Gazette letters: Dixon Clark Court, LTNs, Jeremy Corbyn and stamps for charity

Dixon Clark Court garden before the council arrived. Picture: James Dunnett

Dixon Clark Court garden before the council arrived. Picture: James Dunnett - Credit: Archant

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Gazette readers this week.

New homes plan to build over garden is ‘huge loss’

Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington, writes:

Islington Council leader Richard Watts recently used his Twitter feed to accuse campaigners trying to save mature trees on Dixon Clark Court (DCC) of being “nimbies… using a cover of environmentalism” (Twitter @RichardWatts01, October 27).

Perhaps Cllr Watts is unaware that his own administration’s plan for the DCC estate involves not only uprooting seven, 53-year-old trees but literally building on the DCC residents’ own “back yard” that is the beautiful communal garden? The planning application does, after all, fail to include a single photograph of the beautiful space seen in pictures taken before the council locked the entrance gate in March this year.

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With the majority of the proposed new-build homes planned to be built on the garden, this is surely a major oversight?

A mother writes: “The benches were given to a resident… It was such a special space for us. For my little dude and me, that garden being gone is a huge loss.

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“I used to read while he looked at bugs, then we used to play and explore together. We’re so sad.”

The council boss is correct about one thing – the “growing opposition” to the proposed DCC development – but not, as he alleges, to the building of council homes.

This old trope, repeated by other elected members on Twitter, is wearing thin – the potential loss of the ‘little forest’ is something about which many Islington residents and passers-by are only now becoming aware.

Highbury Corner is a central Islington location linking all parts of the borough. Just a week ago, a woman cycling past expressed her amazement that the trees could possibly be in the last-chance saloon.

The proposed development of DCC will not only deprive residents of their beautiful garden but also the mature trees that currently protect them – the majority council tenants – from the noisy, toxic Highbury Corner.

Not a nimby

Joy Chamberlain, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

I am not a nimby.

I just want everyone in Islington, rich and poor, to enjoy clean air and something good to look at.

This is the garden in Dixon Clark Court before the gardens were trashed by the council. The picture was taken by James Dunnett.

Context to LTNs

Jeremy Drew, Islington Green Party, writes:

I would like to provide some historical context to the discussions about low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), also known as People Friendly Streets.

By the 1960s, it became clear that something needed to be done about the traffic in cities and a series of government initiatives addressed the problem.

First, a commission published Traffic in Towns, which advocated separation of traffic from pedestrians, in a concept not unlike LTNs.

Second, a report on road pricing considered the possibility of charging for the use of roads to cover congestion and environmental costs.

The congestion charging scheme in central London, introduced in 2003, is a crude variant on this.

Third, the Greater London Development Plan envisaged a series of motorways, one of which would have run through central Islington. This plan led to strong resistance and was fortunately abandoned.

Since then, priority has been given to modes such as buses and cycles, but growing congestion continued to affect all traffic.

Recently we have seen more rat runs of through-traffic along residential streets, encouraged by Satnav technology. Vehicle miles on C and unclassified roads in London increased by 72 per cent between 2009 and 2019.

Increasing concerns about global warming and local air pollution, and a growing awareness of the health benefits of walking and cycling, have meant that many cities have been re-evaluating their attitudes to cars.

Paris is developing the concept of the 15-minute city, whereby most activities can be carried out within a 15 minute walk of peoples’ homes – the concept of the city as a set of villages.

Islington is well suited to this as most residential areas have local shops, schools and other facilities nearby. Our local Green councillor, Caroline Russell, has been promoting this approach in the London Assembly.

Covid-19 accelerated this trend. The government realised that people would avoid public transport and those with cars would use them more yet social distancing would also mean more space is needed.

In May, the government therefore provided funds and emergency powers to local authorities to make more space for pedestrians and cyclists.

A number of boroughs decided to introduce LTNs. Boroughs have partly based their plans on experience in boroughs where they were introduced earlier, such as Waltham Forest where LTNs have now been widely accepted, despite initial opposition.

Islington Council is to be applauded for moving quickly. It is now introducing a series of LTNs on a trial basis and beginning a process of ongoing consultation over the first 18 months.

The schemes can then be expanded, adapted or even abandoned, if necessary, in the light of feedback.

Experience elsewhere indicates that these schemes bed down after a while as people adapt to the new situation by reducing the number of trips, switching from cars or simply getting used to the change.

I therefore urge all residents affected by the schemes to engage with the ongoing consultation process so that the schemes that are finally adapted are as good as possible for the benefit of the wider community.

Save Henry’s Wall

L Taylor, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

It has come to my attention that UK Power Networks are proposing to paint over a wall on Wheelwright Street, N1 next week.

The wall in question is a very well known local landmark known as Henry’s Wall.

My family, Islington locals and his supporters have requested they reconsider and leave the memorial portrait of Henry alone.

To them it’s only a painting, this is a memorial that brings endless comfort to our family and friends and the local community.

It is a significant meeting spot for those who love and want to feel close to Henry, particularly on anniversaries, which is coming up very soon.

Henry’s life was needlessly cut tragically short and his family are as devastated now as they were on the day of his death.

Destroying Henry’s iconic wall would be the final blow – they’ve lost enough.

Corbyn’s trust

Michael Cosh, Corinne Road, Tufnell Park, writes:

I, like thousands of other Islington North residents, have voted for Jeremy Corbyn at every General Election ever since he first stood for Parliament and those decisions I do not regret.

However, Jeremy’s recent comments on the EHRC Report into Labour antisemitism are a disservice to the party.

He must accept his role in the commission’s findings, but, my real contempt is levelled towards those so-called confidantes and friends of Jeremy who simply abused the trust he placed in them.

Stamps for charity

Myrna Chave, PO Box 91, Virginia Water, Surrey GU25 9AR, writes:

I am appealing for used postage stamps which help me raise funds which I then donate to the Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Recycling used postage stamps is such an easy way to raise money for the charity and I am always in need of all types of postage stamps, including British, foreign and Christmas stamps.

If you can help, I would be grateful if you could cut the stamps from their envelopes (leaving approx 1cm margin around the stamp) and send them to the address above. If you would like to contact me, my email address is

Thank you to everyone who has donated, your assistance is greatly appreciated.

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