Gazette letters: Gillespie Road, housing association sales, empty commercial units, MPs allegiances and St Paul’s Road accident

Paul Kirk, pictured centre, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat

Paul Kirk, pictured centre, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat run. Picture: DIETER PERRY - Credit: Archant

While councillors are to be congratulated for agreeing a trial-run part-closure of Gillespie Road, residents are surely correct to want a permanent solution, writes Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington.

I used to live on the section in question and can attest to the danger and chaos even all those years ago.

Similar action is required along the Thornhill Road end of the proposed QW10 Clerkenwell-Finsbury Park cycle-route - of which Gillespie Road is a part – between Barnsbury Park and the Offord Road junction. Here cyclists are at high risk of a KSI event (death or serious injury) due to parking either side of this “neck of the bottle” narrow stretch of highway. Ward councillor Rowena Champion has acknowledged the risks – she lives in the area – and when the matter was raised at full council last year, it was agreed that an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) would be appropriate to address the problem. Closure of the road to through traffic and removal of parking spaces is needed urgently. Running the two ETOs in parallel could only be a good thing, allowing officers to compare and contrast the outcomes, and modify each scheme accordingly if and when necessary.

It’s worth asking ourselves why, when fewer than than one-third of Islington households owns or has access to a private vehicle, our residential streets remain packed with parked vehicles, endangering both pedestrians and cyclists. Residents are frequently reminded that Labour stands “for the many, not the few”, so let’s see that translated in to action without further delay.

This week I have heard that two housing association properties in Islington are to be auctioned on 14 and 19 of this month: 19a Chatterton Road, N4 (a maisonette) belonging to Mosaic Housing Association, is to be auctioned by Allsops (no “Guide Price” given), and 74 Tollington Park, N4 (comprising four flats) is to be auctioned by Savills “By order of a Housing Association.” The guide price is £1,195,000 writes an Islington housing association tenant, full name and address supplied.

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So this month there will be five homes less which could be used to house some of the 14,000 households on Islington’s housing waiting list or homeless people and our precious social housing stock is being reduced a little bit more. To add insult to injury, the private developers or individuals who buy these properties may rent them out at market rates, including to Islington council.

Until 2015, housing associations were defined as social homes providers. Now de-regulated since 2016, they are selling homes with no accountability to anyone, while creating further despair and desperation on the part of those in the area who urgently need a home.

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On February 7, Jim Strange, president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said, “Our analysis shows we lost more than 165,000 homes for social rent in just six years between 2012 and 2018 - and that figure could reach 199,000 by 2020 if we don’t take action now.”

Although this figure may include the sale of council homes, I hope that Islington Council will bring to bear on housing associations in the borough all the power at its disposal to prevent this iniquitous selling off and auctioning of social homes. For its part, the Labour Party should make it an urgent priority to re-regulate housing associations.

We all know the high street is in crisis. Once loved giants like BHS and House of Fraser have gone under, and 10,000 shops are projected to close in 2019 alone, writes Christian Spurrier, Islington Green Party.

But even on local parades, the decline is being felt. Across our borough, residents are familiar with the sight of empty premises and the proliferation of charity and betting shops.

Councils do what they can with the offer of relief on business rates. But isn’t it time we acknowledged what’s often at the heart of this – greedy landlords who simply have no incentive to offer their tenants a viable rent, and care little for the community that their properties are part of?

In North Islington the problem is epitomised by the Highbury Vale Police Station, where several small business units have sat empty for nearly four years, because an absentee landlord refuses to engage with local residents, and insists on trying to force an unwanted Sainsbury’s Local into his site, despite the presence of three identical stores, within a 1 km radius.

Despite multiple campaigns, and a consultation that promised to listen to us, we recently heard that Sainsbury’s are now returning for the fourth time to try and impose their unwanted store on us.

The Green Party is committed to giving residents a real say in the businesses run from their local areas. Measures, such as a land value tax would provide a major incentive to landlords – preventing them from hoarding sites without penalty, when only nearby residents suffer.

Local shops enrich our communities. They create vital links between traders and residents and make our areas worth living in. Let’s all stand up for measures that would protect them – and force a change in the sad decline of our high streets and parades.

Strange to see Labour supporter declare the rebels are traitors as it is completely the opposite, their integrity is intact perhaps for the first time ever in their political careers, writes Michael McElligott, Amwell Street, Islington.

As they detest Mr Corbyn, [what he stands for] and have since he was democratically elected, they have tried every trick in the PR book to bring him to heel and failed hence the latest actions of distraction.

It is fair to say that Labour management should have rooted these lighter blues out long before this occurred but Labour were thinking we are going to be in power soon, let’s not rock the boat. However, that dream is now fast becoming a nightmare as at the next general election these hidden blues types will do all they can to split the vote and deliver their party of choice – the Tories’ – to power, anything to hinder Mr Corbyn and his policies .

Boris, Gove and Jacob Rees-Mogg must be laughing their blue socks off as their plan comes together with the help of their ex-Labour type friends keeping out Mr Corbyn and saving the rich from paying taxes.

Having read the Islington Gazette (February 7), I read with interest the report regarding the 15-year-old boy who is in hospital after the moped he was driving collided with a lorry in St Paul’s Road, writes J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

The accident happened last Thursday (January 31) rather than last Friday as your report states. How do I know this? Last Thursday I was on my way to Highbury and got off a bus in Newington Green Road and walked round the corner to get a no 30 bus outside St Paul’s Church to go to Highbury Corner.

As I stood outside the church I could see what had happened although I didn’t actually see it happen. The police and ambulance were already on the scene.

The site of what happened was at the junction of St Paul’s Road and St Paul’s Place, quite what caused this I don’t know. Happily nobody was killed in this accident but it goes to show what can happen.

Sadly, all too often when I am on a bus etc I see both cyclists and motorbike riders running up the inside of the bus between the bus and the pavement in an attempt to get to the head of the traffic queue, I ask why? Is it so important that you get to the head of the queue at all costs, even ignoring the traffic lights.

What do you gain by doing this? Maybe an early trip to the next world wherever and whatever that is, surely it is better to be safe and maybe a little late in this world rather than an early appearance in this next one – if there is one.

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