Gazette letters: Good hustings, Labour letters, diesel and police budget

The Gazette's Islington Council hustings last week. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

The Gazette's Islington Council hustings last week. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

The Islington Gazette and St Mary’s Church hosted a good local poll hustings on April 23, writes Ivor Kenna, Compton Street, Clerkenwell.

In reference to a question from a member of the audience [I believe this was Mr Kenna himself – ed], the Conservatives, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat spokespersons all agreed in personal responses that the people of Northern Ireland should have a say on whether Northern Ireland should remain in the European Union or should remain in the United Kingdom.

Opinions differed on the more desirable outcome of such a referendum.

It’s only fair, isn’t it?

As our local MP, Jeremy Corbyn’s opinions are local news, and likewise, the opinions of various Islington councillors are often news, write Benali Hamdache, Ernestas Jegorovas and Caroline Russell, Green Party candidates, Highbury East ward.

However, as regular Gazette readers over a number of years, it has been interesting to note the sudden rise in the number of letters and articles from Labour councillors expressing political opinions. I wonder what could possibly cause this sudden rise of interest!

It is a fact that Islington Council has a huge Labour majority and for the last few years it has quite simply ridden roughshod over anybody’s opinions about anything, other than their own.

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They have been like a Tube train traveller with earphones in their ears, shutting out the world and listening to nothing but their own messages.

I suppose that the Labour group now wants more of its overwhelming majority so it can return to its default position of deciding what is best for Islington, while taking no notice of local voices raising problems or suggesting alternatives.

The Green Party supports many declared Labour policies, both locally and nationally, and is supportive of progressive policies to the point where it even stood a candidate down at the last “snap” election.

That was in a seat where the Labour majority over the Tories was much smaller than the Green vote at the 2015 election.

Yet at the same time, Labour tried (unsuccessfully) to unseat our sole Green MP, Caroline Lucas, in Brighton.

Now Labour locally is putting a lot of effort into unseating Cllr Caroline Russell, the sole opposition on the present council.

As Cllr Russell has spent the last four years listening to local people and being their voice when Labour wouldn’t listen, it seems unlikely that the sudden surge of letter writing will make up for the years of neglect – or the potential for another four years of listening only to themselves.

We think it most likely that the attempt to unseat Cllr Russell will also fail, because Islington needs more councillors like her, rather than more like the present Labour group.

• Editor’s note: The irony of having received two letters from Green candidates and none from Labour candidates despite the content of the Highbury East submission above has not been lost on me.

In an otherwise excellent analysis of the perils to Islington’s soul (“Expensive luxury housing and shops: Is Islington losing its soul?”), James Morris makes an error, writes Sebastian Sandys, Islington Green Party candidate, Bunhill ward.

The diesel surcharge is part of the solution, not the problem.

If Islington is to retain its soul, it must also retain use of its lungs.

• Editor’s note: The comment on the diesel surcharge was NOT part of James’s analysis, but a direct quote from Hak Huseyin of the Islington Chamber of Commerce. This newspaper’s position on air pollution and motor vehicles is relatively well documented.

Islington and London folk are well aware of the numbers of needless deaths on the streets, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

Most commentators state the issue is funding for the police. But considering the PR bill is £35million, should the police themselves be allowed to vote on their view of that?

It would transfer into more police out and about if diverted, which is where most Joe Public want to see them.

And if cameras reduce costs on complaints at the IPCC, why can’t that money be turned into more coppers on the streets?

You see, I think, if the police choose not to have a footprint and continue to retreat, people with money will just buy their own and the police will be totally privatised.

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