July 28 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, July 3, 2014
A long-running rumpus has re-erupted over who pays for Highbury’s hanging baskets.
For many years Islington Council forked out for the foliage that brightens up the shopping district in Highbury Barn, but the Labour administration scrapped them to save cash when they came to power in 2010.
Since then, Lib Dem ward councillors have used money from their community pot to pay for the plants. But in May, all three Lib Dems - Terry Stacy, John Gilbert and Julie Horten – lost their seats.
Now the new councillors – the Green Party’s Caroline Russell and Labour members Aysegul Erdogan and Oisin Gantly say they won’t stump up for the blooms, so the former Lid Dem representatives offered to fund half the money, with the rest coming from the local traders association.
Danny Michelson, who runs La Fromagerie in Highbury Barn, said: “I asked the new councillors to fund our flower baskets and got a negative response.
“We even offered to pay for half, which we’ve never done in the past, and they still said no.
“It’s very disappointing. The two Labour councillors involved wont even get in touch with me about it – they told Caroline to tell me. It’s all very strange.
“We were delighted when the Lib Dems stepped in. It’s fantastic from them.”
Tony Bedwell, who runs the Highbury Barn pub, said: “We were really pleased when the Lib Dems said they would chip in and we’re really grateful.
“It’s an important thing for the area. People have said maybe we don’t need the baskets but they are a massive improvement and the place looks lovely.
“At the moment we don’t know who the new councillors are apart from our Green member.
“We never seen them – not even canvassing.”
Former Highbury East Lib Dem Cllr Terry Stacy said: “I am extremely disappointed that Highbury’s new councillors can’t see their way to helping fund these baskets when traders offer to cough up most of the cash themselves.
“The are showing their true colours and not supporting local businesses and we were glad to step in.”
Cllr Russell issued a joint statement on bhealf of all three new councillors, which said: “We are glad that the traders have found a source of funding for flower baskets at Highbury Barn and would like to thank the former councillors and all the traders who have contributed.
“As new ward councillors we are mindful that public funding should benefit people across Highbury East and we are looking forward to discussing spending priorities with residents at our first ward partnership meeting on July 23.”