictured - Islington Labour councillors holding the Living Wage Week on the Town Hall steps

Islington Council becomes the UK’s first Living Wage landlord

Labour-run Islington Council has become the UK’s first Living Wage landlord. It will insist that all new tenants in the commercial properties it lets commit to paying at least the...

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Local people had their latest chance to put the questions they wanted answered to the Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, this week at the latest 'Leader's Question Time' event held in St Stephen's Church, Canonbury Road. 

After taking questions from residents on topics ranging from housing to anti-social behaviour, Cllr Watts said:

"Leader's Question Time is a great chance for residents to ask questions about the things that really matter to them. From local issues they want to raise with me, to questions about something the council is doing, I’m happy to answer anything that people put to me. 

"It's really important for me to hear people's views and concerns first-hand, so that the council can respond on the issues that matter to local people.

“I want to thank everyone who came along to ask questions, and I look forward to the next event in February."

Pictured - Cllr Richard Watts and the independent Chair of the Leader's Question Time, former Borough Fire Commander, Paul Hobbs.

Listening to local people

Local people had their latest chance to put the questions they wanted answered to the Leader of Islington Council, Cllr Richard Watts, this week at the latest 'Leader's Question Time'...

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Islington Labour petition calls on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union.

Islington Labour is turning up the pressure on the Tory Government, calling on them to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union living in the borough.

Sign the petition now.

Islington Labour has launched a petition which calls on the Tory Government to:

  • Immediately guarantee the full rights of all EU citizens living in Islington
  • Stop using our friends, family and neighbours as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations
  • Guarantee that EU citizens’ rights will not be affected in the event of no Brexit deal being reached

The petition is the latest stage of Islington Labour’s ongoing campaign to stand up for local people from countries in the European Union.

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, says: “Islington is one community and around 30,000 people from countries in the European Union have made their home here. They are our friends, family and neighbours and it is an outrage that the Tory Government is continuing to treat them as bargaining chips in the Brexit negotiations.

“Islington Labour is on the side of local people, including EU citizens. Ever since the Brexit vote, we have repeatedly called on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee their rights. This petition, which we are encouraging everyone to sign, is part of our ongoing campaign to make the Tories see sense.”

Cllr Kaya Comer-Schwarz, Executive Member for Community Development, says: “People originally from countries in the European Union make a huge economic, social and cultural contribution to Islington. It is not an exaggeration to say that we would be poorer in every sense of the word if we lost them because the Tory Government have not guaranteed their full rights.

“I have been working with local community groups to coordinate advice for EU citizens in Islington who are uncertain about their future. We will not rest until the Tories have guaranteed the full rights of people from countries in the European Union, who are an important part of Islington’s community.”

Islington is home to people of all backgrounds, including around 30,000 people from countries in the European Union. They make a huge contribution to the community and many work in vital jobs such as the NHS. Despite this, the Tory Government is continuing to use them as bargaining chips in their Brexit negotiations and has failed to guarantee their rights at every opportunity.

EU workers represent 13 per cent of London’s workforce and made a net contribution of £20bn to public finances between 2000 and 2011. They also represent 10 per cent of doctors and 7 per cent of nurses in London’s NHS. Their potential departure would have serious economic and health repercussions for London and Islington.

Despite the Tories’ posturing, there are still many unanswered questions about the rights of people from countries in the European Union. It is unclear which of their rights the Government wants to retain, whether people who have lived in the UK for less than five years will have fewer rights, what the cost for applying for ‘settled status’ would be and what would happen in the event of no Brexit deal being reached.

Shortly after the UK voted to leave the EU and in the face of increased reports of hate crime, Islington Labour held a rally on Highbury Fields to send a clear message that Islington remains united. It has also demanded the Tory Government protect vital funding to help local people back to work, which is backed by the European Social Fund, after Brexit. Islington Labour councillors have also voted for two motions in support of EU citizens and to pressure the Tory Government at Full Council.

The Labour Party has consistently called on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union since the Brexit vote.

Standing up for Islington

Islington Labour petition calls on the Tory Government to immediately guarantee the rights of people from countries in the European Union. Islington Labour is turning up the pressure on the...

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Labour-run Islington Council has called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to go further with plans to improve transport in the capital by banning diesel vehicles from London and pushing forward with major transformation projects to create more space for walking and cycling.

Responding to the Mayor’s consultation on the draft Transport Strategy, Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport, has highlighted key policies that have been pioneered in Islington and should be taken forward by the Mayor.

Islington has called for –

  • More major transformation schemes, like the Archway Gyratory removal, across London to create more space for walking and cycling alongside improved public transport links;
  • A default 20mph speed limit on all roads across London;
  • A commitment to make London diesel-free by 2025;
  • Replication of the success of ‘Bunhill Heat and Power’, capturing waste heat from London’s Underground to provide low-carbon domestic heating, saving Londoners at least 10% on their annual energy bills;
  • Electrification of all rail lines in London to improve air quality;
  • Consideration of bringing some disused railway stations back into public use to increase capacity;
  • Reduce disruption to residents from construction works of major projects like Crossrail 2;
  • Adequate and fair funding for local councils to deliver the Transport Strategy. 

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport, said: “Islington has been at the forefront of pioneering many policies now being adopted across London, from 20mph speed limits to major transformations of road systems like the removal of Archway Gyratory. 

“The Mayor’s strategy sets out a clear and positive plan for improving transport in London, as well as real action to tackle important issues like poor air quality. But we are calling for the Mayor to go further by backing our calls for diesel vehicles to be banned in London by 2025 and for more space for walking and cycling to be created. 

“A key part of our efforts to make Islington a fairer place for all is to help people to lead healthier lives. We need a transport system that helps us to do that by encouraging walking and cycling, as well reducing poor air quality.” 

The council’s response welcomes the Mayor’s commitment to the ‘Healthy Streets’ approach, which seeks to improve local ‘streetscape’ design to encourage walking, cycling and to support travel by public transport. Also welcomed are plans to eliminate road traffic casualties by 2041, making London a zero carbon free city by 2050, and freezing Transport for London (TfL) fares up to 2020. 

However, the council has repeated calls for all buses using Holloway Bus Garage to be hybrid-only, an expansion of electric vehicle charging points, free Wifi to be introduced on buses and for the retention of night bus services. A proposal has also been made to reopen disused stations, such as Maiden Lane on the Overground, to increase capacity and reduce congestion.

You can read the full consultation response here. 

Council urges Mayor to ban diesels and create more space for walking and cycling

Labour-run Islington Council has called on the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to go further with plans to improve transport in the capital by banning diesel vehicles from London and...

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