Councillor Russell moved a motion to suspend procedure rule 19.2(d) governing the time set aside for questions, in accordance with procedure rule 22(k) of the Council’s Constitution. Councillor Russell proposed that, due to the significant number of advance questions from members of the public, the time allowed for questions should be extended to allow all advance questions from the public to be heard. Councillor Watts spoke in support of the motion, commenting that he supported the suspension of procedure rules given the special circumstances, however Cllr Watts proposed an amendment to allow all advance questions submitted by members of the Council to be heard also. Councillor Russell exercised her right of reply to confirm that she concurred with the proposed amendment and altered her motion accordingly.
The motion was put to the vote and CARRIED.
That Procedure Rule 19.2(d) be suspended for the duration of the meeting, to allow all questions submitted in advance to be heard.
Question (a) from Gulus Egilmez to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Why are there no traffic signals at two crossings on Holloway Road (Palmer Place N7 and Drayton Park) for pedestrians? Pedestrians attempt to cross the road safely when they perceive a safe gap in traffic but also quickly (not everyone can cross at the same speed). This presents a high risk of accidents. It also seems the council is giving higher priority to cars over pedestrians.
Thank you for your question. Islington Council is working hard to promote active, sustainable travel and to make the borough’s road safer. We have already delivered a number of major improvements to make our borough safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and our Transport Strategy will shortly be published for consultation. This will set out plans to make improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.
You raise the issue of Holloway Road specifically; this forms part of Transport for London’s Road Network and therefore comes under their responsibility. Transport for London are also responsible for all traffic signals in London.
We share the concerns you have raised and I am pleased to say we have already been in contact with Transport for London about this junction and they are actively looking into the possibility of a pedestrian crossing on all arms of the junction. We would support this in going to public consultation, to ensure there are safe pedestrian crossings in this area. I’m really pleased that Transport for London and the Mayor of London are listening to these types of concerns, raised by residents and ward councillors. We are very happy to work with them to make Islington’s roads safer.
Is there anything that members of the public can do to speed up the process? I’ve lived in different parts of the borough and one thing I’ve noticed is the different quality of the street crossings in different areas. As a young person I can attempt to cross busy roads, but for older people, disabled people, people with children, it is an issue. If there is anything the public can do to help the process?
It is clear that our roads were designed for cars and not people and that has to change. Earlier this evening we declared a climate emergency and called for net zero emissions by 2030. In order to achieve that our roads have to be better for pedestrians and cyclists. We have raised the issue and the Mayor and Transport for London are listening, we now need to get this out to public consultation so our residents can respond. The Council has already demanded that we want transformation of Holloway Road as a whole and we want to see that in the Mayor’s plans. So join us in that campaign, as we continue to ask for the total transformation of Holloway Road, to make it better for pedestrians and cyclists and make it safer for our future.
Question (b) from Tanya Vyshniakova to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Dog owners in Islington ignore all warnings and don't clean up after dogs. The reason for this is that the Council fail to prosecute and fine in practice. When I walk out of my door and I am getting surrounded with dog mess. I saw a little girl with her mum. The mum was pushing a buggy and the girl was playing around as all children do, one moment and this girl ran behind the tree, picked up dog mess and played with it like it’s clay. Her mum called her pretty quickly. Is this what we want our children to play with? What is your view on this issue and how do you prosecute dog owners in practice? How many cases have you investigated and how many penalties have been paid around Islington in the last month?
As Tanya Vyshniakova was not present at the meeting, a written response was sent, as follows:
I’m very sorry for the experiences
you’ve described in your question, which of course, in my
view are unacceptable. Tackling dog fouling is a one of the
Council’s key priority issues and the Council has dedicated
significant resources to both enforcement and education of dog
The Council has dedicated staff covering every
ward and they focus their efforts on dealing with all types of low
level anti-social behaviour including dog fouling. The
Council’s dedicated staff are in their specific wards every
day monitoring and find that the majority of people both residents
and visitors clean up after their dog. The Council also undertakes
education and encouragement programmes across Islington including
on estates and in parks. The Council does not record all
interactions with dog owners as there are very many of these. The
actions the Council can take can range from giving advice and
warnings, to issuing fixed penalty notices and prosecuting. In
total the Council has issued 45 fixed penalty notices and
prosecuted 2 individuals since 2013. These numbers may seem small
but most dog owners are responsible and take the advice Council
It can be very difficult to witness the
offence too and the Council can do more if people help and support
the Council with our investigations. If anyone does want to make a
complaint to the Council, they can email
firstname.lastname@example.org, giving what information they can
– description of dog and owner, relevant addresses and
locations, time when it happens etc. Any information given to the
Council is entirely confidential and immediate and appropriate
resources will be targeted by the Council to investigate.
Unfortunately there will still be times when the Council will need to clean up dog fouling; I’m pleased to report that we will be able to do this more effectively and efficiently through our new dedicated neighbourhood street cleansing service, which began in June 2018 and thus I am hopeful there will have been an improvement in your area. If you need the Council to clean up at any time, you can report this instantly via the Islington Clean Streets app or your My e-account.
Question (c) from Sebastian Sandys to Councillor Watts, Leader of the Council
Extinction Rebellion Islington are proud to live in a Borough with the country’s first female Somali Mayor. We are proud too of the several hundred people who signed the petition demanding a Citizens Assembly. Would the Leader of the Council tell me when he will be in a position to meet that demand?
Thank you Sebastian. As we have discussed already this evening, this is an incredibly important issue. It is important that we engage with members of the public and that we use the experience and expertise of people in this room and the whole community if we are to take on this massive task of making this borough net zero carbon by 2030. I mean that sincerely, but your question is not about whether we do that, but how we best do that.
Just to be absolutely frank, our worry about the citizens’ assembly, which I understand is a core ask of Extinction Rebellion, is that where there is genuine political commitment here in Islington, it’s not actually very helpful in taking things forward. My reason for thinking that is that the boroughs who are announcing citizens’ assemblies are taking the power away from locally elected politicians. Citizens’ assemblies also take a lot of time which I don’t think we have. I have experience of citizens’ assemblies, and think they are a really good way of getting engagement, but it takes a very long time and a lot of money to do it properly.
I think the core of my worry about all of this is taking the matter beyond politics, because I don’t think this matter can be taken beyond politics. It is inherently political. It was a political decision to expand Heathrow Airport, it was a political decision to impose austerity on this borough which is the biggest barrier to us implementing what we want to achieve. It will be a political decision of a future government to get us out of this mess. It has to be the people who are democratically accountable to take the lead on this, genuinely with the community, because politics is central to getting this sorted. Politics got us into this mess and politics can get us out of it.
I am relieved by your answer, as I think you may have misunderstood the nature of a citizens’ assembly, we don’t have the time to talk about that now but perhaps we can discuss a way forward. The decision to reject the petition must also be seen alongside the overwhelming vote of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee to reject the proposal to co-opt two non-voting experts onto the committee to advise and support them. My question is, are you confident that you are doing everything you can, as the Leader of your councillors, that they have available to them the best information, the best expertise, and the best science in order to make the decisions they will have to make?
Yes, I am, for a number of reasons. That expertise is found in this room, there is genuine expertise among some of the elected members of the Council, the members of the various organisations here, and I want to pay tribute to Fossil Free Islington. A couple of weeks ago myself and Cllr Webbe had an hour booked in the diary to meet with them to talk about this, and the meeting went on for three hours because of the richness of the conversation and the genuine expertise of the people in this room. I find that very impressive and I thank Fossil Free Islington for giving us their time that evening. There is absolute openness for that kind of dialogue and using that expertise from those in this room and council staff. My door is open and we will do what we need to do without all of the bureaucracy that goes around a citizens assembly.
Question (d) from Jackie Noone to Councillor Ward, Executive Member for Housing & Development:
From the annual public health report released by the Town Hall earlier this year it highlighted the challenges that Islington had with a rising population and ageing demographic. It showed a predicted 60% increase in the predicted number of adults over the age of 65 in the borough in the next 15 years. I’d like to understand how the Council propose to support this when Community assets are being lost through “consolidation” or closure such as Sotheby Mews Day Centre and the increasing reliance on the voluntary sector?
Thank you for your question. Islington Council has clear ambitions for residents to live healthy, independent lives. Extending the number of years people live free from disability and poor health is an essential part of our response to an ageing population and improving quality of life for all our older residents.
Islington has an extensive range of community centres and facilities. There are over 70 community centres in the borough, over 50 of these are owned by the council. The council, housing associations and our voluntary sector partners have recently invested in building new state of the art community facilities across the borough, including Brickworks, Vibast and the Goodinge Community Centres, others including Ronald's Road will be ready soon. These facilities are something that we can rightly be proud of, and will enable us and voluntary sector partners to respond to the changing demographics of the borough, providing opportunities for residents of all ages to connect and thrive.
In addition, we have secured the provision of community space through our planning policy and affordable workspace strategy, enabling Islington's voluntary and community to access affordable delivery space to provide services to the community. In recent years, there has been a net increase in community assets, and an increase in the number of voluntary sector partners making use of these spaces.
The brand new community centre at Ronald's Road provides more additional new space than is currently at the Sotheby Mews site. Ronald’s Road will be the new location for the existing service that runs from Sotheby Mews. Islington Labour was re-elected with an overwhelming mandate to deliver genuinely affordable council homes to help tackle the housing crisis. The site at Sotheby Mews will be used to deliver much needed council homes for local families. That will happen in conjunction with a thriving service at the Ronald’s Road site.
It is understood that the council are dealing with underfunding in various sectors, mental health and social care for example. Is it not time that we see budgets realigned, to account for windfall benefits such as HM Prison Holloway, whilst recognising that housing is a challenge. The current users of Sotheby Mew Day Centre, plus over 2,000 people signing our petition to keep the day centre with housing on top, realise what a loss to Islington and the community it will be. The site is a community asset, it has a large, beautiful mature garden that is valued and appreciated for its therapeutic and wellbeing benefits. It is a quiet haven that in this busy city is a necessity for us and future generations. Please reconsider and let us work together to keep our community centre open.
Thank you. This council is facing huge budget cuts, but this is not what this is about. This is about providing genuinely affordable council homes for the families in need right across this borough. We can do that whilst also providing a thriving, state-of-the-art community centre at Ronald’s Road. I will happily work with you for as long as it takes to make sure that, even though we build genuinely affordable council homes for those who need them, we also make sure that the thriving service at Sotheby Mews continues at the brand new state-of-the-art centre at Ronald’s Road.
Question (e) from John Dear to Councillor Ward, Executive Member for Housing & Development:
Despite the windfall of 1000 dwellings at HMP Holloway of which 600 will be deemed affordable or for social rent and Islington Council exceeding its GLA targets for new housing why has the Council not considered a compromise with mixed use at Sotheby Mews Day Centre as the site currently, from Planning, will only accommodate 10 dwellings?
Thank you for your question, John. As I have just said in my answer to Jackie, Islington Labour was re-elected overwhelmingly on a manifesto which committed to tackle the housing crisis by delivering new council and genuinely affordable homes for local people. Of course we welcome the anticipated large number of homes forecast to come from the HMP Holloway Development. However, there are still over 13,000 people on the council’s waiting list. If we are going to tackle the housing crisis, we must continue to build more new council housing. Even sites that can supply a small number of new homes still mean a life changing experience for local people in need of a home, like families living in overcrowded conditions, for example. This site will be made up of homes for local families on the housing register. Ten homes might not seem like a lot, I can tell you, it will be of immeasurable value, unquantifiable value, to those residents and their families. There are a number of community facilities in the area, and the floor space in the new community centre at Ronald's Road provides more space than is currently at the Sotheby Mews site. Thank you again for your question.
In the Labour Manifesto, on which this administration was elected, there was a statement which read ‘We will continue to deliver services that help tackle isolation, encourage exercise, and allow older people to enjoy activities that improve their wellbeing’. For the last two years, Highbury Roundhouse, service users at Sotheby Mews and others have been raising funds to provide a mini-bus to ensure those who need transport to attend Sotheby Mews currently can continue to do so once council transport is withdrawn. We have made note that the new Highbury Roundhouse where services are to be consolidated is difficult to get to for many. I’d like tonight to get assurances that those who cannot get to the new centre, and this is over 60% of the users from a recent survey, will not be isolated due to transportation issues.
They certainly will not be isolated due to transport issues. We are working on this, I am working closely with my Executive colleagues and officers. I am very excited about the new centre at Ronald’s Road and we will ensure that everybody can enjoy the centre.
Question (f) from Christopher Procter to Councillor Ward, Executive Member for Housing & Development
In light of the new evidence from the IPCC that we have only 12 years to save ourselves from runaway climate change does the council plan a new Local WWII style 12-year EMERGENCY Supplement to the revised Local Plan?
Thank you for your question, Christopher. While we do not plan to introduce a new Emergency Supplement to the revised Local Plan, the Council is doing everything we can within our existing planning powers to reduce the impact of the built environment on our climate. The Draft Local Plan includes robust and ambitious policies promoting zero carbon development which will ensure that the Council is on track to achieve net zero carbon for all new and refurbished buildings in Islington by 2030.
Further to the draft Local Plan, a motion has been passed tonight with a commitment to work towards making Islington net zero carbon by 2030.
We are facing human extinction. To prevent this, all public resources must be temporarily shifted to decarbonisation, away from growth. As an architect specialising in residential homes in this borough, I find the Local Plan is not fit for purpose. The borough’s response to climate change rests on tighter standards in new build without addressing the vast bulk of existing below-standard buildings. The proposed Local Plan states that buildings represent 8% of carbon emissions, with the proposed reduction in these emissions by 66% by 2034, this is not consistent with the climate emergency motion passed tonight requiring net zero carbon by 2030. How will reduction be achieved without serious retrofitting of current building stock? Do you have any data on the number of homes in the borough that need gas boiler replacement, for instance? The proposed local plan summary, at 3.27, also clarifies the need for additional heritage design guidance. How are we assured that this guidance will not further inhibit necessary climate emergency retrofitting?
Thank you for your question. If I had advance notice of the specific statistics I would have a more substantial response, but I am proud of all the work that has gone into the Local Plan, and would like to thank council officers for pushing the parameters as far as we are currently legally able to do. The draft policies in the Local Plan will lead to a significant reduction in emissions in new and refurbished buildings, putting us well on track to meet the 2030 target. What we need is for other national and regional policies and for the government to go further to give boroughs like Islington the powers and resources we need to tackle issues like requiring retrofitting of existing buildings.
Quesiton (g) from Helena Farstad to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Islington Council's Climate emergency declaration and commitment to become net zero carbon by 2030 is demonstrating that you are taking the Climate Emergency seriously and are a truly progressive Council. How will the Councillor look to communicate (channels e.g. social media/ printed press, advertising, collaboration with local groups & partnerships and frequency e.g. daily social media, weekly press, continuous marketing & advertising campaigns etc.) this important message to its residents, and the many future changes that will be required as part of meeting the target, recognising that behaviour changes and involvement of Islington’s residents and businesses is required to be successful in its quest?
Thank you Helena for your question, and your kind words about the motion to declare and environment and climate emergency, which we have passed already this evening. Meeting this ambitious target of achieving a net zero carbon Islington by 2030 will require an unprecedented effort from both the council, the wider community and others, including the government.
Communicating and involving Islington’s residents, business, visitors and partners in the steps they can take to contribute to the overall target is vital. The council therefore will develop and deliver a sustained, high-profile, multi-channel campaign to explain very clearly the challenges, call for support and engage local people and partners in practical day to day behaviour change.
We will also explain the work the council is doing, as this is about action. We will explain our work, alongside the work of partners, to reduce carbon emissions through strategic decisions; making the buildings we own or manage more efficient, improving the transport infrastructure to encourage walking and cycling and reduce emissions and launching initiatives such as our low plastic zones and our refill stations to support people to reduce plastic use. We will also support and amplify the efforts of partners and the community who share our ambitions and are taking action.
As laid out in the motion, we will provide regular updates on progress, the first of which will be a report to Full Council in February 2020. We will also ensure that local people are able to contribute to the formulation and scrutiny of the strategic actions needed to address the environment and climate emergency by consulting on proposals and by organising an annual ‘Tackling the Environment and Climate Emergency’ meeting, hosted by our Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee, in addition to the wide-range of existing opportunities for local people to make representations to the Council.
Thank you. What is the timeframe for rolling this out, and secondly please could you tell me the council’s plans for assessing progress on communicating with residents? Communicating with people on these issues can be difficult, so how can we assess that they understand the message and are on board with the council’s commitment?
Thank you, these are important questions. We start now. We have passed the motion and we need to crack on. In terms of how we will measure success, how will we know that people have got the message, we will know by people who tell us we are not doing enough, we will know by those who tell us they don’t understand what we are doing, we will know by the people who tell us they want to see clear action. Because that will tell us if we haven’t communicated our actions clearly enough. We will know if we haven’t communicated effectively when people tell us they just don’t understand what it all means and what this is all about. We will be working on this agenda with others, to raise awareness and understanding, because it’s really important that everybody gets this agenda.
When we embarked on our campaign to address
the scourge of diesel and its contribution to air pollution, we
were the first council in the country to do so. We took on the
industry at a time when nobody else would. We put the diesel
surcharge on our resident parking permits and we communicated that
message. Our residents were some of the first to be aware of these
issues, they understood why that diesel surcharge is important.
That is an example of how we can use our resources to deliver an
agenda for change. It is a powerful agenda, but communication is
very important and campaigning is what we are about as a council.
We will campaign to deliver on this agenda and to amplify the
voices of those residents who are demanding change and action in
response to this climate emergency. I hope you are reassured by our
Question (k) from Mx. A Doodle to Councillor Watts, Leader of the Council:
Does the council provide documents in appropriate alternative formats for people with a range of reading impairments?
Thank you for your question. The simple answer to your question is yes, all of our communications are available in a range of alternative formats. It’s really important to us that we make communications as accessible as possible to everyone. Depending on an individual’s requirement this could include braille, large print, easy read or sign language interpretation. Our standard letters and literature all include a prompt inviting people to contact us if they would like information in a different format. Each edition of our printed quarterly magazine, Islington Life, is also read out and recorded for Talking News Islington who distribute CDs and cassettes on our behalf. We build accessibility into all the guidelines we use for our website, all of the council’s website and copy, to ensure they are as widely used as possible. Our online communications can also be read by those using screen readers. These guidelines are subject to change and we are currently reviewing them in line with the latest advice. If there are any suggestions at all about further improvements that can be made then we would be delighted to hear them. Please either email me or contact the council’s Head of Communications.
I have constantly struggled to get possibly the most widely used accessible format to be used by officers of the council. Tagged PDFs are in standard use everywhere else and they are very easy to produce, yet this council does not seem to understand what a tagged PDF is, let alone being able to produce one. The Sensory Team has wrongly informed council officers that PDFs are not accessible and it would be great if that advice was very quickly corrected. Will the council make it a requirement that all documents of any kind are provided to disabled and dyslexic people in the format of their choice? I stress that Tagged PDFs are possibly the widest used in terms of accessible documents and I am horrified that the council does not understand what they are or use them. Will the council ensure that it will use this platform, provide training to staff, and ensure that the very cheap software that is required to produce a tagged PDF from a scanned document is available in every single council department?
Thank you for that very helpful and useful question. I am sympathetic to your question and we will absolutely look at this. It’s a really helpful and constructive suggestion and we will do everything we can to make sure that happens.
Question (j) from Sophie Talbot to Councillor Ward, Executive Member for Housing & Development:
How many disabled people live in secure housing managed by the council?
We have 6,264 disabled people living in council secure tenancies. It’s really important that council housing is there for disabled people and we do all that we can to make sure people live in homes which meet their requirements. This includes our programme of providing adaptations to people’s homes.
I act as an advocate for a person with multiple disabilities. It is coming up to the second anniversary of my client first reporting damp in their council flat. After making a complaint they have been subject to a year of negligent patch repairs, disrespect from council officers talking down and patronising them. Social services have refused to risk assess the flat which means my client couldn’t employ carers or PAs, direct payments have been constantly delayed, the council has been unable to provide basic information leaving my client vulnerable and alone. Repairs has ignored, bullied and refused to speak to my client. My client’s mental and physical health has significantly deteriorated as a result of negligent repair works, a breach of the Human Rights Act, the Care Act and the Equality Act, and breaches of the general duty of care. The council fails to book temporary accommodation for the duration of works, causing stress, anxiety and panic for my client. Today I received a copy of the third report, from three different companies, showing their home is still damp and dangerously contaminated with high levels of toxic mould. At least one officer has said that they don’t believe the testing and my client is expected to move back in shortly. Councillors refuse to intervene saying the case is too complicated to understand or is above their paygrade. I believe this local authority is not fit for purpose to provide housing services to disabled people. I believe this council needs to look to good practice models like Hammersmith and Fulham and completely overhaul the way that services are provided to disabled people. I also believe that this council needs to start complying with the Care Act requirement to integrate services and the Equality Act requirement for reasonable adjustments. Will you commit to sort this out?
Thank you for raising this really important issue. We really appreciate you coming here tonight. I am very sorry for these issues and I do commit to doing everything I can to investigate this alongside the Corporate Director of Housing and offer you any assistance I can. As I understand it the flat is now undergoing repairs, if that isn’t the case I apologise, and I’m very happy to speak to you about this, and I promise to do everything I can to investigate this and to make sure that your client has housing that is accessible and suitable to their needs.
Question (h) from Kate Pothalingam to Councillor Burgess, Executive Member for Health & Social Care:
I would like to submit a question about the works to repair Highbury Pool which was so badly damaged in a fire on 25th September 2018. This much loved and well-used community resource has been out of action for months and no information on the timetable for repairs is being provided to users - including the many Islington school children who now have to travel across the borough to alternative pools for their swimming lessons. It is also worrying to observe that the holes in the roof of the female changing rooms and over the main pool are not covered, but remain exposed to the elements, perhaps allowing further damage (e.g. from recent heavy rains). It would be helpful if the Council and management of the Leisure Centre could provide regular updates and take steps to keep residents better informed - particularly since we no longer have useful Ward Partnership meetings in Highbury East. Is it correct that an inspection of the roof steels only happened in mid-May, some 8 months after the fire, and that there is still no start date for the repair project?
Thank you for your question. I appreciate it is really frustrating that the pool at Highbury Leisure Centre remains closed. I’d like to assure you that we’ve been extremely busy behind the scenes. In the weeks following the fire priority was given to restoring partial services at the centre as quickly as possible. Once the safe areas of the leisure centre were secured, these were configured to provide gym equipment and classes. This was completed only ten weeks after the fire, which is quite an achievement. Due to the extent of the fire, it was known from the outset that restoring the pool would be a longer term project. Our focus shifted to the pool at the start of this year. We have protected the plant room, but it wasn’t feasible to cover all of the exposed areas. First of all, we needed a full assessment of the damage to see how much of the remaining infrastructure could be used and how much needed replacing. We are all keen for work to get underway quickly and I understand your frustration that it might seem that progress is slow, but we have to get it right. We want to reassure residents that we are working through the necessary processes. The good news is that our surveyor recently confirmed that much of the steelwork in the roof does not need to be replaced, which should reduce the timeline for the rebuild. The next steps include investigative works on the pool plant and the pool tanks which are currently full of debris. Once this is complete we will finalise the full scope of works and embark on the next stage of the rebuild project. Our best estimate – and I must stress this is an estimate at this stage – is that we will be able to re-open the pool in early 2021. Given the scale and complexity of the restoration and rebuild project there are other factors which could affect this, but we will update people as the project progresses. I note your point that people would like more regular updating and I will try to make sure that that happens. I’d like to thank everyone for their continued patience as we push ahead with the reinstatement of the pool.
GLL Better who run Highbury Leisure Centre didn’t do a great job of cleaning it and maintaining it when they were running pool services. The changing rooms were disgusting and there were many complaints from users and members of Highbury Fields Association about that. When they managed the build of the extension, they failed to comply with the council’s own planning application and produced a building that didn’t meet the council’s criteria. Can the council ensure Islington residents that the pool rebuild is a priority, as there is nothing on GLL’s website at all, that you will closely supervise GLL to ensure the work starts as soon as possible and is completed to a high standard, and that there are no insurance or any other financial barriers to the work starting.
I have been promised that a report on this will go on the website shortly. I can certainly pledge that we will continue to do things as soon as possible. In terms of the cleanliness, there are user representatives who can be approached and who I know work very hard to make sure the facilities are kept up to the standard they should be. Please contact me, or the Centre Manager, if there are any issues there.
Question (i) from Lucy Facer to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Islington Council has only committed to installing 100 electric car charging points per year over the next four years. Do the council think this will make any impact on improving air quality or could they implement a much faster rate of installation like other London boroughs to facilitate a much more significant number of EV cars in the borough, and discourage petrol and diesel ownership by implementing higher parking tariffs?
As Lucy Facer was not present at the meeting, a written response was sent, as follows:
I would like to thank you for your question. Islington has committed to a minimum of 100 electric charge points per annum or a minimum of 400 by 2022 in order to help tackle the climate and environmental emergency we all face. This will also contribute to addressing air pollution by encouraging a move away from polluting diesel vehicles, including Euro VI diesels. We have called for the eradication of all diesel vehicles from London by 2025 and have already implemented a substantial diesel surcharge on resident parking permits and an additional surcharge on short stay parking towards bringing an end to diesel ownership and use, we remain one of the few boroughs to do so.
Road transport accounts for the majority of NOx and PM10 emissions in Islington. Pure electric vehicles emit zero tail pipe emissions and they have the potential to significantly improve local air quality, and we are committed to encouraging those residents who cannot use other modes of travel, to switch to low emissions vehicles.
To support the ever growing number of residents switching to electric vehicles, Islington has already rolled out over 150 on-street charging points including our recent launch of innovative lamp column charging points. Our commitment to install a minimum of 400 charging points remains ambitious in, geographically, the second smallest London borough. However, we know that there are still parts of the borough that lack convenient access to public charging points and it’s important that we continue to ramp up our efforts to deliver a comprehensive charging network
Islington has also engaged in a wide range of activities to tackle air pollution and promote active travel (walking and cycling) and discourage car use, for example, we have piloted Zero Emission Streets in the streets surrounding Central Foundation School, implementing enforcement and banning all but electric vehicles at peak hours; we have delivered the most School Streets of any local authority area, which we will continue to roll out, where possible, for all schools in the borough; we have prioritised the transformation of key transport areas like Archway, Highbury Corner and Old Street to deliver safe spaces for cyclists and pedestrians and we will continue to deliver a wide range of projects to encourage even more residents to cycle, walk or use public transport. As a result of our efforts, activities and policies, Islington has the lowest car ownership of any borough and we will continue to take action to discourage petrol and diesel ownership towards tackling air pollution and meeting net zero carbon by 2030.
Question (l) from Rachael Swynnerton to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Air pollution from transport is of huge concern in particular to people living in inner city borough's like Islington. About 15% of Islington overall CO2 emissions stems from traffic and the annual legal mean limit of 40µg/m3 NO2 exposure is not upheld. Please note that the World Health Organisation guideline is for no human exposure to NO2 over 200 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3) measured over one hour. The EU legal limit for exposure to NO2, also in UK law, is 18 hours in a calendar year. According to Clean Air in London (https://cleanair.london/legal/breathtaking-breach-of-no2-annual-legal-limit-in-eight-days/), London is exceeding the legal limit of NO2 exposure within the first month of the year.
Recognising that reducing air pollution is not exclusively within the Local Authority's control, it is however understood that local initiatives can have material positive impact. e.g stopping rat-runs through residential streets by introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, regular borough-wide road closures, significantly increasing parking charges for all fossil fuel vehicles, reducing the number of parking spaces available, stopping endorsement of residential car use by the Islington roaming policy, actively and seriously targeting idling, banning wood burners, introducing outdoor air filtration systems at most polluted roads (eg red routes), setting up green screens and overall greenery etc. Informing and educating the residents is also seen as effective as many still do not know the impact air pollution has on their health.
Can the Councillor identify what measures need to be taken, to reduce air pollution across the borough below EU legal limits before 2025?
Thank you for your question, Rachael. Islington is a great place to live, work and visit. It has a diverse population, cultural opportunities and is home to many international businesses. But as you know, it is also a borough that faces challenges, Islington is the 24th most deprived borough in the country and has some of the highest poverty rates. We also know that levels of air pollution are poor and it is our residents who are having to deal with the impact this can have on health and life expectancy.
To truly make Islington a fairer place for all we must improve air quality. I’m proud that Islington has made a huge amount of progress in recent years and is leading the way in many areas by rolling out pioneering schemes and influencing London-wide policy. Whilst levels of pollution in the borough are improving, we know we must go further and faster to clean up our air. That why we have delivered a new Air Quality Strategy, which has gone out for public consultation. The strategy sets out our very bold plans and we will also incorporate some of the responses we have from the public too.
Poor air quality in Islington is caused by a variety of factors, with damaging emissions from diesel buses, lorries and cars contributing to dangerous levels of pollutants in the air. We have already taken a number of ambitious steps to tackle the biggest issues, including introducing a ‘diesel surcharge’, whilst continuing our programme to install 400 more electric vehicle charging points across the borough by 2022. We were proud to be the first borough to introduce a 20mph speed limit on our roads and to implement an engine idling ban. We will continue plans to improve air quality near local schools by closing streets at school opening and closing times where feasible and installing air quality monitors to find more ways that we can improve air quality. To do this agenda we need more investment from government and others. We cannot to this on our own, but we are pioneering and leading this agenda.
Thank you for your response. I welcome the strategy that you mentioned, although I don’t think it is clear what the council is going to be doing to measure the effectiveness of their plans and initiatives, how progress will be monitored, what measurements will be taken to work out the impacts of those strategies. Please could you explain?
One of the things we want to do is absolutely stop the long term negative impacts that air pollution has on our residents. We want to stop people dying from air pollution, it is a life and death matter. Air pollution causes 100 deaths a year and we want that to be zero. But our actions alone are not enough unless our neighbouring boroughs, London as a whole, and the EU take action. We know that London exceeds the safe limit for air pollution, we know that diesel causes high levels of air pollution, and we call on the Mayor of London to place a ban on diesel by 2025. That is what we have asked for London-wide because that is what we think is necessary to protect the residents of our borough. These targets are about stopping the long term health impact and will be measured against that impact, but our actions cannot happen in isolation. Which is why I am proud of our work with Hackney, for example, on zero emissions streets, because what we did was protect the streets around Central Foundation School, the most polluted secondary school in London. We want to do more, and we will do more.
Question (m) from Justin Portess to Councillor Webbe, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:
Islington Clean Air Parents is a fast growing network of parents and carers concerned about the effects of air pollution on the health of their children. We welcome Islington’s initiative to implement the first 10 school streets, but parents all over Islington want to see school streets outside their children’s school and don’t want to wait until 2025. Please can councillors respond to parents’ concerns across the Borough and consider how to install School Streets outside all schools by the end of the next academic year?
As Justin Portess was not present at the meeting, a written response was sent, as follows:
I’d like to start my response by thanking Islington Clean Air Parents for their support for our School Streets Programme. As I said to Youth Cllr Baker during the meeting, we are committed to taking bold action to improve air quality in the borough, particularly for our children and young people.
We are working on a number of projects to improve air quality across the borough, including hitting a major milestone, earlier this month by opening our 10th school street in just over six months. Despite 70% cuts to our core funding from Central Government in a decade, we are committed to rolling out more school streets and I’m pleased to tell you that our ambition is to deliver School Streets, or similar, within our powers, for every school in the borough over this council term, which ends in 2022, which is three years ahead of 2025.
It is important to recognise the need for appropriate consultation to take place on each scheme, which understandably takes time, But We are absolutely determined to deliver to more of these schemes, and look forward to continuing to work with Islington Clean Air Parents to build even more support for School Streets.
Question (n) from Ernestas Jegorovas to Cllr Hull, Executive Member for Finance, Performance & Community Safety:
How important is it that every citizen is enfranchised to take part in the democratic process does so without barriers? What percentage of European citizens in Islington were denied their vote in 2019 European Elections?
Thank you for your question Ernestas. It is extremely important that every citizen is able to take part in the democratic process. Lots of work is done throughout the year and in the lead up to elections by our election teams to ensure that everyone that is eligible to vote is registered and able to vote if they want to.
For the European Parliamentary elections, European Union citizens can choose to vote in the UK or their country of origin. If an EU citizen chooses to vote in the UK, the law requires that they complete and return a UC1 form by the statutory deadline, which is set by the electoral commission. In Islington, no EU elector that returned their UC1 form by the statutory deadline this year was unable to vote at the European Parliamentary election on 23 May. Only those EU electors that either didn’t return the UC1 form or returned it after the statutory deadline were unable to vote, which I fully appreciate will have been extremely frustrating for them.
Letters including a UC1 form and business reply envelope were sent to all 17,515 EU nationals the week commencing 15 April and then a reminder email, again with a UC1 form, was sent on 27 April to the 13,500 EU electors that we held email addresses for. From the 15 April, any newly registered EU electors were sent the UC1 form by post or email encouraging them to complete and return the form if they wanted to vote in Islington and this continued daily up until the 7 May deadline. The Islington Council Communications team updated the Islington website dedicating a page to the EU elections and the UC1 form was available to download. To publicise the fact that EU citizens had to complete the UC1 form the Islington Council Communication’s team sent out an election bulletin to about 5000 people on 2 May and The Islington Tribune ran an article on EU registration in which Maggie Kufeldt the Local Returning Officer gave a quote advising EU citizens on what to do if they wanted to vote in Islington.
All of which is to say, that European Citizens in Islington were not denied the chance to vote, and Islington Council did everything it was meant to do, and more, to enfranchise the borough’s European citizens so they could cast their vote last month.
I think I was privileged because I applied on the last day online and I got an email to say that my form was received and that I had the right to vote. I know a few people in both Islington North and Islington South who didn’t get that confirmatory response once they replied by post. My question, looking forward to the London Elections, is what is the communications plan to make sure that people are aware what their rights are?
My understanding is that the requirement to complete that form varies from election to election, so I’m not sure if it applies in the way that you describe, but regardless it is a lot easier to give people notice to fill in a form if the government gives us notice that there is an election. We didn’t know the election was happening until late in the day. This is completely the government’s fault due to their handling of the Brexit process. They gave us almost no notice and we still managed to get thousands of people signed up to vote and many more than elsewhere in London. If you look at the figures, only 24% of European citizens managed to register and vote in 2014. In 2019 that figure rose to 30%. Nonetheless, 437 UC1 forms were received after the deadline, letters were sent to all of those electors, advising that their form was received late, and therefore they would not be able to vote in the election, as we didn’t want them to turn up to the polling station and not be able to cast their vote. We did everything we could to enfranchise everyone we could, we did better than other councils, we did better than four years ago, and we will do it better still in future.