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Guides lead public grilling of Town Hall leader

09 February, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

4th Tollington Girl Guides

GIRL Guides have quizzed the Town Hall leader on crime, litter and disabled access.

Councillor Richard Watts, who also faced questions on Islington Council’s draft budget, said the authority had to try to fill a £32million hole in its finances after government cuts.

Council tax is due to rise by 5.99 per cent in April – with those in band D properties having to pay £65 a year more.

First to grill the leader at his public question time at the new Brickworks Community Centre, off Crouch Hill, on Monday were 4th Tollington Girl Guides, who asked what the council was doing to improve wheelchair access for sports and other facilities.

In response, Cllr Watts quoted the £200million cut in funding since 2010, but said the council had tried to invest “where we can”. “There’s not a lot of money going around but making sport available to everyone is very important to the council. We are always open to new ideas,” he said

Councillor Richard Watts

Another guide asked about the crime rate and phone theft, with similar concerns echoed by other residents. Cllr Watts said a combination of enforcement and finding positive alternatives for suspects involved had helped cope with a rise in thefts around Tufnell Park.

He cited this as a “good example” of how the council and police were working together on crime.

Guides leader Luisa Myers-Nobbs said of the girls’ participation: “It’s important for them to see the community. It’s important to get their voices heard, to ask questions and get things addressed.”

Other residents asked about air pollution, Brexit, fire safety and the council budget.

Asked how the council plans to raise cash to plug the funding gap, Cllr Watts said that, while council tax had to go up, he thought the current funding system was “broken”, hitting poorer families more than the better-off.

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