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Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Liveable neighbourhood, disabled access and protect GP

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 March 2018

Vision for King Henrys' Walk. Picture: LEVITT BERNSTEIN

Vision for King Henrys' Walk. Picture: LEVITT BERNSTEIN

Archant

Children unable to travel on their own; dangerously poor air quality; high road casualties; and older residents effectively barred from cycling, writes David Harrison, co-ordinator, Islington Living Streets.

Islington is paying a heavy price for hostile streets dominated by motor traffic. The facts speak for themselves: the borough is the fourth worst for serious traffic casualties in London; 36 per cent of Year 6 children are obese or overweight. Deprived communities suffer most in a borough where two-thirds of households do not own a car and walking accounts for 42pc of all trips originating in the borough.

Imagine instead an Islington where it is enjoyable and safe to walk and cycle for your local trips, where neighbours can chat in the street, where children can safely roam or cycle to school – a place where families, friends and communities are put first on our streets.

This is not an impossible dream. Mayor Sadiq Khan’s transport strategy plans a massive reduction in road traffic. Islington and TfL are tackling the borough’s notorious gyratories, with plans for Highbury Corner just announced. But even more importantly, the council has committed to reducing traffic by extending our existing “traffic-cell” system, which permits local vehicle access in neighbourhoods but prevents through traffic. Neighbouring progressive councils, notably Waltham Forest, have successfully implemented this system. You can walk two miles from Blackhorse Road to Whipps Cross almost entirely through low-traffic neighbourhoods! In Orford Road, once a notorious rat-run, people relax, enjoying refreshments outside busy shops.

TfL has a “liveable neighbourhood” fund for projects like these. Islington Living Streets and Cycle Islington are urging political parties to make an ambitious bid that will have a big impact – essential for getting TfL funds. One option is the proposed Angel town centre; another is my own Mildmay ward, a warren of rat-runs. But many areas could benefit from a transformative “traffic-cell” system. Press your council candidates to be ambitious to achieve a healthier, happier, more equal Islington.

I write with regard to City North N4 and the closure of the Wells Terrace exit from Finsbury Park Underground Station, writes Ann Devine, Hertslet Road, Holloway.

My mobility is severely impaired. I am unable to travel on the Underground but I relied on the tunnel between Seven Sisters Road and Wells Terrace to reach Park Theatre. Park Theatre put on consistently excellent performances and go out of their way to help disabled people enjoy great shows.

Last year I visited Park Theatre. The Wells Terrace exit was closed. I tried to reach Seven Sisters Road via Stroud Green Road instead but this way round was too difficult for me and I nearly collapsed in the street. A kind passer-by helped me reach the bus stop. The bus driver was very helpful.

The Wells Terrace exit is still closed. I now follow the street signs to Park Theatre via Fonthill Road instead but the mud and heavy lorries from the City North N4 building site make this way round difficult for a disabled person like me.

The Wells Terrace exit has been closed for far too long and needs to be re-opened very soon. I hope City North N4 will be willing to engage in a positive way by involving disabled people in decisions regarding access between Seven Sisters Road and Wells Terrace.

We write as Labour councillor and council candidates, two of whom are also patients of the Miller practice, a very popular GP practice serving Highbury for many years, write Cllr Osh Gantly, Sue Lukes and Chris Russell.

Like other patients, we value the excellent care they provide, so we were very worried when we learned NHS England and the local CCG do not value it nearly so much.

Recently the practice closed its lists to new patients to safeguard the service to existing patients. When it reopened it got 300 people registering within two weeks. So it has applied to restrict the area from which new patients can register, taking care to exclude only areas that are already served by other practices that can take on new patients, and also to keep all existing patients and their family members on their lists. They have made it clear to NHS England and the CCG that this is to maintain the quality and safety of the care they provide to all patients. They have been told this application is not supported and instead they are expected to reduce access to appointments and walk-in clinics and make the surgery “less attractive” to new patients.

We are appalled by this. The practice has built up a terrific reputation and represents so much of what is good about our NHS. Now, like many other parts of this unique British institution, it is being starved of resources and told to care less about their patients. We are glad they have asked patients and the community for their support and are resisting this. We ask your readers to contact the CCG at islington.ccg@nhs.net now to tell them to stop this cutting and rationing and serve our communities as they should.

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