Council ‘to start prioritising services' as crisis continues

Tuesday, 24th March 2020

Islington Town Hall

Islington Town Hall

THE Town Hall leader has warned the council will have to start prioritising services as the coronavirus crisis escalates.

In a video address to residents, Islington’s Labour Leader Richard Watts said: “It’s really important that people understand just how difficult a situation London and the rest of the country is in.

“The council is now going to have to stop providing some services that people have got used to receiving in order to concentrate on what is really essential at this time.”

Cllr Watts also thanked residents for their response so far.

“People have been so generous in offering their time, their resources, even money to help people who are really struggling in the current national emergency. And I just want to say thank you to all those people.”

Addressing those “who haven’t listened to the advice”, Cllr Watts said:

“Please get real. This is the biggest national crisis since the Second World War. If you do not listen to rules about social distancing, you will cost lives.”

Housing chief Diarmaid Ward also revealed he was self-isolating after a family member developed symptoms.

“I shall still be leading on housing and homelessness for the council and am still contactable at all time, but please bear with me,” he tweeted.

In the wake of new stricter measures announced yesterday (Monday) by Boris Johnson, the Town Hall has closed all playgrounds in parks and housing estates, multi-use game areas, outdoor gyms, tennis courts and football pitches.

Parks are open for now, but yesterday the council confirmed they would close them if people did not follow the following social distancing advice:

  • Keep two metres (about 6.5 feet) away from other people at all times
  • Keep in groups of no more than two people, except for families who live in the same house
  • Keep your dog on a lead and at a safe distance from other people
  • Picnics and barbecues are not allowed

The council contact centre on 222 Upper Street is closed except to emergency cases.

A message on the council website reads: “Please do not visit if it is not emergency as we will not be able to help you face to face.”

All adventure playgrounds have also been closed until further notice, with the council understood to be considering other ways they can support families who use them. Youth hubs and centres have also closed.

A spokesman said: “Staff from our youth hubs and centres will be working closely with staff in Islington Council’s Targeted Youth Support team to ensure that young people are supported appropriately, which will involve the continued delivery of detached youth work in specific localities.

“Targeted Youth Support’s youth counsellors will also be available on the telephone for young people who may need some additional emotional support at this time.”

The Alsen Day Centre, Highbury New Park Day Centre, Islington Outlook and Daylight Islington have all closed, and the council says it will contact people who rely on these services to support them in the safest way.

The St John’s housing office and the Holland Walk housing office are also both closed.

As previously reported, all libraries have shut in Islington, along with the Hornsey Street Reuse and Recycling Centre, and the registry office is closed apart from to register a death.

On Saturday (March 21) the council launched a new helpline under the ‘We are Islington’ banner, which aims to offer support and advice to anyone struggling to cope with self-isolation, or anyone worried about a friend or a neighbour.


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