'Furious' licensing chief fears Old Street parklet could become pub garden
PUBLISHED: 12:59 12 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 13 June 2019
Drinkers could annex a new Old Street public space and create a "pub garden", claims the furious chair of Islington's licencing committee - who opened a similar facilities a few streets away earlier this month.
Cllr Phil Graham (Bunhill, Labour) is fuming over the new parklet - an outside seating area with plants set up in a parking space near the Old Fountain pub in Baldwin Street - and he's demanding it be moved.
Parklets have been billed as sanctuaries in the heart of the city by Islington Council, which is unveiling five this month.
Bunhill's three Labour councillors recommended it fund parklets in Banner Street, Baldwin Street and Central Street, and cut the ribbon at the latter's unveiling two weeks ago. But licencing chief Cllr Graham and ward colleague Cllr Troy Gallagher are now irate about the pub-side parklet's actual location. "We weren't consulted on the positioning of it," Cllr Graham told the Gazette. "As far as I'm concerned we shouldn't be supplying beer gardens, so I'd like it moved. I'm furious."
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Cllr Gallagher said the parklet was a "great initiative", but the lack of consultation about its location has "upset residents and frustrated councillors".
One neighbour, Johnny Adams, of Godfrey House in Bath Street, said: "It's outside a pub, taking up free parking spaces, and people are just going to sit all over it. It's a narrow road and if someone comes in a car they could crash into it. It should be moved."
Islington's transport and environment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe - also a Bunhill councillor - told the Gazette she isn't aware of this parklet being open yet, but said it's a "temporary structure and can be moved in five minutes".
"Removing car parking space and transforming streets from vehicle-dominated ones to ones that better cater for walking and cycle will not be easy," she said, "but it's the right thing to do and marks an important transition to a better and healthier environment for all." She vowed to listen to people's concerns and monitor the parklet.
"Parklets are something cyclists and people walking or with mobility issues have requested," she added. "Instead of a parking space it enables people walking and cycling to dominate the space instead. [...] I know there is a lot of people resisting cycling and walking advances and I'm fighting that resistance. If people don't want advancements for cycling and walking the reality is they need to wake up."
An Islington Council spokesperson added: "The Baldwin Street parklet has been through the planning process and parking consultation. Islington Council will take all feedback and concerns into account and consider whether any changes to the parklet might be made."