IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

We have people smoking crack on our doorstep, warn residents

Fears cut-through is exposing Holloway estate to anti-social behaviour

09 July, 2021 — By Constance Kampfner

The cut-through at Pollard Close

WORRIED residents want their estate to be gated off after finding drug users on their doorsteps.

They say Pollard Close in Holloway has become a hotspot for anti-social behaviour because it is open as a cut-through for anybody to use.

Armi Pallai, the head of the residents’ association, said: “It’s a little soul destroying, it’s like a lawless land at the moment.
“At the end of the day there are drugs, they are part of life – but if there’s someone smoking crack outside your front door, and kids see it, it’s different.”

Ms Pallai said she and her neighbours have been asking Islington Council for a solution since 2014.

In 2018, a Designing Out Crime police officer recommended the estate be gated.

But the proposal was blocked after neighbours in adjacent streets said they did not want to lose the short-cut route.

Under current legislation, it is difficult to close a public footpath. If just one person objects to the plans, the case has to be referred to the Secretary of State for consideration.

That’s why people living on the estate are now appealing to housing secretary Robert Jenrick to allow it to be closed, sending him emails and asking him to intervene.

“This is genuinely our last resort,” said Ms Pallai, who is asking Mr Jenrick for a change to the law.

“The current legislation “refers to farmland and industrial land, turnstiles and things like that– it doesn’t refer to council estates.”

She said she had yet to hear back from Mr Jenrick, adding. “In the bigger scheme of things I know this isn’t a massive issue, but I can’t express how it makes me feel.

Residents say people urinate against the wall

“You can’t put anything in your garden because it gets stolen, you can’t sit in your garden because people walk past.

“It’s people’s mental health and physical wellbeing that’s being affected.”

Ms Pallai warned that a permanent solution is now needed.

“It’s not just an isolated issue,” she said, adding that she had spoken to people from other estates in the area who are also keen to reduce footfall outside their front doors.

“It’s not all about locking people out, but we have to look after ourselves as well.”

Conservative councillor Rakhia Ismail, the former mayor of Islington, said: “Holloway ward is engulfed with people taking drugs, selling drugs, doing all sorts of things in front of residents.

“Is that a way to live in the 21st century in the capital?”

She said she supported plans for gate and that the Labour council should be doing more to help.

“If the council really is powerless to change this, then they need to campaign about it, loudly,” she said.

Not everyone on the estate wants the gates.

A couple – who asked not to be named – told the Tribune they were worried a gate would make them more of a target.

They added that they thought a council suggestion to keep the next-door Biddestone Park open at night with extra lighting, providing an alternative route, was “a terrible solution” and that “people are just going to congregate there instead”.

Islington Council has sent in patrolling officers every day between 4pm and midnight, which it says has helped reduce levels of anti-social behaviour.

But the patrol, funded through the local community infrastructure levy – money received during the planning process – is so far only in place for a year.

Islington housing chief and Labour councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “It’s not an easy situation. We do want to do everything we can to help the residents, because we can see what the issues are.

“But closing a right of way is not in the council’s gift.”

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