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Why Meg Howarth has campaigned so relentlessly in Islington for 36 years

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 December 2017

Meg Howarth. Picture: Polly Hancock

Meg Howarth. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Meg Howarth is a relentless Islington campaigner and prolific Gazette letter writer. It got us thinking – who is she?

If any Islington politician – or even the Gazette – makes a slip-up, you can bet Meg will be the first to expose it on her Twitter account.

Meg, of Ellington Street in Lower Holloway, moved to Islington as a student from the north in the late 1970s.

Her will to expose hypocrisy and injustice comes from an Islington Town Hall meeting with a councillor in 1981.

“I remember being unhappy,” she recalls, ominously. “I was there to discuss how a council tenant was being treated badly. I didn’t get anywhere and it left an impression. I remember the councillor saying: ‘That’s not your concern.’ It was like: ‘Here we go!’ It sparked me into what I am today.

“It showed me how certain groups of people are not treated with respect they deserve. It absolutely remains the case today. You only have to look at the Grenfell Tower disaster, and also the outrageous treatment survivors have received.”

Unsurprisingly, Meg has been involved in a number of community campaigns over the years.

“My proudest achievement is helping save the trees in Farringdon Road, outside the old Guardian newspaper office, about 10 years ago.

“They made a planning application which would have brought the building forward and removed the trees: 10 plane trees planted by Alec Forshaw, an Islington conservation officer.

“I got down there on my bicycle and started a protest. We had a magnificent campaign with massive support from the Peabody Estate off Farringdon Lane. What it taught me was to scrutinise any planning application that sparks interest.”

She roars with laughter when asked for her thoughts on the current Islington Council administation. “As far as I can see, it’s better than most local authorities.

“Having only one opposition councillor (Caroline Russell) is not helpful, though. There are too many party political Labour shenanigans. I’m not a member of any party – never have been, never will.

“But when I attended last week’s full council meeting, I thought the way two councillors were speaking to Cllr Russell was appalling – particularly regarding cycling.

“It’s partly why I think the letters pages of the local press are so important. More people should be involved in the democratic process.”

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