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Editor’s comment: Islington’s Labour group needs to get off the defensive about cycling

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 December 2017 | UPDATED: 17:30 14 December 2017

The Stop Killing Cyclists 'die-in' protest in Camden Road, Holloway. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Stop Killing Cyclists 'die-in' protest in Camden Road, Holloway. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Absolutely no end was served by the re-wording of Cllr Caroline Russell’s motion to full council last week.

Everyone understands what “stop people dying on our roads” means. Few people, if any, outside the town hall understand what “Vision Zero” is.

And I can’t help but feel that the replacement of a clear statement with a reference to an obscure intra-governmental project was pretty anti-democratic.

If both sides of the chamber are on the same page with something this important, why make it so hard for the public to understand?

Islington’s transport department gets a lot of stick, particularly on social media, for not doing more to encourage cycling in the borough. And while it’s true that getting on a bike here isn’t a great experience, I don’t think the town hall has some sort of malicious anti-sustainability agenda. Islington has different needs and a different budget from other boroughs, and TfL controls a lot of its biggest problem streets – I have already complained about the Holloway Road in this column.

But obscurely re-wording a perfectly good motion just to avoid voting through something proposed by an opposition councillor is exactly the kind of dictatorial behaviour the “one-party state” at Islington town hall is often accused of. It does nothing to benefit the people who live here.

Similarly, when criticised on Twitter this week over the fact bike symbols had been painted barely inches from parking spaces in Central Street, the cabinet member for transport seemed more concerned about defending her record than about actually solving the (straightforward) problem.

Labour has such a strong majority in Islington that it sometimes feels like it has forgotten how to debate anything.

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