Local elections 2022: Labour maintains control in Islington – but Greens cause an upset in Highbury

Benali Hamdache is one of three Green councillors. Photograph: Julia Gregory

Not so much a Green wall but certainly a Green step in Islington as the party took control of three seats on the council – dethroning a senior Labour councillor in the process.

Caroline Russell is joined by Benali Hamdache and Ernestas Jegorvas-Armstrong in Highbury ward in an upset for the Labour party.

It means Sue Lukes, the Labour executive member for community safety, and her daughter Minda Burgos-Lukes were foiled in their candidature for the same ward, which came about because of boundary changes.

Overall, Labour has 48 councillors, including in the new Laycock ward, with three Green opponents.

Cllr Russell pledged to “work hard to represent Highbury residents in the council chamber and be a constructive opposition”.

The controversial low traffic neighbourhoods became a love-them-or-hate-them issue. Some voters say they cut traffic and air pollution and encourage cycling. Others say they divert traffic and make journeys longer.

The Conservatives promised to scrap LTNs but went unrewarded at the ballot box, failing to win any seats.

Green party Assembly Member Caroline Russell

Caroline Russell said it was ‘lonely’ being the sole opposition last term. Photograph: GLA

Voters were also concerned about the rising cost of living and the climate emergency.

Islington is one of the London boroughs thought to be most at risk from flooding and overheating because of the climate emergency.

It means the Green party’s is now the official opposition at Upper Street.

Caroline Russell (Highbury) was the only opposition at the last election in 2018 and said it was “lonely” being the sole scrutineer.

Two councillors crossed the floor from Labour during the last council term, one to become the sole Conservative – the first since  1984 – and the other was independent.

Islington has long been regarded as a Labour stronghold. The party held power from 1964 to 1998, apart from 1968 to 1971 when the Conservatives were in control.

The SDP ran the council briefly from 1981 to 1982, and the Liberal Democrats were in leadership from 1999 to 2006, and then ran it as a minority control until 2010.