Gazette letters: M&S closure, police and air pollution

M&S in Holloway Road is to close early next year. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

M&S in Holloway Road is to close early next year. Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

The closure of Holloway Road M&S is another nail in the coffin for the “vibrant Nags Head”, writes Franie McAllan.

Holloway Road is neglected by Islington Council who invested so much into the wants of Arsenal football club and so little into the rest of the infrastructure. Holloway Road is great if you want your knock off phone unlocked or to rank chicken and chips from one of the many unhealthy food outlets. M&S and Waitrose are the only shops which lift the Holloway Road out of the decaying slum it is desperate to become. I have watched the gradual deterioration over the last 40 years. Islington council have offered nothing in terms of regeneration unless you count the tedium of football or the Cashino.

It is a shame M&S is abandoning loyal customers. I will not be switching to online purchasing out of principle. I really used to value M&S and have spent thousands of pounds with them.

The business model which includes closing Holloway Road only to open a food hall at Archway is flawed and I wish them really poor profits.

As a member institution of London Citizens, located in the middle of Bunhill Ward, St Joseph’s Catholic Church is pleased to note that our local councillors are strongly committed to community safety (The Gazette), write Sylvia Lucas and Martin Pendergast, St Joseph’s Church co-leaders, London Citizens.

However, moped crime is only the tip of the iceberg and greater partnership is needed between police and the local community.

Shoreditch Citizens, of which we were founder members, and now Islington Citizens, had previously enjoyed a strong working relationship with Islington police, not least at commander level. Since the promotion of the then commander to Scotland Yard, it has proved well nigh impossible to re-establish this. Local neighbourhood policing has often dismissed local crime-concerns, even those of a violent nature, including knife and gun crime as well as sexual violence, as one-offs.

We recognise that in the face of government cuts, our local police are hard-pressed, but listening processes we conduct regularly with our church-members continue to point to lack of police visibility in the Bunhill neighbourhood. Lamb’s Buildings and Lamb’s Passage in EC1 have long been favoured drug-dealing locations, yet nothing seems to reduce such activity.

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We believe that a renewed commitment to neighbourhood policing and community partnership is a vital way forward, not only to reduce crime levels, but also to make local policing more effective.

Islington is fortunate to have thriving high streets and town centres, where brilliant small independent shops sit alongside national retailers to provide local people with great choices, writes Cllr Asima Shaikh, executive member, Economic Development.

For over a hundred years, the Marks and Spencer on Holloway Road store has helped attract shoppers to the Nags Head town centre. It was therefore bitterly disappointing, and surprising, to hear plans to close the store last week. Nag’s Head is a fantastic and successful town centre, with a growing population making good use of the wide variety of shops and businesses. We want M&S to remain a part of our community, and we have written to its chief executive requesting an urgent meeting with Jeremy Corbyn MP, making it clear they should rethink this decision.

Last week’s news will clearly be unsettling for employees, and other traders in the area who benefit from the footfall M&S brings to Nag’s Head. I want to assure them that we will be urging M&S to rethink its decision, and at the very least to assure us that there will be no local job losses by providing opportunities at other stores.

We are committed to building an inclusive economy in Islington that benefits all of our residents. We have made great progress in recent years by helping over 4,000 local people back into work and supporting our town centres. Working together with our business community, we will continue to ensure that Islington remains a thriving and fairer borough for all.

It is unacceptable that children in Islington are subjected to dangerous levels of air pollution, especially while at schoo,l writes Jennette Arnold, London Assembly member.

The mayor’s air quality audit, which involved a number of schools in our community, is a significant step towards identifying some of the most effective mitigation measures that can be taken to protect our children from exposure to toxic air.

I am delighted that Prior Weston Primary School and Children’s Centre in Islington, have been awarded a share of £1 million by the mayor to put these measures in place. These include large-scale programmes such as closing roads and moving playgrounds, and cost-effective solutions such as the installation of green ‘pollution barrier’ hedges.

It’s important parents help tackle engine idling near school premises, by walking their children to school.

TfL’s STARS scheme, which encourages this, has almost half of all London schools signed up to it.

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