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Good intentions turn sour over pedestrianised Clerkenwell Green

03 November, 2017

Café owner Al Scott, whose family have been ‘resident on the Green for 50 years’

• AN online petition accusing the council of “social cleansing” through its proposals for the pedestrianisation of Clerkenwell Green is in circulation.

Begun by Al Scott, owner of Scotti’s café, this represents an own goal by politicians who have failed to consult adequately with the Scott family, resident on the Green for 50 years. It’s a warning of how the best public-interest intentions can quickly turn sour.

It’s almost a year since a ward councillor arranged to meet with the Scotts to discuss their concerns – the perceived terminal threat to their business, which relies on taxi drivers and couriers, and the provision of parking spaces for same.

The family understood – and officers have confirmed – that three options for the Green were originally to be presented for public discussion. So what happened to the other two? The current consultation is for one only.

Significantly, this would introduce two-way traffic past the Scotts’ front door in place of the present one-way system. The ward councillor is standing down at next year’s local election…

Every local authority has a responsibility to ensure the maximum public health of its residents. Pedestrianising Clerkenwell Green would unquestionably contribute to this through the improvement of air quality and the encouragement of active travel.

Meantime, however, what’s really going on on the Green?

• Though yet to be confirmed, reliable sources suggest that cash-strapped Islington is contributing financially towards the cost of an out-of-place memorial on the site – a “done deal” according to an officer (Green the wrong place for Sylvia Pankhurst statue, September 28).

It won’t be the only council to do so. Wealthy neighbour City of London has already given £10k for this ahistorical project – trying to curry favour with our poorer borough over the absence of a single social or “affordable” home on the Golden Lane estate (Turner Prize artists join backlash against ‘zombie investors’, October 13).

In Camden, by contrast, only statues to former residents or workers of the borough are permitted.

• Landscape architects confirm that, contrary to the consultation blurb, none of the trees selected to be removed and replaced is “low quality”. They’re simply not mature London planes which characterise the rest of the site.

Removing and replacing trees is expensive – as is the hiring of landscape architects. So: if it ain’t broke, why fix it – all at residents’ expense? A Freedom of Information request for the tree-survey brief and results has been submitted.

Ellington Street, N7


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