Environment and equality at heart of council leader's new direction for Islington

Cllrs Kaya Comer-Schwartz outside Islington town hall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Cllrs Kaya Comer-Schwartz outside Islington town hall. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

The environment and equality are at the heart of how Islington Council’s new leader is looking to direct the borough.

Councillor Kaya Comer-Schwartz is set to outline her "strategic plan" before members on Thursday. It will provide a blueprint for how the authority will make policy decisions under her tenure in the months ahead. 

Cllr Comer-Schwartz, who is a lifelong Islington resident, said the five-point direction was borne out of what she likes about the borough and the challenges it faces. 

She said: “We know there is a lot of imbalance around wealth in the borough, we have very well off people and those in poverty. There are health inequalities and people can struggle to get access to mental health services.

“I am really dedicated to tackling these challenges.”

The five areas of focus on the strategic plan are: 

  • Children and young people: Making quality opportunities, skills and education available for all. 
  • The environment: School streets, people friendly streets, and increasing the greenery of the borough are all being considered.
  • Building more homes: Affordable, good quality and environmentally friendly builds are the focus, according to the council leader.
  • More jobs: Increasing the living wage and tackling the cost of living. Making sure all employees in the borough have the living wage. There will also be a push to help local businesses.
  • Creating a safer borough: Providing outreach and pursuing the Fairer Together agenda of the council.

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“The council creates policies on a daily basis,” the leader said, adding that these provide a broad aim and direction for officers and councillors to follow.

“They are tied together. If we are building houses, we will look to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. And we are also creating green jobs, with apprentices coming on board [to put carbon reducing infrastructure in place].” 

The Labour councillor, who took over when previous leader Richard Watts left in May, joining Sadiq Khan’s team, said she was proud of how Islington’s community spirit came through during the pandemic. 

She added: “I am really hopeful that five years from now, if you’re a family in Islington, you’ll really feel the difference.”