Gazette letters: Changes in Highbury East, Old Laundry, HMO and climate change

Damage to Highbury Leisure Centre. Picture: @LFBTowerHamlets/London Fire Brigade

Damage to Highbury Leisure Centre. Picture: @LFBTowerHamlets/London Fire Brigade - Credit: Archant

Something has changed in Highbury East since the local elections in May, writes Kate Pothalingam, Islington Liberal Democrats.

Before the local elections we had regular ward partnership meetings with our local councillors; now we have none. The last such meeting was in March 2018 and since then we have had just one “resident engagement meeting” about the Highbury Corner redevelopment.

With a shooting on Highbury Crescent in the summer; overt drug-dealing around Highbury Fields; the fire at the leisure centre; the ongoing works at Highbury Corner; and the threatened closure of Sotheby Mews, there are many issues concerning residents of Highbury East. The ward partnership meetings were a useful forum to share information and they are much missed.

Highbury East councillors have carried out a consultation on ward partnership meetings with the aim of making them more responsive to residents’ needs but have still not announced a date for the next meeting. If there are no meetings, it is hard to respond to anyone’s needs. What has changed since May 2018?

We were saddened to read of the closure of Peabody’s Old Laundry building as a social enterprise space, managed by Small Works, write CEOs of Project Dirt, Sunday Assembly, The Orchard Project, Social Change Agency on behalf of the recent social enterprise tenants at The Old Laundry.

During the years of our tenancy it was a lively, social space where lots of great linkages between highly impactful social enterprises were made.

You may also want to watch:

We are writing to take issue with the headline (“Barnsbury co-working space closing after bosses accuse social enterprises of not giving back to community”), and the implication made towards some of our social enterprises which are named in the article.

We are all very proud of the many projects we ran through this enterprise giving back to the nearby community. For example, between us we provided furniture and furnishings for the building; decorated benches around the local area; ran local workshops; supported bingo nights for the residents; held open days; planted trees; supported residents to create business plans for their own ventures; ran training; and hosted local apprentices.

Most Read

We also ran five fundraising nights in the estate’s community centre, which attracted hundreds of local residents and guests, and supported the work of charities in the local community with over £2,000.

It’s disappointing that the enterprise running the centre – Clear Village – was not able to make it work with Peabody, but we take issue with the implication that this is down to the many fantastic, hard-working social enterprises and charities that were tenants at the site. This seems a stretch at best.

As a group, we are grateful for being able to have participated in this part of Peabody’s vision for supporting social enterprise, which – in our view – was by and large a success, and hope that future projects to support local people and ventures have equal success.

Running any social enterprise or charity is hard work, especially in London where rents are so high. But it’s the impacts we have on people and planet that keep us doing it and we’ll be proudly continuing.

Apropos of Hannah Somerville’s excellent article on the Gazette website last week (“Councils give more than £1m to providers of unlicensed Swiss Cottage HMO”), is it not shocking and grossly hypocritical for Islington Council to commission these extremely expensive facilities using taxpayers’ cash to house young people? writes Oriel Hutchinson, Alexander Road, Upper Holloway.

It purports to be at the forefront in the fight to protect vulnerable children and teenagers from the risk of harm or death which county lines drugs running poses.

The recent IPCC report into climate change makes clear we have to tackle our climate emissions much faster than was previously understood, writes Natasha Cox, Islington Green Party.

Targets for 2050 are just too far away and need to be brought forward to 2030. This has huge implications for local, regional and national government, as well for us all as individuals.

I’m asking a question of Richard Watts at full council this week to find out what action the council is taking in response to the IPCC report findings.

Climate change is one of the main issues facing all of us today. It is easy to ignore, especially with everything else that is going on at the moment, but if we carry on as we are the consequences will affect everyone – ourselves, our children, our grandchildren – and those who have least will be hit the worst.

Many of the things we can do to tackle climate change make good economic sense: driving less; making sure our homes are as insulated as possible. However, we really need the people in power to make changes, too.

Islington Council has already made some excellent changes to help, like taking pension money and investments out of fossil fuels. I hope the council will review all its plans and targets across to show it understands the enormity of the climate emergency.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter