A word from our councillors

Nick Wayne, who is taking the lead on the implementation of People Friendly Streets in Canonbury East and West, gives us his views:

I am delighted that Canonbury has been chosen to be one of the first wards in Islington to introduce People Friendly Streets. Islington’s people-friendly streets will help make it easier to walk, cycle, scoot and use buggies and wheelchairs, whilst making streets safer, more pleasant and better-suited for social distancing.

In July 2017 the Health and Care Scrutiny Committee commissioned a review of the health impacts of poor air quality in the borough, and what further actions could be taken to tackle poor air quality and mitigate its detrimental effects on the health of residents. A key recommendation was for the Council to investigate a borough-wide neighbourhood cellular zoning policy to both reduce rat-running and overall traffic volumes. Coronavirus has brought that work into sharp focus. The message from Government has been clear – that local authorities must act now in order to avoid a dangerous rise in motor vehicle traffic as we come out of lockdown, and to make space for walking, cycling and social distancing.

Transport for London modelling shows that, without action to improve streets, traffic volumes in the capital will become even worse than before the lockdown began, leading to more polluted, dangerous and noisy roads. That is why Islington Council is acting now, with urgency, to make streets more pleasant and enjoyable for our residents.

As well as creating a greener transport environment, people-friendly streets also come with a vast range of health benefits – making streets safer for children to play in, better suited for exercise, and bringing cleaner air for those with breathing difficulties.

The changes are being made through an Experimental Traffic Order. An Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) is like a permanent Traffic Regulation Order in that it is a legal document that imposes traffic and parking restrictions. However, unlike a Traffic Regulation Order an ETO can only stay in force for a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed. An ETO is made under Sections 9 and 10 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. Once an ETO comes into force there is a six month period in which objections can be made. If the ETO is subsequently modified, objections can be made in the six months following from the date of the changes. Any formal objection must be in writing, must refer to the relevant area, and must state the grounds on which it is made.

I want the scheme to fulfil its objectives. My colleagues Cllr Jeapes, Cllr Woolf and I welcome suggestions on how the scheme can be improved. One of the benefits of an experimental scheme is that it can be easily modified.

I genuinely believe that the proposals will be transformative. Already in St Peter’s the volume of traffic has (to my eye at least) reduced, the speed of the traffic has reduced and it feels safer to walk and cycle. Cycling around Canonbury during the last week in July, I was struck by the number of vans driving at speed through the East Canonbury Area, reinforcing that the time for action is now. I am pleased that implementation in East Canonbury has started as planned.

Work is ongoing on proposals for West Canonbury (West of Essex Road) with a view to the scheme going live this summer. I know that some residents are concerned about these changes. They have been developed in consultation with the emergency services. I urge all residents to keep an open mind and to embrace the benefits that people friendly streets will bring to Canonbury.

Councillors will be attending a community Zoom meeting on 19 August at 6-7pm