Posts Tagged Caledonian Road

Tube station closures in Islington today

Caledonian Road tube station (on the Piccadilly line) is reportedly closed this morning due to defective lifts.

Tickets are apparently being accepted on local bus routes – though the quickest alternative is probably to get off at Holloway Road and cut through Pollard Close towards the Cally instead.

Meanwhile Archway tube station (Northern line) is closed today and tomorrow for planned engineering work.

That won’t stop thousands of local people heading to Archway today: we’re marching from Highbury Corner (leaving at noon) to demonstrate our support for the Whittington Hospital. See you there!

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Another stabbing on the Cally….

… but this latest incident does not seem to be the kind of youth street crime that caused so much distress last year.

It appears to be a stabbing incident inside a flat, involving an older man. Still disturbing, still tragic – but not in itself evidence that our streets are less safe.

I will update with any more news as I get it.

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Cally: not a war zone

More responses to that controversial article in the Independent, calling the Cally a ‘war zone’.

The Tribune has an article “Storm over ‘war zone’ jibe”, with responses from civic leaders and myself. They also print the joint letter from council leader Terry Stacy, Labour councillor Paul Convery and local priest Fr Jim Kennedy referred to in my earlier posting.

Perhaps the best comment came on the Newsvine:

“As someone that lives in the local area, this whole story seemed to be a bit over the top really. It’s certainly not a war zone – god, I shudder to think how quickly residents of Basra would house swap for someone living 10 minutes from King’s Cross!”

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Reporting from the ‘war zone’

I’ve blogged before about the Guardian being unfair about the Cally. Now the Independent has done the same.

I usually like reading the Independent, not just because it gives the Lib Dems a fairer hearing than most, but because it tends generally to have a sensible, humane, small l liberal approach.

Columnists like Deborah Orr give a welcome common-sense counterpoint to the hysterical hyping that can happen, particularly on issues like crime.

Not so much, however, in last week’s piece about Cally and Holloway by Amol Rajan. As its lurid headline “The war zone: How the notorious London neighbourhood they call the ‘V’ is fighting for its life” suggests, the article would not be amiss in the Daily Mail, from its description of “feral youth” to characterising the whole area between York Way and the Cally as a “war zone”. He even uses the phrase “tabloid stereotype” apparently without irony.

What’s the reality on the ground? No-one denies that the Cally has problems – hence the recent dispersal zone – but it also has many positive things going for it, not least its community spirit.

Last week I was door-knocking on the Bemerton estate with my team. Worries about lifts and leaseholder charges were the main issues. The week before on North Road, it was recycling facilities, the local park and bus routes. People worry about crime, housing, and making ends meet. Ordinary folk, with ordinary concerns; not a war zone.

On Friday morning I happened to have coffee with a friend at Gran Sasso, a neighbourhood Italian cafe on the Cally. We were talking about how, despite some high profile cases, the area is much cleaner and safer than it was when we first lived there years ago. Also in the cafe, two of the local Safer Neighbourhood Team were meeting a community activist who is a leading supporter of the Cally-based Copenhagen Youth Project. That’s typical of the area.

Every week there are examples of good people doing good things. On Saturday the York Way estate held its successful fun day; the week before it was the Lumpy Hill adventure playground fun day. On Thursday night I was talking with one of the community safety officers about progress tackling vice crime around Market Road. On Sunday I had tea with some members of Islington Veterans Association, who meet at Fr Jim’s church, just off the Cally. Tonight I’ll be applauding Islington Youth Theatre, based near North Road, as they perform at the National.

St Andrew’s School, which serves the Cally, is an outstanding school that has just appointed an outstanding head. This week Sparkplug, an excellent youth motorbike project, has its annual award ceremony. The Times Boxing Club is getting extra funding from the Council. And so it goes on.

Now the Indy has printed a response from the borough Police commander plus a joint letter from Cllr Terry Stacy, the Lib Dem council leader with Paul Convery (one of the Labour local councillors for the Caledonian ward) and Fr Jim Kennedy the well-respected local priest. They reject the idea that the area is a “war zone” and point to the good work of many local groups. But will their letters catch the eye the way the original article did?

Rajan’s piece is full of inaccuracies. He says the local landmarks are the prisons, without mentioning the Cally clocktower, City & Islington College or Kings Cross station. He talks about the Prospex charity being homeless, without mentioning that it’s been offered a home by a local church (subject to planning permission…). He calls the area the ‘V’, not a name I’ve ever heard used for the place, while in the same breath saying that it has no official name (er, what about North Kings Cross?) and then agreeing that it is known locally as the Cally.

The article strikes me as a tasteless piggy-backing on the death of Ben Kinsella, without any real understanding of the community that is still mourning him. There’s never been any suggestion that Ben was killed because he was on ‘someone else’s turf’.

The ‘V’ that springs to my mind for Mr Rajan is the one formed with two fingers.

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Danny O’Brien on the Cally

Anti-knife campaigner Danny O’Brien will have his street stall on the Cally again today.

Danny has found some eye-catching ways to raise awareness. Last month he organised a 24 hour walk between the Spurs and Arsenal grounds (Danny is a Spurs fan – nobody’s perfect!). He’s helped organise protest marches and walks under the theme Miles not Knives: and now he’s touring London with his anti-knife petition and street stall. On Monday evening I headed over to the Cally to meet up with Danny and find out more about his campaign.

(While we were there, the heavens opened with some of the heaviest rain I’ve ever seen in London! We had thunder and lightening, there was hail bouncing off the pavement, and the Cally looked more like a river than a road. So I was glad we made it to the Kink bar to see out the storm.

(I like the Kink bar. The staff are really friendly. They lend out umbrellas and even an old bike to their customers when needed. They serve tea and coffee in the early evening, handy after the cafes on the Cally have shut up shop; that’s what first tempted me in, it’s perfect when meeting the team to go campaigning. And on Thursdays they have jazz, from artists like Emma Cantons; perfect for unwinding afterwards….)

Anyway, Danny’s campaign is about raising awareness of the dangers of knives, calling for tougher sentencing for knife crime and he helps fundraise for the Ben Kinsella trust. This week, following the sentencing of Ben’s killers, the Kinsella family have asked why killing with a knife gets a lower sentence than killing with a gun: it’s a good question.

I don’t support locking up all criminals – in fact like most Lib Dems I think prison is the wrong answer for a lot of criminals. We’d all be better off if prisoners with addiction or mental health problems were in treatment programmes; instead of locking up petty non-violent criminals, we should put them to work in the community instead.

But when it comes to knife crime, I do think some of the sentences are too light, both for people who use knives and those who sell them.

We need to take practical action to tackle knife crime, without criminalising the majority of young people. Islington Council has already invested in more knife detection wands for the police, and has prosecuted shops caught selling knives to kids. Another reform that Lib Dems advocate is getting all hospitals to adopt the Cardiff system, of reporting every knife injury to the police. It’s helped reduce knife crime everywhere it’s been done. I think we should have it in Islington too.

Meanwhile, today Danny will be on the Cally again; outside the Dallas Burger Bar near the corner of Bingfield Street from about noon to 6pm.

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Stabbing incident on the Cally

Last night I was hurrying along the Cally on the way to a school governor’s meeting when I saw two or three police cars pulled up, lights flashing, outside the petrol station near Cally Pool.

The word this morning is that three young people may have been stabbed, with one at least reported to be in a critical condition.

The state of the economy may have pushed knife crime out of the headlines, but it is clearly still an issue.

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Cally: scrag or best end?

The Guardian’s property column, Let’s move to, this week rather unkindly describes the Cally as the ‘scrag end’ of north London.

Although given that cheaper cuts of meat are newly-fashionable, perhaps that’s supposed to be a compliment….

There’s lots of good things about the Cally. As the Guardian acknowledges, St Andrew’s school (where I’m a governor) is outstanding. Kings Cross blogger Will Perrin has pointed out some of the Cally’s culinary attractions. (Everone loves Yasar Food Market).

I’d also mention the views from the canal bridge, when Kings Cross suddenly appears as you walk south; the canal itself; community artwork on the canalside; Edward Square and other local parks; really useful shops including a surviving post office; great community spirit from the local churches; Cally Pool; the flower stall on the corner of Mackenzie Road; and the stunning City & Islington college building at the N7 end.

The Grauniad praises the Cally’s excellent transport links. So perhaps they’d like to join the campaign for a new bridge to keep our access open when the station works at Kings Cross are completed.

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