'We are Highbury, not Mildmay': Neighbours rally against boundary change proposals
PUBLISHED: 12:59 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:28 01 October 2019
Highbury neighbours are fighting to stop six streets being transferred from their ward into Mildmay as part of a proposed boundary shake-up.
People have until October 7 to feed back on the Local Government Boundary Commission for England's proposed changes to Islington's electoral map, before recommendations are finalised in January.
The proposals would see Fergus Road, Calabria Road, Gallia Road, Baalbec Road, Liberia Road and Corsica Road cut adrift from Highbury East (which would be renamed Highbury) to become part of Mildmay ward.
Neighbours are petitioning against the plan.
Jennifer Puddington, who's lived in Liberia Road for 19 years, told the Gazette: "It's not as though you're not going to talk to people and a great big fence is going to go around Highbury Fields but it would be extremely weird to feel like we're not in the neighbourhood. [...]
"It's about community feeling. [In] London, because of its large population, people get attached to their local area. It's hard, the idea of visiting a councillor further away than the ones we see now."
Jennifer, who works part-time for a charity, said key issues for neighbours from the aforementioned streets include Highbury Corner and Fields and goings-on around Arsenal's Emirates Stadium and Blackstock Road.
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She added: "It's a completely different area. I don't know what the issues are in Mildmay - I don't live there.
"We just feel really strongly we want to remain where we are. An original neighbour said when she first moved into the area it was in Mildmay and they really felt like they didn't belong there and this was the place they wanted to be their community."
Cllr Caroline Russell (Green, Highbury East) said: "It's hard as a councillor to let go of any residents in a reorganisation of ward boundaries.
"However in this case the proposed boundary changes just don't make practical sense. People in the network of streets around Highbury Fields face towards Highbury Corner, Holloway Rd and the Fields for the library, tube station, buses and green space.
"Further, many of the local policing issues don't stop when you cross the road from Highbury Place. So I think the Boundary commission need to rethink their plans."
Anna Home, of Liberia Road, said: "It's totally illogical, destructive of local community spirit.
"Rev Dr Paul Blackham, of St Crispin's Church in Highbury Place, added: "Everything we do in terms of community is based around Highbury Fields. I'm particularly concerned with policing issues with my family."
Prof Colin Mellors, chair of the commission, said: "This is the last chance for local people to have their say on ward boundaries for all councillors in Islington.
"We want to hear evidence from the people who know Islington best about the shape of local communities across the borough before we finalise our recommendations in January."