Gazette letters: Housing Bill, Corbyn, EU vote and Queen’s birthday party

Spring protest outside Town Hall Picture: Polly Hancock

Spring protest outside Town Hall Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

This year there has been a lot of campaigning within our borough against the Tories’ draconian Housing and Planning Bill, which has now been made into an act to be implemented in April 2017, writes Mark Still, Highbury (full address supplied).

This part of the act known as “pay to stay” is causing anxiety and worry as thousands of households in council housing and associations who have a combined gross income before deductions such as tax, National Insurance and pension schemes of more than £40,000 a year will be forced to pay market rents, which average out in Islington at £549 per week.

Many of these people affected will be workers in the Post Office, transport industry, emergency services, health service, education, retail sector and many other ordinary people doing essential work and contributing to London. How could they afford to pay market rents of thousands of pounds a month? Many work shifts and need to be close to their jobs as when they start or finish work there would be no public transport available to commute hundreds of miles outside London where the rents would be more affordable. Even then many of these workers are doing safety-critical jobs so therefore would not be allowed to live more than 20 minutes away from work.

I urge all you private, social tenants, leaseholders and anyone out there who feels this is unjust to attend the Axe the Housing Act national demonstration in Hyde Park Corner at noon on June 18.

It was good to see our MP Jeremy Corbyn speak out in Doncaster on Friday, May 28, about the importance of the UK staying in the EU, writes Alexander Woollcombe, Archway, full address supplied.

His piece the following Monday in the Huffington Post shows Mr Corbyn making a concerted effort to encourage young people to vote, as well as showcasing his new found enthusiasm for Europe. However, these efforts have yet to directly engage his constituents.

As party leader he is inundated with speaking requests but what better way to highlight why Britain is stronger in the EU than by taking up the offer to speak at an event with the Islington North group of the “Stronger In” campaign? Islington is a top target for the referendum because of the risk of low turnout among voters inclined to vote “remain”. A recent poll in the Guardian showed under-35-year-olds to be twice as likely as over-55s to want to remain, but half as likely to vote. Mr Corbyn reaches and enthuses young people. Will he speak out here to turn out the Islington vote?

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Only 14 per cent of Islingtonians voted Conservative in the recent Assembly election so for many of us it doesn’t feel natural to support an EU “remain” campaign led by David Cameron and George Osborne, writes Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party, Horsell Road, Highbury.

However, failing to support the “remain” campaign just because of Cameron would be cutting off our noses to spite our faces and we would regret it for many years. But at the moment it feels like there is more passion in the “leave” campaign than is generated by a bunch of Old Etonians in suits spouting about the business and economic case for Remain.

Fortunately there is a more progressive “in” campaign. “Another Europe Is Possible” does what it says on the tin. A grouping from different backgrounds, political parties and movements is calling on people to rise up, campaign, and vote “in” to change Europe for the better. We all recognise the EU is less than perfect; the UK voting to “remain” could be the first step in a bold campaign to reform the EU and reclaim our democracy.

The EU has built a lasting peace, helped protect our shared environment, created possibilities for protecting the rights of citizens and workers, and established common ground for Europeans to live, study and work together. Compelling reasons to remain include to protect our rights and for cross-border solidarity on crucial issues like climate change and corporate tax avoidance that can’t be solved just at a national level.

A small group of neighbours (mostly young Islington Shared Ownership tenants) have organised a street party for the Queen’s 90th birthday in Vulcan Way, the road going through a really mixed estate just off Caledonian Road, writes Joanna Davey, Vulcan Way, Westbourne Estate.

We’ve really enjoyed getting to know each other and forming community over the last two years, and want to widen that sense of “family” out to the whole estate.

We’re hoping a bit of patriotic fun will unite the street and form new friendships.

We’d love to see you there!

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