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Imagine a Golden Lane Estate that was going to achieve Carbon Net Zero. Imagine a place that was green, resilient to climate change and committed to recycling, waste reduction and conservation of energy. Imagine a place with lots of trees, new planting, and a real commitment to encouraging biodiversity.The City of London launched its Climate Action Plan last year. Over the past six months a number of open-air events have taken place bringing residents together to look at ideas for improving Golden Lane Estate. Discussions have looked at: • Energy and waste • Working together • Communications • Working with the City • Ideas for greening the EstateAn interactive map has been created which lists all of the ideas discussed to date.On Saturday 16th October a…See More
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Paul Lincoln posted a blog post

Imagine Golden Lane at Net Zero

Imagine a Golden Lane Estate that was going to achieve Carbon Net Zero. Imagine a place that was green, resilient to climate change and committed to recycling, waste reduction and conservation of energy. Imagine a place with lots of trees, new planting, and a real commitment to encouraging biodiversity.The City of London launched its Climate Action Plan last year. Over the past six months a number of open-air events have taken place bringing residents together to look at ideas for improving Golden Lane Estate. Discussions have looked at: • Energy and waste • Working together • Communications • Working with the City • Ideas for greening the EstateAn interactive map has been created which lists all of the ideas discussed to date.On Saturday 16th October a…See More
Oct 19
Ian Dowsett posted a discussion

Major projects update -September 2021

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Just to let you know that another Q&A meeting with your local elected representatives is organised for Monday, 8 February at 7.30 pm in the former bar area in the basement of the Community Hall (the upstairs part is being used by the chess club). 

Do come along if you have questions to ask or issues to raise and we will do our best to deal with them.

David Graves

Alderman for Cripplegate

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To answer your three questions, yes, yes and no comment. A policy does not need to expressly cover all eventualities, so the fact that a policy does not expressly cover them all does not mean that there is discrimination. It is the application of the policy in practice that might indicate discrimination. I am listening, and I have explained why the policy is not discriminatory. In an appropriate and independently verified case an assistance dog to help a sufferer of psychiatric illness would be allowed. I hope that you are listening too, but it looks as though we will just have to agree to disagree. 

I say no comment because I do not think it appropriate to comment in a public forum on your comment on what a colleague did or didn't say so I shall leave it at that. 

All in all I am simply exercising my right to disagree with you, I don't see where pandering comes into it.

Thank you for your reply David.  In that case, taking my first point, if you would protest if the Policy stated it would only allow psychologically disabled people to have a dog, and rightly so, then why did you not protest when the Policy stated it would only allow physically disabled people to have a dog, when the Equality Act clearly says that people with both disabilities must be treated equally?  As you claim to know the Equality Act you would know this.  Therefore, you surely must realise that the Policy is discriminatory!  All I have been trying to do is to show you that it is us residents you are there to represent, and do the right thing for.  Disagreeing with me is not an issue, but a point of Law is.  

I will repeat what I have repeated several times already, which is that the policy does not need to expressly address all scenarios that might arise - if the policy was explained by reference to an unusual or infrequent example, and not the most frequently arising example, I would ask why? However, I believe that the vast majority of assistance dogs are there to address physical disabilities so that is why the policy specifically makes that point. It would be odd to specifically address dogs for psychiatric needs and to make no reference to physical disabilities - it is not at all odd the other way round. 

Clearly you do not believe what I have told you about the implementation of the policy in practice - which is a shame as it could be in the interests of someone needing a dog for psychiatric reasons to accept what I have told you as to the practical implementation of the policy rather than for you to dispute it - unless disputes for the sake of disputes are your motivation. Either way, it is a shame. 

Dear David

I was somewhat shocked at your response.  The fact that maybe more physically disabled people need dogs, compared to psychologically disabled people, is not relevant at all.  You are simply 'segregating' those illnesses as being of different importance, by that statement, and that is wrong.  To say it is 'odd'  to specifically address the needs of psychologically ill people, which I agree with, but not 'odd' the other way round, in itself, is a discriminatory statement.  Again, it is putting disabled people in some sort of 'order of importance', according to what their disability is, and that is just plain wrong.  I am afraid you are missing the point.  Unless it is clear in the Policy that ALL disabled people are treated equally, and not just some more 'equal than others', that is not valid, and unfair.  To put the needs of psychologically disabled people in the phrase of all 'scenarios' is not right.  

I read the Agenda Summary put forward at the meeting where the Pets Policy was proposed.  In it it says:

'In the consultation, a small number of residents suggested that we consider allowing 'psychological assistance' dogs to be kept by people with mental health issues.  However, although there is a movement to advocate for these dogs, there is no accreditation or formal training scheme in place at present, and no registration of these animals.  If this changes we will look again at this issue.'

That is a clear indication that the City of London have no intention of allowing psychologically assistance dogs.  For any Policy to work in 'practice' it must be clearly written.  The Pets Policy fails to address the needs of psychologically disabled people.  As one myself, this Policy makes me feel sort of 'invisible', and that is hurtful.  My councillor was fully aware of my case when this Policy was put to the Committee, but chose to say nothing.  I can assure you I strive for equality for people with all disabilities.  I do not see how your views would be in the interests of anyone needing a dog for psychiatric reasons.  

Finally, I find your last comment about me offensive and distressing.  I have tried over a very long period to resolve this issue with the City in a reasonable way, but they refuse to do so.  I was the one who wanted to originally, also settle the matter with my dog, but it was the City who took me to Court, and lost the case.  So, I trust you will apologise for that totally untrue assertion about me.  As the Alderman, you really should know better.  That is the shame here, and not what I have tried to achieve.  

Regards.  

Maria - you are anything but invisible. What is the totally untrue assertion about you that I have made? What is offensive or distressing? We are having a conversation in which I have disagreed with you and have explained why. 

Clearly you do not believe what I have told you about the implementation of the policy in practice - which is a shame as it could be in the interests of someone needing a dog for psychiatric reasons to accept what I have told you as to the practical implementation of the policy rather than for you to dispute it - unless disputes for the sake of disputes are your motivation. Either way, it is a shame. 

David, again, you fail, sadly, to understand exactly what I mean, and, again, you have repeated your false assertion against me.  That is what is offensive and distressing.  I am stunned.  

I think you know exactly what I meant by feeling 'invisible' concerning the Pets Policy.  I can assure you I have taken very good legal advice on this issue.  That is the point.  The Policy is unfair, and discriminatory.  You have not answered any of my points in my last reply.  Maybe, you are unable to.  Either way, the biggest shame is the unfair written Pets Policy.  

Again, I ask that you apologise for your untrue and hurtful assertion about me.  

I am still not clear what I have said about you that is untrue or hurtful. It seems you do not believe what I say, which could be considered hurtful, but I hold a public office so am happy to take that on the chin as an occupational hazard, however unfortunate. I have made a specific statement about the interpretation of the pets policy which would be of advantage and benefit to anyone able to demonstrate objectively that they have a medical (psychiatric) need for an assistance dog, and your response has been repeatedly to invite me to agree that the policy is discriminatory. Now it is possible, given what you say, that your purpose in these exchanges, is to try to gain support for a legal case which in my personal legal opinion is unmeritorious. And, from what you say, you have been here before. It now occurs to me that your main motivation behind these exchanges, might not be the general good of all residents, in a genuinely neutral and dispassionate manner, but instead an attempt to obtain a personal advantage. I am not accusing you of this, just saying that the thought has ocurred to me  and may or may not be accurate.

In any event, it seems to me there is nothing more that can be productively said that has not already been said, and I am now concerned that this is not a general discussion about elected Members looking after residents but might be one particular resident with a particular axe to grind. As such, I feel that further discussion is not appropriate for a public forum.

As a constituent, you are of course free to contact me privately if you still have concerns.

Best wishes,]

David.

David, it is clear that your comments, you made twice, about 'disputes for the sake of disputes being my motivation', is deeply hurtful and totally untrue.  You do not know me well, having only ever briefly met me once, so how can you possibly assume such things?  Believing you or not believing you in what you said is not the issue here.  I do believe that you genuinely think you are right about the policy, and that your personal intentions are honest.  However, that is not the point.  In Law, unless a Policy is clearly set out, it is simply not good enough to assume things that are not there.  My purpose for discussing this with you was really almost a last resort. I can assure you I do not need your support for a case which is strong enough on its own merits. It would be so simple, and straightforward, and fair if the Policy had stated that ALL disabled people, as defined under the Equality Act, and in need of an 'assistance' dog would be allowed, under that Law, to have a dog to assist them in their disability.  What, on earth, is wrong with that?  Instead, the City decided to make it unfair, by stating that only physically disabled people could have a dog.  It is then further complicated by your claims that psychologically disabled people would be considered.  Well, am afraid, that is simply not good enough.  It is sad that you take the legal stance of the City, instead of what is in the best interests of the residents, whom you are elected to represent!  

Your further assumption that I do not have the general good of all residents at heart, but simply just 'looking out for myself', is a disgraceful thing to say.  And, so far from the truth.  For your information, after I won my court case, which attracted a lot of media attention, I had many letters from people, saying how my case had helped them.  I was even told a care home would now allow its residents pets, in light of my case.  I cannot tell you the immense pride I felt that my case had helped others.  Since then, I have always been concerned that all disabled people should be treated equally.  You have no idea what it is like living with such a debilitating illness every day of your life.  Your remarks against me are unkind, and am afraid to say rather ignorant. 

If you do not reply then that is down to you. I came to you to try and resolve this issue in a simple way, but it has failed.  How dare you accuse me of having a 'particular axe to grind'.  You claim you Members look after residents?  Am sorry to say but I have some doubts about that.  Residents who know me well know I genuinely care for others.  You, don't know me, so you don't know.  

There is little point contacting you privately, as you will, it appears. 'tow the City line', instead of listening to individual residents.  I tried, but sadly failed, and that is the biggest shame of all.  

regards

Maria.

Maria,

You are jumping to a lot of conclusions. I have not accused you of anything, but am commenting on how an objective observer might interpret what you have been saying. If these thoughts can occur to me I assume they can occur to other people too. It is obviously hard to communicate sensibly if people see things that are not there, and then take umbrage.

I have not criticised anything you have done in the past, and my bringing out certain points which may be in peoples' minds reading our conversation gives you the opportunity to respond and to dispel such thoughts.

The impression I am left with is that you are cross with me because I do not agree with you that the Pets Policy is discriminatory, and that you do not want to hear the point I specifically went out of my way to clarify with Officers months ago, namely that if there was objective evidence of genuine medical need for an assistance dog for psychiatric reasons, this would be permitted under the policy. I cannot say fairer than that, which puts the disputes for the sake of disputes reference into context. Having obtained the clarification of the policy, which I thought might reassure you, it is a bit rich to suggest that I don't understand the best interests of residents.

David

I have not jumped to any conclusions at all.  And, I can assure you that I have a lot of support from those residents who know me, and clearly understand what I am saying.  You see, I have known many for years, and they know how I care about my fellow residents.  

I am not 'cross' with you for not seeing that the Pets Policy is discriminatory, because I believe you genuinely believe it is not.  However, as a said, from a legal point one cannot assume anything in a policy which is not clearly written down.  And, I assure you I have taken and listened to very good legal advice, including that of the Equality Commission.  I pointed out in my last post a version of wording which would, in writing, cover all disabilities, which would be more simple, and fairer.  As I said, what is wrong with that?  

To make it clear the reason I came to you was in the hope that this could indeed be sorted out sensibly, as I failed to achieve that with City officers.  In no way was I trying to gain your support for any legal case, and I trust that is accepted, as I have a very strong case on its own merits.  Once again, I understand you were trying to reassure me, but unless the wording is fair in any policy reassurance can never be there.  That has nothing to do with you personally.

Therefore, in order to really understand the best interests of residents one should always strive to have fair and clear policies.  That was only my intention, and nothing more.

Thank you for clarifying matters for me - I think it is clear that neither of us has any truck with discrimination albeit that we interpret the policy document differently. While we may need to agree to disagree on the legal point on the wording of the policy, I think we are both committed to ensuring that the policy is applied in practice in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. I also agree with you that policy documents should be clear and should not be misleading. I think there needs to be a balance between brevity for the sake of simplicity and clarity and detail to cover all eventualities or contingencies. Clearly, whatever one says from a formal legal perspective, you feel that the policy document was over-simplistic and narrow in not including, at least, the additional example you refer to. I take that point on board as a fair point and one which should be considered for future editions of the policy. I hope this is a reasonable point from which to conclude our public discussion.

Yes, David, it is clear that the Pets Policy, as explained to me, acting on legal advice, is discriminatory.  The important thing is what a judge would consider, according to the Law.  And, the City of London should be fully aware of what their duty is under the Equality Act.  Therefore, they know what they need to do to rectify the issue.

regards

Maria. 

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