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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Well done to day centre campaigners

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 09:19 23 February 2018

Cllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a row at a Save Sotheby Mews protest outside Islington Town Hall in September. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Cllrs Diarmaid Ward and Caroline Russell have a row at a Save Sotheby Mews protest outside Islington Town Hall in September. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

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Sotheby Mews day centre is a lifeline for its users. That much has become clear during the course of the year-long campaign those people have fought with admirable energy and passion.

We also know that social housing is in chronically short supply and that new council homes – however many there end up being (and to be fair it would be useful if the town hall had a firm idea here) – are a good thing. Every new social home means one more family in a secure, safe, affordable space who might otherwise have been in a hostel or B&B – or on the streets.

But it is not constructive to pit one group in need against another. Nor, sadly, is it enough to point out that the council has to make unpopular decisions because it doesn’t have much money. It is about compromise.

That’s why I welcome the decision to delay the development by 12 months. Whether it means the (sketchy) plans are updated to include the day centre within any new development, or that more work is done to make the Roundhouse appropriate for the day centre users, this stay of execution means users will no longer be forced into the distressing position of a hasty, unwelcome move they fear will rob them of some of their most valuable social connections.

Delaying the project and then simply going ahead as planned after the election isn’t enough, though. The town hall – whoever runs it on May 4 – must spend the next year in dialogue with the day centre, and users must be centrally involved in planning their own futures.

And to be fair to both sides, although no one could accuse Cllr Caroline Russell of not having been involved with this from the start, I’d also like to know which sites the local Greens believe would be more appropriate for council housing.

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