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People’s Assembly: XR Islington hosts town hall meeting discussing climate emergency and liveable neighbourhoods

PUBLISHED: 18:57 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 19:01 25 February 2020

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

Islington Town Hall.Picture:Ken Mears

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A people’s assembly was held at the town hall last night to discuss how best to tackle the climate emergency.

Extinction Rebellion (XR) Islington helped organise the assembly so people could scrutinise the town hall's proposed budget for 2020/2021 - including its £1million pledge to introduce a "livable neighbourhood" in the Highbury East and Mildmay area.

The people's assembly format encourages one person to speak at a time, while others listen as "witnesses" without interjecting or interrupting.

The meeting scrutinised what actions have taken by the council since it declared a climate emergency and pledged to become carbon neutral by 2030 in June, and also explored how people can become more involved in the decision making process.

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Helena Farstad, of Islington Clean Air Parents and XR Islington said: "It was a really positive atmosphere in the room, generally. Still not: 'wow, we sussed it' but there was a sense that what we really want to do now is stop challenging from within. We want to be aligned with Islington Council and start looking from inwards, outwards. The next step is to get this agenda out in London and then at a national level. And, don't forget, the council did stand with us in rebellion against the government last year. We are quietly optimistic. We want to be going in the same direction."

Liveable (or low-traffic) neighbourhood are designed to reduce traffic and rat-runs, while encouraging cycling and walking. Work is due to begin on the Islington scheme later this year, subject to consultation.

Some attendees raised concerns about how the consultation will be run.

Helena added: "I think the key message is there's still a little bit of doubt, there's definitely trust challenges there in terms of, is this top down? [...] Traditional consultations processes are not necessarily accessible to everybody. It needs to be far more accessible to the community."

Islington's transport and environment chief Cllr Rowena Champion, who attended the meeting, last week said: "Islington's first liveable neighbourhood will be closely designed with local communities to cut through-traffic, make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, and create a more pleasant environment with better air quality."


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