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Cally Councillor, Una O’Halloran, is elected Mayor of Islington

May 12, 2017
Una and Ray

Una, pictured with husband Ray, has promised to “throw herself into the role”

At the Council’s Annual Meeting on May 11th, Cally Councillors, Rupert Perry and Paul Convery expressed great pride as Una O’Halloran became Mayor of Islington for the year 2017-18.

Una said “Islington is a fantastic borough and the mayor has the privilege of meeting a wide range of people and community organisations, experiencing first-hand some of the great work that they do.”

Una has picked as her chosen charity for the year, the Angel Shed Theatre, an inclusive theatre company providing opportunities for children and young people across Islington to participate in performing arts.

Rupert and Paul spoke to nominate Una at the Council’s formal civic gathering. In his nominating speech Paul said:

“I am proud to nominate my ward colleague, good comrade and friend. Una is a Councillor who has the deepest personal roots in this Borough. Finsbury born and bred. Schooled here, grew up here, worked here, lived here. Married to Ray for 32 years, they’ve raised 2 great kids. Here in this Borough.

“As a council tenant, a community activist for many years, Una personifies what some people call “old Islington”. The Borough that is remembered of 30 or 40 years ago. ‘Old Islington’ was a diverse place like modern Islington. And Una comes from one of the largest groups of migrants who settled here half a century ago: London’s Irish population. The hundreds of thousands who left Ireland in the 50s and 60s. Who left the social austerity and economic depression of that island. People who came to, literally, rebuild Britain in the couple of decades after the war.

“Una’s parents were of that generation. They settled here and raised their family, contributed to the prosperity of the age and benefitted from it too. Una carries the values of those working class Londoners and Islingtonians from Ireland. Rooted in her faith and community, the words I use to describe Una are simple ones:

  • hard working
  • honest
  • fair minded
  • passionate about her place and its people
  • deeply committed to serving others
  • feet on the ground when others sometimes have our heads in the clouds

“People in political life today search for ‘authenticity’. With Una, there’s no need for that. With Una, that quality is natural, unaffected, sincere. These are the qualities that make for an outstanding Mayor.

“Four or five years ago I had known Una by sight and by reputation. She was a GMB workplace representative, she chaired her TRA, the local Housing Panel and the Safer Neighbourhood committee. Indeed Una had been in the world of local politics for a long time. She recounts first going out canvassing aged 10 with her father, the late Joseph McKenna. Wearing a red rosette, of course.

“And I came to know Una because she was very active in the campaign to save Clerkenwell Fire Station. Indeed, Una had a distinctive personalised placard showing a handful of coins representing the few pence per week that Boris Johnson would cut from the Mayoral precept by slashing the fire brigade budget and closing 13 fire stations.

“But it was only when we began to seek out a candidate for the 2014 elections (Cally had an obvious vacancy with Charlynne standing down). It didn’t take long to spot Una. And I recall meeting her in one of Cally’s landmark cafes, Dallas Burger Bar. We had a cup of tea and a long talk. But within minutes I could see that Una would get on great in Cally. And Cally would get on great with Una. And so it has turned out.

“So, it’s right, proper and fitting that this born and bred Finsbury Islingtonian should now step forward to be nominated as Mayor. We shall all be very, very proud.”

Tackling the air pollution crisis in Cally

March 13, 2017
Traffic Cally Rd and Copenhagen Street

Caledonian Road has about 18,000 vehicles a day

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Caledonian Road (south) air pollution monitoring stations

London is suffering an air pollution crisis which may be worse than the great smogs of the 1950s. These prompted the Clean Air Act which prohibited the burning of coal. Mayor Sadiq Khan has declared that London now faces an equally severe “public health emergency” which requires radical measures.

Some of the worst air quality in London is in the southern part of Caledonian Ward. Air pollution maps record a high level of emissions along the Euston/Pentonville Road corridor and the gyratory road system. The whole area from Copenhagen Street south is dangerously polluted.

In 2015-16, Islington Council undertook an extensive air monitoring exercise around the Islington gyratory triangle – York Way, Wharfdale Road and Caledonian Road (see map).

This revealed pollution around the whole area averaging more than 50% above “acceptable levels”. In some places monthly pollution peaked almost twice as high.

In addition to over a thousand homes in this area, we have 3 primary schools – Copenhagen, Blessed Sacrament and Winton – and a Council nursery/children’s centre. A City Hall report published in 2016 revealed that these schools were in the “worst 20” most air polluted schools in London.

Islington Council has backed the Mayor’s plans to introduce a new Emissions Surcharge so that, from October 2017, all the most polluting vehicles driving into Central London will pay a daily extra £10 on the Congestion Charge. The Mayor will also implement the Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2019 which will include all of Islington.

Islington Council is also the first Borough in London to urge Sadiq Khan to ban diesel vehicles from the capital’s roads. The borough called on the Mayor to join Paris, Madrid and Mexico City in getting rid of the most polluting vehicles within a decade. In response, Mayor Khan has said that “nothing is off the table” and he will use all the powers available to him. But he has called for the Government to help-out and introduce a scrappage scheme for diesels.

Islington, Camden and TfL are working to bring forward plans to change the Kings Cross gyratory roads and a series of worked-up options should be published for public consultation in the next few months. Cally Councillors have lobbied hard to get through traffic taken off residential roads and to eliminate unnecessary TfL bus movements around south Cally.

But we also need some practical measures locally. These will now include:

  • A review of back-streets around the worst affected primary schools to reduce through traffic
  • A campaign to increase public awareness of the pollution associated with driving kids to schools
  • Enforcing Islington Council’s “no-idling” policy in Cally
  • Getting Camden to make changes on Goods Way to stop lengthy traffic queuing on York Way
  • Putting-in a width restriction on Copenhagen Street to enforce the HGV ban
  • Stopping the “rat-run” on Carnoustie Drive
  • Installing electric points on the canal and ban moored boats from burning wood and using generators

Cally Councillors backed these moves to substantially reduce air pollution, especially to cut the risks for older people and children. All the evidence shows that traffic pollution harms the growth of children’s lungs, raises the risk of allergies and asthma and can affect children’s brain development. Research shows that children’s behaviour is linked to air pollution and is linked to anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder.

Councillor Paul Convery said: “London’s air pollution is an invisible killer. Mayor Khan’s determination to curb harmful vehicle emissions is a great step forward. But he needs Government help to take toxic diesels off our streets. There is a lot we can do locally too so Islington Council and Cally Councillors will do our bit to reduce traffic, encourage walking, cycling and use of public transport.”

Copenhagen Primary school pupils help to clean-up the neighbourhood

March 6, 2017
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Copenhagen pupils hard at work cleaning-up Edward Square

Dozens of children from Copenhagen Primary School joined-up with Keep Britain Tidy to clean-up their school and surrounding neighbourhood – Edward Square, Treaty Street, Copenhagen Street and Caledonian Road.

Friday, 3rd March, was Great British Spring Clean day and pupils at Copenhagen were inspired to clean up Cally by Steve Backshall, naturalist broadcaster and author, who is one of the Keep Britain Tidy ambassadors.

The pupils were helped by a staff team from the school led by Headteacher, Harsha Patel. And the efforts of the school were recognised by a feature carried on ITV’s 6pm news.

Caledonian Ward Councillor, Paul Convery said “This was a brilliant volunteer effort by the school, led by its team of Eco-Councillors and School Council members. The school, its staff and parents can be very proud of their children’s commitment to keeping their school and their neighbourhood clean. I particularly congratulate the school on its stewardship of Edward Square, a treasured pocket park next door to Copenhagen School. For so many kids at Copenhagen, Edwards Square is their garden, back lawn and playspace.”

For more pictures and information see the school’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/CopenhagenP

Cally festive lights switch-on by Islington’s Mayor, Saturday 10th December

December 7, 2016

The Cally street market returns to Tilloch Street with a special festive theme on Saturday 10th December. The seasonal lights will be switched on at 4.30pm by Islington’s Mayor, Cllr Kat Fletcher.

The street market at Tilloch Street is opposite Bridgeman Road (West Library) and next door to the Co-op on Caledonian Road. There will be music through the afternoon, food, drinks and activities.

We are proud of our local high street and this year’s Christmas lights are part of the renewed efforts by Islington Council and the local community to boost our local shops and keep the high street as the heart of our neighbourhood.

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Fighting off Paddy Power betting shop on Cally – Camden Council wins landmark appeal

June 8, 2016
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Paul Convery and Una O’Halloran outside the premises at 325 Caledonian Road.

The campaign to prevent Paddy Power opening a betting shop on Caledonian Road received a boost this week. The gambling company has lost a planning appeal to take over a similar shop premises in Kilburn.

In December 2015, Islington Council denied planning permission to open a betting shop but Paddy Power has appealed. This would have been the third in a cluster of betting shops, with Ladbrokes at 291 Caledonian Road and William Hill at number 312.

A planning inspector will hold a case hearing on 27th July and Islington Council will vigorously defend its decision.

Islington Council’s argument has been strengthened by a case in Kilburn where Paddy Power failed to convince a planning inspector. Camden Council had refused permission on grounds very similar to Islington: adverse effect on the retail character of the area; and the impact from over-concentration of gambling premises.

Caledonian ward councillors had originally opposed the plans and have now submitted evidence to the appeal inspector.

Paul Convery adds “there’s nothing wrong with a flutter, but these betting shops are promoting hardcore gambling. And Paddy Power seems to be one of the most aggressive firms pushing the gambling habit in areas where the least affluent people live.”

Cally Councillors back-up David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, who recently condemned the gambling industry for opening yet more betting shops with Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs): “These provide almost half of bookmakers’ over-counter profits, making them by far the single biggest income stream in retail sales. These machines have been dubbed “the crack cocaine of gambling”, enabling punters to stake up to £300 a minute or £18,000 an hour. Betting shops encourage this reckless gambling with lines of free credit to punters who win more”.

Paddy Power has been singled-out for aggressive expansion of shops with FOBT machines. A study published in March 2016 revealed that Paddy Power is targeting areas with a high percentage of ethnic minorities with FOBT  machines. The data shows that 61% of Paddy Power’s 349 betting shops are located in the highest minority ethnic areas.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has  criticised Paddy Power for concentrating their business on “almost every area of London with high non-UK-born populations. This isn’t chasing footflow – it’s targeting the most vulnerable people. It is disgraceful behaviour and reinforces why we must deal with the proliferation of betting shops in disadvantaged areas, and the addictive roulette machines which can cause so much misery.”

Earlier this year, Paddy Power was forced to pay £280,000 to a “socially responsible” cause after the Gambling Commission found it had encouraged a problem gambler to keep betting until he lost five jobs, his home and access to his children. It was criticised for “failing to keep crime out of gambling and protect vulnerable people”.

The Planning Inspector’s decision which endorsed Camden Council’s refusal of planning permission can be read here.

We must clean the air around schools in Cally

May 19, 2016
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Heavy traffic on Copenhagen Street is one of the sources of air pollution for 2 primary schools and a nursery

Cally Councillors have announced 5 practical measures to cut the air pollution affecting primary schools in the neighbourhood.

This follows the news that 4 of the worst 20 hit primary schools in London are in the Kings Cross area: Argyle, Blessed Sacrament, Copenhagen and Winton.

On Tuesday 17th May, London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan released a 2013 report which former Mayor Johnson was accused of having “buried”.

The report revealed that, throughout London, the primary schools most affected by air pollution are the ones which overwhelmingly serve the most disadvantaged areas and populations of London.

Mayor Khan has declared London’s toxic air represents an emergency comparable to the Great London Smogs of the 1950s. Mayor Khan has said that “we need big, bold and sometimes difficult policies if London is to match the scale of the challenge”. Khan has pledged to:

  • Extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ)
  • Start work on a diesel scrappage scheme
  • Require all HGVs in London to meet ULEZ standards
  • Clean-up London’s buses

Working with the Mayor, Cally Councillors have promised five practical, local responses to  reduce pollution which will benefit Blessed Sacrament and Copenhagen schools:

  • A road narrowing to enforce the much flouted HGV ban on Copenhagen Street
  • Actively support TfL’s plans to remove the gyratory system around Kings Cross
  • Deal with the standing traffic on York Way (caused by Goods Way blockages)
  • Demand that Network Rail stop static diesel trains at KX station from running engines
  • Implement a scheme with the Canals and Rivers Trust to prevent moored boats from emitting wood smoke and diesel fumes.

Cllr Paul Convery says “Pollution around Kings Cross is bad but it was a shock to realise how severely this affects schools in our area. The main sources of pollution are diesel HGVs, buses and vans. In the short term, we need measures to stop these vehicles travelling through our neighbourhood. In the long term, I back Mayor Khan’s policies to fundamentally reduce the volume and types of dirty vehicles driving in London.”

Cally Labour Councillor is elected Deputy Mayor of Islington

May 17, 2016
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(L-R) Paul, Una and Rupert pictured following the Annual Council meeting

We are very proud to announce that Cllr Una O’Halloran has been elected the Deputy Mayor of Islington. She will deputise for this year’s Mayor Cllr Kat Fletcher and will, following usual precedent, become Mayor in 2017-2018.

The new Mayor and Deputy were elected and sworn-in at the Council’s Annual Meeting on May 12th. At that same meeting Cllr Paul Convery stepped-down from the Council’s ruling Executive committee after 6 years’ service.

Over the next two years – as Deputy Mayor and Mayor – Una will of course continue to discharge all her duties as a ward Councillor for Cally including her regular advice “surgeries” at Westbourne Community Centre.

Both Paul and Rupert warmly welcomed Una’s election as Deputy Mayor. Rupert served as Mayor in 1997/98 and knows the small but significant benefits which our neighbourhood will enjoy as a result of having Una in the “first citizen” role.

Paul Convery adds: “Una was born and raised in the south of Islington and has been actively involved in community affairs for 20 years. Before she was elected in May 2014, Una was chair of her local tenants association, the Safer Neighbourhood Panel and local Housing Panel. She is actively involved in two local churches and is also a school governor. She has already proven herself to be a  great Councillor working hard for the people on the Cally. Una has got her feet firmly planted on the ground. When she was first elected I remember her say, with great modesty, that she is ‘an ordinary person who wants to work hard for people like herself’. She will be a great Deputy Mayor and then Mayor in 2017-18.”