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Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: TfL travel, water usage, People Friendly Streets, scaffolding, former Holloway Prison

PUBLISHED: 11:06 21 September 2020

Cars are now not allowed on Prebend Street, Islington. Picture: Stephen Spencer

Cars are now not allowed on Prebend Street, Islington. Picture: Stephen Spencer

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Kate Pothalingam, Islington Liberal Democrats, writes:

I am sure you are aware that TfL are being asked to suspend free travel for under 18s (as part of their funding agreement with central government).

This means that many families will face additional hardship from October, when school children start having to pay full fares.

Whilst many primary school children live within walking or cycling distance of their school, this is not always the case for secondary school pupils and many have to travel considerable distances.

It is disappointing that neither of our local MPs has signed this early day motion calling for the government to drop these plans – there is clear cross-party support for this proposal, see the signatories here.

Why should secondary school pupils and their families suffer additional stress and financial challenges at this time of huge disruption to their education?

It is time for our local MPs to stand up for them and join the campaign.

Perhaps Claudia Webbe, an Islington councillor as well as being MP for Leicester East, could sign to show her support too?

Christine McGourty, chief executive, Water UK and Nicci Russell, managing director, Waterwise, write:

According to a new survey, 46 per cent of Brits believe their household uses under 20 litres of water a day, which is roughly equivalent to taking a two-minute shower.

In fact, the true figure is closer to 142 litres per person per day, meaning an average family of four could use more than 500 litres each day!

This summer we saw a surge in demand for water, as more people stayed at home and enjoyed the hot weather in parts of the country.

This is why Water UK and water efficiency experts Waterwise have joined forces to encourage people to think about the amount of water they are using.

This new campaign offers simple hints and tips to help people cut back, saving energy, money and protecting the environment - more information can be found online and across social media.

We all have a role to play in saving water and even small changes, such as using a watering can instead of a hose or cutting the length of your shower, can make a big difference.

Stephen Spencer, address provided, writes:

We have received four traffic tickets because we went through a now-bike lane in Prebend Street, Islington. We know of at least three neighbours who have fallen foul too.

The point is that no notice of the change of a car lane to bike-only lane was given to anyone in the area.

One minute it is okay for cars to use this lane, the next illegal.

This council has caused chaos at Highbury Corner, in the Southgate Road area, further down Essex Road and in Prebend Street!

Yes, there are signs up, but when one has used this road for years, the sudden unannounced warning is dreadful.

Sheila Miller, Moray Road, Finsbury Park, writes:

As an Islington council tax payer, I’m alarmed to see how much of the council’s finite budget is wasted on scaffolding that’s never used, or hardly used.

One of the houses next door to ours is owned by one of the council’s public-private partnerships, and it now has scaffolding on it for the second time in about a year.

Last year the scaffolding was up for a couple of months without anyone ever using it to work on the house; it’s now been up for six weeks, and has been used for only three days at the most (actually, I think it was only two).

As scaffolding firms generally charge for each week the structure is up, that amounts to about 13 weeks – a quarter of a year – for which we as taxpayers are paying while no work is done. The only possible reason for this is poor planning: presumably whoever orders the scaffolding isn’t bothering to check with whoever orders the roofers, builders or other workers to make sure that those workers are available on the dates for which the scaffolding has been booked.

It surely can’t be all that difficult to co-ordinate the dates – why is that not being done? It can’t be because of the present situation, as it happened last year too.

Presumably this isn’t an isolated case; in fact, one of the scaffolders admitted to me that it happened all the time. How much of the borough’s (i.e. our) money is being wasted in this way?

Jenny Kassman, of Islington Homes for All, writes:

The 14,000 Islington residents on the council’s housing waiting list as well as others who are homeless or living in overpriced, substandard or overcrowded conditions in the borough and who are hoping to be rehoused on the new Holloway Prison site development will be dismayed to know that Peabody is backing down on its original commitment to provide 42 per cent social housing (understood at council-equivalent rents), reducing it to 35 per cent.

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So now 25 per cent (instead of the original 18 per cent) of the remainder of the ‘affordable’ housing on the site will be for higher-income households (London living rent and shared ownership), well beyond the means of the majority of the thousands of Islington households in housing need. And 40 per cent will be for private sale.

Meanwhile, this month Peabody are once again auctioning off desperately-needed homes for social rent in street properties in Islington: 53c Oakley Road, N1 and 14b Fonthill Road, N4. In London as a whole, just this month, they are putting up 19 such homes for auction.

Readers may also be interested to know that the online journal Inside Housing reported Peabody’s turnover for 2019 to 20 as being £662m, showing a four per cent swing away from homes for social rent to sales. Peabody’s surplus was £122m.

George Peabody, founder of the Peabody Trust, having experienced a deprived childhood and limited schooling, once wrote: “I can only do to those that come under my care as I could have wished circumstances had permitted others to have done by me.”

So much for Peabody’s social mission. George Peabody must be turning in his grave!

Jonathan Ward, address provided, writes:

The landscape architect for the Holloway Prison redevelopment shares the concerns of local people about the emerging plans.

In a recent public meeting, they confirmed they are keen to reduce the impact of the currently proposed two-way road that cuts the site in half.

They are trying to make sure the buildings don’t spoil the central open green space, and they are resigned to the fact that the residents’ courtyards will suffer from noise problems.

Residents’ responses to the Peabody consultation on their draft masterplan show that the primary concerns are that the proposals are too high and too dense, making for an overcrowded place to live.

They also highlighted the poor consultation, run online only, for only three weeks, and lacking information.

Other concerns are that over 50 per cent of the flats will be single aspect and the lack of an environmental zero-carbon strategy.

Peabody are proposing apartment blocks up to 12 storeys high and 1,050 homes, 45 per cent more than thought reasonable by Islington Council’s own capacity study for the site.

Also, the proportion of truly affordable homes at council rents seems to be reducing.

Members of Community Plan for Holloway, Islington Homes for All and local residents will be taking part in a socially distanced pavement placard protest to ask for better.

It’s this Saturday, September 19, 1pm to 3pm, from the prison down to the Nag’s Head.

Come along to get your voice heard, and please stay Covid safe.

John Hartley, address provided, writes:

Islington extended its School Streets to many more schools this term.

Already the environment around the school gates at Thornhill Primary has improved remarkably.

One mother, Stephanie, said: “Today was much better and transforms the experience of picking up the children.

“We are able to begin our walk home in safety and not have to worry about cars turning round in the middle of the street and fumes from idling engines.”

Another parent, Helen, told me: “It’s been a lot quieter dropping off at the Thornhill school gates on Thornhill Road.”

She added: “It would be good to see this extended a bit further to make children’s walk to school safer.”

Parents (and toddlers) waiting to collect children are no longer penned onto the pavement, but can wait in Covid-friendly distanced mode.

So, thumbs up from parents.

Now wouldn’t it be nice if these benefits extended not just outside schools but across the borough? If only the council had a policy.

Oh, yes, it has – it’s called People Friendly Streets. Many more streets being quieter, cleaner, safer, healthier.

We want this not just for the children but for everyone.

READ MORE: Gazette letters: Toxic air, free travel for young, Covid testing and support charities


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