Traffic pollution, traffic jams, TfL and cladding
- Credit: PA
'It's time to wake up and smell the petrol' of crisis
D Byrne, full name and address supplied, writes:
I’m a council tenant living in Highbury, a born and bred local, I don’t own a car or a bike. I applaud Islington Council for having the courage of its environmental convictions, and for caring about the wellbeing of its residents.
I was reading an article lately on londonsociety.org.uk by Jon Burke, until recently Hackney’s lead councillor for the environment. Here are some interesting facts from it, quoted with his permission (and the sources are in the article).
The number of miles driven on London’s roads in the last 10 years has increased by 3.9 billion. Since 2009, London’s neighbourhoods have absorbed the full increase while, since 2006, the number of miles driven on London’s main roads annually has fallen by 800 million.
And 50 per cent of car journeys in London are of a distance of 3km or less. And air pollution contributes to the premature deaths of over 9,000 Londoners each year.
And then there’s the climate. As David Attenborough says: “The moment of crisis has come, we have been putting things off for year after year.” In other words, it’s time to wake up and smell the petrol.
Highbury has become a giant bypass over the last ten years plus. Only 32pc of Islington residents own a car, the joint lowest figure in the whole of London (centreforlondon.org/publication/parking-kerbside-management/).
Now we can sleep through the night and kids have started playing out. And these are working class kids as well as middle class kids, before the middle class caricature is wheeled out.
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Currently, there are at least four lots of road or utility works in the area: on Seven Sisters Road, Highbury Grove, Holloway Road and Drayton Park.
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So let’s not go round definitively saying it’s just the LTNs causing congestion at times.
As for main roads, residents there also suffer noise and pollution from ever-increasing numbers of journeys on them.
Non-working drivers could support residents on main roads by avoiding making unnecessary journeys.
Road user pricing is probably the answer for main roads. There’s a price to be paid for driving, and the cost should be borne by drivers.
Reading material and just societies
Matt Canty, Islington, full address supplied, writes:
The people most vulnerable to respiratory disease and premature death from vehicle pollution are those that live and work on the busiest and most polluted streets.
By not providing evidence that those people will not be worse off due to these changes, the council is putting their lives further at risk.
It’s appalling that people are quite happy to see some reduction of traffic in their own back yards, without thinking or caring about fellow human beings who might be made worse off as a result.
The “few” are sometimes the people who deserve more care than the “many”.
I’d encourage anyone seeing this to read a short story by Ursula Le Guin which asks whether a society can be called “just” if it is founded on even one instance of cruelty or injustice.
It’s called The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and is available at a good search engine near you.
Busting the myths on traffic
Simon Izod, Islington, full address supplied, writes:
Responses to Freedom of Information requests sent to ambulance trusts across the UK should finally put to bed the myth that low-traffic neighbourhoods hinder ambulance response times.
According to the responses, which include the London trust, all low traffic neighbourhoods were implemented with their prior knowledge and there has been no delay in response times.
None of the trusts supported the withdrawal of the schemes.
Four ambulance trusts, including London, expressed explicit support for the impact of low-traffic neighbourhoods on preventing road traffic injury.
This is supported by recent analysis of low-traffic neighbourhoods in Waltham Forest, showing that after implementation there was a 70 per cent reduction in the number of injuries in those areas, with no additional injuries on main roads.
Given the huge strain on the NHS due to the pandemic, it is vital that we continue to roll out the People Friendly Streets schemes across the borough to relieve some of the stress on our emergency services and emergency rooms.
The question regarding the impact People Friendly Streets have on emergency services has been definitively answered.
For more information about People Friendly Streets, see barnsburystmarys2020.ghost.io
Use of cameras on our roads
Nadine Mellor, full address supplied, writes:
Our road has suffered as a cut-through from Holloway Road to Seven Sisters for many years with backed-up traffic, speeding cars, high pollution and HGVs on a residential street on a daily basis.
Since the new low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs)/People Friendly Streets (PFS) came into force in Highbury, we have seen a marked and beneficial decrease in traffic – and we hope this will lead to consequential amelioration of air pollution.
Myself and my family are very grateful for this – the difference is palpable.
However, we are mindful that while the intention of the LTN/PFS is to get us onto public transport more, to cycle more and to walk more, which we fully support, there are some in our community for whom these options are closed to them.
Perhaps the suggestion of number plate recognition for some disadvantaged neighbours, such as those who have significant mobility issues as proposed by the Lib Dems and others, may be helpful here?
Sustainable funding for TfL
Dr Alison Moore , Labour’s London Assembly Transport spokesperson, writes:
There have been some recent media reports suggesting that motorists living outside our city could soon be charged £3.50 each time they drive into London.
We need to do some myth-busting here. For the time being, there are no concrete plans for this to happen. This is just one of several ideas that TfL is exploring to plug the gaps in its finances left by plummeting passenger numbers as a direct result of the pandemic.
The preferred option, which the mayor is lobbying transport secretary Grant Shapps for, is for London to keep hold of the £500m it generates through Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) each year.
This is all currently spent on maintaining roads outside of the capital.
In fact, this week, new government figures have shown that London’s contribution this year will pay for the entire national budget allocated to fixing potholes in other areas of England.
On the London Assembly, all political groups have backed VED retention as the way forward and it will help us to avoid the need for a boundary charge.
An even better solution would be for the government to give TfL the long-term and sustainable emergency funding package it needs to mitigate the impact of the pandemic – just like it did with the private rail companies.
Cladding scandal and debt
Jennette Arnold OBE, London Assembly Member for the North East (covering Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest), writes:
Last week, the government unveiled a new £3.5 billion fund to tackle the cladding scandal, but it will still leave a significant number of our capital’s beleaguered leaseholders in the lurch.
Any new funding aimed at protecting Londoners living in unsafe homes should be welcomed.
But ministers are all too aware of the scale of this crisis. They also know that whilst the £3.5 billion figure might grab headlines, it simply won’t be enough to replace dangerous cladding in buildings in London, let alone across the rest of the country.
It is also bitterly unfair that only loans will be offered to leaseholders living in low – to medium-rise buildings, rather than direct grants to cover remediation costs.
Leaseholders impacted by the cladding crisis are already facing financial hardship.
They should not be saddled with yet more debt after paying for exorbitant waking watch fire patrols on top of their insurance bills, service charges and mortgages.
Ministers need to go back to the drawing board on this, and the right way forward is for the government to commit to foot the bill for remediation works in smaller buildings.