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Gazette letters: Fossil fuels, health, homes for disabled, Highbury Corner, gardens and diesel charge.

PUBLISHED: 09:00 13 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:20 15 January 2018

Islington Council staff, as well as members of the public, are trying to make the town hall divest its pension fund from fossil fuel companies. Picture: Fossil Free Islington

Islington Council staff, as well as members of the public, are trying to make the town hall divest its pension fund from fossil fuel companies. Picture: Fossil Free Islington

Archant

We are a group of Islington council workers and residents calling on Islington Council to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels, write 25 Islington Council workers and nine members of the public in an open letter to the chair and deputy chairman of the Islington pension fund sub-committee.

Coal fired fuel station. Picture: PA IMAGES Coal fired fuel station. Picture: PA IMAGES

And to divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within five years.

Climate change is the most pressing problem facing humanity. Extreme weather is increasingly affecting some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, and we want to protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.

Local government has a duty to act for the public good. Fossil fuels are in direct conflict with this: investing in them threatens the planet. We are strongly opposed to supporting this industry via our pension fund investments.

There is a wide consensus that 80 per cent of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground in order to meet the binding targets of the Paris Agreement. As the global energy system undergoes a rapid transformation, fossil fuel companies cannot continue with business as usual and risk plummeting in value.

We commend the work Islington Council has done so far to examine and reduce the carbon footprint of the pension fund.

However, it is not enough. Maintaining any investments in fossil fuel companies risks pensioners’ returns on stranded assets and continues to fund climate change.

Islington Council should be taking strong action to protect the pension fund from carbon risk and investing in the green energy transformation instead. This is a chance for Islington to show solid leadership addressing this urgent crisis.

We therefore ask Islington Council to take a prudent economic decision and a strong moral stand by committing to move our money away from risky fossil fuel investments, joining more than 700 institutions worldwide.

Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition would like to invite all patients of the Whittington Hospital to come to our public meeting tonight (Thu) at Islington Town Hall to join us in expressing horror at the decision of the hospital board to employ Ryhurst, a subsidiary of Rydon, the Grenfell Tower contractor, to manage its multi-million-pound estates strategy, write Shirley Franklin, Jem Lydon, Valerie Lipman and Alice Kilroy, Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition

Catherine West MP will open the meeting, followed by Shirley Franklin, who will explain our campaign. Moyra Samuels will be speaking from the Justice for Grenfell Campaign, and finally we will hear from the chief executive of the board, Siobhan Harrington.

We are shocked at this irresponsible, insensitive and immoral decision. At this meeting you will have an opportunity to ask your own questions and express your own views on this distressing situation. We will be carrying out a vote to see how many support our demand to get Rydon out of our hospital.

I note from a comment in last week’s newspaper regarding the article “Cuts of £32 million mean council tax rise on the way” that Cllr Richard Watts thinks that the building of a block in Windsor Street for people with severe learning disabilities will somehow save the council money by bringing people from residential care outside Islington back into the borough, writes Ian Fearnley, Islington, full address supplied.

Having spoken to the council officers they have confirmed that there is no predetermination of who will be housed there (indeed in the last institution they built only three of 19 residents were brought back) and that the cost of the building has risen from £2.2million in 2015 to currently £4.2m in 2017. Add to this is the fact that the Care Quality Commission standards state that this vulnerable group should be housed in homes of no more than five residents (not 11 as currently proposed) and you can see that this whole plan is a misguided waste of money.

So, as the council is struggling to save money, it should ditch this current scheme and return to the drawing board where it can plan for houses for vulnerable people and not a return to the Victorian institutions of old.

J E Kirby is quite right about the crazy plans to pedestrianise the west side of Highbury Corner, writes Tim Sayer MBE, Battleedean Road, Highbury.

The recent roadworks that have involved just such a scheme have created chaos, and that was without any traffic to or from the Holloway Road.

If money is available, it would be far better spent on upgrading Highbury and Islington station.

A new station building is needed; if that is beyond the budget, then all parts of the Victoria and Northern City lines – platforms, escalators, stairs and pedestrian tunnels – need a drastic overhaul. They are filthy and dangerous.

Having lived in Plimsoll Road for 30 years, I am watching the destruction of our front and back gardens, writes Uli Rushby-Smith, Plimsoll Road, Islington.

As property prices rise, houses are often sold to developers who put them back on the market after removing the insides. Front gardens are paved and beautiful trees and bushes in back gardens are removed to be replaced with lawns and paving stones.

My next door neighbour’s house has recently been sold and we had to watch the entire garden being destroyed. Plum trees, apple trees, old roses, a huge lilac bush, a grapevine full of grapes, a buddleia, not to mention currant bushes and raspberries, all gone.

Is it not possible for the council to protect valuable plants and trees in Islington by preservation orders?

In my council budget amendment last year, I proposed a raft of measures to tackle air pollution and help get more people walking and cycling, writes Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East).

One of these was: “To initiate a project to develop, with our partner, the ability to introduce a diesel surcharge to pay and display charges in the future.”

Since the council uses DVLA records for pay and display parking I thought it made sense to use the data available to charge a little more for visitors to park a diesel car. This would discourage diesel use and help clean up our air.

The Labour group voted the idea down last February, so I was surprised, though pleased of course, to see that they’ve taken up the idea and put it into action (“Diesel drivers to be charged £2 an hour to park in Islington”, Gazette).

It’s a bit of a shame that Labour feel it necessary to vote down ideas they actually like, just because they come from another party.

But that won’t stop me coming up with more good ideas for this year’s budget round.

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