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Agenda item

Questions from Members of the Public


Question (a) from Julien Etienne to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment & Transport: 


With a rapidly worsening climate crisis, Islington could soon experience an extreme heatwave such as that which affected British Columbia in Canada last Summer where temperatures came close to 50 degrees Celsius. The current Cool Spaces map lists no local indoor cool spaces in which Islington residents could take refuge in such an event. Does the Council have a plan to keep people safe in the event of a major heatwave?


As Julien was not present, the following written response was sent: 


My response is that sadly, as the climate emergency worsens and Global temperatures continue to rise, we are likely to see more and more extreme weather events, including heatwaves. While we are focused on tackling the climate emergency, reducing emissions and improving air quality, we know that we also need to keep people safe in the knowledge these events will continue for some time.


Our Council’s brilliant Emergency Planning team works with Public Health colleagues on a local protocol for severe weather; this includes actions which are linked to the Heatwave plan for England.


Some of the actions required include media alerts about keeping cool, supporting organisations to reduce unnecessary travel, reviewing safety of public events taking place, distributing information to high risk groups and mobilising community and voluntary support.


We are working on a number of measures to make Islington cooler and safer for people in extreme weather events. Our retrofitting scheme will help insulate council homes to make them cooler in the summer, our tree planting programme will add improve air quality and reduce temperatures, and our Greening the Borough project will add more green spaces for local people to enjoy and cool in, all year round.


This is something we are passionate about working on and will continue to do all we can to keep local people safe. Thank you again for your question.


Question (b) from Rebekah Kelly to Cllr Ngongo, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families:


Community safety is a serious concern for many residents, as most have been impacted in some way by crime or anti social behaviour. Would the £21,000 paid to change Islington Council's logo be better off spent toward tackling youth crime that is prevalent on the streets of Islington and what is the plan to address this issue?




Thank you for your question Rebekah. Keeping our borough and our young people safe is a top priority for this council.


Islington spends more than most other local authorities in the country on services that support young people. One of our local values is to keep young people safe, to keep them away from guns and violence. We are trying our best and we are working to help our young people, so they can access the services they need. This includes investing in youth clubs. We do have good resources across the borough and our young people are proud of everything we are giving to them.


We put children and young people at the centre of our core values. We have different types of activities at Platform, Lift and Rosebowl and our young people are able to access help there.


Regarding our logo and identity, we found that it was very difficult to apply it, especially in an online format. This had been in place since 2007. We used implementing the new logo as an opportunity to think about our core identity and values; that is why it includes the sign of equality. We want to promote an equal future for all in Islington; a strong community coming together for equality.


This new logo has not taken any funding away from our young people. Since 2010 the government have made a lot of cuts to our budget, however we are committed to serving young people, and make sure they are safe and secure is our top priority.


Supplementary question:


Thank you. The youth services you mention are not always inclusive of children with additional needs. I feel like the money spent on the logo may be better spent, particularly given the cuts and when services are not available to all. I appreciate the council’s work in this area, but violence and anti-social behaviour affects all young people, and it isn’t enough.




Thank you. We are serving all children and young people in this borough. We are trying to do our best and meet their needs.


Question (c) from John Hartley to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:


I am asking this question on behalf of Low Traffic Islington (Barnsbury St. Mary’s). Now that the May elections are over, we are pleased to see that the Council consists entirely of Councillors committed to the Policy of encouraging Sustainable Transport modes and reducing unnecessary motor vehicle usage and though traffic in our Borough by measures including the roll-out of Liveable Neighbourhoods.  

Our area suffers terribly from though traffic, and you may have seen the Green Hearts of support for action to be taken, particularly in places such as Offord Road.


Our group has already submitted ideas on how the area bounded by the A1, Caledonian Road and Pentonville Road can be made a more Liveable Neighbourhood and we are keen to contribute to the Engagement and Design Process for our long-promised Low Traffic Neighbourhood.  Please can you tell us when our Engagement and Design Process will start?




Thank you for your question, and thank you to the Low Traffic Islington (Barnsbury & St Mary’s) group for their support for people-friendly streets. I know there is lots of interest in the area.


I do apologise that we have taken time to develop People Friendly Streets. This is due in part to challenges relating to the complex road network in the area; we do need to this about this one a little bit differently, and need to talk to people about that. It’s also about the huge amount of work required in bringing in low traffic neighbourhoods, cycleways and school streets, not only implementation, but also the follow up work and consultations.


We absolutely intend to carry out public engagement later in 2022 to give local residents and businesses an opportunity to provide their views, we just need a bit more time.


Supplementary question:


Thank you. Could you indicate if the consultation will be in summer, autumn or winter, and also could you provide further detail on how the engagement and design process will be carried out?




Thank you. I can’t. This is one of the first times we are doing full engagement first, and we have brought in someone to help us who has expertise in public engagement. We want this to be done as well as we possibly can, so people do not just feel involved, but actually are involved, for the best possible result. I appreciate your patience


Question (d) from Ben Griffith to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment & Transport:


North London papers including the Islington Gazette report that Secretary of State Michael Gove has instructed his department to look into the North London Waste Authority and its determination to expand incineration capacity in north London. 


Gove says: “I have asked officials in the department to engage directly with NLWA and its external auditor Mazars to better understand the arrangements the authority has in place for decision making, including governance, scrutiny and external audit…. Alongside this, I have asked that we ascertain how NLWA are managing and delivering the [project]….  I expect my officials to make comparisons to other waste authorities and large capital projects to provide assurance the NLWA are meeting the standards we would expect across the sector.” 


To support this investigation, the Stop the Edmonton Incinerator Now (StEIN) coalition has written to Gove setting out 34 issues relating to the NLWA and in particular: issues related to the Edmonton incinerator contract (11 issues); issues related to Mazars’ review of NLWA accounts (7 issues); NLWA governance issues (14 issues) and issues related to NLWA communications (2 issues).


For example: 

  • “An expert assessment shows the plant’s emissions would be twice as bad [as landfill] for the environment from its first day of operation – and nearly 4 times as bad by the end of its operational life.” 
  • ”There will be insufficient waste to incinerate in Edmonton – whether from north London or elsewhere – due to enhanced Government legislation under the Environment Bill. Defra aims to halve residual waste by 2042.”
  • “NLWA efforts to borrow money for the Edmonton incinerator from the Treasury’s Public Works Loan Board and the UK Municipal Bonds Agency (UKMBA) are based on misleading claims that the project qualifies as “green”, although the EU and emerging UK taxonomies of sustainable finance exclude energy-from-waste incineration.”  
  • “NLWA has dismissed the widely recognized need for pre-sorting technology to extract plastics and other recyclables from the incineration stream (pre-sorting reduces CO2 emissions and toxic air pollution, while simultaneously boosting recycling revenue and reducing waste arisings).” 

hat consideration has Islington Council given to the issues raised in the correspondence from the Secretary of State and StEIN




Thank you for your question Ben. I think the difficulty we have is that we fundamentally don’t agree on what is the best way forwards. I appreciate that people feel very strongly that we’ve got this wrong, but I can assure you we’ve given every single one of the points you raise careful consideration. It’s actually been really helpful to have those challenges throughout this process. We do take these back and discuss with officers, but we remain of the view that the best way forward is to replace this aging and increasingly unreliable plant with a new state of the art energy-from-waste plant. It will have the possibility of retrofitting, including carbon capture, which would not be possible if we sent it to other waste plants.


We have read what has been put forward, and what has been heard in meetings. Despite our best efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling rates, there will still be considerable amounts of waste that we will need to dispose of for years to come. I remain confident that an energy recovery facility is the best way forwards. I regret saying that, as like you, I would very much like to see an economy that does not require the disposal of large quantities of waste, but that is the reality we face.


One of the reasons why we face that reality is we are way down the chain. The government are not doing what they need to do. We need to do everything we can to reduce waste, but we do not have the rools at the moment, and it seems that we will not for years to come. What we have insisted on is a really high quality plant, and we need to make sure that is followed through. We have taken this very seriously, and the decision has not been taken lightly.


Supplementary question:


I’d like to congratulate Councillor Champion on being elected vice-chair of the waste authority. I am concerned about how the Waste Authority has behaved over recent years. We sometimes hear that the waste authority is accountable to the councils, but the councils appear to be uncritical and unquestioning in public.




I do understand the views you express, but I can assure you that is not the case. I appreciate that lots of the meetings go on behind closed doors. I will do my best. The plans that are going forward are in accordance with our values, that that includes social value benefits, but also focusing on the climate emergency. We need a laser focus on reducing waste, and then re-use and recycling. We want to work together with communities on this in a collective and collaborative way. There is critical thinking going on, not just from politicians, but also officers. We all want to materially change the way that waste is dealt with in this country.


Question (e) from Jeremy Maher to Cllr Ward, Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance:


We gather that Islington Council has now proposed two Councillors to represent Islington Council on the Board of the North London Waste Authority (NLWA). Could you kindly explain the process and reasonings for deciding who such members should be, including the following information:

·                 which persons are responsible for the selection process and, with whom else did they engage with in any discussions or voting regarding the decisions;

·                 exactly what qualifications, professional experiences and other skills were taken into consideration when deciding whom such members should be;

·                 once voted or otherwise confirmed as Islington Council’s representatives upon the Board of NLWA, who exactly will they then on be held accountable to ?




Thank you for your question. I am responding as Democratic Services falls under my portfolio.


The Council’s representatives on the NLWA were elected at the Labour Group AGM earlier this year. That is a process which takes place on an annual basis. Traditionally, the Council’s representatives are the Executive Members responsible for Finance and Environment, as the NLWA is a key partner for both portfolios. This year, myself and Cllr Champion stood for the Board and we were selected by our fellow Labour councillors. We were then unanimously confirmed at the Annual Council meeting in May this year.

As ever, Cllr Champion and I are accountable to local people, the Islington electorate, as well as our fellow councillors and any relevant Scrutiny committees.


Supplementary question;


Firstly, I do want to emphasise that this is not any kind of personal slight. I have very high regard for the council’s abilities and professionalism. However, I am not convinced that either councillor is best qualified and has sufficient experience for such highly specialised positions. Rather, it seems that the main qualification for being on the NLWA Board is that the person is elected as a councillor. The Board members are decided by a small few without reasons given to the public. The same applies to the board of London Energy Ltd. Some of the board members of London Energy Ltd are also on the board of NLWA, which appears to be a duality of interest.


Considering that the NLWA operate very much like a council in its own right, tasked with spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer money, and making decisions that have enormous environmental, health, employment and social impacts, surely the residents of the constituent boroughs should elect who chairs and sits on the Board, perhaps much like elections are held for the London Mayor and Assembly. Would Islington Council be open to proposing this suggestion to other members of the Board?




Thank you. I do appreciate and respect your views. I used to be the Executive Member for Housing and Development, I have no professional qualifications in housing or development. I am currently the Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance; I have no professional qualification in finance, planning or performance. You seem to be suggesting that someone on a democratic board needs technical and professional expertise. Respectfully, I disagree. We have expert officers who are here to advise us. The Council has paid staff to advise democratically elected councillors.


I am a strong believer in democratically elected local councillors, that’s our representative system, and respectfully, I do think it’s right that our elected councillors are the ones who sit on the Board.



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