Gazette letters: Pupils’ strike, Astley’s Row Playground and road works

At St Andrews school in Barnsbury, families can raise funds for the school by switching to an eco-e

At St Andrews school in Barnsbury, families can raise funds for the school by switching to an eco-energy supplier. Photo: NICOLA BAIRD - Credit: Nicola Baird

My still-at-school daughter, Nell, joined the first London student strike for climate change in February, writes Nicola Baird, Islington Green

This movement was started by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and has spread worldwide. Nell came back energised by collective action and hopeful that it might inspire politicians to act.

Next day my older daughter Lola, who is at university, came by for family dinner. She pointed out she’d soon be £90,000 in debt; that the world was going to end in around 10 years and perhaps it would be foolish to have children. Surprisingly Lola seemed resigned, not depressed, voicing the worries of Generation Z.

“Perhaps the figures are wrong,” I said haltingly. “What’s more the world isn’t going to end: we have 12 years to stop man-made climate change (which is heating up the planet) going above the point of remedy, 1.5C.” I stopped and gave her a hug. “It’s crap, isn’t it?”

Next day I apologised for not handling the conversation well. I wonder how other mums and dads have dealt with heart-breaking questions, especially parents whose kids joined the #schoolstrike4climatechange?

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In February, a handful of MPs turned up for the first climate change debate that’s been held in two years. MPs are letting us down as they tie themselves up in Brexit knots. There is good news: more than 25 councils, including London’s Enfield and Richmond, have declared a climate emergency which will ensure low-carbon policies are implemented and our leaders held to account. For many the aim is a carbon neutral authority by 2030.

Given how many local young people joined the climate strike, you’d think that an Islington climate emergency policy – bringing massive improvements in energy efficiency to buildings – would be a shoo in. But apparently not. Why do our leaders, many of whom have kids, find it so hard to think long-term? If you do one thing this week for climate change, please email your councillor about the importance of passing a climate change emergency motion. If nothing else the kids will be pleased.

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We were delighted to visit Astey’s Row Playground in St Mary’s ward recently to take a look at progress made with improvement work, write Cllrs Nurullah Turan and Angela Picknell, St Mary’s ward.

Local people told us they would like to see improved facilities in the games and play area, and we included this as a high priority in our Ward Improvement Plan. The council is now working to deliver improved access, pathways and a new multi-use games area. Work is also being done to replace the majority of play equipment so that Astey’s Row has more to offer children and families.

The new and improved Astey’s Row Playground will be finished and open for children to enjoy in about a months time. As community champions for St Mary’s, we are proud to have represented the concerns of local people by pushing play facilities in our ward up the agenda and securing improvement works by the council.

Protecting and maintaining facilities for children and young people is a top priority for Islington Labour councillors. In our bold 2018 local election manifesto we pledged to continue working to make Islington the best place for young people to grow up; we’ve kept all our children’s centres and council youth centres open and protected all of our adventure playgrounds. We’re really pleased that improving the play facilities and games area at Astey’s Row Playground is now part of the council’s focus on children and young people. Thank you to all the local people and council staff who have helped to make this improvement work happen.

Mr J E Kirby is quite right in asking when the seemingly endless roadworks in this part of north London will end, writes Tim Sayer MBE, Battledean Road, Highbury.

I’ve had a lot of contact with TfL officials about the shambles at Highbury Corner and have found them very sympathetic, organising regular walkrounds of the area. Unfortunately, they are at too low level to have any influence on the managers who make the decisions.

As I’ve said before, TfL is not well run. But what large organisation is – the BBC, the NHS, the MoD? It has also suffered the usual draconian cuts in government funding.

So I think the answer to Mr Kirby’s question is not yet. And once this batch of roadworks is over, another will pop up. As for TfL injecting any sense of urgency, dream on.

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