News

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Islington Labour's St George's ward councillors have joined forces with local residents who are dismayed at plans by Transport For London to close Tufnell Park Tube Station for possibly 7 months starting in February 2015.

TfL is planning to renovate the lifts in the station, but had decided to give the local community hardly any notice of the closure.

A petition against the plans has been launched and you can send TfL a message by clicking here.

St George's ward councillor, Nick Ward, said: "We were totally shocked to discover TfL's plans and we are appalled that they didn't see fit to consult the local community.

"Closing Tufnell Park station for 7 months would be devastating for so many businesses. Renovating the lifts is necessary, but closing the station for 7 months will have a disastrous effect on local businesses that rely on the footfall that the station brings in and are already struggling to pay ever rising rents. It will also cause untold amounts of disruption and inconvenience for the thousands of people that use it for commuting to work every day.

"We've already been out collecting signatures and have received support from hundreds of residents. We need to show TfL the strength of feeling in the community against these plans, so I'd encourage residents to sign the petition on the Islington Labour website."

Cllr Ward and his fellow ward councillors have called upon TFL to meet with the community to explain their plans before they sign any contracts for the project.

Cllr Ward is also asking TfL to look into ways to renovate just one lift at a time in order to keep the station operational and reduce the impact on tube users and local businesses.

Local Tufnell Park residents have set up a Facebook group and twitter account (@SaveTufnellPark). Please follow them to find out more information and get involved in the campaign.

Pictured: Islington Labour councillors and local residents collecting signatures against the proposed closure of Tufnell Park Station. 

Keep Tufnell Park Station Open!

Islington Labour's St George's ward councillors have joined forces with local residents who are dismayed at plans by Transport For London to close Tufnell Park Tube Station for possibly 7...

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Islington is the first local authority in London to introduce a voluntary scheme to stop the sale of cheap super-strength alcohol. Two thirds of the Borough’s off-licenses have already signed-up to a voluntary agreement to remove high alcohol content beers, lagers and ciders from their shelves.

This is a further part of Islington Labour’s drive to cut alcohol fuelled crime and disorder.

The Council’s new licensing policy effectively results in a ban on new licensed premises across the Borough; scaling back the closing times for the Borough’s many pubs, clubs and off licenses; and rigorous enforcement against licensing breaches.

The Council’s latest ‘Reducing the Strength’ project has been supported by many local off-licenses, with over 65% agreeing to support the campaign. Shop owners have voluntarily reduced the availability of cheap super-strength alcohol, the sale of which has been linked to crime and anti-social behaviour.

Cllr Paul Convery, Islington Council's Executive Member for Community Safety, said: "Cheap super-strength beer and cider fuels a lot of anti-social behaviour and violence that blights communities.

"I'm pleased that so many local off-licences have taken cheap super-strength drink off their shelves and urge others to follow their example, to make Islington's town centres and parks a better place for everyone."

“Islington has one of the highest concentrations of licensed premises in the country. We have some of the worst health problems associated with excessive alcohol consumption. And we have more crime, nuisance and family difficulties caused by alcohol than most other parts of London. We are taking a firm stand to fix these problems with a mix of sensible licensing policies and rigorous enforcement. I am delighted that the licensed trade understands what we are doing and their agreement to voluntarily remove high strength alcohol is a great indication of their positive and responsible attitude."

Cllr Convery was interviewed by BBC London News about this innovative scheme and his interview can be viewed here, approximately 14 minutes into the broadcast.  

Cracking Down on Cheap Super-Strength Alcohol

Islington is the first local authority in London to introduce a voluntary scheme to stop the sale of cheap super-strength alcohol. Two thirds of the Borough’s off-licenses have already signed-up...


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An ‘eleventh-hour intervention’ by the Tory Planning Minister-led Government  has torpedoed an attempt by Labour-run Islington Council to protect jobs and affordable homes. 

Islington Labour has been leading the charge against a developers’ free-for-all in the borough’s office space following a change the government introduced in May 2013. The change allows developers to convert offices into flats without any planning permission – meaning the council has been powerless to protect jobs or to demand affordable housing.

To protect valuable business space from being lost as developers make a quick-buck from high house prices, Islington Council used a local planning order which would have meant conversions once again required planning permission from 15th July 2014. 

But just two days before Islington Labour’s protective measures were due to come into effect, Tory Planning Minister Nick Boles MP quashed the plans – using incorrect figures in his justification for doing so. Mr Boles has now been moved from his job in the Government, but he used his last few days to fire a very unwelcome parting shot at Islington.  

Islington Labour’s Executive Member for Housing and Development, Cllr James Murray, said: "I'm very frustrated by the former Tory Planning Minister's decision to stop us doing what's right for Islington. 

"We're already seeing small businesses and charities being evicted from offices to make way for bedsits. People in Islington are losing out on jobs, affordable housing, and any community benefit. 

"I'm also very disappointed that the Minister waited until the eleventh hour to overturn our decision, refused to accept a compromise we offered, and in his reasoning got his figures wrong. Islington has consistently greatly exceeded its housing targets and is set to continue to do so." 

Developers have already registered 68 office buildings in Islington for conversion to residential under the new rules, with a further 11 in the pipeline. The total loss of office space is around 45,000 square metres - which equates to around 3,000 jobs. In some cases, small businesses and charities have been evicted. 

Of the homes created in these spaces, Islington Council estimates that 2 out of every 3 is a one-bedroom unit or a bedsit. No affordable housing has been created - despite the potential to deliver around 350 affordable homes. 

Cllr Murray added: "In Islington we already have successful plans for building good quality, affordable housing. But the Government's changes are undermining what we're trying to do by allowing developers to bypass these plans."

Tory Minister torpedoes Islington Labour's attempt to protect jobs and affordable homes

An ‘eleventh-hour intervention’ by the Tory Planning Minister-led Government  has torpedoed an attempt by Labour-run Islington Council to protect jobs and affordable homes.  Islington Labour has been leading the charge...

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Last week the people of Islington sent a clear message to the Tory-led Government. By electing 47 Labour councillors, local people made it clear that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have the wrong priorities for Islington.

Labour’s Council Leader, Cllr Richard Watts, commented: “I want to thank everyone who voted Labour in Islington for joining together to send a clear message to the Tory-led Government.

“The ringing endorsement that local residents have given Islington Labour - and our plans to tackle people’s top priorities on jobs, housing and the cost of living - shows that people felt Islington Labour is on their side.

“The next four years are going to be extremely challenging because of the unfair cuts the Tory-led Government is imposing on Islington.

“But, we’ll continue to listen to the people of our borough, stand up for the many and put the views of local people at the heart of the decisions we make.”

You can see the full election results in Islington by clicking here.

The local elections saw Islington Labour secure 56% of the vote across the borough and achieve our best result since 1974. In fact our share of the vote has increased by almost 50% since 2010.

In the European elections that took place on the same day, Islington Labour again received the most votes in the borough and there was a swing in support of 11.5% from the Green Party to Islington Labour. 

Pictured: Islington Labour Group

2014 Election Results

Last week the people of Islington sent a clear message to the Tory-led Government. By electing 47 Labour councillors, local people made it clear that David Cameron and Nick Clegg...


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Work to repair the War Memorial at Islington Memorial Green has been completed a week ahead of schedule.

Earlier this month, Islington Labour councillors gathered to celebrate the successful completion of the repairs.

First unveiled in 2006, the War Memorial was designed by Royal Academy sculptor, John Maine. However, due to mistakes made by the contractors during the construction of the memorial under the previous Council administration, the sculpture had begun to appear crooked. Investigations ordered by Islington Council in the autumn of 2013 revealed a serious failure in the concrete foundations. 

In November 2013, Cllr Richard Watts, Labour Leader of Islington Council ordered repairs to be carried out immediately. This work has now been completed and the area will be fully re-opened by the end of May 2014.

Council Leader Cllr Richard Watts said: “When we learned that the orginial contractors had done such a shoddy job, I was completely livid. This memorial marks the contribution and sacrifice that so many Islington residents have made for their country. We owed it to them to repair the memorial quickly and I am very pleased that this work has been completed ahead of schedule.”

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Executive Member for Sustainability, commented: “It was vital that in the year we mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, the issues with our memorial were solved quickly. I’d like to thank everyone who helped with the challenging work of moving and repairing the memorial.”

Cllr Gary Poole, Islington Council’s Armed Forces Champion and St Mary’s ward councillor, added: “The Islington Veterans’ Association noted their thanks to the Leader & Council for taking decisive action to address the issues with the memorial. The memorial will be officially rededicated at a ceremony on Armed Forces Day on 28th June and I hope people will join us then.”

The remaining fencing on Islington Memorial Green will be removed at the end of May after newly laid grass has had time to establish itself.

 Pictured: Cllr Poole, Cllr Watts and Cllr Ismail at the War Memorial on Islington Memorial Green. 

Islington Green War Memorial Repaired

                        Work to repair the War Memorial at Islington Memorial Green has been completed a week ahead of schedule....

photo_1.JPGDespite huge opposition from local residents, the postal services watchdog and local representatives, Post Office Ltd appears determined to plough-on regardless with their plans to close Highbury Corner Post Office. 

Islington Labour has campaigned against the proposed closure and Islington Council is still offering £750,000 towards securing a new branch at Highbury Corner, as well as a temporary home while work was carried out.

Sadly, Post Office bosses have turned down this offer - which remains on the table. 

Today, Cllr Richard Watts - Leader of Islington Council, local MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, and Geoff Poole from the CWU have written an open letter to the Chief Executive of the Post Office urging her to think again. 

A copy of the letter, which appeared in the Islington Gazette, can be found below.  

Open Letter to Chief Executive of Post Office Ltd - 

Dear Paula Vennells,

We write this open letter to express our utter despair that the Post Office seems determined to push on with your short sighted plans to close the Highbury Corner Post Office.

This branch provides an invaluable service to thousands of local people – many of whom are elderly or disabled and would struggle to travel to another post office. The branch also provides a convenient stop-off point for commuters and a vital service for local small businesses.

Together with the local community, we have opposed your plans to shut the branch. Our campaign received the support of over 1,000 residents who signed our petition.

Islington Council wrote to the Government asking them to intervene.  There was a debate in the House of Commons led by local MPs.  But as usual, the Government ignored Islington. Islington Council also offered £750,000 towards a new branch at Highbury Corner, as well as a temporary home while the work was carried out, but were turned down by postal chiefs. That offer is still very much on the table.

It hasn’t just been local politicians and residents that have opposed your plans. The industry watchdog also said that service provision should be retained in the Highbury Corner area. There were plenty of opportunities for both the Government and Post Office managers to think again and secure the future of this vital facility. Sadly, you have chosen to ignore these warnings and press ahead with your plans to close the branch on 14th June.

Islington is being short-changed by your plans. The remaining branch on Upper Street will not be ‘new’ as you describe it. We already have a Post Office on Upper Street. As your plans do not contain a replacement for the closure of Highbury Corner, they are simply a service cut. The threat of job losses from this cut – as has happened with other ‘mergers’ – is of deep concern to us.

We remain concerned about the future of the Holloway Post Office. Local people – and your staff - deserve to be told that the branch will not be franchised, moved or closed.

As ever, it is not too late to reconsider your decision to close Highbury Corner. We stand ready to work with you to find a solution which saves this vital community asset.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Labour MP for Islington North

Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury

Geoff Poole, Communication Workers Union  

Highbury Corner Post Office - Bosses urged to think again

Despite huge opposition from local residents, the postal services watchdog and local representatives, Post Office Ltd appears determined to plough-on regardless with their plans to close Highbury Corner Post Office. ...

Cllr Janet Burgess, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing, has won the ‘Age UK Award’ at the prestigious LGiU and CCLA annual Councillor Achievement Awards.

The award recognises councillors who ‘make change happen on issues of concern to older people’. In awarding the honour, Judges said they felt that Cllr Burgess set an excellent example to others on issues such as ending 15 minute care visits. In shortlisting they also recognised her efforts to introduce the council’s first Older People’s Champions, offer free swimming for all over 60s in all Islington funded leisure centres and protect social care for people with moderate needs.  Last year, Islington became the joint first local authority in the country to sign Unison’s Ethical Care Charter and commit to ending poverty pay for home care workers with new contracts that pay the London Living Wage.

Cllr Janet Burgess said: "I am really honoured to collect this award for the work we are doing in Islington to support older people.  In Islington there is a high level of poverty among pensioners, so despite massive government cuts helping them both through the Council and via voluntary groups is really important." 

The winners were announced last night (Tuesday 25th February) at a ceremony in the Lord Mayor’s Parlour at Westminster City Hall. 

It is the third year in a row that Islington’s Labour Councillors achievements have been celebrated.  Last year, Cllr Catherine West collected ‘Leader of the Year’ and Cllr Joe Caluori  won the Bruce-Lockhart Member Scholarship.  In 2012, Cllr Andy Hull won ‘Scrutineer of the Year’ for his groundbreaking work on Islington’s Fairness Commission, the first in the country.  

 

 

Islington’s Cllr Janet Burgess wins Age UK honour at LGiU Councillor Achievement Awards

Cllr Janet Burgess, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing, has won the ‘Age UK Award’ at the prestigious LGiU and CCLA annual Councillor Achievement Awards. The award...

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A scrutiny report commissioned by Labour Councillors looking at the illegal practice of Construction Industry Blacklisting has just been published by Islington Council.

This is the latest stage in the campaign to end blacklisting that for more than 20 years has seen employers in the construction industry use secret files to vet new recruits and keep union and health and safety activists out of work.

The report which ran from June to December this year heard evidence from a variety of sources and has published recommendations for adoption by the Council to ensure they no longer enter into contracts with companies implicated in blacklisting.

Council will do this by adding a clause to future terms and conditions that will allow the council to terminate a contract if a contractor or sub-contractor is found to be blacklisting.

Cllr. Gallagher Chair of the Policy and Performance Committee that commissioned the report said:

‘Blacklisting is a shameful practice and workers who were placed on this list were deprived of an honest living through no fault of their own. Islington Labour along with the GMB have been at the forefront of the campaign against blacklisting and my report shows the measures local authorities can take to ensure this terrible practice is never allowed to happen again.

I will also be writing to the Secretary of State for Local Government to request an urgent public enquiry be instituted’

Richard Watts, Leader of Islington Council said:

Blacklisting is a national scandal that has destroyed lives. Here in Islington we are sending a message that we will not do business with people who have ruined decent people’s lives in this way."

Paul Kenny the General Secretary of the GMB said:

‘The GMB is delighted that Labour in Islington has taken an important step to ensure those companies guilty of blacklisting workers will get no more of the public contracts until they own up, clean up and pay up for what they did to their 3,213 victims. It’s now time other Local Authorities follow Islington’s lead.’

Claude Moraes MEP said:

"The practice of blacklisting employees in the UK has been operating for decades and has devastating effects on reputations, livelihoods and families.

"I warmly welcome Islington’s report and along with the recent work in the European Parliament, Labour is making real strides to ensure this abhorrent practice is stopped and never returns.” 

The report will be formally submitted to the Council’s Executive Meeting on 14th January 2104.

The draft recommendations can be seen here :

http://democracy.islington.gov.uk/reports/16d95dd05c194eb6accd9f428daa81f2/report.aspx

 

 

Islington Labour says no to ‘Blacklisters’

  A scrutiny report commissioned by Labour Councillors looking at the illegal practice of Construction Industry Blacklisting has just been published by Islington Council. This is the latest stage in...

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This morning Cllr. Richard Watts leader of Islington Council along with the boroughs two Labour MPs, the CWU and Islington pensioners Focum delivered a giant postcard to the Post Office's headquarters in opposition to the company's plans to close its branch at Highbury Corner.

Islington Labour along with the Communication Workers Union have opposed these plans that will see this busy part of the borough lose a well-used branch causing inconvenience to local residents and businesses, especially older and disabled people.

Cllr. Watts said:

‘We’re here today to show the Post Office the strength of local feeling against their plans to close the Crown branch at Highbury Corner. Closure would be hugely inconvenient for a number of our residents and businesses and we won’t give up the fight until the branch is saved.’  

Islington Council has offered support to the Post Office to help keep the branch open, including helping to find a temporary home for the Post Office while the new site is being built and pledging £750,000 to transform Highbury Corner and create a new station square after the relocation has been made. However to date this offer has not been accepted.

You can help our campaign by signing our petition against the closure here

 

 

 

 

Taking the Fight to Post Office HQ

  This morning Cllr. Richard Watts leader of Islington Council along with the boroughs two Labour MPs, the CWU and Islington pensioners Focum delivered a giant postcard to the Post Office's...

Richard

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...

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