Green Party councillor Caroline Russell has attacked Islington Council over “systemic” problems with black mould in council flats, and for allowing “poor doors” in new blocks.
Cllr Russell, Islington’s only opposition councillor, who is standing for re-election in Highbury East next week, said it was “extraordinary” how long it took the Labour-run council to admit there is a mould problem.
“It’s become increasingly apparent that there are people whose housing needs are not being dealt with effectively”, said Cllr Russell, in an interview with the Islington Citizen this week in Highbury Grove.
“There are people living in conditions that are frankly woeful, dismal – people living with black mould when they have heart and lung conditions, and the council not really taking any action.”
She added: “It has been extraordinary the efforts I have had to go to to get the the council to pay attention to start to take some action.
“They are now acknowledging that there is a serious systemic issue around condensation and black mould.”
Cllr Russell, who was elected in 2014, and also sits on the London Assembly, said she was running to “hold Labour accountable, make Labour be a better landlord, and work with the community to make sure we clean up our air”.
She told the Citizen she has “enormous sympathy” for Labour given government cuts, but that the council could make better decisions on housing for residents.
“Because councils can’t borrow to invest in homes, there are all sorts of compromises being made”, she said.
“We’re effectively seeing ‘poor doors’, where one block is built as a private block for private sale.
“So effectively you’ve got a piece of public land being sold off to the highest bidder, and then they will make a lower quality set of homes for social rent.”
She added: “I think they should be doing truly mixed-tenure developments, where homes that are for sale are of the same quality, the same standard, as the homes that are being built for social rent.”
Cllr Russell also said the council should do more to tackle air pollution, and stop offering extra parking spaces and roaming parking permits.
“What the council needs to be doing is prioritising people over vehicles”, she said. “We may have a 20mph speed limit, but parking and vehicles – it feels as if they take precedence.”
“Labour put in 800 extra car parking spaces”, Cllr Russell added.
“If they really fundamentally understood that the way that we clean up our air, the way that we help our whole population to be healthier, is by enabling walking and cycling, that means you don’t add in extra parking spaces.”