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It’s a much trumpeted truism that young people are our future. But all too often it is young people who lose out when cuts are on the horizon. That’s why I’m proud to say that our budget, which we have published today, is a budget for young people.

The council’s government funding has already been cut in half since 2010, and by 2020 we will have lost 70 per cent of our Government funding. That means that we have been forced yet again to make some difficult decisions in this year’s budget.

However, despite these huge cuts, we have taken a decision that we are going to prioritise investing in services for young people. Over the next four years we will be protecting the funding from the council for both universal AND targeted youth services.

We are going to listen to young people and ask them to help us shape youth services that not only match their interests and needs, but are accessible and safe.

Islington’s young people are energetic, vibrant and full of potential, and the overwhelming majority stay clear of trouble and take the right path.

However, we have to recognise that over the last 12 months this Borough has seen a worrying surge in serious youth violence including the tragic deaths Vaso Kakko, Stefan Appleton, and other high profile victims of youth crime in the borough.

The community rightly expect us to take a leadership role in reversing this worrying trend. In response we have introduced a new Youth Crime Strategy and are bringing in a new specialised Gangs Unit and have made big changes to our Youth Offending Service.

We will also continue to support out excellent Targeted Youth Service which provides support to vulnerable young people which is much valued and trusted by young people and their families.

But we have to do more.  That’s why I’m delighted to announce we have decided to invest an additional £500k in on a new package of targeted support for young people who may be at risk of being drawn into youth crime, as perpetrators or victims. This new programme will enable us to provide top quality mentors and independent case workers for young people who need it most, building their resilience, providing positive role models and helping them access education training and employment.

We have to take an early intervention approach – identifying vulnerable young people and offering them positive support BEFORE they are drawn into making unhealthy and dangerous choices.

At a time when central government is cutting funding for public services and cutting welfare benefits for families, investing in services for our young people is more important than ever, so all young people in Islington can thrive and achieve their full potential. This lies at the heart of our ambition for a fairer borough.

Cllr Joe Caluori

Executive Member for Children & Families, LB Islington

Labour Member for Mildmay Ward

@Croslandite

Budget Blog - Cllr Joe Caluori

It’s a much trumpeted truism that young people are our future. But all too often it is young people who lose out when cuts are on the horizon. That’s why...

Islington Council's 2016/17 Budget Announced

On Tuesday 12th January, Islington Council's proposed budget for 2016/17 was published. You can find out more about the budget here.

The Tory Government has already cut Islington Council's funding in half since 2010, meaning the Council has had to make savings of around £150 million in the last 5 years. However, the recently announced Comprehensive Spending Review will see yet more cuts to Islington, meaning that by 2020 the Council will have lost more than 70% of our Government funding in 10 years. 

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, explains more about a budget that, despite massive Government cuts, protects vital frontline services and makes a difference in tackling the issues that matter to our borough. 

A budget to protect Islington - Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

Today we have announced proposals for Islington Council’s budget for the year ahead.

This year’s budget is one that protects Islington and prioritises the future of young people in our borough.

The council I lead is committed to making a difference on the issues that matter to us all. The increase in serious youth violence in the past year has been extremely troubling. Three teenagers have lost their lives in Islington after being stabbed in 2015, and we are not going to sit back and see this continue.

This budget will –

  • spend an extra £500,000 on additional support for young people most at risk of turning to gangs and crime.
  • protect existing budgets for youth work and maintain the Islington Bursary to help disadvantaged young people go to college.
  • protect libraries, care for older people, and other vital services.

This budget will help to protect young people and help tackle youth crime, as well as continuing to defend the services we all rely on.

However, this investment in protecting Islington is made all the more difficult by the continued cuts from the Tory Government to the council’s funding.

The council's Government funding has already been cut in half since 2010, and by 2020 the council will have lost a massive 70 per cent of its Government funding. Again, the Tories have hit inner city areas, like Islington, harder than leafier areas of the country.

That means that we have been forced yet again to make some difficult decisions in this year’s budget. For example, Council Tax will rise by 1.99 per cent and we will have to start charging for bulky waste collection from street properties as other London boroughs do.  

Despite the challenges we face, an Islington Labour run Council will continue to make a difference on the things that matter. 

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A budget to protect Islington

Islington Council's 2016/17 Budget Announced On Tuesday 12th January, Islington Council's proposed budget for 2016/17 was published. You can find out more about the budget here. The Tory Government has...

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Labour’s shadow minister for Energy and Climate Change, Clive Lewis MP praised Islington’s efforts to tackle fuel poverty in the borough whilst on a visit to an Islington family with Executive Member, Cllr Claudia Webbe.

Clive Lewis MP visited a family in Archway to talk about the difficulties they have had paying off energy bills and to hear about the direct impact of Islington’s Seasonal Health Intervention Network (SHINE) project – a service working to improve the wellbeing of those at risk of bad health from cold homes.

Winter conditions on average each year kill almost 60 people in Islington, that is more than those who die in suicide and accidents put together. With five Islington wards having the highest fuel poverty scores in London and an estimated 17,500 Islington households still living in fuel poverty, Islington Council is determined to tackle and prevent fuel poverty in every home in the borough.

This is why the services under SHINE, which Islington offers to families, are so important and has seen improvements in heating and insulation to around 21,000 homes since 2010 and helped secure energy bill discounts of £140 pounds each for 3,000 households since 2013.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said:

During these winter months we should spare a thought for those forced to make choices between heating and eating. Our commitment to helping residents through our innovative SHINE project is evident in that, we have sent energy experts to more than 5,000 homes in order to assess the best ways of saving energy and give advice on cutting fuel bills.”

“Debt and the high cost of housing and energy or living in a cold, damp home can often be the root cause that makes poverty, respiratory illnesses and many other chronic health conditions worse”

 “Whilst the council is continuously under immense pressure as our funding is being cut by central government, we are determined to hold on to the services that our residents benefit most from. And we know that there are many more homes to visit and many more residents to help, so we will continue to help cut energy bills, tackle the root causes, as well as keep our residents homes warm”

Clive Lewis MP, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, added:

Sadly, there are too many families who find themselves in the same situation as the family I visited today, those who are on a low income, living in a cold home falling into greater poverty as the system fails to recognise how urgently they need help.”

“The work of Islington Council has offered this family a lifeline, but they do this in the face of ongoing council cuts. At the same time, the government is rolling back on energy efficiency programmes which were brought in to improve the quality and warmth of homes. As a result, there are now over 4.5 million households now living in cold homes in the UK.”

“Just by visiting this Islington family today proves to me how vital it is that the government tackles this cold homes crisis. Everybody should have the right to come back to a warm home.”

Since 2010 Islington Council’s innovative SHINE project has helped over 10,000 people in the borough and saved £3 million in energy bills, mainly in part due to sending out energy experts to visit homes and provide advice and energy saving measures. 

CLIVE LEWIS MP PRAISES ISLINGTON’S WORK TO REDUCE FUEL POVERTY

Labour’s shadow minister for Energy and Climate Change, Clive Lewis MP praised Islington’s efforts to tackle fuel poverty in the borough whilst on a visit to an Islington family with...

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council's Executive Member for Children & Families, writes about Evening Standard analysis that shows Islington's schools are in the top 10 in the country for attainment of disadvantaged children in the 'Three R's'.

Islington's Community of schools delivering opportunity for all

I was really pleased to see that according to the Evening Standard’s analysis of the Key Stage 2 SATS results for England and Wales, Islington comes in 9th for the proportion of disadvantaged pupils achieving level 4 in Reading, Writing and Maths – ‘The three R’s’. 

This is testament to the excellent work done by our fantastic primary schools, and I want to send out my heartfelt thanks to all the wonderful teachers that made this happen – but also of course to the pupils who worked so hard, and the parents that encouraged them. 

The quality of teaching and learning children receive is a crucial factor in determining their future educational attainment, and this is especially important to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. As a Borough with the third highest rate of child poverty it is incredibly important to us that primary schools do their bit in tackling inequality of outcomes, and they do so with gusto.

These results also show how a local authority working in partnership with local schools can drive real improvements for children. The Tory Government have said that they want every School to be an academy or Free School, and that they want to end the role of local councils working with their local schools.

These results show a light on how wrong they are to pursue this policy. In Islington we have a family of schools who work closely with each other and with us, and that is how these impressive results are possible. We can go toe to toe with academy chains and show that out family of schools has got what it takes, and will continue to do so, whatever David Cameron, George Osborne or Nicky Morgan say.

Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children & Families

@Croslandite

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The three R's - Islington in Top 10

Cllr Joe Caluori, Islington Council's Executive Member for Children & Families, writes about Evening Standard analysis that shows Islington's schools are in the top 10 in the country for attainment...

Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan MP, has praised Islington Council for building new genuinely-affordable homes whilst on a visit to a new development site in the borough.

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Mr Khan visited the Brunswick Estate in Clerkenwell to see progress on building 13 new homes there – part of the council's plan for 2,000 new affordable homes over the next four years.

The scheme sees family and ground-floor homes replacing disused garages on the built-up estate, with three homes for private sale helping to pay for the other 10 to be affordable. Through the council's local lettings and local sales guarantee, all the new homes will be offered to local people on the estate or within the borough first.

Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, said: “Sadiq understands London's housing crisis - and he understands what we need to do to tackle it. We need to get him into City Hall so that we have a Mayor who will help councils and others build the homes Londoners need.”

Sadiq Khan MP, Labour candidate for Mayor of London, added: “Like Islington, councils across London are showing they can make a difference in the midst of our housing crisis. They need a Mayor who's on their side, and that's why I'm determined to win next May. I'll lead a team at City Hall that knows how to get London building and we will build the genuinely-affordable homes that Londoners need.”

Between 2004 and 2013 Islington has achieved the second highest average annual net rate of housing completions in London, with 1,705 completions per year. In the last three years, 49% of the new homes built on eligible sites in Islington have been affordable housing.

Pictured - Cllr Murray and Sadiq Khan MP

Sadiq Khan gives new council homes the thumbs up

Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan MP, has praised Islington Council for building new genuinely-affordable homes whilst on a visit to a new development site in the borough....

On Friday 27th November, an attempted arson attack took place at Finsbury Park Mosque in Islington. Our community stands united in condemning this horrific attack and we urge anyone with information about it to contact the police.

Cllr Andy Hull, Islington Labour councillor for Highbury West ward, has written today in the Islington Tribune about the attack. Cllr Hull's article is reproduced below. 

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A time for hope, not hate - by Cllr Andy Hull 

Last Friday night, after evening prayers, a white man with his hood up tried to burn down Finsbury Park Mosque using a jerry-can full of petrol that he tried to set alight. Were it not for the rain that evening, a bigoted coward’s attempt at arson may have led to tragedy. As it was, thankfully, nobody was hurt. But the psychological damage is real. Families shouldn't have to fear for their loved ones as they pray. 

The police are rightly taking this heinous hate-crime seriously. I sincerely hope they catch the criminal behind it and that he faces the full force of the law. 

Sadly though, it is not the only Islamophobic attack that brothers and sisters at the mosque have been subjected to since the terrorist atrocities perpetrated in the name of so-called Islamic State in Paris last month. There is regularly now hate mail in the mosque’s postbag. Muslim women wearing hijabs, in particular, are frequently the victims of verbal and even physical abuse on the streets outside.

In today’s modern world, the global and the local are intertwined. But the congregants of Finsbury Park Mosque had nothing to do with what happened in France. In fact, they led British Muslims’ unreserved condemnation of that massacre, jointly taking out a full-page advertisement in The Daily Telegraph to do so. 

In the bad old days of Abu Hamza, Finsbury Park Mosque was a security risk and posed a real challenge to community cohesion. But it is now over 10 years since its chairman, Mohammed Kozbar, led the community, with the help of Jeremy Corbyn MP and the Metropolitan Police, to turf out its extremist imam. He is now languishing in an American jail and the mosque is a totally different place. 

I have prayed there with my wife. My mum remembers fondly the homemade biscuits at one of its open days. I have taken two groups of students from London Metropolitan University there in the past fortnight and they have all come away impressed. The mosque runs a multi-faith project to feed and support homeless people of all religions and of none. Last year, it won a national award endorsed by the Charity Commission for its good governance. The women at the mosque, led by Sister Naima, have a wonderful relationship with the women from St Thomas’s Church just down the road, taking each other on regular daytrips. Yet, despite all this, the mosque’s management have in recent years received death threats, fake anthrax has been posted through the door and a pig’s head has been left on the railings. 

Given all the turmoil right now in the wider world around us, Islington’s communities need to come together, united in solidarity. The thug who tried to torch the mosque last week is part of a tiny minority who seek to sow division and discord among us. We must not let them. There is no place for such hatred in our world, never mind our ward.

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Cllr Andy Hull - Islington Labour councillor for Highbury West ward

A time for hope, not hate

On Friday 27th November, an attempted arson attack took place at Finsbury Park Mosque in Islington. Our community stands united in condemning this horrific attack and we urge anyone with...

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On Monday 23rd November, Islington Labour councillors presented a petition with over 575 signatures to Assembly Member Jennette Arnold at City Hall, calling on Transport for London (TfL) to halt plans to close Caledonian Road Tube Station for 32 weeks from January.

At the start of November, TfL announced shock unilateral plans to close Cally Road Tube Station from January 2016 until mid-August – a span of 32 weeks. The closure would allow replacement works to take place on the two lifts in the station.

Islington Council and local ward councillors in Caledonian and Holloway wards have supported calls by local residents and businesses opposed to the closure plans.

Local councillors have called for the lifts to be replaced one-at-a-time, allowing the station to remain open, or for the works to be carried out much faster than the 32 week timetable TfL has proposed.

In addition to the petition, Labour councillors have tabled a motion to the Islington Full Council Meeting on 3rd December, which calls for the Mayor of London to support calls to keep the station open and to examine how TfL failed to notify people of the planned closure.

Holloway ward councillor, Cllr Paul Smith, commented: "The most important thing for the thousands of people who use this station every day is that it remains open.

"TfL should have asked the people they are supposed to serve first, rather than just announcing they were closing the station for 8 months because it is most convenient for them.

“When local councillors met with TfL, they admitted it perfectly possible to repair the lifts one at a time and keep the station open. That is why we are asking TfL to put the public first and keep the station open by repairing one lift at a time."

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, added: “We of course welcome TfL’s investment in improving stations in Islington, but we really do need them to take the views of local residents into consideration before they announce major disruption like this.

“I am pleased that Jennette Arnold AM will continue to make the case to the Mayor of London that TfL must review its decision on Cally Road station.”

Since the announcement of the proposed closure, local councillors have held a public meeting, met with local businesses, and met TfL officials at the station to scrutinise their plans. TfL has confirmed that whilst the disused shafts at the station would not represent feasible options for assisting with the lift replacement works, the proposal to keep the station open and replace one lift at-a-time is possible. 

Pictured - Labour councillors present petition to Jennette Arnold AM at City Hall. 

 

Cally Road Tube Petition Taken to City Hall

On Monday 23rd November, Islington Labour councillors presented a petition with over 575 signatures to Assembly Member Jennette Arnold at City Hall, calling on Transport for London (TfL) to halt...

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Islington Council will again fly the Transgender flag above the Town Hall to mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance, on Friday 20th November.

International Transgender Day of Remembrance is held across the world every year on 20th November, to remember victims of transphobic violence and those that are killed around the world each year due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. 

Cllr Osh Gantly, who is currently one of the few openly trans elected politicians in the UK, said of the event: 

“I’m pleased that for the second year running, our council will be marking International Transgender Day of Remembrance by flying the transgender flag over Islington Town Hall.

“Transgender Day of Remembrance is an important global day that remembers victims of transphobic violence and brings attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community in the last year and the years before.

"I am very proud to be an Islington Labour Councillor that happens to identify as transgender and I am also proud of Richard Watts and Islington Council for their commitment to equality for all Islington residents.”

Cllr Watts added: 

“I’m pleased that we have again been able to mark this important day by flying the transgender flag above the town hall. 

"As a Labour council, we are committed to tackling hate crime, and today we proudly proclaim that includes our transgender and gender-diverse residents.”

Pictured: Labour councillors mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance 

Town Hall flies Transgender Flag

Islington Council will again fly the Transgender flag above the Town Hall to mark International Transgender Day of Remembrance, on Friday 20th November. International Transgender Day of Remembrance is held...

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about Living Wage Week 2015 - 

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It’s been three years since Islington became the joint-first local authority to become an accredited Living Wage employer. I am proud that, under Islington Labour’s leadership, we are ensuring more people receive fairer pay.

The benefits of paying the Living Wage are not just felt by those people who receive better pay, they are also felt by the employers themselves. Our homecare providers have reported that since they started paying the Living Wage, staff turnover has reduced from 10% per year to 3%. They have also reported improved staff performance and morale. All of this gives strength to our argument that the Living Wage is good for all.

All directly employed council staff and 98% of its contracted staff are now paid at least the London Living Wage. Last year, we were proud to announce that our major providers of homecare would pay their staff, who do some of the most vital work for some of the most in need people in Islington, the Living Wage.

You may have seen lots of reports lately about the pressures the care sector faces, particularly around the introduction of the Tory Government’s ‘national living wage’. It’s true, social care faces many pressures, and this isn’t helped by the massive cuts imposed on local councils by the Tory Government.

However, Islington’s story shows that this does not have to mean that homecare workers should not receive fair pay.

I was delighted this week to celebrate Living Wage Week by confirming that Islington has achieved yet another first - we are the first local council to ensure that any charities or voluntary groups that we fund through our core grants scheme pay the Living Wage.

However, whilst more private employers are paying the Living Wage, there is much more work to do.

Pictured - Cllr Janet Burgess and Cllr Richard Watts

The real Living Wage making a difference

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, writes about Living Wage Week 2015 -  It’s been three years since Islington became the joint-first local authority to become an accredited Living...

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Transport for London (TfL) have announced plans to replace the two lifts at Caledonian Road tube station, which will result in the closure of the station for 8 months from March 14th 2016 until the end of 2016.

Your Islington Council has written to the Mayor of London as the Chair of TfL, calling upon him to reverse the decision to close the station as it can be kept open by replacing one lift at a time.

You can help by signing the petition - click here

The good news is that we have TfL on the run. Under pressure they have:

  •  moved back the station closure to March 14th,
  •  admitted that the station can easily be kept  open by repairing one lift at a time.

The report that went to the TfL board shows that the reason TfL chose to close the station for 8 months was to save themselves £524,000, an 11% saving on the project cost, even though they estimated that cost to the travelling public would be £4,297,000.

TfL took no account of the broader needs of the travelling public who own TfL. They did not consider the impracticality of putting extra buses on Caledonian Road, travel for the disabled or Arsenal Match day plans. 

Cally Road Tube

Transport for London (TfL) have announced plans to replace the two lifts at Caledonian Road tube station, which will result in the closure of the station for 8 months from...

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