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Clerkenwell Green the wrong place for Sylvia Pankhurst statue

29 September, 2017

An artist’s drawing of the proposal, looking towards Clerkenwell Close from Clerkenwell Road

• THE council’s proposals for the pedestrianisation of Clerkenwell Green are entirely to be welcomed but two anomalies stand out: the siting of a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on the upgraded space; and the removal of four allegedly “low-grade” trees (No parking, no cars for historic Green, September 22).

Sylvia Pankhurst’s London links are with Bow, in Tower Hamlets – where she did most of her campaigning on behalf of the East End’s working class – and Woodford Green, where she lived for more than 30 years (Attlee also had a home there, from 1945 to 1951).

Why not site the statue in either of these areas – or in Tavistock Square peace gardens to reflect this remarkable woman’s opposition to World War I? This seems to be a case of the ideological tail wagging the historic dog.

Why weren’t Islington residents consulted? I understand that the statue on the Green is a done deal – making a mockery of the current public consultation. What’s the point of commenting if a decision has already been made?

It seems that money is also involved. I understand that siting the statue in this historically inappropriate location will “leverage” in cash for the upkeep of the Green. I wonder what would Sylvia have made of these anti-democratic shenanigans?

It’s not difficult to think of an alternative way to celebrate Clerkenwell Green’s history, including its radical past – dates of events imprinted in the new paving of the central area, for example. The chair of Islington Living Streets, who recently gave an informative slide show of same, could be consulted.

As for the trees: the consultation blurb says they’re to be removed to give a better view of the – privately owned – Old Sessions House. Why then are they to be replaced by others which will similarly obscure the view?

Footnote: while checking on the (clearly healthy) trees last week, I was told by an apologetic contractor measuring up in the central area that he wasn’t allowed to speak to me about the proposals for the Green. I needed to contact the council hotline instead. Democracy in Islington, eh? Funny business.

Ellington Street, N7


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