Letters, July 6 2012
Arrogant attitude that just wastes time and money
Thank you for your extensive coverage recently about two big issues in Highbury: the new width restriction in Drayton Park and the nature conservation area besides the Emirates Stadium.
The chaos caused by the width restriction in Drayton Park could easily have been avoided if the council had actually implemented the scheme they consulted on and agreed with residents and cyclists. Instead a revised scheme was introduced with no notification and we have seen the results - there have already been two accidents. It is quite an achievement on the council's part to have united drivers, cyclists and pedestrians in opposition to these measures. I am meeting with council officers on site this week to look at how we can improve the width restriction and have also raised the way this scheme came about with the council's chief executive.
Network Rail's behaviour at the sidings by the Emirates Stadium is frankly deplorable. Despite their promises last year to inform the council and residents when works to cut back trees or land were necessary, Network Rail just went ahead without telling anyone. This is clearly a trend across the country and we now need to work together to make clear to Network Rail that they cannot continue to act in this way and treat residents, the council and local wildlife with contempt.
Both these issues highlight what happens when organisations act as if they know best and don't listen to local residents or their representatives. Sadly, this arrogant attitude just ends up wasting time and money when the inevitable public outcry leads to the schemes having to be modified belatedly. I hope that from now on council officers and Network Rail will be listening more than they have been.
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Councillor Julie Horten
Liberal Democrat, Highbury East ward
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Changes are signs of privatisation
Following the successful campaign (supported by the Gazette) to save the Whittington Hospital A & E from Labour government cuts in 2010, the bad news is that our local hospital is once again under threat.
The so-called 'austerity' agenda of the Con-Dem government means that the Whittington Hospital faces cuts calculated by the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition (DWHC) at a total of �13million up to 2014, and �1.9 million this year. Already up to 120 jobs are to be lost - including those of medical records staff, clinical care co-ordinators, appointments staff and admissions staff.
Meanwhile, hospital management are paying �1m over two years to a private contractor to manage the cuts programme. This is a waste of public money which should have been spent on keeping NHS staff.
Other worrying changes are already evident: the number of so-called low priority treatments (non-emergency surgery including women's health, hip replacements and tonsillectomies) has already been radically reduced, and a number of services such as care for the elderly, diabetes and audiology have been moved out of the hospital.
Local residents need these services. The creeping privatisation introduced by Labour is gathering momentum under this government. We will join local residents in fighting it.
Islington Green Party
Council just want money from us
I was in the Islington area and found myself followed by two council officers who waited until I threw my cigarette end on the street to issue me with a fine of �50.
Considering the government happily raises the price of cigarettes in order to make more money, to then follow citizens and charge �50 if they throw a cigarette end on the streets is just ridiculous.
This council is 'money hungry' and will obviously do anything to make money.
Camberwell Road, South London
We need panel that reports to public
Many residents will by now have received the latest of Islington Council's communications entitled 'Your housing service needs you' in which, in response to the government's recent decree regarding localism and tenant empowerment, they attempt to convince us that they are genuinely intending to promote meaningful consultation in the borough.
Sadly, although not unexpected, having attended the first two of their recent presentations I fear that once again they are desperately trying to sell us another of their 'chocolate teapot' promotions.
In an attempt to provide this farcical process with a degree of dignity and importance, council officers have euphemistically titled the proposed main core section 'the Islington Housing Executive'.
However, since this particular body is simply there to overview the council's decisions, without the power to either reverse or prevent their implementation, what they truly represent is a loosely disguised replica of the old ALMO board of directors. Furthermore, any resident prepared to stand for election to the position of either 'tenants champion' or the more aptly named 'vice-champions', will of course be subjected to a vetting process before being allowed to stand for election.
So how are these representatives on the housing executive board to be chosen? Simply on the number of votes gained from a general ballot of all tenures, which will, of course, as is intended, provide a return that is seriously flawed.
Rather than all of this wasteful nonsense, all that is in fact required is a scrutiny panel comprised of delegates from the main housing bodies in the borough, with the power to ameliorate, or even reverse, council decisions and report their findings directly back to the electorate.
Dr Brian Potter
Chairman, Federation of Islington Tenants Associations (FITA)
Chairman, Islington Leaseholders Association (ILA)
Small stores must not be overlooked
Hyde Housing, which is redeveloping the Packington Estate, has decided it wants to put a big supermarket on the corner of Packington Street and Rheidol Terrace.
When Hyde got planning permission for the estate, they were supposed to re-provide the small shops that are currently in the middle of the estate, known as 'the Precinct', at the edge of the estate.
This is meant to allow the existing small shops to transfer to the new shops.
Small shop units will maintain a range of shops in the area, and keep this corner animated and active.
One big shop will provide a blank frontage, encourage loitering and bring large lorries into the area on a daily basis to service the supermarket, similar to Tesco on Islington Green.
If Hyde get this permission, all the other small convenience stores in the area will be forced out of business.
Please write to the council and tell it you want the small shops that have already got planning permission.
Cllr Martin Klute Labour member for St Peter's Ward
Work can be done by cheaper staff
It's inexcusable that the Metropolitan Police Service has a total of 6,579 fully fit officers in support roles that can be done by police staff.
The public wants to see their police on the beat, not behind desks doing work that could be done by support staff for about �20,000 a year cheaper.
The Mayor's fixation with police officer numbers means the Met has reduced the number of support staff in order to keep officer numbers high and that is why we now have thousands of expensive police officers doing work that could be done by cheaper and better trained support staff.
Green Party member of the London Assembly