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Islington Labour and Green parties come together for road safety in Highbury

PUBLISHED: 17:10 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:11 27 March 2017

Christine Mabey, Cllr Claudia Webbe, Cllr Caroline Russell and Cllr Richard Greening use the zebra crossing this morning. Picture: Polly Hancock

Christine Mabey, Cllr Claudia Webbe, Cllr Caroline Russell and Cllr Richard Greening use the zebra crossing this morning. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The photo has been long in the making, amid growing tension between colleagues.

Campaigners and activists led by Cllr Caroline Russell and Cllr Andy Hull use the zebra across Leigh Road in Highbury. Picture: Polly HancockCampaigners and activists led by Cllr Caroline Russell and Cllr Andy Hull use the zebra across Leigh Road in Highbury. Picture: Polly Hancock

Relations between Islington’s Labour and Green parties in the council chamber are usually frosty. But this morning, they finally found something over which they could come together.

For 14 years, Highbury East Green Cllr Caroline Russell has been campaigning for road safety improvements in Highbury Hill. She accused TfL of never giving any money to make the busy termination point outside Christ Church Highbury safer.

Buses would regularly overshoot the pavement while turning from Leigh Road, for example. And Islington’s Labour group agreed with Cllr Russell, with transport leader Cllr Claudia Webbe saying: “I echoed the concerns of residents about the safety of this area.”

It’s why they celebrated TfL’s £70,000 investment in the junction this morning. The traffic island has been removed so buses can turn more easily without mounting the kerb, while a zebra crossing has also been added to provide extra protection for those on foot.

Our photographer’s suggestion this morning that the victorious campaigners replicate The Beatles’ Abbey Road album cover fell a little flat: Cllr Webbe said she had never heard of it.

Christine Mabey has been campaigning for a zebra crossing in the heart of Highbury for 14 years. Picture: Polly HancockChristine Mabey has been campaigning for a zebra crossing in the heart of Highbury for 14 years. Picture: Polly Hancock

But she was happy that the people of Highbury are now safer. “Many pedestrians, including children, navigate this junction on their way to work, school, nursery, the church and the shops of Highbury Barn,” she said.

“I am pleased to see the work has paid off. The improvements to the bus stand and the new zebra crossing now make this complicated area more pedestrian-friendly.”

Cllr Russell, who became the sole Green councillor three years ago, added: “Myself and Christine Mabey, founder of Islington Living Streets, have campaigned with activists, residents and shopkeepers since 2003 when the junction was first redesigned, making it even more difficult for pedestrians to cross.

“My fellow Highbury East and West ward councillors and I funded a preliminary design with our ward funding, so that the scheme could be considered for implementation by TfL. I’m really glad that Cllr Webbe got behind this and helped make it happen.

“This is a busy pedestrian route and making it easier and safer to cross the road is a really simple thing that makes so much difference to a lot of people’s everyday lives. We need more of these small-scale changes, which make it nicer to walk, if we want to clean up Islington’s dirty air.”


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