Gazette letters: Islington Transport Strategy, Brexit and divisive language

A coach is parked in the street blocking vision. Picture: RAVINDER DHILLON

A coach is parked in the street blocking vision. Picture: RAVINDER DHILLON - Credit: Archant

Bob Barnes and Meg Howarth recently made some excellent comments on the too “soft” approach being taken by the council in its Transport Strategy and how this fails to address the real problems being faced on our streets, writes Ravinder Dhillon, Crossley Street, Islington.

The document shows little coordination and plans for action to improve safety for schoolchildren, residents and cyclists as well as reducing air pollution and carbon output.

It also takes an institutional long term view with "capital" funded solutions. Enabling immediate carbon savings and improved safety through better traffic control would be more appropriate given the need for change.

Residents at St Mary Magdalene have been trying to focus Cllr Webbe, and Cllr Poole before her, on the significant carbon, traffic and safety improvements that stopping the daily school drop off and pick up would have. The academy has confirmed its pupil intake is local so stopping idling cars outside the building would reduce pollution, congestion and the risk of accidents immediately.Stopping the school drop off could be implemented by the council tomorrow if Cllr Webbes passionate speeches could be turned into real actions.

Residents have suggested actions such as reinforcing the "no idling" rule through banners and signage which would communicate to parents that the pick up is not permitted and is environmentally damaging, but have had no take up to date. This system is working in other boroughs already and can be actioned tomorrow. At the same time the new school safety zones can be put in place reducing the long term impact of traffic in these areas.

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My picture shows the kind of poor parking around Sheringham and Crossley streets that often happens here, where a coach is parked into the street blocking vision for all, close to the junction with Crossley Street and the school entrance.

Another accident is just waiting to happen here so please councillors act soon to provide a safe, secure environment.

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This needs to start now with safety areas around schools being initiated as suggested as well as forming part of a transport policy that shows real substance and urgency rather than the soft and somewhat limited document that has been put before us.

In April this year, 60 years on from its creation, Highbury Corner gyratory was no more, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for Environment & Transport, Islington Council.

On Wednesday, six months and a lot of hard work later, I was proud to stand alongside the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to officially open the new public space created where previously there were three lanes of motor traffic.

The transformation of the polluting, dangerous and traffic dominated Highbury Corner gyratory into an interchange that puts walking and cycling first, alongside a massive new public space, is part of something much bigger than a road layout change.

Under Islington Labour's leadership, we are transforming transport in the borough.

First, Archway Gyratory was overhauled to create the new Navigator Square - cutting poor air quality by a third, creating new safer cycling routes and revitalising the area with a new public space.

Then came the start of the transformation of Highbury Corner. Whilst it has not been without its challenges - for one, the bridge that carries the A1 over the railway lines had to be replaced after 150 years - we are now within touching distance of works completing and the full benefits for pedestrians, cyclists and station users being realised. Work at Old Street to remove one of the most dangerous gyratories in London is well underway, and we are still encouraging TfL to look at long-term solutions at King's Cross and Nag's Head.

We want a significant shift in how transport in our borough operates, with roads rebalanced in favour of people, as the council's draft Transport Strategy sets out. Next week will signify what bold vision combined with a determination to deliver can do. More importantly, it will be the latest step in a sustainable transport revolution that is only just beginning.

Shockingly, the prime minister is threatening to take the UK out of the EU without a deal on October 31, writes Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council.

It's clear a Tory no deal would be a disaster and Islington Labour is united in our determination to stopping no deal and to ensuring the people have the final say.

Islington Council is doing all that it can to prepare for every Brexit eventuality, to make sure local people are protected as far as we can. Last week, Islington Council reaffirmed our opposition to a Tory no deal Brexit, with Islington Labour's calls for it to be ruled out by the government receiving cross-party support. I also welcome the clear condemnation councillors issued of the prime minister's poisonous and deeply irresponsible rhetoric in recent weeks. As elected representatives, we have a duty to conduct debate in a civil and respectful manner, recognising that words have consequences.

As I said at full council last week, after the Finsbury Park terrorist attack in 2017, in Islington we sadly know all too well what the consequences of hateful speech can be. I implore the prime minister to not only do what is right for Islington and the country by abandoning his plans for a no deal Brexit, but to think carefully about the impact his divisive language could have.

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