Gazette letters: Saving the planet, knife crime and traffic rat runs

Planniing Finsbury Park's 150th birthday celebrations. Picture: NICOLA BAIRD

Planniing Finsbury Park's 150th birthday celebrations. Picture: NICOLA BAIRD - Credit: Nicola Baird

Innovation and change can be a source of happiness, writes Nicola Baird, Islington Green.

That said, it did feel strange to be celebrating the news that Islington councillors declared a climate emergency in June.

It means Islington now has to make changes that will enable it to tackle the climate crisis.

For starters we need our councillors to sign off only policies that will keep the global temperature below a rise of no more than 1.5C. It's a terrific base knowing the council has already divested its pension fund money from the fossil fuel industries. But so much needs to be different. For example:

- Is it sustainable practice to knock down Holloway Prison, when it could be converted?

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- Should veggie be the only choice on offer at school dinners?

- Why isn't Angelic Energy (set up by the council in a bid to deal with fuel poverty) clearer about its fab renewables policy?

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- And how about making more use of Islington's local experts, young and old?

Top-down governance, with a strong commitment to one party (so you can blame the others) may need to go out of fashion. Where there's devolved power, local mayors (eg Liverpool and Manchester) have a much bigger say about how to do things.

In Bristol this has seen a total shake-up of who decides what a local area needs, at the same time as coping with slashed council budgets, energy-efficiency targets and their community aspirations for 2030 and beyond.

There are some examples on Friends of the Earth's #takeclimateaction website:

Here's another question: does Islington's existing council structure need a generous rethink to ensure it's more than just the voices of people on committees?

Until then, co-opting, co-ops and DIY action (like Elthorne Pride) are just some of the ways to encourage a participatory shake-up. Handled right, this climate emergency could turn into an opportunity for anyone who lives in Islington to do a Mahatma Gandhi and "be the change you wish to see in the world".

Life Not Knife, from a north London boy Ashraf Esselmi, 14, from 9R St Aloysius College:

Youngsters getting killed for religion and race

The amount of gravestones is an utter disgrace

Gang members fighting, showing

no love

Put the weapon down - someone's watching from above

Love each other and show no fear

Drop the knife and shed no tear

Choose life……….. be fair

Show respect and start to care

Don't be a murderer

Live life to the max

Stick to the law and focus on the facts

Mothers hoping that their children don't die

From the bathroom children hear their mammas cry

Bodies and corpses laying down dead

When the ambulance arrives, he's gone, God bless!!!

The thought of a knife straight through your heart

The adrenaline rushes like a drunk go-kart

Feels like a rocket made out of lead

As pain increases when blood exits your head

Don't get involved in any sorta crime

Stick to the curfew and be home by 9

Don't bring hate to your brothers

And don't bring tears to your mothers.

"We're committed to bold action to create a healthier, greener Islington to encourage people to walk and cycle, and to help tackle poor air quality," Cllr Claudia Webbe announced when celebrating the closure of Moreland Street on national Clean Air Day, June 20, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

Rather than a symbolic gesture in Cllr Webbe's own Bunhill ward, bold action requires the permanent closure of residential streets to rat-running through-traffic.

An excellent place to start would be the dangerous bottleneck along Thornhill Road between Barnsbury Park and Offord Road, part of the proposed new Cycleway between Finsbury Park and Farringdon, previously known as Quietway 10.

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