Category Archives: Islington

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Mentoring in Islington – ” Bridging the Gap”

For several years, a small group in Islington called “Bridging the Gap” have been arranging mentoring partnerships in Islington. I am proud to be one of the trustees (Details of our trustees here: http://www.bridging-islington.org.uk/who-we-are/)

Last year we became a registered charity (see notes below)

And we have now formally launched our website! http://www.bridging-islington.org.uk/

Please check us out , and share news of what we do to interested parties.

Bridging the Gap Islington is looking for:-
-mentors (we provide the training)
-sponsors  (people, local businesses or companies interested in being a patron, sponsor or partner)
-volunteers (to help with fundraising)

-funding! We welcome contributions toward our work. (All our mentors and trustees are volunteers, but we have some admin costs and cover mentor’s travel costs) Donate via this link

I have been involved in many mentoring projects over the years, but I am really excited that at last in Islington we have a partnership that brings together people in need of help and guidance and those willing to provide it. Please spread the word!

Notes

1 Status and Administration
Bridging the Gap Islington (the Charity) was established 1st Dec 2012, and was constituted and registered as a charitable incorporated organization (CIO), no. 1162671 on 15th July 2015.

2 Objects
The objects of the Charity are: The prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders by offering offenders, ex-offenders and people at risk of offending advice, guidance and support, including to address their needs and promote their integration into the wider law-abiding community, working together with other organisations with similar aims particularly but not exclusively by providing a voluntary mentoring service for people at risk of offending.

 

Pictured Below- BGI had an official launch party at our AGM on November 21st…

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PRESS RELEASE

Bridging the Gap -AGM, Launch Party and website launch

A. Introduction

1 Bridging the Gap Islington is an Islington based charity that provides a mentoring service by providing trained volunteer mentors, and linking them with people in need of help and support.

2 Bridging the Gap Islington first started in 2012 but re-constituted in 2015 as Charitable Incorporated organisation

3 Bridging the Gap Islington is a Membership organisation – because we believe that helping vulnerable people and people at risk of offending is a community responsibility. We welcome new members! To find out more and to join email Josie Osei at admin@bridging-islington.org.uk

B. AGM 21/11/2016

1 The accounts were approved, and we are pleased that we have a firm foundation for our work in the year ahead thanks to grants from:-
Awards for All – The Big Lottery Fund
Islington Community Chest and the Cripplegate Foundation
London Community Foundation and Comic Relief

2 The following were re-elected as trustees:-
Mick Holloway
Maddy Robinson
Jonathan Joels
Robin Latimer
Greg Foxsmith

Details of our trustees here http://www.bridging-islington.org.uk/who-we-are/

We welcome new trustees, and if you are interested in joining the Bridging the Gap steering group, please contact Robin Latimer – Robin@bridging-islington.org.uk

C. Launch Party!

1 Having gradually evolved over 4 years Bridging the Gap Islington is now established and viable.
At this year’s AGM, BGI finally had a formal “launch” to celebrate our successful mentoring projects.
A packed party at the launch party held in Islington Town Hall heard from volunteer mentors, and from Councillor Joe Calouri, exec member for crime and safety.

2 The website was also officially launched!
http://www.bridging-islington.org.uk/

D. Appeal

1 Bridging the Gap Islington is looking for:-
-mentors
-sponsors (in particular local businesses or companies that may want to be an official sponsor)
-a Patron
– volunteers to help with fundraising

If interested in any of the above please contact Robin Latimer at robin@bridging-islington.org.uk

2 We also welcome contributions toward our mentoring work! All our mentors and trustees are volunteers. Donate online through the donation page of our website here http://www.bridging-islington.org.uk/donate/ or contact Robin@bridging-islington.org.uk

E Quotes

1 Founding member and trustee Robin Latimer said  “Bridging the Gap Islington provides a unique opportunity for local people to help many people in our community who are excluded by a competitive and bureaucratic society. Anybody can benefit from talking about their plans and friendly encouragement to put plans into practice. As well as welcoming prospective mentors, we are also looking for ways to make contact with people who need help.”

2 Islington Councillor and Exec member Joe Calouri said  “It’s fantastic to have Bridging the Gap working in the Borough with some of our most vulnerable residents. Well trained mentors can provide the kind of trusted relationship that can help create real change for vulnerable people.”

3 Greg Foxsmith, trustee, and former councillor said “I have been involved in many mentoring projects over the years, but I am really excited that at last in Islington we have a partnership that brings together people in need of help and guidance and those willing to provide it”
F Notes

1 Status and Administration
Bridging the Gap Islington (the Charity) was established 1st Dec 2012, and was constituted and registered as a charitable incorporated organization (CIO), no. 1162671 on 15th July 2015.

2 Object

The objects of the Charity are: The prevention of crime and the rehabilitation of offenders by offering offenders, ex-offenders and people at risk of offending advice, guidance and support, including to address their needs and promote their integration into the wider law-abiding community, working together with other organisations with similar aims particularly but not exclusively by providing a voluntary mentoring service for people at risk of offending.

BRIDGING THE GAP ISLINGTON
Press Release 22/01/2016

 

Mayor of London’s housing chief James Murray: it’s just not cricket

Howzat!! Islington Cllr James Murray, newly appointed deputy Mayor for Housing, was wined and dined in a private box at Lords in 2013 by a housing company according to this article in Islington Gazette.
Caught out? Or bowled a googlie in an unfair presentation of the facts?
The story had legs because Cllr Murray, not shy of attacking opponents as “arrogant and greedy”, was himself at the time the Labour lead Cllr for housing in Islington, a portfolio for which he was handsomely rewarded by the Council Tax Payer in the form of the high allowance that he and colleagues voted for. In short, he could have paid his own way.

There is no doubt that Murray is dedicated to campaigning for more affordable housing, saying recently “Islington is in desperate need of family homes for social rent, particularly while low income families bear the brunt of cuts”.
I do not criticise him for taking an opportunity to network at a hospitality event, and I make it clear that there is no suggestion that he was put under any improper pressure, or that there is anything untoward in the invite or his acceptance of it (and as the Gazette makes clear, this story only came to light because he quite properly declared it)

What intrigues me is  Cllr Murray’s desperate explanation (when challenged) for attending a cricketing event given that he implausibly claimed to have little understanding or enthusiasm for the sport (despite having attending public school). 

His quote in full:-

When asked why he could not have a discussion about Islington’s housing priorities in a different setting, Cllr James said there was a broad range of people at the event and it was an opportunity to talk to them all.
He said: “I don’t know much about cricket and I still don’t after going to the match as I took it as an opportunity to talk to people.”
“I went there because it was a chance to speak to lots of people and other councils about the needs of Islington.”

I am not sure the other (unnamed) people enjoying Family Mosaic’s hospitality and trying to enjoy the cricket would have been bowled over by being talked at by Cllr Murray about the needs of Islington, or what that would have achieved. A waste of Cllr Murrays time, an annoyance for others, and certainly a waste of a ticket.

James Murray was one of Islington’s finest Councillors, but previously claimed that he “nearly had to leave Islington altogether” as a newly elected opposition Cllr back in 2007, as the rental market was “unaffordable” (this was before his Executive Allowance ) Thankfully Islington Labour MP Emily Thornberry helped out by buying a Housing Association properly at auction, and renting  out “cheap and cheerful rooms to young peoples”, one of whom was Cllr Murray.
(Full story in Camden New Journal)
It was that tough background that helped forge the young Cllr into the hosing campaigner he became and the high-salaried Deputy Mayor for housing he has become.
So let him not be judged harshly for his freebie. But if Family Mosaic want to invite people in future to talk about housing AND enjoy the cricket, let them start with their tenants. They may deserve it more, they would certainly enjoy it more.

The James Murray cricketing playlist

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Offending in Islington

Crime in Islington is on the rise, and questions have been asked of the Council’s “Crime tsar” Councillor Paul “crack-down” Convery under whose watch mobile phone thefts, robberies and knife crime rocketed.

In an internal “scrutiny” report, LBI Councillors have swallowed Convery’s explanation that this is all down to “soft-touch” magistrates letting offenders off too lightly, as reported in the Islington Tribune here (“Fears young thieves and drug dealers are getting an easy ride from Islington magistrates”)

In fact, the report, even after making allowances for the sloppy drafting and poor grammar, shows a shocking lack of knowledge about the causes of crime, the prevention of crime, and the workings of the Criminal Justice System.

Background

Islington Labour has always had a default position of cracking-down on crime by deterrent and retribution rather than prevention and rehabilitation, and were early and enthusiastic supporters of the ineffective counter-productive ASBOs.

There has also been an over-reliance on CCTV, turning Islington into a closed-circuit saturation State, but without proper investment or supervision on those agencies who can actually work within communities to prevent crime.

The writing was on the wall by January this year, with a damming report into a failing Youth Offending Service , and rising crime figures.

Scrutiny” Report

In a belated attempt to examine the “causes of crime”, it is clear Labour Councillors have looked for excuses rather than reasons as evidenced in the attempt to blame “lenient sentencing” for Islington’s crime figures, predictably grabbing the headlines and deflecting attention from their own failings.

Nowhere is this clearer than in “recommendation 1” which calls for a “briefing meeting” with the “Clerks” at Highbury Court. 

It shows how out of touch the Councillors are when they refer to “clerks” where they presumably mean Legal Advisers, the name being changed over 10 years ago, and demonstrates the first failing of their review- a failure to actually visit the Court, and witness sentencing in practice (albeit there is no public gallery in the Youth Court, a quick observation in the Adult Court would show the rigour with which sentences are applied) 

The “clerks” (legal advisers) do not pass sentence, but advise the Magistrates on sentencing powers- and any attempt to interfere with that process by “briefings” to magistrates would be an intolerable interference with Judicial Independence. In any event, there is NO evidence to show that sentencing at Highbury is “more lenient” than at any other Court- which is unlikely as sentencing guidelines ensure consistency across Courts.

The fact is that far from leniency, in England and Wales we lock up more young people, and for longer, than any other European Country, with nothing to show for this draconian incarceration but recidivism and failure. In 1997, the Government lowered the age of criminal responsibility for children from 14 to 10, and presided over a five-fold increase in youths imprisoned in the following decade.

The reoffending rate for children who have been in custody is around 75%, suggesting that child custody is not an effective rehabilitation strategy. Nonetheless, we are seeing an increase in prison sentences and decline in community punishment.

Islington Labour Councillors responsible for the report are out of touch. Cllr Convery has been challenged by Frances Crook of Howard League for Penal Reform to produce evidence in support of his assertions, and is awaiting a reply.

Notes

A variation of this article was published in the Islington Tribune, 13th May (Forum pice)

Guardian summary of PRT report explaining why so many young people end up in custody here 

Howard League: Publications on youth offending 

Current Sentencing Guidelines Council consultation on Youth Sentencing here

Read about Cllr Convery’s Late Night Levy Madness (a privately funded barmy army patrolling Islington streets)

Playlist for Crime in Islington.

Gove and Prison Reform – need to cut prison numbers (argues Simon Jenkins in the Guardian)

Photos

1 Councillor Convery Cannabis Crackdown


2 Cllr Convery on CCTV


Air Quality in Islington

Air pollution is rising at an alarming rate in major Cities including London (as reported in the Guardian (May 2016))

Islington, like much of London, continues to suffer from polluted air, whilst the Council takes inadequate action to improve air quality. It is time for real action, and the new London Mayor should widen the Central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) proposed for 2020 to include more areas such as Islington.


Labour (who run Islington) should have campaigned to get TFL to include LBI in ULEZ. Instead, they voted against that proposal by Green Cllr Caroline Russell when raised in December 2014 (as she explains here.)

Air quality in Islington is terrible, the air we breathe being potentially deadly. Respiratory illnesses, asthma, heart and lung problems, cancer, and dramatically reduced life expectancy are the consequences of the polluted air, and the lethal micro-particles we inhale along with nitrogen dioxide. Two years ago I called for the council to aim for a diesel-free borough (as reported here in the Islington Tribune)
Air pollution levels in Islington- even near schools- are double EU limits (as reported in Islington Gazette)
In the great smog of 60 years ago, people could see and taste the polluted air around them- and Government acted quickly, passing the Clean Air Act. The pollutants we ingest now are on the whole invisible*,odourless, but arguably more deadly.But because they are an unseen killer, it is easy for politicians to fail to act. There are policy failings at National, London(mayoral) and local levels.

In the absence of proper monitoring by LBI, Islington Green Party funded air quality checks which showed illegal and dangerous levels of pollutants including near schools (figures here)


Islington Council is not funding the actions that are needed to protect residents, especially young children, from harm. Sadly, in February 2014 at the Council’s budget Labour Cllrs voted against a modest expenditure on air quality, choosing instead to spend Council Tax money on their allowances and political spin doctors. They then voted against a budget amendment proposed by Green Councillor Caroline Russell in February this year (
see here)

The scrutiny report of May 2013 which recommended a number of changes the Council should implement has been largely ignored and now removed from the Council’s website.

Mayor Sadiq Khan made great promises to tackle air pollution, after 8 years of inaction by Boris, but his first act on taking office was to withdraw opposition to City Airport expansion!


What residents want is clean air, not hot air.

Check out music on this Clean Air Playlist

For more info on clean air in London generally, check out Clean Air in London

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*although on some sunny days you can see the discoloured air! especially from high up- as in the photo above on Town Hall roof

Below:- receiving award from Clean Air in London

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Highbury Court Advice Centre-One Year On!

A Local court-based advice and support service celebrated its first year at Highbury Magistrates Court this month.
North London advice and support service, Community Advice based at Highbury Magistrates Court has been providing practical help and access to long term support to those who attend court.

  
Based inside the court, the service in its first year has helped over 600 people from Islington, Haringey, Camden and Enfield. It has assisted court users with accessing long-term support services such as alcohol treatment, housing, mental health services or providing immediate help with practical issues such as outstanding fines and benefit claims.

The service is aimed especially at those who are not eligible for probation support due to the level of their offences such as theft, vandalism, drunk and disorderly conduct, but appear in court again and again absorbing a considerable amount of the criminal justice system’s resources.

A paid coordinator and a team of volunteers at the service help identify and tackle the underlying problems that contribute to people’s offending such as housing needs, debt issues, and drug and alcohol misuse.

The service has made hundreds of referrals into wider community services ensuring those who come to court can continue to receive the support they need once they leave the building. In its first year, the clients attended three quarters of all the referrals made for them and two-thirds reported their issues had been resolved six months on.

Set up by the Centre for Justice Innovation, the service is supported by local magistrates and court service and is delivered by Islington Citizens Advice. For more info, check out this short film!

Joanne Thomas, Innovative Practice Manager at the Centre for Justice Innovation said: “Community Advice is an invaluable resource as it is addressing significant unmet needs of people who are coming to court. There are early, positive signs that it is helping people who would have had no other recourse to resolve their issues.” (See also this blog by Joanne)

Notes

• The Centre for Justice Innovation is a UK justice research and development charity. It works to build a justice system that holds people accountable, that is fair and feels fair, and which seeks to address the problems of those people who come into contact with it. It is an initiative of the Center for Court Innovation, based in New York.

• A reception event to mark the anniversary was held on March 9th in Islington Town Hall. My contribution:-

Anyone practicing in criminal law is aware that the vast majority of defendants have any one (or more) of a number of complex issues or difficult challenges , which often underpin or contribute to their offending, but which the Criminal Justice System does not address. These issues can include mental health issues, drug addiction, homelessness, welfare benefit issues, domestic violence, exploitation, pressure by gang members, unemployment, depression, and more. 

In some cases limited help provided comes from the probation service, but gone are the days when there was a probation “service” whose role was to “befriend the prisoner” and instead we have a fragmented, part-privatised, underfunded system whose main purpose is to punish, and, where there is a subsidiary component of help, it comes with sanctions for “non-compliance”. 

Leaving the offender to seek their own help, we have also seen a steady diminution of help and advice services , both Centrally and by Local Authorities, and a particularly brutal reduction in services since LASPO.

Solicitors cannot plug this gap-as a result of year on year Legal Aid cuts we barely have time to take meaningful instructions on cases to present a proper defence for a desirory fixed fee within an adverserial system. In earlier years a High Street Practice would offer a holistic service, with solicitors advising on employment law, benefits advice etc, now that rearely exists.

About 10 years ago I began mentoring ex-offenders, which I continue to do, and I have been amazed at the paucity of mentoring available compared to the potential demand, and the willingness of people to give up their time. My mentoring campaign led, accidentally, into politics, and indeed into this Town Hall where I was an elected Councillor from 2006-2014.

I never managed to establish an Islington mentoring service, but I have at least now seen the birth of an Islington mentoring project, BRIDGING THE GAP ISLINGTON.

Mentoring, which is time-intensive, essentially is signposting or referring clients to the right experts who can provide help with specific issues. “If only”, I sometimes mused, “there was a service where the people needing help and the volunteers who can provide it could be gathered together in one place”. It was no more than a pipe-dream.

So now I turn to the Highbury Court Advice Service.  The service that shows me that dreams can come true!

I was aware there was some kind of pilot project in Plymouth, (my home City!)

I was aware of the excellent work of the Centre for Justice Innovation.

And I was very aware of Highbury Corner Magistrates , my Local Court.

But never would I have believed that somehow these threads would be drawn together to create this outstanding service.

The first time I saw it in action, I spotted somebody gliding across the waiting area, friendly, welcoming, introducing themselves to clients. Naturally I thought it was one of the infamous solicitor-touts that proliferate at Highbury Court, trying to poach clients from other solicitors (fighting for scraps at the beggars banquet)

You cannot imagine my delight when I realised that instead this was a volunteer from the Advice Service, offering help and advice. On subsequent visits I introduced myself to the team, and gradually met more of the volunteers. I referred my clients to them. I visited the CJI for a seminar. I blogged about the Service. I am, in short, unambiguously a fan.

I tell everybody I can about this Service, and was glad to see Mr Gove visited. I hope he was impressed.

So well done, and thank you to the visionaries who developed the concept, the volunteers who deliver and all those who support it.

And I ask of you all one thing, support this scheme, and shout about this service from the roof-tops.

We need to ensure that it survives, and that it is rolled out across London and hopefully Nationally.

I look forward to the 10 year anniversary celebration! 

  

(A version of this speech appears on the CJI website here)

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Expanding Sunnyside Gardens!

There are two wonderful pieces of Green Space in Hillrise Ward, Islington, seperated by an ugly but underused road. There is a great opportunity to increase greenspace by closing a stretch of that road.

The Green Spaces are Sunnyside Community Gardens and Elthorne Park, and the road is the short stretch of Sunnyside Road that divides them. The road is used by very little vehicular traffic, but is used as a short-cut by the 210 bus, rather than take the short detour around the Southern part of Elthorne Park.

In 2011 a campaign to “close the road” (see here) was launched jointly by Friends of Sunnyside Gardens and Friends of Elthorne Park, and supported extensively by local residents in a petition.

The Council faltered, blaming opposition from London Buses and failed to show leadership. But last year, the lead Councillor agreed to look again at the viability of the popular idea.

At the Council Meeting on 15th October I tabled a question for the Lead Councillor asking for an update. 

Cllr Claudia Webbe in an encouraging reply indicated personal and Council support for the proposal, noting the only barrier was raising the finance. She has agreed to provide a breakdown of the figures.

Local MP Jeremy Corbyn confirmed support for the road closure

Welcoming the support, Friends of Elthorne Park will be asking LBI to “close the road for a day” as part of next year’s “Car Free Day”. This would give residents, park users and Cllrs a chance to experience the benefits of what would literally be “joined-up thinking”.

Press coverage here.

watch this space….

Press Release 19/11/15

Campaigners for Greenspace welcomed the Council’s committment to permenantly closing part of Sunnyside road which separates two Green Spaces in the North of the Borough- Elthorne Park and Sunnyside Community Gardens.
Previously, LBI had not supported the proposal, citing opposition from London Buses who objected on the basis there would be a small re-routing of the 210 bus road.

But now the Council say the only barrier is finance -and the the lack of budgetary options following cuts in the Government central Grant.

Friends of Sunnyside Gardens welcomed the change of heart, and noted that in the next few years there was a proposed redevelopment of the side of the Park currently hosting the Islington Boxing Club-which will generate funds for local amenity from the planning process (1)

Greg Foxsmith, speaking for Friends of Elthorne Park, said “We have had for a long time the support of park users, environmental campaigners, local residents and Councillors and our local MP Jeremy Corbyn- now we finally have a commitment from the Council it seems we are moving in the right direction”

Friends of Elthorne Park are also asking the Council to close the road on the next “car-free” day, so that residents and Park Users can experience the benefits for a day.

Notes
(1) s106 Planning Act. The Boxing Club, currently housed in a temporary structure, is looking to rebuild in a development which may include housing and a cafe.

Community Advice at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court

Community Advice offered in Court

A new court-based Advice Service at Highbury Court is most welcome!

 See also this blog by Joanne Thomas

The Magistrates Court is not somewhere people associate with receiving advice, other than the occasional finger-wagging lecture from a Justice of the Peace, usually warning of the consequences of not complying with their instructions. Yet the vast majority of people who pass through their doors are clearly in need of advice and help in tackling the kinds of problem that brought them to Court in the first place.

Homelessness, mental health, unemployment, poverty, debt, alcoholism, drug addiction, illiteracy, overcrowded accomodation, domestic violence, the Courts often see some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society.

Of course the Probation service can sometimes help, but are suffering from funding restraints as well as outsourcing, and  Community Orders are increasingly targetted at punishment rather than rehabilitaion.

Often solicitors defending at these Courts try to plug the gap in the lack of advice available, but apart from constraints on time and money have to be careful not to blur the professional boundary between lawyer and client, as well as acknowledging that we are not trained counsellors or social workers, lacking the resources and knowledge to advice on the areas that need addressing outside the immediacy of legal representation. Often lawyers do not even know where to direct clients who need help in other areas.

All this has changed with this exciting project at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court.From January of this year, the project has been offering help and advice from a small room accessed from the same waiting area as the Courtrooms on the first floor. And as there is plenty of waiting at Court, there is time for the people who desperately need help and advice to talk about their problems and receive practical help and guidance.

Last week I popped in to see how they were getting on. I was impressed by the set-up and those running it, but more so by the verifiable results they could demonstrate, and the numerous cases they could describe showing practical examples of problem-solving for clients.

The community Advice is run by Royal Courts of Justice Advice Bureau incorporating Islington Citizens Advice. It follows a longer running pilot project in Plymouth. Since opening they have helped hundreds of court users with issues such as homelessness, debts, housing, family, mental health, benefits, alcohol and drug related issues.

I met Jess, a volunteer (working there one day a week) and Ross, the co-ordinator for the project who told me:- 

We work with people who are using the court and their families to give advice and help them to find out about and access support services in the community. We also provide immediate help with practical issues and offer emotional support. We are independent of the judicial process. We operate independently from other agencies in the court. The service is delivered primarily by a team of 10 volunteers and one paid staff (co-ordinator) and focuses mainly on those who are not working with probation, though we are open to all” .

Ross provided numerous case studies. I attach an edited version of one below. 

I later spoke to Joanne Thomas from the Centre for Justice Innovation who proudly told me the Advice Service at Highbury was “doing an incedible job”. Joanne has previously written about the project here.

Conclusion

For too long the criminal justice system has been used to punish criminal acts, without addressing the causes of crime, even where the perpetrators are crying out for help. Judges, like lawyers, are not social workers, and have to uphold the law. But if we are to avoid the “revolving door” syndrome, and break the cycle of recidivism, then taking an opportunity to tackle root causes with practical help, is not only humane and just, it is likely to prove a cost-effective way to reduce crime 

Case Study

Paul (not his real name) was 35 years old and homeless when he attended court because of drug offences. He had a large number of previous convictions and his relationship had broken down. He was suffering severe financial hardship, receiving no income and owing money to a number of people on top of the court fines he had just received. He was also suffering from drug and alcohol dependence that was affecting his mental health. In addition, he had lost his birth certificate and wanted help to apply for a CSCS card.

Paul was empowered to make his own decisions about what to do, assisted in applying for jobseekers allowance, and referred him to a number of services for his mental health, drug and alcohol use and homelessness. He was also guided on applying for his CSCS card and birth certificate as well as helped to access support for his debts.

There were Follow up appointments. He is now in receipt of jobseekers allowance and is managing to pay his priority debt (his court fines) as well as sorting out his other debts. He has received his CSCS card and is looking for work in construction, and has received his birth certificate. He is also receiving counselling for his mental health.

No fireworks in Islington

In the 2006 local elections, a promise was by Islington Labour to restore the bonfire night firework display to Highbury Fields. Councillor Convery made the pledge, and was openly contemptuous of those who were opposed or said it couldn’t be done. During a council debate on the topic he said (I paraphrase a little) “watch my lips, we WILL have fireworks”. It was an unqualified promise, not hedged with “subject to finances”.
Post election, no fireworks.
Like fellow promise- breaker Nick Clegg and his broken tuition fee pledge, it later turns out that it was more of a wish than a promise.

The Islington Gazette reported the original broken pledge back in 2010 here
Each subsequent year the promise remains unfulfilled.
And alas, in Islington there are no fireworks once again this year, just the traditional annual disappointment of another broken promise.
So the sparklers and whizz bang election pledges by Islington Labour turned out to be no more than a damp squib, and a bonfire of the vanities.
They say it can’t be done for budgetary reasons, but other Labour Councils host successful events, and unsurprisingly the Ally Pally event in neighbouring Haringey is sold out.

Playlist of songs about Islington’s firework flop here

Updated article in Gazette here

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Decision not to seek Re-Election

I was first elected as a Councillor for Hillrise Ward in Islington in 2006, and re-elected in 2010. During my eight year tenure, Arsenal have failed to win a single trophy. These things may be connected.
Now Arsenal stand on the brink of winning the FA cup.
My course of action is clear.
To avoid another four trophy-less years, I will not re-stand.
Tribune article here.
In Addition:-
1 In 2006 and 2010 the Conservatives were trounced in Hillrise. This year, they are fielding NO candidates! My work here is done.
2 I always said I would only serve a maximum two terms. I fulfil that promise. In fact, I think all Councillors should serve a maximum two terms. There are two many tired old faces, entrenched in the Town Hall bubble, with seemingly no life or interests outside politics. New candidates with fresh ideas are surely preferable to careerist politicians becoming increasingly dependant on their allowances, and surviving by patronage in servile demonstrations of Party loyalty.
3 I would like to pay tribute to my fellow ward Councillor Lorraine Constantinou, who has been an outstanding, hard-working Councillor.
4 I was elected as a Lib Dem Cllr, but became Islington’s only Independent Councillor after resigning from the Lib Dems over the National Party support for Secret Courts.
And Finally….
I would like to thank everyone who entrusted me with their vote, and particularly those who campaigned, done-knocked and delivered with me in two elections. Also to my former Hillrise colleagues Fiona Dunlop and Julia Williams, current Cllrs Lorraine and Marian and the excellent MP for Islington North, Jeremy Corbyn.
And not forgetting Donna Boffa (RIP)
I also acknowledge the massive support from Council Officers, who of course do all the hard work for which Councillors take credit.
And (yes I know this is worse than an Oscar speech) to my family, who at times I saw less of than I would have liked.

Below:-Hillrise Councillors 2006. I still had hair when I was first elected!

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“Save Our Slide!” Guest Blog by Adam FoxSmith

this blog is by Adam Foxsmith aged 10 of Ashmount School

We all know that children’s play space is essential to a crowded borough like Islington. So when my brother Daniel,( aged 6, yr2) and I heard that the Council were planning on taking down the Archway slide, we felt we had to do something about it.
There was a consultation, but we discovered that both options involved taking down the slide!
There was a story about the slide reported in Islington Now
So, Daniel and I put together a question for the Council meeting., as reported in the Islington Tribune here .
At the meeting, Daniel asked the question “Will you save the slide?”, and I asked a supplementary question. The answer is reported in the minutes here.
We also presented a petition to save the slide.
We have decided to continue the petition, to see how many more signatures are gathered. The Council is still considering what to do, as reported here

Please sign the petition!

Please follow the campaign on twitter, using #SaveTheSlide

 

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