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Agenda item

Leader's Announcements


The Leader expressed her sadness at the passing of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and welcomed the accession of King Charles III. The Leader had met the King following the Finsbury Park terror attack and his support at such a difficult time was appreciated. The Leader also thanked the Mayor for leading the Council through the recent events to mark the Queen's passing and the proclamation of the new King. The Leader was proud to stand with so many Islington residents at these important events over the last couple of weeks.


The Leader was delighted to join the Mayor at the reception in recognition of the Octopus Community Network’s Queen's Award for Voluntary Service. This was in recognition of their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Leader also noted the vital work of the organisation to support local people with the cost of living crisis.


The Leader commented on the cost of living crisis, noting the government’s role in the crisis through inaction and austerity. The Council’s budget had been cut by £171,000,000 since 2010, and the removal of the universal credit uplift, failure to implement a real living wage, no serious attempt to stop the reliance on fossil fuels, and a hard Brexit which had restricted supply chains and increased inflation had contributed to the current challenging situation.


The Council was doing all it could to support people, despite the lack of support from central government, including allocating £676,000 into cutting council tax bills for those on lower incomes, quadrupling the size of the childcare bursary to support people back into work, protecting free school meals for all primary school children, retaining the school uniform grant, helping 5,000 people into good jobs over the next five years, and encouraging more local businesses to pay a real London living wage. Meanwhile, the government was prioritising tax cuts to the richest in our society.


The Leader called on the government to increase universal credit payments in line with inflation, invest in retro-fitting homes to help people with their energy bills, provide support for local businesses to protect local jobs and high streets, implement rent controls, and invest in renewable energy so we are not put in this situation again.


The Leader of the Opposition responded and shared her own reflections on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The Leader of the Opposition noted the huge volunteer and policing operations to keep the public safe during events connected to the funeral and accession, however expressed concern some Police tactics to prevent protest, including the Police challenging people holding blank sheets of paper.


The Leader of the Opposition had attended a protest outside New Scotland Yard following the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba by a police officer. This has been portrayed by Sky News as mourners heading to Buckingham Palace rather than people standing with the family of Chris Kaba in seeking answers from the Metropolitan Police.


The Leader of the Opposition was glad that Islington had continued to hold scrutiny meetings through the 10 day mourning period, particularly given the current economic crisis and the need to protect residents and businesses.


The country was already facing soaring inflation due to the fallout from leaving the European Union and the economic impact of the pandemic. The war in Ukraine and government inaction posed an additional challenge, and there was a clear need for every part of the Council to work effectively together in response to the crisis.

The Leader of the Opposition thanked the officers who were working on the site allocation consultation for Gypsy and Traveller sites, for their help with responding to large volumes of correspondence, and for their speed in covering up racist graffiti that was sadly painted on the gates to the proposed site.


The Leader of the Opposition reflected on the terrible fatal stabbing of Deshaun James Tuitt in Highbury Fields in August, and noted the thoughtful and collaborative way that Councillor Woolf and officers worked with local ward councillors during that time. The Leader of the Opposition also thanked the gardening volunteers in Highbury Fields who had carefully looked after the flowers that had been left by family, friends and many local residents.