News: “No decision made” on Whittington A&E

Rachel Tyndall, Chief Executive of NHS Islington, addressed a packed public meeting held at Archway Methodist Church last night saying, “No decision has been made about the A&E department at Whittington.” She added, “We are looking at future configurations and future arrangements of health services across the whole of north-central London.”

Health services under review include both community healthcare and health services provided by local hospitals including the Whittington as well as specialist hospitals. Residents have recently been concerned about the future of the A&E department at the hospital on Magdala Avenue, which treats over 80,000 patients per year.

Over 300 local people attended last night’s meeting to raise questions about the future of the department and the necessity of widespread and representative community consultation. Residents also questioned the idea that closing the department would represent “value for money”, and raised concerns about the impact on survival rates should A&E services be moved to other hospitals.

Representatives of the NHS repeated that there are no firm plans for the future of the hospital, but would not guarantee the hospital will retain all of its services.

Islington Labour Party confirmed its fight to save the department is far from over, and has called a mass demonstration for Saturday 27th February at 12 noon, to be held at Highbury Fields near Highbury and Islington tube.

There are now almost 2,000 signatures on the Save the Whittington online petition and the campaign aims to have over 2,000 by the end of this week. If you haven’t done so already and wish to show your support, sign the petition here:

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News: Strippers to save Seven Sisters Road pub?

The landlord of a historic pub on the Seven Sisters Road has come up with a novel way to avoid closure during difficult economic times – by introducing naked table dancers. Altarslan Bali has applied for permission for “striptease and fully nude tableside dancing” at the pub – to be renamed Club Imperial – in order to improve corporate revenue and avoid the closures that have affected neighbouring pubs.

Earlier this year, Bali resurrected the famous Red Rose Comedy Club which launched the careers of stars such as Russell Brand, Eddie Izzard and Al Murray, and has played host to comedians Richard Herring and Sahzia Mirza since reopening. Despite a warm welcome for the return of the comedy club, however, The Red Rose has still been struggling.

Bali claims the new move will help not only his own business but also those nearby: “I brought the comedy back which has brought people into the area from far and wide and they spend money in the local shops, and I hope this will do the same,” he said.”It will be corporate adult entertainment rather than girls on the streets, and you get 10 times less violence and drugs at strip clubs than you do at normal bars and nightclubs because of the increased security.”

Red Rose regulars welcomed the move, hoping it would help their favourite pub survive. “It’ll happen after we’ve gone home and if it keeps the pub alive we’re right behind it,” said Kim Galvally, a regular for over 25 years.62 year-old Mary King added, “Mr Bali runs a tight ship with very good security, and he’s a family man himself, so he would make sure it didn’t infringe on local people.”

Sergeant Chris Walsh of Finsbury Park Safer Neighbourhoods Team, also had praise for the pub management: “Under the previous landlord, a lot of people well-known to police were being let in.The new landlord has barred any disreputable people and has been trying very hard to maintain the premises and make a living.”

Not all residents are happy with the new proposals, however. Six Acres area panel representative Paul Delappe complained that the new licence would “add to the sleaziness” of the area, and councillor Phil Kelly added, “We have to stop these sleaze merchants preying on our community.”

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who was a different kind of regular at the venue when it was the headquarters of the North Islington Labour Party until 1990, has also voiced his opposition to the plans, calling strip clubs are “exploitative of women”.

Bali is adamant, however, that his club will be well-run and not cause harm to either the history of the pub or the reputation of the area. “I want to change Finsbury Park for the better,” he says, “and I promise I will do the best for the community.”

Are strippers the only way to save the Red Rose from closure? Have your say below!

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