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Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Families, writes about the latest GCSE results - 

All Islingtonians should feel really proud of our students and their teachers, as yet again they have beaten both the national and Inner London averages for the percentage of young people gaining 5 or more A*-C grade GCSEs, including English and Maths.

GCSE results released by the Department for Education show that 59.4% of students achieved this key measure in Islington.

This compares to 52.6% and 58.4% in inner London. Our students continue to excel in English and Maths with both subjects well ahead of national levels. This fantastic performance has come whilst our secondary schools grappled with changes to assessment nationally that led to major falls in results elsewhere.

These results show that Islington schools are continuing to provide our students with a really first class education.

We set very high standards for our schools and the fact that we are beating both the national and inner London results shows that this is paying off.

Since Islington Labour were elected to run the Council in 2010, the borough’s GCSE results have seen us climb from 143rd out of 152 local education authorities to 34th.

In 2006, less than a third of young people gained 5 good GCSEs – we are determined never to go back to those dark days.

It’s worth remembering too that all of Islington's secondary schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, which puts them in the top 10% of all secondary schools nationally. 

These were strong results and are a real testament to the hard work undertaken by the teachers and pupils at all of our schools. I’m proud of the difference our Labour administration has made - we've set high targets for our secondary schools and it's paying off.

Follow Joe on Twitter here @Croslandite

Making a difference for young people

   Cllr Joe Caluori, Executive Member for Children and Families, writes about the latest GCSE results -  All Islingtonians should feel really proud of our students and their teachers, as...

Islington Labour is committed to fighting for fair pay, not just at the Council, but across our contractors and in the private sector.

Cllr Richard Watts and Cllr James Murray were proud to support staff at homelessness charity St Mungo's Broadway in their dispute with management over outrageous proposals to cut their terms and conditions, when Unite members were on strike in October (pictured below).

After successful negotiations between the union and management, agreement has been reached to avoid a second strike and will mean that new employees will receive the fair pay they deserve. 

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After joining the strike in October, Cllr Murray and Cllr Janet Burgess wrote to the Chief Executive of St Mungo's Broadway demanding answers about the disgraceful proposals that threatened employees' terms and conditions. 

Islington Labour would like to wish a huge congratulations to the St Mungo's Broadway staff and Unite for their successful campaign.

Cllr Murray spoke on Wednesday as news broke that management had seen sense and agreed to Unite's proposals - 

 

Getting a fair deal for St Mungo's Broadway staff

Islington Labour is committed to fighting for fair pay, not just at the Council, but across our contractors and in the private sector. Cllr Richard Watts and Cllr James Murray...

Influential Guardian writer, Dave Hill, has praised Islington Council as being "considered by many to be the capital's most radical local authority" in tackling the housing crisis facing London.

Writing earlier this week, Mr Hill identified how Islington Council, "is fostering support for intensified council house building by using its local lettings policy to ensure that local people benefit. It is also succeeding in avoiding introducing new, higher "affordable rent" levels brought in by the government, and proposing to use planning policy to impose penalties on 'buy-to-leave' owners."

Three years ago, Islington became the first council to reject the government’s plans to raise so-called ‘affordable rents’ to near-market level.

Since taking power in 2010, the council has been building new council homes as part of the biggest affordable homebuilding programme for a generation.

Earlier this year, Islington became the first local authority to announce plans to tackle the scandal of 'buy-to-leave' - where predominately-overseas investors buy properties and never occupy them, simply to benefit from ever-rising property prices.

The Council has also taken enforcement action against private landlords who are letting out homes that are unacceptably small for people to live in, and that often flout planning rules.

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Cllr James Murray (pictured), Executive Member for Housing & Development, said: "We desperately need more genuinely-affordable homes in London. That’s why we’re building a new generation of council homes in Islington and why we are robust in demanding that new ‘affordable’ homes are for social rents that people can actually afford. 

“The housing crisis in London is hitting people across the board. 

“We’re helping private renters too by going after rogue landlords and setting up a new council-run lettings agency. We’re also are taking on buy-to-leave investors with a bold new planning policy, since it’s an insult to the housing crisis when new homes are snapped up and left empty. 

"Londoners need radical solutions to the housing crisis. We need national change and a Mayor who understands the problem, and in Islington we are showing we can make a difference."

Islington the 'most radical' in tackling the housing crisis

Influential Guardian writer, Dave Hill, has praised Islington Council as being "considered by many to be the capital's most radical local authority" in tackling the housing crisis facing London. Writing...

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In our continued efforts to make Islington’s roads safer, Islington Labour is working with the police to keep motorists’ speeds down.

Last year, Islington Labour campaigned to become the first London borough to introduce a 20mph speed limit on all roads the Council manages.

From this week, police enforcement action will begin – making Islington the first borough in London where motorists flouting the 20mph limit could face penalty action.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment (pictured above), said: “It has long been known that people living in inner city boroughs like Islington are at a greater risk of being hit by speeding motorists.

“Islington Labour is committed to tackling the scourge of traffic accidents and our pioneering introduction of the 20mph limit on all of our roads is part of addressing this problem.

"Most motorists stick to the speed limits, but those who don’t can now expect to be prosecuted and risk losing their licence.

“We’ve worked closely with the police over the past 12 months to target hot-spots where drivers frequently speed, and together we’ve stopped more than 900 motorists to remind them to keep within the limit.

“With continued injuries and fatalities from speeding, the time is now right to start enforcement action and I welcome the action by Islington police.”

All roads in Islington are covered by 20mph restrictions, apart from those managed by Transport for London (TfL) and Islington Labour is campaigning for TfL to see sense and adopt 20mph limits on the roads they control.

Cllr Webbe, added: “We’ve had lots of interest in our pioneering scheme from other Councils that are interested in following our lead. The missing piece in Islington is the TfL managed roads and I want the Mayor of London to join us in making their roads 20mph as well.”

Since November 2013, Islington Council and the police have carried out 24 targeted ‘stop and advise’ speed reduction operations on our borough roads. The 13 different locations chosen have been ones that have been identified by the public and community groups as of concern and by the police or council as having high casualty rates.

Islington Labour is also doing more to make cycling easier and safer on the borough’s roads. You can read more about a £2m scheme to deliver new cycle routes here.

Making our roads safer – 20mph speed limit enforcement action

  In our continued efforts to make Islington’s roads safer, Islington Labour is working with the police to keep motorists’ speeds down. Last year, Islington Labour campaigned to become the...

The Mayor of London has ignored the voices of local residents, councillors, and MPs by approving plans to redevelop the Royal Mail's Mount Pleasant site with less than a quarter of housing being affordable – and with 'affordable' rents around double nearby council rents. 

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Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, described the decision taken on Friday October 3rd as "wrong for London", as the Mayor took just 20 minutes to grant planning permission for 681 homes on the Mount Pleasant site with fewer than a hundred being for 'affordable' rent. The Guardian has reported that these 'affordable' rents could be as high as £2,800 a month.

Cllr Murray challenged the Mayor at the City Hall hearing, saying: “If you think the rents being proposed by the Royal Mail are in any way affordable, then I’ll quote yourself Mr Mayor, you must be from the Planet Zog.” 

Later he added: “We know the Royal Mail privatisation was botched and I am sure you won’t want to follow Tory or Liberal ministers in committing another sleight of hand for the Royal Mail." 

Despite the protests from Islington and Camden councils, as well as local residents lead by the Mount Pleasant Association, the Mayor waved the plans through – delivering a windfall to the privatised Royal Mail likely to be over £30m at the expense of affordable housing.

After the hearing, Cllr Murray said: "A vital opportunity to build hundreds of genuinely affordable homes for local people has been bulldozed by Boris. Our independent advice shows the Mount Pleasant scheme would still make money with almost twice as much affordable housing and at social rents. 

"We need genuinely-affordable housing in the capital - but the Mayor's decision means that Londoners are missing out, whilst investors in luxury flats and Royal Mail shares are benefiting. This decision is wrong for London.” 

Islington and Camden councils had both urged the Mayor to reject the Royal Mail plans, and supported resident-backed calls for the decision to at least be deferred whilst an alternative scheme could be worked up.

Watch Cllr Murray deliver evidence to the Mayor's hearing here - 

Pictured above: Cllr James Murray addressing the hearing on the Mount Pleasant planning application. 

 

Mayor must be from 'Planet Zog' in approving Mount Pleasant plans

The Mayor of London has ignored the voices of local residents, councillors, and MPs by approving plans to redevelop the Royal Mail's Mount Pleasant site with less than a quarter...

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Islington Labour has announced plans for a pioneering ‘people’s energy company’ to take on the 'Big Six' energy companies to provide cheaper energy for local people.

Energy bills have risen by almost £300 for families under this government - twice as fast as inflation and four times faster than wages, adding to the cost of living crisis affecting households across Islington.  The average household energy bill is now a staggering £1,300 a year.

The innovative proposals being considered are the next stage in Islington Labour’s fight against the cost of living crisis affecting people across Islington.

At Labour Party Conference in Manchester, the proposals were announced by Cllr Richard Watts and Cllr Claudia Webbe at a meeting attended by Jenny Saunders of National Energy Action charity, Member of the European Parliament for London Seb Dance MEP, and Cllr Nicola Heaton from Nottingham Council (pictured).

A detailed investigation into how the energy company will be set up are to be led by the Council's Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee chaired by Councillor James Court.

Potential routes to delivering the 'people's energy company' could include working with specialist purchasers of wholesale energy that secure energy packages on a global level at cheaper rates and, crucially, would then be able to pass these savings on to our residents.

The scope of 'the people's energy company' could see the Islington based company provide cheaper energy to homes across London. Customers could choose to switch provider to the company which would provide energy through the national grid.

Other local authorities are looking at ways to take on the ‘Big Six’, such as Nottingham Council which has announced plans to buy out an existing energy company and Labour councillors there are keen to work with Islington to stand up for working people and take on the ‘Big Six’. 

richardwatts.jpgCllr Richard Watts, Leader of the Council, said:

“Islington Labour is committed to fairness in our borough and tackling the cost of living crisis is a top priority for   local people.

“Soaring energy bills from the rip off ‘Big Six’ energy companies have left many homes having to choose between heating and eating, which is why we're looking at making a difference by providing a cheaper alternative.

“The idea of a ‘people’s energy company’ is an exciting prospect and there will be more details to follow.” 

claudiawebbe.jpgCllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment, said:

“We've already taken big steps in the fight against fuel poverty with our insulation programme, boiler   replacement scheme and the Bunhill Energy Centre. But the rigged energy market is still dominated by the ‘Big   Six’, which is a massive barrier.

“Our proposals for an Islington energy company will put people before profits and provide a much better deal for local people.” 

James_Court_two.jpgCllr James Court, Chair of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, said:

"Local councils are well placed to deliver services best for their residents, and energy is an area many people   are being failed by the old ways of doing things.

“Islington Labour wants to break-up the energy market to give people here a fairer, cheaper and greener way   to heat and power their homes.”

These proposals come on back of plans announced by Ed Miliband MP in his conference speech on Tuesday   that a future Labour government will make the money available to insulate a further 5 million homes across the country. This measure will help families save £270 a year on their heating bills. This announcement builds on Labour’s commitment to freeze energy bills until 2017 – saving households on average £120 and businesses £1,800.

Islington Council has already taken innovative steps to help bring down residents’ bills and to help the estimated 22% of households who live in fuel poverty in the borough.

The Bunhill Energy Centre and the district wide heat network provide cheaper, greener heat to homes and other sites in Islington. Phase 1 has brought cheaper energy to over 850 homes and two leisure centres in the south of the borough. 

As the energy centre and network is owned and managed by the Council, we have been able to freeze prices for those homes connected to the network, which relates to a £321 saving per year for residents compared to the London average. The more efficient energy production system has delivered a 60% cut in CO₂ emissions.

Plans for Phase 2 of the project are progressing and will use waste heat generated from the London underground and will connect a further 500 homes to the network. 

In the 2014/15 Council Budget, Islington Council invested a further £2.5million of funding to help local people reduce their energy bills. This built on work the Council has already done to insulate every cavity wall that can be insulated in our Council housing stock (12,000), which has led to savings of £170 per year on household heating bills (18% saving).

Work has begun on insulating solid wall properties which will see over 600 households save £245 per year (27%), and this will also bring health benefits by reducing condensation and mould.

£3m has been invested in a Boiler Upgrade Scheme – replacing boilers in 1,300 homes with A-rated condensing boilers. This year will see a further 700 efficient boilers installed – saving residents £145 a year on heating costs.

More details about the exciting plans for the 'people's energy company' will be announced in the near future. 

Islington Labour Plans People's Energy Company

Islington Labour has announced plans for a pioneering ‘people’s energy company’ to take on the 'Big Six' energy companies to provide cheaper energy for local people. Energy bills have risen...

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Islington Labour's Cllr James Murray gives evidence to House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee

Islington Labour's fight for the best deal for local residents from the future development of the Royal Mail Mount Pleasant site made it all the way to Westminster this week. 

Cllr James Murray, Executive Member for Housing and Development, gave evidence to MPs on the House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee on Wednesday 10th September. 

Tory Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has indicated that he will make the decision on 3rd October about whether the developer's proposals will be given the green light. Sadly, the Mayor is refusing to acknowledge the need for more affordable homes in Islington. 

Cllr. Murray said at the Select Committee:

"We estimate that if the Mayor of London gives the green light on October the 3rd he will be selling out on affordable housing and handing over a cheque for at least £30 million to Royal Mail private investors"

You can watch the hearing in full here 

Mount Pleasant fight makes it to Westminster

Islington Labour's Cllr James Murray gives evidence to House of Commons Communities and Local Government Select Committee Islington Labour's fight for the best deal for local residents from the future...

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Islington Labour call on Tory Mayor of London to make Holloway Bus Garage hybrid only

Islington Labour has called on the Tory Mayor of London to follow their lead and take real action on air quality in Islington by making all buses at the Holloway bus garage hybrid by May 2016.

Add your name to the petition calling for the Mayor to act today.

Of the 226 buses at Holloway Garage less than 25% are currently hybrid models.

This is significant when hybrid buses are thought to produce around 40% less carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions and fewer particulate matters than conventional diesel buses.

Monitoring of pollution in Islington has found that Holloway Garage causes much higher pollution in the local area and that the bulk of dangerous particulate emissions came from buses.

These causes of emissions should be tackled first before other measures that might hit local people in their pocket.

Islington’s Labour Council has already taken significant steps to tackle air quality in the borough, including introducing a 20mph limit on the borough’s roads, clamping down on idling buses, lorries and diesel cars and having the greenest local authority fleet in the country.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment, has written to the Mayor of London calling on him to act now. 

Cllr Claudia Webbe said:

“High polluting diesel buses and lorries are one of the biggest contributors to poor air quality in our borough and we need the Mayor to act.

"Just 25% of the buses at Holloway Garage being hybrid isn’t good enough and again shows the failure of the Mayor of London to take this issue seriously that is damaging the health of people in our borough.

"Too many of Islington’s residents are dying too soon because of the air we breathe.”

Cllr Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council, added:

“The evidence is clear that the neighbourhoods that suffer the most from pollution are those with higher levels of deprivation. It’s about time that the Mayor took his responsibilities to these communities seriously and swapped his rhetoric of “beating the smog” for real action on the buses he controls.

"We are calling on the Mayor to follow Islington’s lead and take real action. We are asking him to commit to making 50% of buses at Holloway garage hybrid by May next year and 100% by May 2016.

"This relatively small step would go a long way towards improving the air quality in Islington."

Poor air quality kills over 4,000 Londoners a year prematurely and many believe it is one of the largest public health crises facing the capital.

In 2008 it was estimated that 100 deaths in Islington were a direct result of expose to air pollution.

There are currently 226 buses at Holloway Bus Garage of which 55 or 24% are currently Hybrid models.

Islington published its Air Quality Strategy earlier this year and part of that document committed the council to lobbying the Mayor of London. The document can be found here.

 

Pictured: Cllr Claudia Webbe and Cllr Richard Watts outside Holloway Bus Garage. 

Cleaner Greener Buses for Islington Now!

Islington Labour call on Tory Mayor of London to make Holloway Bus Garage hybrid only Islington Labour has called on the Tory Mayor of London to follow their lead and...

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Islington Labour’s commitment to putting the needs of the borough’s residents first has been strengthened with the return of the housing repairs service to direct council control.

From 1st August, a team of 140 council housing staff will provide a fully integrated repairs service for residents living in council properties throughout the borough. The council manages around 30,000 homes in the borough; making the new in-house repairs service one of the largest in-house operations in the capital.

The move by the council comes alongside the biggest affordable home-building programme in Islington for 30 years, which will see 2,000 new affordable homes built by next year. 

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council's Executive Member for Housing said: 

“This is an important milestone for Islington’s council housing. At the same time as building a new generation of council housing we want to provide a high-quality service for our residents. 

“By running the repairs service directly, we can ensure resident satisfaction is a priority over profit. Over time, we want to maximise local employment and apprenticeships, alongside supporting the workforce and reducing dependence on sub-contractors. 

“Two years ago we brought housing management back in-house – and now our decision to bringing the repairs service in-house as well shows how important it is for us to get it right.” 

After the council’s decision about the repairs contract, Kier’s gas servicing contract with the council was terminated too. The council decided to bring that service in-house rather than re-tender for another private contractor. It has been directly managing the gas servicing formerly run by Kier since 1st June. 

The Housing Direct number for tenants to report repairs to will remain the same: 0800 694 3344.

Pictured: Cllr Murray welcoming housing repairs staff back to the council. 

Putting residents first – repairs service comes back in-house

Islington Labour’s commitment to putting the needs of the borough’s residents first has been strengthened with the return of the housing repairs service to direct council control. From 1st August,...

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Islington is set to benefit from £2 million of investment in cycle routes through a pioneering new approach.

The Council’s Executive agreed on 16th July to begin consultation with local residents on the cycle route plans. The proposals include:

  • A new east-west cycle route from Clerkenwell Road's junction with Farringdon Road to Old Street Roundabout.
  • A cycle route from Lloyd Baker Street, from the junction with Farringdon Road, to Arlington Avenue at the junction with New North Road.
  • A cycle route running from Bath Street from its junction with City Road to Finsbury Square at the junction with Wilson Street

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council's Executive Member for Environment (pictured), said: "We want to make Islington a safer, better place for cyclists and pedestrians.

"The Council has developed this pioneering programme, which aims to create new high quality cycling routes in Islington for residents, workers and visitors alike.

"It's essential that local residents and businesses have the chance to have their say, and there will be full consultation on the routes.

"We will continue to campaign for funding for our other proposed routes in Islington."

Funding for design, consultation and delivery of the routes will come from Transport for London's Central London Cycle Grid project.

Detailed plans will be drawn up before consultation begins.

More information about the proposed routes can be found by clicking here.

£2 million boost for cycle routes in Islington

Islington is set to benefit from £2 million of investment in cycle routes through a pioneering new approach. The Council’s Executive agreed on 16th July to begin consultation with local...

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