People Friendly Streets, Euston Square licenced cabs, alcohol and Covid jabs


People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists - Credit: Archant

'Just one road could make a difference' to congestion

Fiona Dunlop, Islington, full address supplied, wrote to Rowena Champion, Islington Council:

I would like to reiterate my opposition to the recent road closures, implemented with a view to reducing pollution.

They are creating incredible stress and misery for local residents already having to deal with lockdown, home schooling, illness etc.
And what about the underpaid delivery people, tradespeople, carers etc who do not know the new rules and get fined?

Yesterday I again sat on a bus in a traffic jam on Highbury Grove for 20 minutes, followed by another 10 minutes at a snarl-up at Highbury Corner. I was on my way to an appointment in Clerkenwell, so too far to walk and nor can I cycle due to a balance problem.

May I say I also find it presumptuous that the council assumes everyone can hop on a bike.

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I would never take a car for this journey due to the simple reason that it would enter congestion charging, so a bus is fine for me (except that face masks are still noticeable by their absence). But it is not fine when it takes twice as long and meanwhile stationary cars are pumping out exhaust - poison for passersby and anyone living on these main roads.

I say “these” because the traffic jams continue up Blackstock Road towards Finsbury Park.

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Will Islington Council look into this urgently?
Just one road linking Highbury with Drayton Park and Holloway Road would make a difference - for example, open up Aubert Park for two-way traffic.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Tunnels and trees

Jane Leggett, Highbury Extinction Rebellion, wrote to Catherine West MP: 

The brave tree protectors (some of whom I know well) have perhaps bought some time because they are prepared to climb trees and live in tunnels - but the cranes are already there and who knows what plans HS2 have about the tunnel.

Let’s reward their efforts by asking our MPs how this can be justified - as quickly as possible. And invite as many of your friends to do the same.

In Extinction Rebellion we sign off with “love and rage” - it’s never been more appropriate for me.

And so the destruction of the ancient, possibly two-hundred-year-old trees in Euston Square begins, for a temporary taxi rank. I can’t believe I am actually writing these words to you.

I can’t believe that you will be able to give me a rational explanation. No doubt you will try.

And yet again our tree protectors are prepared to show their bravery – putting themselves at great risk high above in the trees and deep below in their ingenious tunnel, giving the government and the opposition time, perhaps only a few weeks, perhaps far less, to reconsider this plan.

Euston Square Gardens

Euston Square Gardens under HS2 eviction - Credit: Dorothea Hackman

We are talking about a temporary taxi rank after all. If you need further evidence, it’s here:

  • London air quality is so poor that children die of asthma. This is now official. We need every mature tree to be cherished, valued and protected to protect our oxygen supply – new trees, however useful for the future, will not protect us in the same way for many years.
  • It seems clear that HS2 is unlikely to be carbon neutral, the concrete used in the construction, the movement of vehicles, boring machines, and so on, are too energy greedy. And as the latest reports regarding trees and new tree planting tells us, we need the right trees planted in the right place and that means we need to look after the ones we have. Again, new trees are important but cannot take the place in the carbon cycle of mature established trees and woodlands.
  • The spiralling costs are out of control. They rose by £400+ million a few months ago because of works simply around Euston Station.
  • When the public finally realise the cost, and they will, it will be yet another disaster for this government. How will the cost and the environmental devastation be accounted for when we host COP26? 

How can all this be balanced against shaving just minutes off an already catered-for route from London to Birmingham, which the business community will use less because there are now proven ways of communicating without having to waste time and money on train fares at peak times. It’s madness.

I’m sure you have already visited Euston Square – even, as I have, enjoyed the protection given by those trees to travellers, visitors, wildlife.

I urge you to go again before it is too late to save the trees. See for yourself what will be lost for a temporary taxi rank. Future generations will indeed take a dim view of a generation that makes the wrong choice and pursues such a destructive project in the midst of a national and international crisis.

Court ruling

Phil Buckle, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Much has been made of the recent court ruling in favour of United Trade Action Group (UTAG) and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) about a scheme (the A10 at Bishopsgate) and the way in which the decision to make changes was made. 

It did not call into question the principal of reducing traffic and cleaning up London’s air. The mayor is appealing the decision so we will see what happens next.

Democratically elected, the London mayor and forward-looking local authorities, such as Islington – encouraged by central government funding - are acting in the best interests of their residents by enabling safer, cleaner, more people-friendly streets, whilst also considering the effects on disadvantaged members of the community.

Islington Council has committed to review its schemes on an ongoing basis and the consultations which will take place towards the end of the trial period will enable local residents to have their say, based on real experience rather than conjecture.

Experience from other long-standing low-traffic neighbourhoods shows strong local support, improved trading for local businesses, lower crime rates and improved life expectancy.

We support the council in its efforts to continue making improvements for Islington residents.

Managing alcohol

Dr Richard Piper, chief executive, Alcohol Change UK (the charity behind Dry January), writes: 

Back in December we estimated that 6.5 million people would be taking part in Dry January - then on January 4, the third national lockdown was announced and almost immediately we began to see people saying that Dry January was “cancelled”.

Yet what we saw, in fact, was a further surge in people downloading the official app, Try Dry.

Downloads this year have been a huge 35 per cent higher than last. 

Research has shown that seven in 10 people who do Dry January with our support are still drinking less six months later. So whether you used Dry January to bust lockdown drinking habits, kickstart cutting down or test out going alcohol-free longer-term, February 1 isn’t the end – it’s the start of healthier, happier drinking habits year-round.

Alcohol Change UK offers information and advice for managing your drinking all year round.

Stop the spread

Cllr Khaled Noor, Muslim Professionals Forum chair, writes:

People from the Black and ethnic minority (BAME) community feature high in the coronavirus statistics: we are disproportionately more likely to become infected and to die, and we are more likely to be on the frontline, risking our lives to help others.

We mourn each and every death from our diverse communities. We pray for all those whose lives have been cut short and we send our condolences to every bereaved and grieving family.

As the virus continues to take lives, we urge everyone to follow the lockdown guidelines. Stay home; observe social distancing; wear a mask – and encourage everyone to have a vaccination when they are invited.

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