Gazette letters: Surviving the cold, council amendment, TfL and Christmas lights

Chloe Cassidy, seven, and Georgia Cassidy, five, play in the snow on Highbury Fields. Picture: Polly

Chloe Cassidy, seven, and Georgia Cassidy, five, play in the snow on Highbury Fields. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Many folks will have witnessed the snow on Sunday morning along with temperatures dropping below zero with the wind chill. Few will think there are people out there sleeping under it, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Clerkenwell.

I do wonder if Islington Council has any emergency strategy for helping people survive in such circumstances, and it would be great to hear what that is from the £1million PR team at the town hall, tucked up in nice, warm, cosy offices, possibly organising the Christmas party.

I think it is obscene that so much is spent on PR when we are told there is a shortfall in the borough’s finances resulting in reduced services for those who really need them.

To think Islington is the home of the fairness commission – that can only be classed as a sick joke.

At the full council meeting last week, I put forward a motion stating: “Providing safe streets for people walking and cycling is a matter of social justice”, writes Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East).

This is a quote from Jeremy Corbyn, who recently met walking and cycling campaigners in Islington to discuss their concerns that Islington is making little progress on cycling safety.

This motion was passed, but only after being heavily amended by the Labour majority, who added a list of things that have happened in the borough such as the recent Transport for London project at Archway and the introduction of the 20mph limit that former Green councillor Katie Dawson got into both the Lib Dem and Labour budgets when there was a hung council in February 2010.

They also added a complaint that Islington has lost out on a source of TfL funding as Boris Johnston changed the rules, and a welcome commitment to revise the borough’s transport strategy.

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Crucially, they removed the text in the original motion: “This means linking public health outcomes to transport spending and aiming for zero people killed on our roads.”

Linking public health outcomes with transport spending is fundamental to the Mayor’s “healthy streets” approach and helps address rapidly rising population-wide obesity and plummeting physical activity levels.

Since the meeting, cycle campaigners have been pointing out that Islington has recently repainted cycle symbols in Central Street too close to parked cars encouraging people to ride in the “door-zone” where they risk being “doored” by people getting out of their cars and pushed into the path of oncoming traffic, as tragically happened to Sam Harding in Holloway Road in August 2011.

If Labour believe that “providing safe streets for people walking and cycling is a matter of social justice”, they should use current spending to cut road danger to enable more people to walk and cycle in safety.

TfL has sent letters to households in the area about the closure of the Holloway Road at Highbury Corner, from December 18 to January 8, writes Tim Sayer, Battledean Road, Highbury.

But there is a glaring omission -- how to reach destinations by bus along the Holloway Road between the appropriately named Digswell Street and Nag’s Head.

I have now found out from the excellent Cllr Russell that there will be a bus shuttle but am at a loss to know why TfL failed to mention this important point in the first place. I’m sure that many people, especially the elderly, are very worried.

TfL’s handling of the Highbury Corner bridge replacement works has been lamentable over the past three years. Isn’t it time that Mayor Khan ordered a thorough restructuring of it, kicking out the jobsworths who appear to be “in charge”?

It was great to see so many people at the Whitecross Street Christmas lights switch-on last Thursday writes Cllr Troy Gallagher (Lab, Bunhill).

There was plenty of Christmas cheer as the mayor of Islington led the countdown along with Cllr Webbe, me, and RPM, who sponsored the events.

Many people braved the harsh cold weather, wrapped up in hats and scarves and queuing up from 4pm to see Santa in his grotto and join in the singing. The excited faces of young children and their parents’ smiles made the event so worthwhile.

It was the first time in seven years that Whitecross Street had Christmas lights. My fellow Bunhill councillors and I were determined to source funding for the event and set aside some local funds to build on this for future Whitecross festive events.

I want to say a huge thank you to RPM and the Whitecross Tenants Association for making the event possible. The children of Prior Weston, St Luke’s Primary School and Richard Cloudesley School who participated in the competition to design the poster for the event also deserve a special mention. The winning posters that were designed by Yarnissa Maneechak, Niamh Hood and Isadora McCarthy had an extra Christmassy sparkle.

Of course, the mayor of Islington, resplendent in her robes and donning a Santa hat, is always a sight to behold during the Christmas light switch-ons.

Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to wish everyone in Islington a wonderful Christmas and a happy 2018.

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