Gazette letters: Council meeting, The Storm, Sainsbury’s and dirty Islington

Green Cllr Caroline Russell with Jeremy Corbyn at this year's count. Picture: KEN MEARS

Green Cllr Caroline Russell with Jeremy Corbyn at this year's count. Picture: KEN MEARS - Credit: Archant

Many thanks to the Gazette for reporting last week how at the full council meeting Islington Labour tore up Caroline Russell’s motion to promote proportional representation (PR) in local elections, writes Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party.

As your article pointed out, Labour in May won 98 per cent of Islington’s council seats, under our archaic first-past-the-post voting system, with only 61pc of the vote, and while any party would clearly want to protect its own interests, it may be hard for outsiders to understand why Labour locally find a 48:0 or 47:1 majority so much more desirable than simply having enough seats to hold power. Nationally, more progressive members of the Labour Party, including MPs Cat Smith and Jon Cruddas, recognise the importance and greater fairness of PR, but sadly not in Islington, where maintaining a massive party super-majority is apparently considered more important than having a council that actually represents the public’s voting preferences.

Many voters lack faith and/or interest in local democracy and PR not only reduces the risk of elected representatives getting lazy and complacent in safe seats (like Islington) but helps improve voter engagement. Turnout at Scottish local elections is higher than at others in the UK – and it was a Labour administration that introduced PR for those.

Food for thought for Islington Labour might be that in the 2006 council elections, the Lib Dems hung on to power in Islington by a slender majority whereas under PR Labour would have been the largest party. But that’s just history – what can we learn from that?

As an ex-guest of Shelter From The Storm, I feel very strongly that I must write in support of the shelter, writes Adeola, full name and address supplied.

I was working when I stayed in the shelter (I still am). I lost my tenancy through no fault of my own. I had a terrible time rough sleeping until I was referred to the shelter. The shelter provided a safe haven, helped me stay in employment and supported me in moving on to secure accomodation.

Local residents have nothing to fear from the shelter or their guests. First and foremost, everyone is referred by a reputable organisation like Islington Council. There are strict rules which everyone agrees to adhere to – and they do. The staff or volunteers are always on site to monitor things and look after everyone. I have never experienced any anti-social behaviour in or around the shelter.

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I still come back to visit the shelter as I enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and the friendly and supportive company.

I believe they will be a great asset to the local community.

Many of your readers will know that Sainsbury’s are applying, once again, to put one of their “Local” stores in the old Highbury Vale Police Station, writes Christian Spurrier, Highbury.

This is despite having their application turned down twice already.

The existing shops in this part of Blackstock Road are thriving. There is already a Sainsbury’s Local 400 metres away, in the same road – and the news that Sainsbury’s are also applying to put a further store opposite Clissold Park is proof that they just want to create a monopoly with no regard for the actual needs of our community.

More than 1,200 people have now signed an online petition asking Sainsbury’s to drop this application. Highbury councillors and local MP Jeremy Corbyn have all shown their support for a campaign to prevent this store.

Isn’t it time that Sainsbury’s listened to us, lived up to its image as a caring, socially-conscious business, and accepted that a new store is simply not appropriate in this location?

My daughter now lives in Manor Gardens, N7, and I visit her weekly, writes Irene Holland, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.

I am shocked and horrified at the disgusting state of the streets nearby, especially Holloway Road. Bags of rubbish are left in the streets, I assume from the shops, which spill out across the pavement. This leads to rats, flies, maggots and vile smells, and looks awful.

Do people who live in Islington care so little about their environment? Are they prepared to walk through filth? It would seem so.

I was born and lived in Islington until 1970 – shopkeepers kept their frontage clean and tidy but not now. And it is not just shopkeepers. On the residential roads there are enormous amount of rubbish.

I live in a residential street in Letchworth. We have no council rubbish bins in the road, but it is rare to find any rubbish on the pavement or in the front gardens. If anything gets dropped residents pick it up and place in their own bins. In our shopping streets there is no rubbish either. Why are the people in Islington so different?

How about the Gazette starting a campaign to clean up the streets of Islington and make it a pleasant place to live, work and visit?

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