Gazette letters: Finsbury Leisure Centre, Clerkenwell Green, dangerous cyclists and transport

Plans for Finsbury Park Leisure Centre. Picture: ISLINGTON COUNCIL

Plans for Finsbury Park Leisure Centre. Picture: ISLINGTON COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

I do sympathise with Gotam Saral when I read his letter in the Gazette about plans for yet another development in our area, whether for the rich makes not difference, writes F G Atkin, Pleydell Estate, Radnor Street.

He is quite right when he says that our area is over developed. As I look from my window, I see them piling extra floors on top of what is already there!

What I do object to is his used of their name for Toffee Park. It is not “St Luke’s Gardens”, it is Toffee Park. It was Toffee Park when Tiddles as a kitten first ventured into it and it was Toffee Park when I as a pup first ventured into it. The new name is to give the new development a more poncey touch.

The only way to get a grip on things in this area is to take back control and put it into the hands of the locals. If we don’t, I can assure Mr Saral with complete confidence that “you ain’t seen nothing yet”. He should get in touch with the the Gee Street collective and get things moving.

What has already been planned will go ahead whether we like it or not. It’s what they have coming up that we should be worrying about.

How has a public consultation on pedestrianising Clerkenwell Green become a contentious social-class affair with an online petition accusing the council of “social cleansing”?, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Simple. Lack, or ignorance, of local knowledge in which one long-established Clerkenwell neighbourhood appears to lose out to a more affluent area. Through traffic will be shifted to the former from the latter, while two-way traffic will replace the current one-way system in front of a 50-year-old cafe – making an increase in the latter’s business as a result of pedestrianisation unlikely. Why would anyone choose to cross two traffic lanes in place of one?

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This socially mixed residential area must be given more consultation options. Why two of three schemes originally intended to be put to the public were reduced to the single one currently on offer remains an open question – and appears in part to have contributed to the discontent reflected in the “social cleansing” claims.

There are other oddities about this alleged £3million project: not only the inappropriate setting for a statue to Sylvia Pankhurst and the unnecessary removal and replacement of healthy trees. Granite setts proposed for the new two-way traffic system can be dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly in wet weather. This seems like an own-goal for a laudable active-travel pedestrianisation idea.

The redevelopment of the Finsbury Leisure Centre site will bring much-improved leisure facilities to EC1, and also many new council homes (“Leisure centre plan isn’t good for EC1”), writes Cllr Diarmaid Ward, housing boss, Islington Council.

There is a pressing need for genuinely affordable housing in the Finsbury area, and we want to build as many new council homes as possible. At least half of the new housing will be council homes, and we’ll build even more if we can.

As well as better leisure facilities there will be a new community nursery and a much bigger doctors’ surgery for the City Road Medical Centre. There will be no “large gated community” as suggested last week. There will be some private homes for sale, as unfortunately we currently have no other option to pay for the council housing and better community facilities.

We know some local people have concerns about different aspects of the proposals, which is completely understandable. We’re committed to listening to those concerns as the proposals move forward.

When is somebody going to take the danger of cyclists on the pavement seriously? writes Anne Rose, Isledon Road, Finsbury Park.

I have just walked down Isledon Road, where the pavement is very narrow, to face one elderly man coming towards me on a bike, then seconds later a smug girl coming up from behind me – not only on a bike but plugged into headphones, who had the cheek to tell me to watch my blood pressure when I shouted she should be in the road as she was going in the same direction as the traffic! I am so utterly sick of these mindless, ignorant, crass morons who think they can do as they like.

It is a daily occurrence and I am appalled at their behaviour.

Part of our effort to make Islington a fairer place is to help people lead healthier lives. We need a transport system that helps us do that, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, transport boss, Islington Council.

In response to the mayor of London’s consultation on his transport strategy, we have made it clear that diesel vehicles should be banned from London by 2025 and more major transformation projects – like the removal of the Archway Gyratory – need to be brought forward to create more space for walking and cycling.

We have also called on the mayor to speed up plans to make the TfL bus fleet on Islington’s roads cleaner and greener; for an expansion of electric vehicle charging points; and for night bus services to be protected.