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Destroying the ‘little forest’ won’t win the council any plaudits

30 October, 2020

A ‘save the trees’ banner left at Dixon Clark Court in Highbury

• EXTINCTION Rebellion Islington press release on ending their occupation of the Dixon Clark Court site: “…council leaders acknowledge that the ‘huge support to save the trees at Dixon Clark Court has encouraged us to reconsider we might still not be getting the full picture of how residents and the community feel’”.

That hasn’t stopped council leader Richard Watts only this week continuing the long-running Twitter smear campaign of some elected members, falsely accusing tree campaigners of being opposed to the building of council homes: “…it’s utterly depressing that there seems to be growing opposition to building new council homes.

“Old fashioned nimby arguments seem to have come back into fashion using a cover of environmentalism”.

If only council bosses had heeded the “Stop the tree slaughter” petition with 225 local signatures presented to full council by the late Conor McHugh, founder of the Save Trees London group, on February 27 this year.

Conor requested that the Town Hall “be remembered as the council that built 27 social and affordable homes in the grounds of Dixon Clark Court”, not “as the council that built a private six-storey block of 14… unaffordable homes dominating Highbury Corner” on the site of the “little forest” of seven mature trees.

It’s regrettable, too, that Cllr Rowena Champion, executive member for environment and transport, declined to meet on site last Friday, October 22, with some of those trying, like XR, to save the trees.

Yet still Cllr Watts tweets that “a few didn’t engage and don’t care about the consequences”. Doesn’t he realise that a number of longstanding Labour Party members are supporters of the trees campaign?

Destroying the “little forest” for 25 additional council homes, a figure likely to be reduced under the Right to Buy, won’t win the council any plaudits.

A hard-standing block of flats will literally be a bad look for Islington. Ironically, it’s the borough’s high land prices that are contributing to housing poverty while at the same time necessitating, we are told, the selling of expensive flats to finance the building of the new social homes.

Extinction Rebellion may have gone but it’s not too late for our newly awakened council to heed the final words of Conor McHugh’s petition: “these seven trees are still alive, have not yet been killed.

“In the name of your children, in the name of your parents, for the sake of your own good name, please save them”.

MEG HOWARTH
Ellington Street, N7

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