Gazette letters: Cally Park, police station closure, dangerous junction and Living Wage

Work has begun on the Cally Park visitor the clock tower. Picture: STEVE BAINBRIDGE

Work has begun on the Cally Park visitor the clock tower. Picture: STEVE BAINBRIDGE - Credit: Archant

You report Cllr Claudia Webbe thinks “it’s fantastic that work has begun” on the visitor centre in Calidonian Park, writes Mike Power, Clock View Crescent, Caledonian Road.

But this is not how the local community feels. They now face a year of noise, dirt and disruption just 15m from some of our homes.

Also note the photo accompanying your report – not one member of the local community is included. That’s because the community overwhelmingly objected to the plans. Our community submitted two petitions (of 750 and 874 signatures) opposing the plans, and 90 objections to the council’s planning application. And as many as 75 per cent of respondents objected in three public consultation

So, we know that our councillors don’t care what their constituents and taxpayers think, and have failed to convince us that their plans have any validity.

So much for Cllr Webbe’s “exciting project”.

The housing crisis has grown so acute that even the Tory Minister responsible for housing, Sajid Javid, admits it, writes Barry Edwards, Holloway.

The 19,000 people on Islington’s housing waiting list could have told him that long ago. But Javid is still reluctant to admit that the private sector cannot solve the problem on their own.

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He is fighting against history. The Victorians first thought housing in cities could be left to the private sector and created the largest slums in British history.

They then hoped that charities, the forerunners of today’s building societies, could solve the problem before giving in and allowing councils to build homes.

By the 1970s it looked as if homelessness would become a thing of the past but then came Margaret Thatcher and everything stopped.

Councils like Islington have been struggling to find ways round the obstacles successive governments have put in the way to stop them building homes.

Some other councils have entered into ill-advised partnerships with developers that seem doomed to lead to fewer genuinely affordable homes being available – but Islington has avoided these.

However, the numbers of new homes are not enough to meet demand and Islington requires private developers to provide 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes on their sites.

The previous mayor of London, Boris Johnson, overruled this on the Mount Pleasant site and allowed the developers to go ahead with only a token number.

But now we have local communities, a local council (and planning authority) and the current mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and his deputy mayor for housing, James Murray, all lined up on the same side.

Our opponents are formidable. The government wants as much cash as possible from the site and wants to sell it to developers for lots of luxury housing, and the developers have lots of lawyers and money looking for the slightest loophole in the council’s case. Once again it is people versus money.

At an event at St George’s Church in September we learned of the other fights for social housing going on across London.

Other prisons, former hospitals and other public sector land will be released for housing but their battles are not as far advanced as this one.

If the site of Holloway Prison becomes homes for local people at genuinely affordable rents it will set a precedent across London.

This is why the former Holloway Prison site is so important.

For nearly 15 years I have worked two days a week at an office on Holloway Road, near the junction with Palmers Place and Drayton Park, and I am frankly surprised there haven’t been more collisions here, writes Claire Poyner, of Islington Green Party.

While there are traffic lights to enable traffic to cross Holloway Road between Palmer Place and Drayton Park, and to enable the traffic to continue along Holloway Road, there is no provision whatsoever for pedestrians trying to cross any of these roads.

You just have to hope for a break in the traffic – it’s not unusual to have to wait for two light changes before this happens, particularly if you’re not fast on your feet.

It’s about time there were pedestrian crossings on this junction.

Achieve equality with Living Wage

Cllr Asima Shaikh, economic development leader at Islington Council, writes:

Everyone deserves to earn enough to live on, not just survive on. That is why Islington Council has announced a new scheme, during Living Wage Week, to encourage more Islington employers to become accredited Living Wage employers.

By ensuring as many local people as possible earn the London Living Wage, we can help to reduce poverty and inequality in Islington.

Islington has 125 accredited Living Wage employers so far, the second highest in the UK. In order to drive this number up, we will appoint a Living Wage business champion to lead a peer-to-peer drive in Islington’s private sector.

We are committed to creating a fairer borough for all, which cannot be achieved if local people do not earn a real Living Wage.

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