St George's Day, Partners Islington, LTNs and Local Plan policy

The flag of St George is raised over No.10 Downing Street in Central London

Islington Town Hall flew the flag of St George on St George's Day - Credit: PA Images

Our patriotic borough will lead so others can follow

Derek Salmon, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

My apartment is opposite our town hall in Upper Street, and I write to say what a stirring and patriotic sight it was on Friday, April 23, to see the Standard of St George (our patron saint) proudly flying alongside our national standard and our own borough flag. 

At a time when so many of our national ceremonies have been put on hold or cancelled, like the royal gun salutes and distribution of Maundy Money, it is more than encouraging to know and see that our own council still maintain standards that others seek to emulate.  

We take for granted the good they have done and continue to do. To quote, just one example, it was our council who were the first London borough to introduce the 20mph speed limit. This life saving rule has been and is being introduced by many other boroughs and further afield. How many have averted death and injury because of this speed reduction rule, down to 20 miles an hour. 


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The London borough of Islington leads and others follow. 

No surprise repair bill is so high

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Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington, writes:

Partners Islington is a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) ‘special purpose vehicle’, set up by a previous Lib Dem administration to manage the council’s 6,500 street properties. It isn’t, nor ever was, a housing association (Islington Council urges: ‘Raise repairs before Partners hands back homes’).

‘We wanted to get into as many basement flats as we possibly could, as we know there are concerns around damp.’ What programme manager, Saf Khan, fails to say is that damp-proofing the stairwells of Partners-managed basement flats/maisonettes was never part of the the two PFI schemes. It was deliberately excluded on the grounds of cost. Damp doesn’t stay in stairwells, of course, but spreads throughout a basement if left unattended.

No surprise, therefore, that remedial action will be costly, and already nearing £500k for only 45 per cent of the properties.

Anti-LTN rally had lack of support

People Friendly Streets in Islington are designed to improve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists

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

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

Well, so much for the supposed latent resident anger over the Highbury Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme.

The sparse attendance at the anti-LTN rally held outside the town hall on Saturday afternoon of, perhaps, 100 people suggested otherwise. 

This, of course, is very encouraging. Most residents in Highbury clearly approve of the scheme and the benefits that it brings in terms of less rat-running traffic, more considerate driving, and a better quality of life for all. And that is before considering the health benefits yet to be enjoyed by future generations when people have learned to adjust their current self-centred, selfish pattern of car-use.

However, that is not to say that all elements of the LTN are necessarily perfect. Much has been made in the press of the demands of individuals who have disabilities or who are carers etc. But it has been my experience that members and officers at Islington council deal with such cases with sympathy and on the basis of their individual merits. Megaphone diplomacy might just be counter-productive.

Please support low traffic plan

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:

Islington’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood’s have made it so much nicer and safer to cycle around locally. While they have not been appreciated by all, I urge people to give them a chance, and wanted to share some of my own experiences of cycling around London.

I don’t own a car myself, and tend to cycle everywhere. For many journeys this is actually quicker than taking public transport or driving. I moved from Southwark to Islington last year, and arrived at my new place by bike several minutes before the removal van arrived, even though we left at the same time. Not owning a car means I save hundreds of pounds a year because it’s free for me to get around, and I genuinely enjoy my journeys more. I often discover new and interesting places in Islington and other parts of London by bike.

I understand the implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods has felt sudden for those who now have to add a few extra minutes to their journeys. However, there is a cost to the convenience of cars, so allowing traffic to continue increasing is not an option.

Pollution in London can be deadly, with traffic being a major contributing factor. In 2013, nine year old Ella Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. Choosing to drive where we have the choice to walk/cycle instead is bad for our health. The national physical inactivity epidemic is responsible for one in six deaths and costs the country an estimated £7.4 billion a year (source: Public Health England).

LTNs are part of the solution for tackling these issues (more information at LowTrafficIslington.org). They are a positive and welcome change in the borough, and have made Islington a nicer place to live, as well as improving local journeys.

LTN’s can change driver behaviour

An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:    

Last week a letter-writer complained how an LTN had added half an hour to a journey from Highbury to Highgate.

This seemed like an exaggeration too far so, on Friday at 3pm, I used Google Maps to tell me how long that journey would take. The system reported “very heavy traffic”, but still, I could find no point in Highbury from which the journey to Highgate Village took more than 31 minutes. The graphic showed the most heavily trafficked sections were Highgate Hill and the central section of Holloway Road, neither of which is near an LTN.

Anti-LTN correspondents write as if all their journeys used to be easy and traffic-free, until the LTN was implemented. That is nonsense. People have been complaining about traffic in London since at least the 1970s. The good thing about LTNs is that they become known (by drivers and satnav systems) and journeys are adjusted to accommodate them. That’s the very point of LTNs.

The Highbury to Highgate journey is, of course, faster and more predictable by bike. Without even assuming an e-bike, Google Maps gave 25 minutes (when I checked on Friday). Although with the traffic the way it is you’d have to be brave to cycle that journey with a child. But if there were more LTNs there would probably be a safe route, and many parents would do it, thus reducing the traffic on the road. So, two messags: 1) please be honest when describing journeys and, 2) if you are a driver complaining about traffic – remember you are not stuck in the traffic, you are the traffic.

Actions speak louder than words

Susan Lowenthal, Medina Road, Islington, writes:

Of course it is a priority to ensure everyone is decently housed in social, fair-rent or affordable homes, but developments must be properly, sustainably designed to protect the environment, green spaces and trees that are vital to us all.

Why is Islington slashing and burning its way through its own Local Plan policy, not to mention ignoring the London Plan and making its declaration of an environment and climate emergency meaningless? Policies G1 to G4 include the following:
Development is not permitted on any public open space and significant private open spaces.

  • All impacts must be prevented/ mitigated through the design of the scheme.
  • The Council will protect open space on housing estates.
  • All developments must protect, enhance and contribute to the landscape, biodiversity value and growing conditions of the development site and surrounding area.
  • All developments are required to minimise impacts on existing vegetation.

Actions speak louder than words.
 

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