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Leader’s New Year Message
Cllr Richard Watts

I get lots of people coming to my advice surgeries, even more so since becoming Leader of the Council in October. What has really struck me this year is the new faces, people who've never needed help before but suddenly don't know where to turn. One lady told me she'd worked all her life but with her hours suddenly cut back she'd been forced to go to a foodbank because she couldn't afford to pay the latest massive gas bill and feed her family. Another came, at breaking point because Atos had told him he was 'fit for work' when he knew he wasn't. He was terrified he would lose his home as a result.

Nobody should spend this Christmas forced to choose between heating or eating. Nobody should be worrying that this will be their last Christmas in the home they've lived in for years, because they can't afford to stay there.

We're doing everything we can as a Council to help people manage the rising cost of living and stand up for those affected by the government's cuts. Things like saving families £500 per year per child with free, nutritious school meals for all our primary school children - a policy that's now going to be partially rolled out across the country because Islington has shown it works. Keeping our council housing rents as low as possible and taking the Mayor of London to court because he's trying to increase rents in the borough. Paying the London Living Wage to all our staff. And with fuel prices rocketing and the private companies reporting ever bigger profits, we've even started generating our own power. 700 homes in Bunhill are already enjoying cheaper, greener energy from the Bunhill Energy Centre. Soon at least 500 more homes will see the same benefit with a ground breaking project that takes waste heat from London Underground tunnels and pipes it into the heat network to warm local homes.

I wish I could say that our actions meant nobody needed to come to our advice surgeries in desperation. But with a fourth year of this Government attacking some of the most vulnerable people in society, this sadly isn't a Christmas wish I'm going to see fulfilled.

What I can promise in 2014 is this Labour Council will continue standing up for our community and even as our budgets continue to be slashed by the Government, we'll keep prioritising spending what we have on making a difference in tough times.

We'll keep up the fight to save our vital public services, from our post offices and  fire stations to our much loved local Whittington Hospital. We'll keep tackling the unemployment crisis by working with businesses to create jobs and setting up a new Employment Commission to better help people get skills and support. And we'll keep building the new genuinely affordable council housing Islington desperately needs - the borough's biggest house building programme for 30 years.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Christmas Message From Cllr. Watts

Leader’s New Year Message Cllr Richard Watts I get lots of people coming to my advice surgeries, even more so since becoming Leader of the Council in October. What has...

Islington Council Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, has condemned the ‘complacent, dismissive’ response the Minister of State for Disabled People has given to Islington’s declaration of no confidence in Atos.

In October, Islington became the first local authority in the country to directly challenge the Government over Atos’ poor performance in determining eligibility for benefits.

Atos fight continues: Council Leader condemns ‘complacent’ government response

Islington Council Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, has condemned the ‘complacent, dismissive’ response the Minister of State for Disabled People has given to Islington’s declaration of no confidence in Atos. In... Read more

Islington Labour Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, publicly moved a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Atos at a Council Executive meeting last night (Thursday 17 October) and slammed their ‘demeaning and demoralising’ tests to determine if disabled people are fit to work.

An Islington Council scrutiny investigation into Atos, the Government contractor running Work Capability Assessments for local residents on disability benefits, raised serious concerns about their performance. 

Islington Council Leader declares ‘no confidence’ in ATOS

Islington Labour Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, publicly moved a vote of ‘no confidence’ in Atos at a Council Executive meeting last night (Thursday 17 October) and slammed their ‘demeaning and... Read more

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Cllr Richard Watts announced his intention to focus on “jobs, housing and the cost of living” as he was elected as Leader of Islington Labour Group on Monday 7 October. 

Cllr Richard Watts elected as new Leader of Islington Council

Cllr Richard Watts announced his intention to focus on “jobs, housing and the cost of living” as he was elected as Leader of Islington Labour Group on Monday 7 October.  Read more

Cllr Catherine West announces she is standing down as Leader of Islington Council

Being Leader of Islington Council has been a huge privilege and I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the face of the Tory-led government’s unfair attack on inner city areas like ours.

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Free School Meals For All is a policy that helps both children and families. It is the  ultimate 'One Nation' policy and can be demonstrated to give children better learning, better diet and to ease the pressure on hard working families.

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Free School Meals For All is a policy that helps both children and families. It is the  ultimate 'One Nation' policy and can be demonstrated to give children better learning,... Read more

It has emerged this week that plans by the Tory Mayor of London’s Fire Brigade that Islington is set to lose three vital fire appliances that currently serve the borough.

Under the new proposals the Fire Commissioner has announced he will be removing 27 pumping appliances from around London in preparation for possible industrial action.

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It has emerged this week that plans by the Tory Mayor of London’s Fire Brigade that Islington is set to lose three vital fire appliances that currently serve the borough.... Read more

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