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Obituary: Gillian Comins

Gillian Comins, our much loved neighbour and friend, died on November 15 2019 after a short illness.

She was born in 1933 and grew up in Gloucestershire. She attended Cambridge University, where she read economics.

After university, she pursued a career in market research.

She came to live in Sudeley St  in 1968 , and her house became a hospitable centre for her lively social life.

Gillian was a  knowledgeable owner of racehorses, or at least legs of them, and an indefatigable traveller, latterly becoming fond of  cruising the northern seas around the Scottish coasts and beyond. She loved many  kinds of music, and was a keen opera goer. And she  very much liked  popping up the road to see an afternoon movie.

She was a supporter of Living Streets, Islington Gardeners, and was a long serving, very committed  and popular member of the Committee of the Angel Association, where she was secretary for a number of years.

She will be greatly missed by her many friends in N1.

There will be a memorial service for her at St James’ Church, Prebend St, at 2pm on 15 January and all are invited.

 

 

City of London Academy – its past and present

Members of the Association will be interested in this short history, (by Sir Paul Curran of City, University of London),  of the various schools that have stood on the site of CoLAI.

If this little history brings back memories, perhaps you might also have some photos of the schools from days gone by?

“Good evening.  It is a great honour to be invited to present the keynote address at your awards evening, not least because I feel incredibly proud, that my university had a small part to play in COLAI’s spectacular journey from the most underperforming school in Islington to this year’s Ofsted rating of ‘Outstanding’.  The transformation is of huge credit to the drive and commitment of the senior team and the governing body but at tonight’s awards evening we are celebrating much more.  We are celebrating the latest chapter in the story of a 135-year-old school with an indomitable spirit and a character all of its own.

As many of you will know, COLAI’s location has not changed over the years but it has had four names, four sets of buildings and a long and distinguished history of dedicated teachers serving the needs of the young people of Islington.

Back in the early 1800s the  poet, William Blake, lamented that the ‘fields of Islington’ were being ‘builded over’.  Unfortunately, they were being ‘builded over’ by rows and rows of houses and the building of accompanying schools was to await the pioneering Compulsory Education Act of 1870.  Our Academy, then called the Queens Head Street School, was founded in 1884.  Twenty-one houses containing around 150 tenants were bought from the landlord and demolished and onto this tiny strip of land were built tall, tiered classrooms, each for around sixty students, with ferocious ventilation to minimise the risk of TB and with a precarious exercise space on the roof.  The school was to serve very local families, many of whom were displaced agricultural workers from the West Country and Italy.

It expanded rapidly, was rebuilt within the first ten years to accommodate 1,200 students, had the luxury of central heating installed in 1910 and then enjoyed a period of inter-war stability until all of this area was badly damaged during the Blitz.  [But fortunately, the students had by then been moved to Peterborough].

The population of London plummeted after the Second World War but the school was rebuilt on a site that had doubled in size as a result of the bombing.  It was renamed Tudor Secondary School and regrew again to 1,200 students on waves of immigration from the Caribbean, Africa, India and notably Bangladesh and Ireland.

By 1965 the size of the plot had doubled yet again to incorporate where we are tonight and extensive new buildings were opened to accommodate first, the post-war baby boomers and then, by the early 1970s, young people from the newly opened Packington Estate.  The school’s name was changed yet again, this time to Islington Green School and by the late 1970s had become a well-regarded comprehensive with some of the strongest examination results in Islington.  It felt youthful, vibrant, sassy and attracted iconoclastic teachers, one of whom was Alun Renshaw.  It was his connections that saw massed ranks of the school’s students sing the anti-establishment song of my generation on Pink Floyd’s album – The Wall.  Sadly by 1994 that youthful zeal had evaporated, examination results were declining and Tony and Cherie Blair made the fateful decision to send Euan elsewhere.  By 1997 the school was in special measures and it was only kept going by the collective professionalism of the staff.  A former pupil, soul singer Paloma Faith, recalls that it was:

Very, very rough. The police were there every day; there was a lot of violence. But the teachers were incredible. My tutor sold the Socialist Worker every Sunday in Hackney Central. They were very encouraging to me.  I was put in the Hackney Gazette because it was a failing school and I got all As at GCSE.” 

Six years and nine inspections later, it escaped from its lowly Ofsted rating but by then its reputation was damaged irrevocably and academy status was proposed with sponsorship by an educational charity.  This was not well-received by the good folk of Islington and the Academy that was to emerge in 2009 was co-sponsored by the City of London and ourselves, City, University of London.

I joined City in 2010 and it was clear that the Academy had a great building, great teachers and great students but was not thriving.  The City of London shared this view, much was changed and the rest, as they say, is history.

To mark the school’s two anniversaries of 135 years since foundation and ten years as an Academy and its achievement of being so highly rated by Ofsted the university presented the school with a gift.  It was the City, University of London and COLAI Anniversary Award for Outstanding Achievement and later tonight I will have great pleasure in awarding it for the very first time.

So, over the holiday season, when your relatives ask you, as they undoubtedly will, ‘ how’s school’, you can say, “it’s OK, this year my school celebrated its early Victorian origins and its decade as an Academy and took its place among this nation’s outstanding schools, so yes, it’s OK”.

Professor Sir Paul Curran, President, City, University of London

 

 

 

St Peter’s ward – tell the boundary commission it has got it wrong

Proposed New Ward for St Peter¹s final

Proposed New Ward Boundary  for St Peter’s

 

The Angel Association is making this submission to the Local Government Boundary Commission for England. Please make your own submission to the boundary commission.  Do use any of the material here.

 

 

  1. The Commission has proposed radical and damaging changes to St Peter’s Ward boundary as part of an Islington-wide review. These are all set out on the website of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England at lgbce.org.uk. If these proposed changes are made, then they would be used for local elections from 2022 onwards.

 

  1. Reponses to the Commission’s proposals must be sent to them no later than Monday 7 October. To do so, email your views to reviews@lgbce.org.uk, or write to the following address:

 

                                         The Review Officer (Islington) 

                    Local Government Boundary Commission for England 

                                       1st Floor, Windsor House 

                                            50 Victoria Street 

                                            London  SW1H 0TL 

 

  

 

  1. This note summarises the Angel Association’s main concerns and we hope that many residents will send their own views to the Commission.

 

  1. The current boundary of St Peter’s Ward follows the Commission’s own stated guidelines, largely following busy main roads and the Canal towpath which act as obvious and natural boundaries – Upper St, Essex Rd, Rotherfield St, towpath/Canal, Wharf Rd/Canal Basin, City Rd. These boundaries are easily understood and are logical.

 

  1. The current boundary includes within it facilities and amenities which provide and encourage the sense of neighbourhood and community, another important Commission guideline. These include local churches particularly our local parish church, St James, the much used local St James church hall, a new community centre (The Arc), the local secondary school with its facilities. All these facilities would be in the adjoining St Mary’s ward if these changes went ahead, making a nonsense of the Commission’s own “fostering the sense of neighbourhood guidelines”.

 

  1. As an example of our community working together, local residents have got together to provide pupils from the Ward primary schools a summer activities programme using these local facilities. This is precisely the kind of initiative which reflects the current strength of the neighbourhood dynamic.

 

  1. There are active local associations within St Peter’s Ward, including the Angel Association, the Arlington Association and the Duncan Terrace Association. Amongst many other matters,  they all work closely with the Council on greening initiatives and enhancing our local parks, and on community safety issues. These are practical and beneficial examples of the strong neighbourhood feel here.

 

  1. The relationship with the Council through a wide range of meetings with local Councillors is strong and productive. The local Police Panel, dealing particularly with community safety issues, also provides a constructive local forum. The current St Peter’s boundary encourages and efficient and effective basis for local government, another one of the Commission’s guidelines.

 

  1. The Commission proposes to move the current Ward boundary south into Bunhill by crossing City Rd. This makes no sense when assessed against the Commission’s own guidelines. City Rd, one of the busiest roads in London, also marks a stark change in local community interests and concerns. On the northern and eastern side of the Ward we would lose Essex Rd as our boundary. The new boundary would follow St Peter’s St and Rheidol Terrace and then go round Packington Estate to the Canal.

 

  1. These proposed changes are significantly driven by what Islington Council has said is an expected very large increase in the Bunhill electorate from 2019 to 2024. (The projected  increase would be by far the largest increase in the electorate of any Islington ward). The stated purpose of the redrawing of the boundary of our present Ward to the south is therefore to equalise the electorate of wards across the Borough. The key elements of the projected  change in the Bunhill electorate, according to the LGBCE’s statement, and apparently supported by Islington Council are:

 

  • The Bunhill electorate is projected to  increase from 9,834 to 14,463 .  This would obviously make Bunhill a statistical outlier and we are surprised that this projection, which is both very large and astonishingly precise, has seemingly  been accepted without question by the Boundary Commission.

 

  • According to the Council, there are new developments which might add 1,450 dwellings to Bunhill in the period 2019-2024. But this is obviously not enough to drive the  projected  change in the electorate calculated by Islington Council and reflected in the Commission’s proposals.

 

  • Bunhill’s population is assessed by the Council to increase by 2,450. Again, this is radically inconsistent with the projected  electorate increase, which as indicated above, is an increase of 4,629. If there are other demographic factors which  explain the electorate increase, our question to Islington Council and the LGBCE is:  why do these not apply to other Islington wards in equal measure. The electorate projection for Bunhill simply makes no sense.

 

  1. An alternative set of proposals, to achieve the aim of making electoral distribution more equal between wards, might be to:
  • reconsider the (eastern) boundary between Bunhill and Clerkenwell
  • in order to retain valued facilities within St Peter’s, the boundary with St Mary’s should be drawn along Packington St and Popham St.
  • In addition, the tower blocks at 250 City Rd COULD be incorporated into our Ward, recognising their coherence with the tower block cluster around the Basin.

 

  1. Once again, I would hope that local residents will feel able to draw on these points in responding to the Boundary Commission’s consultation.

Eric Sorensen

Chair

Angel Association

What will happen to St Peter’s Ward? Boundary Commission proposals

 

Proposed new wards  for Islington

Serious issues for St Peter’s Ward

  1. From time to time the Local Government Boundary Commission, an independent body, reviews Councils’ number and boundaries of wards to deal with population/electorate changes. Islington was last reviewed in 1999. A new review is under way though it has had little publicity. The consultation finishes on Monday 7 October so the Commission must have everyone’s thoughts by then.
  2. There are currently 16 wards in Islington of which our St Peter’s is one. The Commission’s review criteria are : improving electoral equality (electors per Councillor); wards to reflect community identity; supporting effective and convenient local government. The Commission must try to recommend strong, clearly identifiable boundaries for wards.
  3. A key Commission proposal, supported by the Council’s Labour Group, is that Islington should have 51 rather than the present 48 Councillors (reflecting projected population/electorate increase by 2024) and that therefore ward numbers should increase from 16 to 17, each ward having three Councillors. In theory a ward could have two Councillors (and therefore be smaller) or four (and therefore be larger) but the Commission have clearly indicated that they want to see 3 Councillor wards of roughly the same electorate number. The number of Islington electors in 2024 is estimated at 168,368 (population estimate is 248,000), therefore 51 Councillors would represent on average 3,300 electors each, and therefore each ward would average about 10,000 electors. In setting ward boundaries the Commission is aiming for no more than a 10% variance from that average.
  4. There is a strong correlation between the Islington Labour Group’s submission to the Commission and the Commission’s current proposals. Many ward boundaries in Islington would only change marginally as a result of this review. The impact on St Peter’s ward is the most significant. The table below summarises the key electorate changes which help set the context for the proposed changes to our ward.
Ward 2019 electorate 2024 electorate
Bunhill 9834 14463
Clerkenwell 7523 9591
St Mary’s 8689 9786
St Peter’s 9117 10922

 

  1. Bunhill is at the bottom right/southeast of Islington including the Old Street area and bordering The City. Clerkenwell is to the west of Bunhill and both wards have Pentonville Road/City Road as their northern boundaries. St Mary’s is to the north of St Peter’s, going up to Highbury Corner and the southern part of Holloway Road west. The key issue is the very high electorate increase estimated for Bunhill. There are also significant increases in, for example, Highbury West (not nearly as high as Bunhill) and these drive the consequent proposals to even out ward electorates and create a new ward, Central ward. St Peter’s electorate numbers themselves do not require changes, nor do those for St Mary’s and Clerkenwell. The Commission’s proposals and consequences for St Peter’s are illustrated on the map below.
  2. The proposed new Central ward, not shown, is created from the northern half of the current St Mary’s plus part of Caledonian ward to the west including the Pentonville prison area, HM Prison can just be seen on the map. The current Barnsbury ward immediately to the west of St Mary’s would be unchanged. St Mary’s having lost a large part to help create the new Central ward would gain a large part of St Peter’s, particularly the Arlington area. St Peter’s boundary here would cease to be Essex Road and Rotherfield Street and would instead become St Peter’s St/Rheidol Terrace/Prebend St, turning south along the eastern side of Packington Estate.
  1. To maintain our St Peter’s ward electorate our southern boundary would not be City Road but instead move further south to Lever Street in Bunhill.
  2. So, this radical change to St Peter’s is caused by the creation of the new Central ward by using the northern part of St Mary’s, by St Mary’s ward moving south and absorbing a large part of St Peter’s, and St Peter’s in turn taking part of Bunhill. The reduced size of Bunhill is justified by the enormous estimated increase in Bunhill’s densification/population. The estimated electoral population of Bunhill in 2024 is 14,500 which would make it by far the most populous ward in Islington if nothing changed, and also well above the requirement for roughly 3,300 electors per Cllr. Thus the radical proposed dismembering of St Peter’s.

The Problems

 

  1. First, St Peter’s would lose natural and obvious boundaries – Essex Road, Rotherfield Street, and City Road’.
  1. Second, there is no obvious shared community between those living north and south   of   City Road, City Road being one of the busiest roads in central London.

 

  1. Third, there is a strong shared community interest between those living around Packington Estate. This for example is demonstrated by the excellent links between the various neighbourhood associations – Duncan Terrace, Angel, Arlington, and others.
  2. Fourth, the current Ward Partnership meetings with Councillors, and the Police Panel on safer neighbourhood issues work well, again reflecting shared community  These would be challenged.
  3. Fifth, the proposed new boundary bizarrely removes St James’ Church from our area and we would lose the link with our parish and with this active church. The new boundary also removes our secondary school, COLAI, from our area. It cuts Union Square in half with the eastern half now becoming part of the new St Mary’s.
  4. Sixth, it is very difficult to find current developments in the present Bunhill which would lead to such a large electorate increase over the next few years. The obvious active development is 250 City Road on City Road’s southern side and opposite the existing two towers at the end of City Road Basin. Here an additional two towers are planned (one is now being built), together with lower rise developments. A total of 930 apartments are planned which suggests a maximum additional electorate of 1500/1600. There are no other major developments that we know of. We can identify some infill sites under way in Bunhill adding up to about 250 dwellings. So we find it difficult to see how the Bunhill electorate would be more than about 12,000 in 2024 as opposed to the Commission’s 14,500 estimate. We have asked the Council to summarise their reasoning on Bunhill’s projected electorate (the Commission rely on local authority population/electorate estimates).

 

Some Solutions

  1. Much depends on the reliability of the Bunhill electorate projection. The current projection accounts for about 40% of the borough’s electorate increase, and therefore is crucial to the justification for an additional ward, and therefore the impact on St Peter’s.

 

  1. It is arguable that there would be a shared community interest amongst the residents of the new towers complex at City Road Basin and 250 City Road on the southern side. 250 City Road could be straightforwardly incorporated into St Peter’s. To maintain electorate balance St Peter’s north west boundary could be New North Road, losing the electorate between New North Road and Rotherfield Street to Canonbury ward.

 

  1. Clerkenwell remains a relatively small ward (projected to be 9,600) and so modest changes to the Bunhill/Clerkenwell boundary to add about 1000 electors to Clerkenwell from Bunhill would help maintain electorate balance.

 

  1. It is bizarre for St Peter’s to lose its parish church, St James (technically called St James with St Peter), its secondary school, and for Union Square to be divided. If a new ward is required then there are many other solutions than simply losing a large part of the current St Peter’s ward to a new St Mary’s, especially if the electorate increase for Bunhill is exaggerated.

 

  1. If something like the Commission’s approach is nevertheless imposed then a less damaging modification would be for a new St Peter’s/St Mary’s boundary to follow St Peter’s St, Raleigh St (immediately west of the COLAI school), Packington St, Popham/Bishop St (to incorporate St James Church), Coleman Fields, Prebend St, Canon St, whole of Union Sq, eastern side of Packington Estate. Any division from the Arlington area is damaging and arbitrary but this is better than the Commission proposal and does not significantly impact on electoral balance.

 

  1. If the Commission maintain their view on Bunhill electoral projections then it is equally plausible to start again and redraw the boundary between Bunhill and Clerkenwell, taking 4000 electors into Clerkenwell. The northern part of Clerkenwell would then help form a new ward straddling Pentonville Road together with parts of the Kings Cross area/northern side of Pentonville Road (the southern parts of Caledonian and Barnsbury wards). To maintain electoral balance Barnsbury would incorporate part of St Mary’s. If Canonbury then incorporated the part of St Peter’s between New North Road and Rotherfield Street, and St Mary’s incorporates part of Canonbury, electoral balance would be reasonably maintained. Clearly any proposal to create a new ward has knock-on and ripple impacts. For St Peter’s the current Commission’s proposal impacts are particularly damaging.

 

  1. To conclude, the Commission are not following their own guidelines on sensible boundaries and encouraging/reflecting neighbourhood cohesion if these proposals for St Peter’s go ahead. The Commission’s proposals derive from electorate increases for Bunhill which seem implausible. There are sensible ways to help even out electorate numbers, eg by St Peter’s absorbing the 250 City Road development. The proposed St Mary’s/St Peter’s boundary is particularly perverse with the loss of our secondary school, losing our active parish church, dividing Union Square. It would be reasonable to ask the Commission to look again about how to create a new ward if that is necessary, starting with significant changes to the Bunhill/Clerkenwell boundary and then making amendments to the Barnsbury and Caledonian southern boundaries

 

  1. The Angel Association will try and clarify asap the basis for the Bunhill electorate projections.

 

  1. You are invited to draw on the above points and we hope that there will be many comments/observations made to the Commission by Monday 7 October. The Commission’s detailed proposals can be found by entering LGBCE (local government boundary commission for England) and following the link to LB Islington review. The Commission’s portal for comments is at http://www.lgbce.org.uk/media/have-your-say-on-new-political-map-of-islington…

 

Angel Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. The Angel Association will try and clarify asap the basis for the Bunhill electorate projections.

 

  1. You are invited to draw on the above points and we hope that there will be many comments/observations made to the Commission by Monday 7 October. The Commission’s detailed proposals can be found by entering LGBCE (local government boundary commission for England) and following the link to LB Islington review. The Commission’s portal for comments is at http://www.lgbce.org.uk/media/have-your-say-on-new-political-map-of-islington…

 

Angel Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel Association Annual General Meeting

Notice of Annual General Meeting 

Notice is given that the next annual general meeting of the Angel Association will be held at St James’ Church Hall, Prebend Street, Islington, London N1 8PF on Wednesday 2nd October 2019 at 7.00 pm to consider and if thought fit to transact the following formal business:

Resolutions 

  1. To receive the annual accounts of the Association for the year ended 31 December 2018;
  2. To elect or re-elect the Officers and Members of the Executive Committee of the Association; and
  3. To receive the Executive Committee’s report.

 

  1. By order of the Executive Committee……………………………………..

Geraldine Hackett

Honorary Secretary

 

Dated:  15 September 2019

 

City of London Academy judged outstanding

 

Islington’s City of London Academy has been rated outstanding by  Ofsted, the government’s school inspection service. The report says current pupils make outstanding progress in all subjects across key stages three and four. The sixth-form is rated good.

The school’s work to promote pupils’ personal development and welfare is rated outstanding.

Every pupil in the first year learns a musical instrument.

https://files.api.ofsted.gov.uk/v1/file/50068549

Angel Association’s 2018 AGM

AA AGM 2018 (2)

Britannia Morton, co-executive director of Sadler’s Wells, outlined the dance theatre’s mission and future plans for a mid-scale 550-seater dance theatre on the Olympic Park site, Stratford.

2018 AA AGM1

Councillor Martin Klute,  Eric Sorensen and Geraldine Hackett

Councillor Martin Klute, chairman of Islington council’s planning committee, gave a St Peter’s Ward update.

He said the council has not been able to recruit enough experienced planning officers. Klute insisted that there had not been changes to planning policy. The council doesn’t have a planning police force; residents should report breaches of planning.

Issues pending

Angel shopping centre: planning permission has been deferred pending a decision on the siting of the wings.

Collins music hall: discussions with owners of the site have reached stalemate. The saga has gone on for more than 10 years. Frances Balfour queried whether after all these years Islington still needs another theatre.

Rheidol Terrace: the developers have now come to an agreement with the café and the work will be completed.

Area outside St James’ church: the pavement has been widened; work will go ahead when there is section 106 money.

Charging points on the Canal: no agreement with the canal trust.

Prebend Street: problem with vans parking near the new Popham café.

Motorbike barriers: temporary barriers on three streets leading onto New North Road. An experiment for 6 to 8 weeks, could then become more permanent.

St. Peter’s ward police team: seems to be permanently short staffed.

Rubbish: bin bags are being put out on all days – may be product of Airbnb. Attempts are made to trace the culprits. Duke of Cambridge keep their bins on the pavement, which is leading to a communal dumping ground.

Engines idling: very difficult to tackle. It only becomes an offence when the drives refuses a request from an authorized person.

Electric charging points: are being put in by the council. TfL won’t pay for charging points.

School run: car free zone imposed outside St John the Evangelist school. Very difficult to police.

The official business was followed by the summer party.

 

 

Angel Association AGM 18 July 2018

The AGM is on Wednesday 18 July at 7pm at St James’ Hall, Prebend Street, (corner of Packington Street), N1 8PF The guest speak is Britannia Morton, co-executive director of Sadler’s Wells in Islington. She will talk about the challenges of running a major cultural centre.
1 Election of officers
2 Chairman’s report
3 Treasurer’s report
4 Councillor Martin Klute will give an update and answer questions.
The formal business will be followed by the summer party.

Highbury Corner – TfL sets out final plan

Transport for London has published its response to issues raised in its consultation on Highbury corner.

In August 2016 we published our consultation report for Highbury Corner.  We are now pleased to publish the responses to issues raised report.  Please click here to view the report online.

Following the consultation, we now intend to proceed with the changes to Highbury Corner subject to the usual planning approvals. Please be aware that there are some changes to the proposals we consulted on, these are listed below. 

·         The arboretum is proposed to be partially open to public access in a way which protects existing trees. The new public space  would incorporate the western arm of the roundabout and Highbury & Islington station forecourt, providing local residents with more green space whilst protecting the most vulnerable trees

·         The proposed new pedestrian crossing allowing for access to the south-eastern corner of the arboretum at the junction of Upper Street with Canonbury Road will no longer be required. The proposal to partially open the arboretum on the western side means that the eastern half of the arboretum, including the option to open up a path from the south- eastern corner will no longer be required

·         The entrance to Corsica Street has been made a ‘blended footway’ which provides a continuous footway over the junction to give pedestrians priority

·         A shared pedestrian / cycle  ‘toucan’ crossing will be included across St Paul’s Road to allow two-way cycling to and from Corsica Street

·         The cycle lane on Canonbury Road will be extended to Canonbury School. 

Further information is available in the report.

Jenny Gordon

Engagement Officer

Local Communities & Partnerships

Transport for London