East London Assessment Study

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:45 am on 23rd February 1990.

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Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 9:45 am, 23rd February 1990

I join my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) in presenting 51 petitions from residents of my constituency and his, and from Holborn and St. Pancras, Hackney, North and Stoke Newington and Hackney, South and Shoreditch. All the petitions concern the Government's proposals to construct a major road from Archway to King's Cross, which would destroy the homes of some 2,000 people and a large number of local jobs, and would create a concrete canyon through our borough. The proposals are bitterly opposed by all the people who have signed the petitions, and by many people who have written to us. Not one person in my borough has at any stage expressed support for the scheme put forward by the Department of Transport through the consultants.

Let me quote from one of the petitions: The Humble Petition of General Practitioners serving the communities of Islington which will be affected by the ELAS road widening proposals, shewethThat the ELAS road widening proposals, will adversely affect the physical, psychological and social health of these communities for the following reasons: 1. the loss of homes will exacerbate the housing crisis, and disrupt community ties; 2. the loss of community facilities such as churches and shops will remove important support structures; 3. the widened roads will act as barriers, promoting increased fragmentation and isolation within the community; 4. increased atmospheric and noise pollution; 5. probable increase in road accidents. Wherefore your Petitioners pray that your honourable House will urge the Secretary of State for Transport to abandon the road widening schemes and increase investment in public transport.And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. I have a further 50 petitions in front of me. One is from the residents of Fortnam road and Davenant road, explaining why their homes and businesses will be destroyed. Another, from Salterton road, says the same, as does a petition from one person, Mr. Michael Channon. I also have a substantial petition which was presented to me at a public meeting, signed by some 1,300 people who attended the meeting. That is a measure of the feeling against the scheme.

I have a petition from the residents of St. John's grove in Upper Holloway—indeed, a number of petitions have come from them—concerning the harm that the construction of the road will do to their community, and another from residents of Kiver road, which is alongside the proposed development. I have a substantial petition with some 1,200 signatures, collected during a very short time at the Nag's Head shopping centre, explaining that the road options will be detrimental to shopping and the community in general.

I have a petition from people who use a local shop, the Wellcare pharmacy on the Holloway road, saying that they rely on the pharmacy for prescriptions for the many elderly people who live in that community. I also have a substantial petition from parents and students of Islington as a whole, which describes the harm that will be done because of the difficulty of walking around the borough. Children and students will find it hard to get to school.

There is a petition from residents of Marlborough road, part of which would be destroyed by the construction of this major highway through the centre of the borough.

I have a petition from the residents of Giesbach road N19, which would also be partially destroyed by the construction of this major road.

There is a petition from the students of the Polytechnic of North London, which is alongside Holloway road and which would suffer from the proposals and lose some of its teaching facilities.

There is a petition from the members of the Baptist housing association and the Upper Holloway Baptist Church local project team, which demonstrates that a housing project—of 17 flats for elderly people and 24 for frail elderly people which is at present being constructed, after enormous efforts by the members of the Upper Holloway Baptist Church and which is not yet finished and opened, with no residents in place—is to be destroyed before it has even been completed, to make way for a major road. That is deeply resented by the members of the Church. I join them in their resentment. I hope that the Secretary of State will listen carefully to what is said on behalf of the Church.

I have also a substantial petition from Highgate nursery school, the children of which live in the area. It demonstrates that the construction of the road would be detrimental to the environment, by exposing children to intolerable levels of noise and air pollution. Air pollution is already a serious problem in the community.

There is a petition from the users of the Manor Garden centre, which was founded in 1908 by people who wanted to provide decent health care for the working class communities in my constituency. It says that it will lessen pedestrian safety for all those who use the centre, notably the young, the aged and the disabled. Once again they pray that the Secretary of State for Transport will reject the proposals.

The people who use the Hercules street dining rooms have petitioned this House to show that the road would be detrimental to the environment in their community. Many of the people who live in my constituency are in bed-sit accommodation and rely on facilities such as those provided by the Hercules street dining rooms to provide themselves with a decent meal every day.

I have a petition from the residents of 9 Hargrave road. It says that the road proposals would be detrimental to the local environment, that their road would be subject to increased pollution and that the quality of their lives would be impaired as a result. The residents of Gatcombe road say that the East London assessment study proposals for the improvement of traffic management in north-east London will not alleviate the problem and that it will be detrimental to the environment of Holloway.

There is a further petition from the residents of St. John's villas, No19. It says that the demolition of local houses and shops and noise and lead pollution, due to the widening of the Holloway road, would reduce and impair the environment of the people who live in that street.

I have a petition from the patrons of a number of businesses in. Hercules street, where a new housing development has just been opened by the Holloway tenants co-operative. There are a number of small clothing factories in that street. The petition says that the environment will be made worse because of noise., dirt, vibration, fumes and danger from traffic and that their livelihoods will be adversely affected.

There is a petition from the residents of Kingsdown road, who will also be affected by the proposal.

There are many more petitions. I shall not refer to them all, but a few of them merit consideration and should be mentioned in the House. The residents of Hatchard road say that the ELAS proposals would be detrimental to the environment of the people who live in the road. Virtually every resident in Duncombe road N19 has petitioned the House not to allow the Secretary of State for Transport to ruin their environment and community by the construction of this major road. The residents of Mulkern road consider that the proposals would be utterly detrimental to their community. According to the petition of the residents in Carlton road, which is already used as a rat run for traffic, they are concerned that the situation will become far worse and will increase the danger, unsightliness, noise and pollution and will lower the property values of their homes. They are not confident that the proposed traffic calming measures would make any meaningful difference.

The residents of Windsor road N7 have presented a substantial petition. They say that the ELAS road proposals would be detrimental to their environment and community and would lead to the demolition of their homes. The residents of No. 39 Huddleston road, together with their friends and neighbours, are concerned about pollution of the environment, the destruction of the community and work places and shops. The clients, students and staff of Choice—the Islington branch of the Family Welfare Association—which is situated at No. 608 Holloway road, say that almost certainly that property would have to be demolished to make way for the road. The centre assists people with social security difficulties and poverty difficulties which, I am sorry to say, are rife in my borough. They are concerned that the road proposals would mean the destruction of Choice, which is a charity shop, a drop-in centre and provides counsel for various community projects. It is greatly used and is of invaluable. help to many people who have problems, including loneliness, bereavement, chronic illness, handicap, discrimination, anxiety and depression.

I have a petition for which the signatures were collected in front of my very eyes at a meeting of the Islington pensioners forum. It is signed by every person who attended the meeting. The petition says that the petitioners are concerned that the road construction would do nothing to remove local traffic jams and would make public transport worse. As pensioners, they rely entirely on public transport. They have lived in the borough for a long time. They are appalled to think that their borough would be divided by a concrete canyon.

The residents of Isledon road are concerned about the severance of the community. The residents of Calabria road are concerned about the destruction of their community and the neighbourhood as a result of the road proposals. A petition from the residents of Caledonian road says that the ELAS proposals would be detrimental to the environment by increasing noise, dirt and pollution. The petition of the residents in Holloway road and Hercules street says that the environment would be seriously affected and that homes and work places would be destroyed by increased traffic.

Another petition from the residents of Alexandra road says that the road building proposals would be detrimental to their environment and that in some cases residents would lose their homes. The residents of Axminster road in Upper Holloway say in their petition that the ELAS road proposal would be detrimental to their environment by increasing the level of noise and air pollution, that it would increase traffic accidents, that it would disrupt the local community, that houses and shops would have to be demolished and that access to the west side of Holloway road would be reduced.

A substantial number of petitions have been presented this morning by both Members of Parliament with Islington constituencies. Our community and borough is deeply angry that the Secretary of State for Transport should have provided only eight weeks for consultation on the future of the homes of 2,000 people. We implore the House of Commons to intervene and to ensure that the road is not constructed and that instead resources are provided for public transport and for the protection and improvement of our environment.

I have pleasure in presenting 51 petitions, totalling well over 6,000 signatures to the House. I hope that the Secretary of State—who, tragically, is not here—will read every petition and will reply to all the people who have put so much effort into petitioning the House.