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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Hate Crime Awareness Week, road safety and green landlords

PUBLISHED: 08:30 26 October 2019

Emily Thornberry, Jeremy Corbyn and Cllr Richard Watts at a Hate Crime Awareness event. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Emily Thornberry, Jeremy Corbyn and Cllr Richard Watts at a Hate Crime Awareness event. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

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Forum+ have been hugely moved by the commitment of MPs, councillors, police, footballers, schools, the business community and our wonderful third sector during Hate Crime Awareness Week to saying "no to hate", writes Charles Dean, chair, Forum+.

All of us in the UK have the basic human right to live freely without the threat - or actual experience of - bullying, intimidation or violence. Such behaviour is abhorrent and criminal and reduces the quality of people's lives.

This week saw events at Arsenal Football Club, Camden YMCA, British Transport Police and City of London Academy, supported by Camden Council, Islington Council, Camden Community Safety Partnership, Islington Safer Neighbourhood Board, Islington Faith Forum and many others, where we captured the hearts and minds of residents in Camden and Islington - including teenagers at such an important part of their development.

Sadly, there are many victims of hate crime that still need our help. If you have been a victim of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime or know someone who has, please report it to the police or contact us in confidence on 020 7388 5720 or by emailing caseworker@forumplus.org.uk.

I write in response to your article on October 10 regarding road accidents and the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed or seriously injured on the borough's roads, writes Cllr Claudia Webbe, executive member for Environment & Transport, Islington Council.

Islington Council is committed to reducing all deaths and serious injuries on the borough's roads to zero - there are no circumstances where deaths or serious injury of vulnerable road users are acceptable. A disproportionate number of victims are people who are walking, cycling or riding motorbikes, which is an unacceptable pattern across London.

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In 2017 the mayor of London set a target for all boroughs to increase the proportion of people using sustainable modes of transport to 80 per cent of journeys by 2041. Islington has already achieved this target, so we will now go a lot further until all deaths and serious injuries are zero.

As set out in our draft transport strategy, the council is committed to changing our streets to encourage people to walk and cycle rather than drive. We are transforming transport infrastructure by removing out-dated and dangerous gyratory systems at Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street, including high quality, segregated cycle lanes. We will continue to campaign to bring about changes at Kings Cross and the Nag's Head too.

We will create low traffic neighbourhoods and healthy streets by closing roads and rebalancing streets in favour of pedestrians and cyclists - and this includes taking enforcement action to prevent HGVs and lorries using residential streets, improving pedestrian crossing points, and removing dangerous junctions, replacing them instead with more public spaces and protected cycling. We will continue to close roads outside schools at pick-up and drop-off times, to prevent road incidents, improving air quality and encouraging more active travel. The council's pioneering school streets programme already has 10 schemes currently up and running with another three due to be implemented in the next month and more planned for later in the year.

We are working on an ambitious programme of clean air walking and cycle routes, fit for people of all ages and abilities. We will continue to challenge the government and others and work to enable our pioneering borough-wide 20mph to be enforced 100pc of the time.

I want to thank residents for responding to our draft transport strategy helping us to set a transformational and bold vision for a healthy, fair, accessible and enjoyable transport environment .

Our government isn't doing anything like enough to reduce either carbon emissions or fuel poverty, despite supposed commitment to tackling both, writes Andrew Myer, Islington Green Party.

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), however, are at least one step in the right direction. Since 2018, MEES have made it illegal for private landlords to rent out the coldest F- or G-rated homes to a new tenant and from April next year this will apply to existing tenancies as well. More than a quarter of Islington homes are privately rented - some 27,000 - and since the private rented sector has the highest proportion of non-complying properties, it's likely hundreds of these are too cold and too hard-to-heat to be rented out legally without some improvement.

Local authorities choose how to enforce the MEES in their area and I understand Islington does so through its Trading Standards department. Searching the council's website, though, turns up no results for MEES, so it seems likely they're doing nothing proactive and only take action against a non-complying landlord if a prospective tenant understands the requirements and searches out which department to complain to. We have to sympathise with councils having to do more with less and less funding, but this still doesn't seem an adequate response for one, like Islington, which has stated commitments to addressing fuel poverty, rogue landlords and the climate emergency. At the very least it should be telling tenants what their rights are and who to complain to. But ideally it would be warning landlords with F and G rated properties how Islington will stamp down from April next year.

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