LTNs, GP takeover, stabbings and road deaths

New bollards blocking through-traffic in the St Peter's people-friendly neighbourhood.

New bollards blocking through-traffic in the St Peter's people-friendly neighbourhood. - Credit: Archant

Use lockdown easing to transform communities

K Fallon, Islington, full address supplied, writes:

Islington has seen great change during the current pandemic, with offices, shops, restaurants and other businesses forced to close, and many of us working from home. 

With more of us spending time locally, now is a great time to consider how our streets can be a resource for all residents, especially those most in need.

On successful city streets, as author Jane Jacobs argued, “people must appear at different times”. More human interaction helps to reduce crime, while mixed-use neighbourhoods also engender trust, since neighbours get to know each other more easily. We already know this human interaction is promoted by reducing motor traffic, as we have seen here in Islington with the St Peter’s People Friendly Streets scheme.

This human contact is vital in tackling isolation and building strong communities.
To allow more space on our streets for people, we must now look at the single greatest consumer of that space: parked cars. Parking spaces are rented at far less than true value in Islington, and sometimes at zero charge, even though drivers are a more wealthy minority of residents. The motor cars stored on our streets are unused for 98 per cent of the time and all the while they depreciate in value.  

Instead of subsidised vehicle storage, we can instead add value to our streets, with uses such as pocket parks, coffee bars, vegetable patches, shady trees, or simply benches to sit and chat which are especially appreciated by our elderly and disabled.
Current changes to reduce car use, supported by local residents (lowtrafficislington.org) will allow more scope for reducing the enormous area devoted to parking  (7,900 acres of London land worth £172 billion) and to repurpose this land to the benefit all residents.  This will reduce pollution, tackle inactivity and obesity, promote community cohesion, and help to address the most urgent issue of our age, the Climate Crisis.


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“When you change the street, you change the world” (Janette Sadik-Khan).

E-bike boost for low traffic plans

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Andrew Willett, Highbury Hill, Islington, writes:

It was great to read about the app for e-bike deliveries from local shops (Gazette).

Responding to LTNs, many local businesses are adapting and thriving by encouraging local shoppers, including delivering by cargo or e-bike. Just look at the numbers out and about on Highbury Barn every day to see how local residents, in turn, are showing their support for those shops that play such an important role in building a thriving community. This is really good news in the quest to make our crowded city centres healthy, liveable and sustainable. 

Driving is not the solution to every problem, despite what the opponents of LTNs claim. 

The solution lies in being open minded, optimistic and prepared to change. Well done and thanks to so many of our local shops for embracing the challenge.

Time to block GP takeover

Mitchison Road surgery. Picture: Google Maps

Mitchison Road surgery - Credit: Google Maps

David Brewerton, Islington Green Party, writes:

It is now three months since our Clinical Commissioning Group allowed my local Islington GP surgery, Mitchison Road, to be surreptitiously taken over by an American healthcare conglomerate, Centene Corporation. 

I have still not been informed by the surgery itself, let alone consulted on whether or not I wanted my future healthcare to be in the hands of a profit-oriented corporation 4,000 miles away.

When I moved to Islington six years ago I chose Mitchison Road on the basis of a recommendation from the local pharmacy, who handed me a flyer from the surgery headed “Looking for an NHS GP?”. The leaflet described the services offered — it included services such as smears and swabs, chronic disease reviews, home visits, dietary advice as well as all the regular care that one would expect. And Mitchison Road has delivered for me, every time.

How many of those services will remain, I wonder, when the accountants from the Mid West of the United States get their hands on the numbers? Will Mitchison Road meet the fate of some other UK surgeries taken over by Centene, and be closed?

The deal was shamefully nodded through by the Clinical Commissioning Group at a private meeting just before Christmas. We now learn that Centene is being taken to court by the State of Ohio for what amounts to overcharging, an allegation which Centene obviously denies. 

The Health Secretary should intervene to stop this take-over of our precious facilities immediately. After all, how many times were we assured by our Tory government that the NHS was “not on the table” in their longed-for trade deal with the United States?

Work together to reduce stabbings

Andrew Hyett, Hartham Road, Islington, writes:

Holloway residents know it all too well. Twenty-nine people, four of them in Holloway, have been stabbed to death in Islington since the Ben Kinsella tragedy in June 2008 in the street just behind where I live.

We will only ever address violent crime in Holloway if we recognise this is a community problem and we must all work together to solve it. Labour seem to be saying they can do it all on their own. 

Instead of spending a fortune on the Clock Tower visitor centre, the council should invest in youth centres, and youth engagement.

Where are our youth centres? Where are the places where our young people can go and be mentored in order to grow and reach their full potential? 

Labour has failed the young people of Holloway.   

I will change that by working with our bigger businesses to put back more into the communities they work in and profit from, by directly funding youth engagement and mentoring.

I will address pollution and rubbish collection by implementing affordable, practical schemes that work, not just force traffic from one place to sit in a traffic jam in another or fine residents who put things in the wrong bin. Residents are people - not cash machines!

My family is from around here, I’ve lived in Holloway’s Hartham Road for over 20 years, brought up my family here and campaign year-round to make our neighbourhood better. 

That’s why I am proud to be selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the May 6 by election. Let’s make change happen.

Zero road death target needed

Sian Berry, London Assembly member and Green Party candidate for mayor of London, writes:

Despite lockdowns, nearly 100 people died on our roads last year, and over half of these terrible and unnecessary losses were people walking or riding bikes.

As the first Green mayor of London, my target would be to eliminate road danger. 
Other cities have driven road deaths down to zero: recently both Oslo and Helsinki have recorded no walking or cycling deaths at all in a year.

London needs the same zero road deaths target. No firefighter runs into a burning building with a target of rescuing half the people from the blaze. They want to save every single life. 

And one of the first things I’ll do is get speeds down. A 20 mph speed limit on all roads with a pavement will be an important first step towards saving every life we can.

With Caroline Russell on the London Assembly I have pushed for a default 20 mph speed limit, but Labour members sadly blocked it.      

It’s time for a new start in City Hall.

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