Cllr Watts on LTNs
Council Leader Richard Watts addresses misinformation and protests
I'm really pleased with the support that we're getting for our People Friendly Streets programme. Lots of people are getting in touch to say how much they want a scheme and how the existing ones are great. But there are some things doing the rounds that need rebutting:
1) We have no mandate and aren't consulting: Actually, closing residential streets to through traffic is clearly in our landslide winning manifesto (p 31): https://islington-labour.org.uk/2018-manifesto/. Every scheme will be consulted on are part of the Experimental Traffic Order....
And we've also been actively consulting residents through the Coronavirus crisis through @IslingtonBC's commonplace map: https://islingtonpeoplefriendlystreets.commonplace.is
We haven't consulted the emergency services: Nothing is more important to me than the safety of our residents. So of course we've consulted the emergency services and are listening to them as we design our schemes. What slows them down is traffic-clogged streets.
There's no problem at the moment: Really? Islington's air quality is improving but needs to improve a lot more. Bad air quality in Islington costs lives and damages health, particularly children and old people: https://islington.gov.uk/environment-and-energy/pollution/air-quality/why-it-is-important…. Traffic is the main source of pollution.
But worse is to come. Social distancing means we've lost 80% of the capacity of London's public transport network so unless we move quickly people will use cars a lot more, especially once schools are back in Sept. This would be a disaster for health and the local environment.
People Friendly Streets are 'anti working-class': eh? Car ownership in Inner-London is linked to income. The richer you are, the more likely you are to own a car: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-3b/user_uploads/appendix-d---inner-and-outer-london-residents.pdf…. Truth is we're stopping affluent people polluting working class communities.
People Friendly Streets are bad for disabled people: As someone who's had a close family member with a Blue Badge this is an issue close to my heart. Most disabled people in Islington don't have a car and fewer cars will really benefit them: http://islingtontribune.com/article/people-friendly-streets-scheme-is-welcomed-by-disabled-woman
But I completely understand that some disabled people are reliant on a car and that's why every home in the borough will still be accessible by car and no road will be left unaccessible.
People Friendly Streets will affect my parking and will cost me more: No changes to our residents' parking scheme are being made and no extra charges are being levied. Your current parking permit is unaffected.
Resident' oppose People Friendly Streets. Leave my favourite until last: @IslingtonLabour councillors and I always knew these changes would be controversial but i've actually been pleasantly surprised by how many people have contacted me to say how happy they are.
The protests on Upper Street are being coordinated by an outside group and many of the attendees aren't Islington residents. I welcome that in shutting off the street to traffic they're showing how nice traffic free streets can be.
The Group are refusing to meet with the Council or have any reasonable discussion. They apparently don't believe in 'negotiation'. Fair enough, but that means there's nothing we can do with them. We will continue to listen to all residents but will not give in to this. Ends