Skip to content

The 2019 Cally Festival was another brilliant day: shows we are a community that’s pulling together

June 24, 2019
Cally Cllrs at Cally Fest 2019 - pic 1 - crop.jpg

Paul, Sara and Una

The ninth annual Cally Festival on Sunday 23rd June was another brilliant day in the life of our neighbourhood.

Between noon and 6pm, we closed the road between Cally Pool and Offord Road and filled it up with 10,000 people.

There was a fabulous music offering on 3 stages – especially the very successful Copenhagen Youth Project stage showcasing aspirational local talent. We had great organisations like the Institute of Physics on science and discovery; there was a traditional funfair; a massive and varied food offering, a market place and big range of sports and fitness activities … with special thanks to Times Boxing Club.


As the Festival began, car-free Cally began to fill-up


Scores of volunteers helped to make the Festival run like clockwork.

Naturally, we had a load of artsy stuff, great children’s contributions featuring the poems, stories and a song zone with our local schools … also featuring the sensational John Hegley and Paul Lyell.

Every year the Cally Festival has a tremendous vibe. And at about 4.15pm there was a colossal sound as a samba band carnival-style paraded through the Festival site to the main stage where Paul Convery introduced the two other Cally councillors and the Leader of the Council and Mayor of Islington addressed the crowds … (briefly!).

Cllr Richard Watts endorsed Paul’s observation that, despite a challenging year of ups and downs in the Cally, the Festival demonstrates we’re a community that’s pulling together to make Cally a great place to live and work.

Next year’s Festival is pencilled-in for June 21st 2020. It will be a landmark 10th anniversary event and all the stops will be pulled-out to make it the best ever.


Cally Councillors campaigning to keep Roman Way doctors service open

May 23, 2018


The GP service at Roman Way Medical Centre is scheduled for closure in August. And the Cally Labour Councillors have called for a new surgery to be opened in the local community.

The GPs currently running Roman Way are retiring after many years. NHS England has now consulted the surgery’s 4,700 patients on what should happen once the surgery closes.

NHS England has outlined two options – commission another practice or organisation to provide services for patients (eg. a new GP surgery), or to ask patients to register with another nearby practice. Goodinge and Laycock Street have been offered as alternatives.

Cally Labour Councillors – with the support of Islington Council’s leadership – have called for a new GP service to replace the closing practice. One complication is that the Medical Centre building is not owned by the Council or the NHS. Although it was built as part of the Westbourne Estate 40 years ago, the Council sold-off the freehold in 2007 when Islington was controlled by the Lib Dems.

But the west side of the Borough will experience continued increase in population as major housing developments are completed. Cllr Richard Watts (Leader of Islington Council) and Cllr Janet Burgess (Executive Member for Health and Social Care) have urged NHS decision-takers to “take a strategic view of GP provision in the area” and have said Islington Council strongly endorses the option of a new GP surgery to be opened.

Cllr Sara Hyde, Islington Labour councillor for Caledonian ward, said: “Roman Way Medical Centre is a highly valued and much-needed local GP surgery. We’re really sorry to see the surgery closing. What’s important now is that NHS England sees sense and ensures a new practice is opened as close to the current surgery as possible.

“With new housing developments in the local area on the way, including up to 1,000 homes at the Holloway Prison site at some point in the not too distant future, we can’t lose a surgery and expect other small local practices to cope with demand.

“I’m particularly concerned about older and more vulnerable people having to go further to see their doctor. We need to retain a surgery as close to the current practice as possible.”

Cllr Watts’ and Cllr Burgess’ detailed letter supporting the opening of a new GP practice identifies the impact losing a practice would have on patients who are unable to travel further, the expected population growth in the local area and the lack of capacity in neighbouring surgeries to expand. Additional supporting information attached to the letter also makes clear that local planning policies would mean the use of the existing surgery building could not easily be changed if another surgery was not provided, as it would represent a loss or reduction of ‘social infrastructure’.

Cllr Watts and Cllr Burgess have also contacted Islington Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to ask them to support the procurement of a new GP practice in the local area.

It is expected that the North Central London Joint Commissioning Committee will make a decision on which option to pursue in June.



Caledonian Ward’s new Council team elected with record 68% of the vote

May 12, 2018
cally councillors Count

Sara, Una and Paul pictured as the ballots were counted and the election declared.

On Thursday 3rd May, voters in Caledonian Ward overwhelmingly voted to elect Una, Paul and Sara as their Ward Councillors for the next 4 years.

Islington Council now has 47 Labour Councillors and 1 opposition member. This is exactly the same as before!

But the new Council has a fresh intake of new Councillors and, for the first time ever, Islington now has more women Councillors than men. The new Labour Group more closely reflects the age and background diversity of Islington.

Across the Borough, Labour candidates received over 102,000 votes which represented just over 60% of all votes cast. This was the most decisive result for Labour in Islington since 1974.cally ward share of the vote 2018

In Caledonian Ward, the Councillors were elected with the largest vote share ever recorded in this part of Islington: 68% of voters backed the Labour ticket with candidates of the other 3 parties receiving roughly 10% each.

Una and Paul had served as Councillors in the previous (2014-18) term of office and were re-elected alongside Sara who is one of a dozen new Labour members joining the Council. Sara said:

“I am so overwhelmed to be voted in as councillor in Caledonian ward, where I live and whose people adopted me 15 years ago. Especially to my All Saints family who have shaped me and taught me so much. Thank you to all of you who have supported me, loved me, put up with politics messing with other plans. I know some incredible people and I’m deeply grateful. Looking forward to serving on a Council with more than 50% female councillors and with my hard-working colleagues Paul Convery and Una O’Halloran.”

A fond farewell and grateful thanks to Rupert Perry

May 2, 2018
Paul, Una & Rupert, Mayor-making 2017

Paul, Una and Rupert at the Town Hall in May 2016

On the eve of polling day, May 3rd 2018, we mark the moment when Rupert Perry steps down as one of the Cally Councillors.

First elected in 1990 for the old Thornhill Ward, Rupert has served the Cally with distinction and determination for almost three decades.

Over the years Rupert played a major role on the Council and in our community. He served as chair of the Environment Committee and the Planning Committee and was Mayor of Islington 1997-98. Over much of his extensive period in office, Rupert served as a trustee of the Richard Cloudesley Trust.

Having lived in the heart of Cally for over 30 years, Rupert and Ann raised a family of three who went to local schools, lived locally and have done well: Billy is a digital animator now working in Australia; Celia teaches in an Islington School; and Alice who works as a University of London alumni manager is also a “chip off the old block” being an Islington Councillor in St Peter’s Ward. The whole family supports North London’s favourite football club with Rupert, Ann and Alice proudly being season ticket holders for many years.

Rupert was the first in his family to reach University. He went to Oxford where he studied chemistry and, armed with a good degree from a top class university, he had a first career involving extensive international commerce. Rupert’s second career in later years took a colourful turn: he did “the knowledge” and became a black cab driver going under the name “Red Cally Cabbie” on Twitter! As a result, Rupert’s grasp of detailed local geography was unbeatable.

As a Councillor, over the years, Rupert diligently helped hundreds of families with housing and other casework – even during the 4 years when he was briefly not on the Council in 2002-06.

Rupert’s health hit a tricky patch recently and he scaled-back his Council role whilst recuperating. But he has recovered well. So his decision to step-down at the 2018 election represents a retirement of sorts. Rupert and Ann moved to a smaller home in Suffolk recently although they retain a toe-hold in Islington and both regularly attend Arsenal home games.

Paul Convery says “Rupert and Ann showed great kindness to Una and myself and they have been great people to know: good company and generous with their time and their home. Rupert has been a source of friendship, sound advice and great support to us in Cally and to his colleagues on the Islington Council Labour Group. We all wish him and Ann the best for the future and give grateful thanks to Rupert for his service. Over the coming 4 years, Sara, Una and I will continue to champion the things that Rupert held dear and continue his legacy in Cally.”


2018 Cally Festival will be held on Sunday June 17th

February 2, 2018
Road closure southside 2

You couldn’t exactly miss this! Each year we close the entire road all the way from Cally Bridge to Cally Pool

Caledonian Ward Councillors have announced that the 2018 Cally Festival will be held on Sunday June 17th. Islington’s biggest street festival is now into its 8th year.

Over 8,000 people visit the festival which features 3 music stages, informal music performance areas, masses of kids’ activities, dancing, story-telling, sports areas, arts and crafts and dozens of market stalls.

We celebrate the Cally as a distinctive place with a strong sense of community and renewed optimism. It’s the pinnacle event to an all-year-around programme of improvement to our neighbourhood and high street that aims to bridge the gap between the many communities in Cally.

The Festival shows that we are a community that’s pulling together.

For up-to-date news about the Cally Festival, follow on Twitter at If you would like to contribute to the Festival, please contact


Lift replacement at Caledonian Road tube station completed – without an 8 month station closure!

July 20, 2017
Caledonian Rd tube station lifts finished 19-7-17

Caledonian and Holloway councillors: Una O’Halloran, Diarmaid Ward, Paul Smith and Paul Convery with Claudia Webbe (lead councillor for transport)

Caledonian ward councillors joined their Holloway ward colleagues this week to mark the completion of lift replacement work at Caledonian Road underground station which was undertaken whilst keeping the station open throughout.

Transport for London (TfL) originally planned to close the station completely for 8 months from January 2016 – causing massive disruption to local residents and businesses, as well as significantly impacting residents with disabilities and mobility issues who would have had to travel far further to make journeys on the underground network.

However, thanks to intervention by local councillors – including the threat of legal action by the Council – and a petition supported by local residents, TfL was forced to radically changed its plans and agreed with the Council that the station could remain open whilst the lifts were replaced on after the other, leaving one lift in operation throughout.

Holloway ward councillor, Cllr Paul Smith, commented: “Keeping the station open was a great victory and just goes to show what a determined bunch of people can do when we stand up against decisions that are clearly unfair. I want to thank the 8,000 residents who signed petitions against the closure, those who attended public meetings and local businesses who spoke with us about the devastating impact closing the station would have had on their businesses and our community. The new lifts look great, and I want to also thank TfL for seeing sense and for completing these important works.”

Caledonian Ward councillor Una O’Halloran added: “Nearly 10,000 people use the tube station every day. TfL had a plan to lay-on replacement bus services down to Kings Cross during the closure. This would have added to the congestion down Caledonian Road, our local high street, which already has 18,000 vehicles a day.”

In November 2015, TfL announced plans to close the station for 8 months from January 2016 whilst both lifts were replaced. Swift action by local councillors saw several public meetings organised before Christmas to raise awareness of the issue and to organise the campaign against the plans. A petition was presented to Jeanette Arnold AM at City Hall at the end of November 2015, calling on TfL to rethink its plans.

Shortly before Christmas, Islington Council began the process to call for a Judicial Review of TfL’s decision and the way it was taken, particularly focusing on TfL’s failure to adequately consider the impact of the closure on disabled passengers and passengers with mobility issues. The threat of legal action meant that in January 2016, TfL announced it was reviewing its plans and the works were put on hold. In March 2016, TfL announced that it had agreed with the council’s view that the works could be completed whilst keeping the station open and a revised programme of works would take place over the next 18 months.

The 7th annual Cally Festival this Sunday “will be the best so far”

June 16, 2017

Road closure southside 2

One fantastic thing happens this weekend alongside all the Great Together events: the 7th annual Cally Festival, the pinnacle event to an all-year-around programme of improvement to our neighbourhood and high street.

Islington’s biggest street festival celebrates “The Cally” – a distinctive place with a strong sense of community and renewed optimism. The Festival shows that we are a community that’s pulling together.

On Sunday, the entire main road between Cally Bridge and Cally Pool will be closed and filled with 3 music stages, dancing, story-telling, numerous children’s activities, sports areas, arts and crafts and a large street market plus lots of food & drink. And about 8,000 people.

Click here to download the official festival programme which shows 2017 is going to be the most ambitious ever.

The weather forecast is looking sensational too: the hottest day of the year so far with clear sunshine and the temperature reaching 30 degrees in the mid afternoon. Bring sunblock!

It all kicks off at noon. There will be a short (very short) “civic” moment at around 4.10pm at the main stage when the Mayor will appear along with Cally Councillors and Leader of the Council.

Throughout the day your Cally Councillors will be “circulating” or at our stall opposite Bridgeman Road.

For more information and updates on Facebook go to or on Twitter go to @The CallyFestival

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

KX gyratory Islington monitoring locations (crop).jpg

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

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