Councillor Watts said that declaring a climate emergency was an enormously significant moment and thanked the councillors, campaigners, community groups and others who had worked on this issue. Councillor Watts said that action was needed for the borough to achieve the target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030. These actions would build on the borough’s strong record of delivery on environmental issues, including bringing forward the target to reduce carbon emissions between 2005 and 2020, leading on the decarbonisation of the pension fund, and leading a community campaign to get climate justice across the country. Councillor Watts said that we needed to go even further and work together to develop a plan for the borough to meet its targets. It was really important to engage with local people on this issue, as the climate emergency required all of us to make major changes to how we live our lives, how our homes look and how we travel. This was not only an issue for Islington Council, but for everyone.
Councillor Watts said that currently the Council did not have the powers or budget to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. It was important to be honest about this fact, as we would need to campaign for the powers and resources to be able to achieve the target.
Councillor Watts had joined the Mayor at the events to mark the second anniversary of the Finsbury Park terror attack and the 75th anniversary of the V1 bomb attack on Highbury Corner. Both of these events resulted in a tragic and horrific loss of life and both were a result of hatred of others. At this most difficult time, all of us must stand up for a single united community. Councillor Watts strongly believed that diversity was a strength and what made Islington one of the best boroughs in the country, but we could not assume that everyone shares those values. It was not enough to assert our support of diversity in council meetings, but we had to work as a whole community to share the message of love and diversity. Councillor Watts appealed to all those in attendance to go out of their way to spread the message that everyone is welcome in Islington.
Councillor Watts said that he was increasingly concerned about the risks of a no-deal Brexit and the catastrophic impact that it would have on the borough. Councillor Watts said it was absolutely right to put any Brexit deal back to the people so people knew what they were getting.
Councillor Watts welcomed the latest round of police raids targeting the drugs economy. The local drugs economy had a huge impact on young people’s safety and other crime issues in the borough. Jeremy Corbyn MP was coordinating a meeting with councillors to talk to key figures in the Finsbury Park community on this issue. Keeping young people safe was a top priority for the Council and the drugs economy was fundamentally linked to the rise in youth crime and serious youth violence over recent years. Councillor Watts commended the work of the council, particularly the Integrated Gangs Team, the Youth Offending Service, youth outreach teams and other youth provision for working to keep young people safe. Youth crime and violence was very concerning to local residents and the latest round of arrests was very welcome.
Councillor Watts was delighted to attend the opening of Caledonian Park Clock Tower. It was noted that there had been some criticism of the Clock Tower project and the development of the small and unobtrusive visitor centre and café, however Councillor Watts was pleased that the centre had opened and said it was a fantastic facility for local people. Councillor Watts thanked the Holloway ward councillors and others who had supported the project.
Councillor Watts also noted the opening of Beacon High School and said he was sure that it would have a bright future. Young people of Holloway and Tufnell Park deserved an outstanding world class school in their local area and, on behalf of the Council, Councillor Watts wished Beacon High every success.
Councillor Watts thanked Kevin O’Leary and Alan Layton for their contribution to the Council and wished them the best for the future.