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Why spend £3k on silly idea of Sylvia Pankhurst statue on Clerkenwell Green?

08 December, 2017

Statuette of Sylvia Pankhurst at the Marx Memorial Library on Clerkenwell Green

• IT’S anyone’s guess how the inappropriate siting of a Sylvia Pankhurst statue fulfils the remit of Islington Council’s Local Initiatives Fund – “a flexible devolved budget for councillors to use to address issues and priorities in their wards” (Clerkenwell Green the wrong place for Sylvia Pankhurst statue, September 29).

The clue must be in the “flexible”, as a response to a Freedom of Information request has revealed that the council’s voluntary and community sector committee (chair, council leader Richard Watts, quorum two) authorised £3k for this silly idea in March this year, fully six months before the opening of a public “consultation” on the part-pedestrianisation of historic Clerkenwell Green.

Despite there being no record of Ms Pankhurst ever even having visited the Green, the consultation is clear: an aim of the plans is “to create a suitable setting for the planned statue of Sylvia Pankhurst”. The sound of carts and horses clattering over (still-visible) cobble-stones is audible.

Further questions regarding the loss of four trees on the Green remain. It seems that the tree service would never use the term “low quality” – a four-category classification is applied – or agree to their removal to enable a better view of a building. Yet both are given in the consultation blurb as reasons for removal of trees.

And a further twist is revealed in a separate Freedom of Information response: category U trees – “unsuiable for retention” – aren’t marked anywhere on the consultation plan or in the tree officer’s survey of the trees which forms the basis of the proposed removal, despite six being so categorised. Note: “U” doesn’t mean trees have to be removed, only that they can be under certain circumstances.

Ellington Street

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