Posts Tagged Finsbury

TfL gets Michael Cliffe wrong

A few years ago I got TfL to correct the 153 bus stop which had renamed Hemingford Road as Hemmingford. Surely it’s not impossible to get placenames right when you are the main transport body for the city!

Now they’ve done it again. I was using the TfL journey planner to plot a route to the Finsbury Estate for a friend who was planning a trip to the nearby Islington Museum. The website came up with a walking map – but spoilt it all by referring to the destination as “Michael Clifton House/Patrick Coman House”. As Finsbury folk know, it’s Michael Cliffe House, not Michael Clifton.

Michael Cliffe was a Finsbury councillor, Chairman of the Housing Committee, and Mayor of Finsbury, who went on to be the MP for Shoreditch and Finsbury.

The whole point of naming estates after people is to honour their memory, so the least TfL can do is get the name right. I’ve written to them pointing out their mistake and asking them to correct it.

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Catchup – too busy to blog!

Once again, I’ve been too busy of late to blog. So here’s a quick catchup on what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks:

– attended the service of blessing for the re-opening of St Mary Islington’s crypt with former Archbishop George Carey
– welcomed party President Ros Scott to our Pizza & Politics evening
– spent a morning visiting businesses, from pharmacies to Fish Central, in Finsbury
– speaking to black community churches at the WOSEM ‘Prayer for Islington’ event
– raising poor breast cancer screening and referral rates with Islington NHS
– continued to campaign for justice for Equitable Life investors
– wearing pink to support breast cancer charities
– lobbied for MPs to back the 10:10 targets for government (Emily Thornberry didn’t)
– attending the Friends of Barnard Park AGM
– meeting Essex Road traders, jointly campaigning against Labour hikes in business rates
– meeting Nick Clegg to discuss London issues
– meeting council leader Terry Stacy to discuss local services
– meeting leaders of Islington’s Somali community
– attending Remembrance ceremonies
– various interviews and meetings with City University students
– dealt with casework from housing to hunting
– knocking on doors across the constituency
– speaking at Islington Lib Dem AGM

plus a long weekend in Amsterdam (that’s it for holidays til after the election!)

Now I’m off to give the opening speech at London Region Lib Dem conference, which meets today at City University, followed this evening by a Q&A on climate change at All Saints church, Caledonian Road, after their showing of the ‘Age of Stupid’.

Busy busy, but I love it!

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Strike a light

Despite real fears about crime, the figures are getting better. Crime fell 14% in Islington last year, and the Lib Dem Council is funding a new team to support crime victims and work with residents to increase the number of anti-social behaviour cases going to court.

Meanwhile one Finsbury resident has been jailed for a year for a rather unusual crime. Andrew McKee from Hermit Street, EC1 was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for ‘recklessly and negligently endangering an aircraft’ – despite never leaving the ground.

Back in July 2007, the Metropolitan Police helicopter was on an operation over Hermit Street, when a green laser light was shone directly into the cockpit, several times.

The police traced the laser back to Mr McKee and charged him under Article 73 of the Air Navigation Order 2005. MoD scientists and the helicopter pilot gave evidence that shining the laser into the cockpit did put the aircraft, its passengers (and of course all the people living below including Mr McKee and his family) at risk.

I don’t expect the Met Police have much call to apply the Air Navigation Order, airports apart, but it could have its uses.

Article 66 of the same Order, you will be glad to know, prohibits dropping animals from an aircraft in flight (‘whether or not attached to a parachute’); while article 50 requires one pilot to remain at the controls at all times while it is in flight. Makes sense to me.

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Campaigning across the generations

It’s been a madly busy week.

On Saturday we had an action day in Clerkenwell, with dozens of helpers piling in. They got all our leaflets out by lunchtime, and canvassed chunks of the ward too. Meanwhile I stole away to enjoy the launch of Black History Month at St Mary Magdalene Academy. Over lunch I chatted to three generations of women from the Martin family. Originally from the Caribbean, they work as a carer, a civil servant and a special needs teacher: amazing women who contribute a huge amount to our community. There are some fascinating events during the month: I’m looking forward to the talk about the Rev Samuel Ajayi Crowther on 15 October.

On Sunday I was celebrating with a different community as I joined a party of Turkish friends to support Halkevi’s fundraising concert at the Hackney Ocean. Halkevi do fantastic work with the Alevi community of Turkish and Kurdish origin, and it’s no surprise they’ve outgrown their current building. We enjoyed music from singers including Sivan Perwer ‘the Pavarotti of the Middle East’, as well as a (non-singing) appearance from our MEP Sarah Ludford.

It’s Freshers Week, and I dropped in to help out at the LSE Freshers Festival on Tuesday. The whole of the Clement Building on Aldwych, normally full of quiet study rooms, was packed with stalls and students. Outside there were promotions from everyone from Streetcar to the Ministry of Sound. Inside, students collected stickers from each society they wanted to join and then got charged a £1 at checkout; every efficient. On the third floor we were in a room with the other political parties and the Politics Society. The Tories were in suits; Labour in plain sweatshirts and long faces; Lib Dems with yellow bunting, in high spirits. Also in our room, bizarrely, was the Manga Comics Society stall. Surrounded by comics, the guy on the stall was intently reading the FT. Only at LSE!

We had queues of people wanting to join the Lib Dem Soc; good news as LSE has a Hall of Residence in Islington South. Although many are overseas students (one friend swears that LSE stands for Let’s See England) there are enough homegrown voters to give my campaign even more of a boost.

From students to seniors: yesterday the St Luke’s community centre in Finsbury was celebrating Older People’s Day. I’ve got lots of friends there, as I’m a member of the St Luke’s timebank, but I’ve never seen the centre quite so busy. We had everything from massage and health checks to ‘giant knitting’ on huge wooden needles, live music and yet more stalls. Freshers eat your hearts out.

I always love meeting people, but what’s made all the events this week special is the mood of excitement, as people are really interested in my campaign and looking forward to their chance to vote. Earlier this year, there’s no doubt that the expenses scandals had put a lot of decent people off voting. Now the mood has changed again. There’s a real sense since we got back from conference that we are now in the countdown to the General Election. Liberal Democrats have even overtaken Labour in the national opinion polls.

We’ve had teams out door-knocking every day this week, in very different territory, and, as ever, meeting some great people. Like the Asian mum and business woman on an estate in Clerkenwell, the science student recently moved into the Angel, or the cheerful grandmother in Barnsbury, people can’t wait for their chance to vote Lib Dem next time.

Bring it on!

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Islington’s blooms are best in London

The Britain in Bloom results are out.

Islington has scooped an impressive 10 awards, including Best in London.

This is a proud achievement for any borough, but how fantastic for our small, densely populated one. Especially when you think that for all those years under Labour, the Council never bothered to enter, and criticised the hanging baskets programme as a waste of money.

The flowers along our busiest roads lighten people’s mood, soften the ugly railings, help boost local shops and counter the pollution. What’s not to like?

Finsbury has done particularly well, with awards for the St Luke’s Centre in Central Street (they’ve recently expanded from floral displays into allotments), the remodelled grounds of Gambier House and the courtyards at the Peabody estate off Whitecross Street. I’m looking forward to meeting Cllr Ruth Polling to visit some of the winners later today.

Islington’s awards show that sometimes the people and places with the least open space appreciate it most.

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Walking for Bradley

At the weekend I blogged about the tragic death of Bradley Carty, a teenager from Clerkenwell, who drowned on a day trip abroad.

I was very moved to hear about Bradley’s death and the struggles his family had to bring him home. At 19, on a day trip, travel insurance is the last thing on your mind. Yet it can cost thousands of pounds to bring someone home for burial, a huge bill to face at a time of terrible bereavement.

So I was glad to be among over 100 family and friends of Bradley who took part in a sponsored walk around Islington and Finsbury on Sunday, to honour his memory and help raise funds.

The weather was sunny, and the mood of the walkers was upbeat despite the sadness for Bradley. Even the drivers who had to wait while we crossed various roads were (mostly!) patient and supportive.

At a time when our youth are often criticised, I want to pay tribute to the young people who organised the walk, gave up their Sunday to take part, and raised over £1600 towards a lasting memorial for Bradley. We should all be very proud of them.

Sharon Smith, Bradley’s mum, is hoping to put the funds towards a memorial bench or possibly a life-saving course in his memory.

Losing a child is probably the worst thing that can happen to a family. Nothing can bring Bradley back. But I hope the love his friends showed will be some comfort to Bradley’s family going forward.

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Finsbury’s Liberal hero

On Friday I was doing some daytime door-knocking around the Angel with Caroline Pidgeon. We were also getting signatures for the One Hour Bus Ticket campaign, on which more later.

Seeing Islington through a visitor’s eyes, one thing that struck me was that on quite a short stretch, we passed 3 blue plaques – as well as the homes of various contemporary celebrities.
Last month, I was honoured to be among the guests for the unveiling of a new blue plaque in Clerkenwell, organised by the Amwell Society. The plaque commemorates Finsbury MP Dadabhai Naoroji – appropriately enough in Naoroji Street, named after the great man. He was Britain’s first Asian MP and a Liberal MP, first elected in 1892.

And his political connections live on today in Clerkenwell councillor Marisha Ray.

Dadabhai is a hero for our area (he already has a plaque on Finsbury Town Hall) and for my party, but not exactly a household name. As the Amwell Society point out, people don’t know why it’s called Naoroji Street. And with more people talking up the BNP, it’s important to remember that London has always been a multi-cultural city. So the plaque is a great idea.

Emily Thornberry MP didn’t exactly unveil the plaque – it’s high up above the reach of vandals – but she did speak very positively about Naoroji’s contribution, although managing completely to avoid mentioning he was a Liberal MP! There’s a nice piece aout the event in the Tribune.

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