LTNs, women's safety, housing and Covid heroes
- Credit: PA Images
Shops benefit from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods
Eileen Willett, Highbury Hill, Highbury, writes:
The new Low Traffic Neighbourhood has really made me appreciate our local shops.
We have a fantastic range in and around Highbury which provide everything people need for their weekly shop. Some have also started local deliveries using cargo bikes, so there is less need to ask for van deliveries from the supermarkets.
I hope more and more people like me start to realise the benefits of shopping locally, boosting employment while also showing our gratitude to shopkeepers for their bravery in staying open during the pandemic.
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It is great to see LTNs creating more thriving local high streets.
- Has your business benefitted from Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, how are you preparing for the planned reopening of non-essential shops? Email: email@example.com
LTNs can tackle inequalities
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An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
LTNs are a beacon of fairness in the transport world’s morass of inequality.
Wherever you look there is unfairness: car ownership, fuel duty, car tax, distribution of the vulnerable – we are reminded of the quotation: “to the one who has, more will be given”. The Barnsbury group of LowTrafficIslington.org has researched these inequalities. To summarise:
- Car ownership is unfairly distributed: ownership is highest amongst London residents of white ethnic origin, with ownership around a third lower amongst black and mixed or other ethnic groups; women are less likely to own a car; the young and the old are both less likely to own a car than the middle-aged.
- The rate of fuel duty has been frozen since 2010, meaning motorists have enjoyed a large price cut in real terms, even as public transport fares have risen faster than inflation.
- Car tax does NOT pay for the maintenance of the roads, it doesn’t even pay for the health costs incurred by the use of the car. For each car they own the average driver would have to pay the annual car tax 51 times to cover this cost, and 102 times if they drive a diesel car. And that’s without fixing a single pothole.
- The groups most vulnerable to air pollution are children, older people and those with heart and respiratory conditions. People living in deprived areas are also more affected by poor air quality. And we know from the evidence about car ownership that the young, the old and the deprived are least likely to be drivers. This is the greatest obscenity: those who don’t drive are the most likely to be badly affected by the pollution.
That’s all grim reading but things are looking up, with the introduction of LTNs. A very recent study, “Equity in new active travel infrastructure: a spatial analysis of London’s new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods”, is the most comprehensive study of LTNs so far.
This uses detailed and sophisticated data to compare streets, including occupants’ age, ethnicity, disability, employment and car ownership, and the government’s index of multiple deprivation, down to micro-areas of about 300 residents. One of the conclusions is that across London people in the most deprived quarter of areas (the poor) were 2.7 times more likely to live in one of the new LTNs than the least deprived quarter of people (the rich).
After decades of travel by car being unfairly advantaged, Islington is at last moving towards a more equal travel world. LTNs are being implemented fairly and, by discouraging car journeys, LTNs are reducing a long-standing inequity which unfairly privileges car drivers.
Sarah's death can instigate change
Jennette Arnold OBE , London Assembly member for Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest, writes:
Like millions of Londoners, my thoughts are with Sarah Everard’s family and loved ones at this time.
The stark and wholly unacceptable reality is that women and girls are routinely subject to harassment, abuse and violence, and often have to take an exhaustive list of precautions against this in their daily lives.
Let’s be clear, if we are to address the sheer scale of this problem, the onus needs to put upon men to change their behaviour. This is why, as a first step towards this, I am backing calls for misogyny to be made a hate crime.
As a further step, the government must also introduce a Domestic Abusers’ Register- something that the London Assembly has long campaigned for.
What happened at the vigil in Clapham has rightly caused a great deal of concern. There are now a number of enquiries that will get to bottom of the issues.
We must now see a step change in how our society, education system and the police tackles violence against women and girls.
Housing debacle rumbles on
Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington, writes:
Residents of Islington Park View Estate will surely echo Cllr Phil Graham’s call for ‘an audit of all older [Islington housing-stock] properties (‘Absolute disgrace’: Heating and hot water issues plague two estates’, March 4).
During the recent campaign to save a mulberry tree which they’d been promised wouldn’t be harmed by additional homes being built on their estate, it’s emerged that existing Park View properties are in a state of disrepair (‘Campaigners told tree will be cut down after “temporary pause” in plans’, March 10). Not surprising, then, to hear housing boss Diarmaid Ward stress the ‘need to manage and maintain the homes we have’.
Unsurprising also, perhaps, that the council is offering tenants ‘first dibs’ - its words - on the new-build homes it’s planning to build on 20 estates across the borough (including Park View)? Who wouldn’t want to swap their current home for a new one particularly if, like Cllr Graham, they have to contend with ‘low water pressure, cockroach infestations and a hot water system “not fit for purpose”’ - or simply general disrepair? Or maybe offering existing tenants new homes is nothing more than a means of pre-empting opposition to the loss of green space and environmental amenity which will result from the increased residential density on their estates?
Tenants should be clear: as at Dixon Clark Court (DCC), they’re likely to have to join a waiting-list for the new homes if applicants outnumber supply - not exactly a recipe for harmonious resident relations. And a reminder that ‘only 13 per cent of the borough’s land is green space, the second lowest proportion of any local authority in the country’, a proportion which is set to decline as a result of the DCC and Park View new-builds.
Councillor Ward and his most vocal supporters, including council leader Richard Watts, slandered those campaigning to save the recently destroyed DCC ‘little forest’ - both a public and estate amenity - as being opposed to council housing. What they’ve never acknowledged is that the overwhelming majority of the new-build council homes are one or two-bedroom flats so unlikely to ‘increase the numbers of family sized homes to help alleviate the nearly 3,000 households we know are in overcrowded housing’ (Islington Housing Strategy, 2021-26). Meantime housing the ‘most needy’ in poorly maintained homes isn’t exactly something to boast about.
It seems Islington’s housing department has some 2,000 employees. If its repair service is already failing its estates’ tenants, how’s it going to manage when its 6,200 street properties, currently managed by the Partners for Islington PFI scheme, are brought in-house?
Argument hides true objections
An Islington resident, full name and address supplied, writes:
We live within a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) and about 300 metres from a main arterial road. We could therefore be said to benefit from the introduction of the LTN.
My close neighbour, initially strongly in favour of the LTN, is now complaining vociferously to one and all about the curbs on their ability to access shops and the additional time it takes to drive to work.
Imagine my surprise therefore to see my neighbour posting messages on social media protesting against the LTN but there was nothing at all about the additional personal inconvenience imposed by the scheme.
Their objections were now all about the additional noise and pollution endured by people having to live on the main arterial roads and the need to protect their health etc. These, of course, are important issues and will, no doubt, be considered by LB Islington but am I alone in noting this appropriation of other arguments to act as a convenient cover for an individual’s true objections. So dishonest and so tiresome.
Covid - A Year On: tribute to heroes
Ray Wilkinson, chair, St John Priory Group (Greater London), writes:
March 23 marks the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown and your readers will be very aware of the huge and continuing efforts to tackle the pandemic by our colleagues in the NHS, our St John Ambulance volunteers and many other organisations nationwide. Details of our work over the last 12 months can be found on our website: sja.org.uk
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all these groups in Greater London for their ongoing work to keep us safe and help us move carefully into the post-Covid period – whether they are working in vaccination centres, training vaccinators, working in hospitals, crewing ambulances or providing a wide range of other vital services in their communities. We should all also take some time to remember those who lost their lives over the past 12 months.
Another date we will soon be marking is St John’s Day on June 24. Traditionally, our volunteers and staff have used this as an opportunity to reflect on the work of our charity around the country and take part in an annual service of rededication in the magnificent surroundings of St Paul’s Cathedral. This year, coronavirus will once again make this impossible.
Last year we observed St John’s Day in a variety of new and different ways because of the pandemic, and one of the most visible events was the lighting up in green of more than 40 buildings and landmarks around the country. We are hoping that many more buildings will light up in green in 2021 and, if you are a building owner or custodian and would like to get involved in this year’s event, we’d love to hear from you. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and register your interest.
Readers who wish to help us with a donation can also take part in our new ‘Spring into Action’ campaign and support our volunteers as they continue to step forward to give vital support to those in need across the country. To find out more, please visit sja.org.uk/spring
St John Ambulance is immensely grateful for the support it has received from everyone in these difficult times.