Keep calm: Drivers need to get used to new roads

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

On Monday, January 11, 2021, the new people-friendly traffic measures will become operational in the Highbury Fields and Highbury West areas. More than likely, these measures will initially cause confusion, chaos and complaint. And, no doubt, some local residents will be up in arms with the battle cry of: “It will take an extra five minutes to drive to Waitrose.”

My neighbour, for example, plays golf in Kent once a week and is now already vociferously complaining about the extra 30 minutes he expects the journey to take!

The measures have, of course, been designed to make life safer and more pleasant for all residents in the area, not just for those who have access to a car.

But, more importantly, it is critical to remember that it will take time, perhaps two or three months, for us local residents to become familiar with the new restrictions and for those drivers who currently use Highbury as a speedy rat run to move to roads that are designed to take through-traffic - and away from residential roads.

So the best advice on January 11 is to keep calm and carry on for at least two months and then see how we feel about the revised traffic flows in Highbury.

We might just be pleasantly surprised and my neighbour might just decide to play at another, nearer, golf course.

Calls to reconsider

Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington, writes:

As 2021 begins, with a pandemic raging, the town hall’s political bosses seem intent on pursuing the destruction of the Dixon Clark Court (DCC) “little forest” at Highbury Corner.

Here, thanks to the unwavering efforts of the tree protectors, the 52-year-old mature trees - planted when many Islington councillors were children or yet-to-be born - are still standing.
For how much longer depends on the outcome of the legal proceedings for re-possession of the occupied site, which are due to resume next week.

The trees and the green space in which they sit benefit not only DCC’s existing residents, but all who live near and pass this noisy, toxic, busy location.

Our councillors are choosing to cling to a party-manifesto commitment to build 550 additional council homes across the borough by the end of next year (or in time for May 2022’s local election…).

Making existing council tenants pay for the borough’s 14,000 housing shortage by destroying their current environmental amenity is an odd thing to do for a party that claims to have the interests of its poorer and most vulnerable residents at heart.

Residents know that when circumstances change, policies must follow - just as they know that offers to cram huge numbers of saplings onto the DCC estate as replacements for mature trees can’t be considered a serious measure of the council’s care for the environment.

The final irony, should this plan go ahead, is that the mature trees will be replaced not by council homes but a private leasehold block, the sales/income-stream from which is essential to the viability of the additional social homes scheduled for elsewhere on the site.

Bad enough, but there’s worse: the “right to buy” a number of these additional homes has itself been factored in to the long-term financial viability of the entire project.

This plan does the council no favours, particularly as the standard consultation on the DCC project coincided with the major infrastructure redevelopment of Highbury Corner roundabout, where residents’ attention was understandably focused.

The council has, to date, rejected calls for a fresh consultation but our pandemic new world surely demands a reconsideration of a proposal which would increase the population density of the site at a time when space and open-air are prerequisites for long-term health?

A frank, public debate is needed with local residents about the housing situation in Islington - where some own two homes while others are homeless or badly housed, and all the while former Pentonville Prison officer accommodation remains empty, decades since it was vacated.

FakeAway Feb

Roz Rosenblatt, London head, Diabetes UK, writes:

This February, we’re asking people across London to keep up the new year motivation by signing up to take part in Diabetes UK’s first ever FakeAway Feb.

Challenge yourself to swap processed foods and takeaways for healthier alternatives throughout the month of February, while raising vital funds for diabetes research.

With Diabetes UK by your side to provide advice, support and, most importantly, delicious recipes, FakeAway Feb is here to kickstart your home cooking journey.

When you sign up, you’ll receive access to our online community where members can share cooking tips and tricks, as well as access to our FakeAway Feb Toolkit – where you can download your free meal planner.

It’s simple – one month, totally homemade.

Sign up to FakeAway Feb today, and kickstart your journey to a healthier you.

Listening Works

David Holmes CBE, chief executive, Family Action, writes:

It can be frightening and lonely for young people when they leave the care system. Many may be living on their own for the first time and often will not have a network of friends and family around to offer them support.

Christmas can be a particularly difficult and isolating time for care leavers as they find themselves having to spend the festive season on their own, especially this year when Covid-19 restrictions meant it was difficult to go out to socialise and the usual large-scale Christmas dinners for care leavers did not take place.

However, the charity Family Action runs Listening Works, a free virtual helpline specifically for young care leavers aged 18-27 years old across the UK.

We are here all evening, every evening, 6pm to midnight.

So if you are a care leaver, whether you’ve got something on your mind or you just fancy a friendly chat, we’re here for you when many other services are shut or not available.

You can call us on 0808 802 0222, text us on 07860 065 169 or you can have a web chat with us via our website – whatever kind of listening works for you, we are here.

Our trained volunteers can offer you someone to talk to – a listening ear, a friendly voice and a chance to talk openly about whatever is on your mind.

We also offer signposting to useful resources if any specific issues come up and information about other support out there and how to get it.

So if you are a care leaver, or know a care leaver who might benefit, please remember Listening Works is here for you and was not just for Christmas. Please get in touch.