Dear Tabitha

Cllr Webbe responds to our Dear Councillors, we have a problem letter

Hi Tabitha,

Many thanks for your email and letter on behalf of Cycle Islington.

I acknowledge its contents and will provide a much fuller response shortly.

In the meantime it would be helpful if you could clarify which cycle Islington suggestions have not been progressed or put forward by Islington Council, you refer, for example to the Local Implementation Plan programme but do not mention the initiative or scheme put forward.

As you know I meet regularly with Cycle Islington, which is something I introduced to enable Cycle Islington to liaise directly with the Leadership of Islington Council.

To be clear Islington is fully committed to Cycle Superhighway One (CS1) and to schemes involving Balls Pond Road. We have also asked the Mayor of London and TfL to secure cycle and walking improvements and safety on its roads that pass through the borough. Our deepest condolences go out to those pedestrians and cyclist whose lives have been lost on dangerous TfL roads like City Road, Pentonville Road and Camden Road.

Without the campaigning efforts of Islington Labour improvements at Archway would not have been realised. Equally without Islington’s sustained efforts, planned improvements would not have been realised or prioritised in relation to Highbury Corner, Old Street and Kings Cross. The funding for all these schemes are held with the Mayor of London/TfL but they have been led and designed in partnership with Islington. For example, we fought hard for full segregation at Old Street. The only Gyratory Removal scheme that we have not yet won support for is the one at Nags Head. Our success on securing Gyratory improvements far exceeds all other boroughs. We are campaigning hard for cycle, waking and safety improvements at other major dangerous hotspots like Holloway Road, Pentonville Road, Camden Road and City Road.

Equally , as you know I am fully committed to the removal of traffic on Old Street covering my own ward of Bunhill leading through to Clerkenwell Road.

Islington is fully committed to enabling more space for walking and cycling and we work closely alongside our neighbouring boroughs, which like ourselves are Labour run. Equally we also work closely with the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and meet regularly with the Mayor of London’s Commissioner, Will Norman and with the Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross.

Islington helped shape the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy to date and is fully committed alongside the Mayor of London to active travel, healthy streets and reduction in motor traffic and tacking pollution across Islington. I do not accept that Islington Labour have shown little desire or ambition to address cycling and walking improvements across the borough. As and when the Mayor’s Transport Strategy is approved and the new London Plan agreed we will detail a new Islington Transport Strategy which will more readily define, our strategy in respect of walking, public transport and cycling and update all of our existing strategies. It is precisely because of our actions, strategies and policies why Islington has the lowest car ownership as compared to the whole of London and indeed nationally. When car ownership has gone up elsewhere Islington continues to go down. Equally, Islington has called on the Mayor to implement a diesel-free London by 2025 and Islington was the first borough to implement a 20mph on all borough roads and remains the only borough to have this enforced by the police. Islington has introduced a significant number of HGV/Lorry bans. There is always more that we can do.

Whilst I acknowledge the vigil and demonstration being held by the London-wide campaign group called ‘Stop Killing Cyclists’ being held outside Islington Town Hall to coincide with the inquest into the death of Jerome Roussel on Pentonville Road, it is not true to claim that Islington has control of Pentonville, it does not. The road is entirely controlled by the Mayor of London/TfL.

There has never been any suggestion by either the Mayor of London, Will Norman or colleagues in neighbouring boroughs that Islington is not doing its part to contribute to improvements in walking and cycling. Indeed in recognition of Islington’s work and progress and forward vision in terms of such initiatives like healthy streets and help in shaping the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy, Islington’s Archway Improvement was featured on the front cover of the Mayor’s draft Transport Strategy and also it’s summary documents.

As you know the funding for cycle improvement is not held with boroughs and instead is held by the Mayor of London. The funding formulae introduced by the previous Conservative Mayor significantly disadvantaged Islington as it was based on road size/length, we are working hard to get this overturned so that Islington can access its proper share of funding to secure the necessary improvements for cycling and walking. Under the existing funding formulae, Islington is the smallest borough and consequently receives the smallest pot of funding.

In the meantime, we are delivering what we can within our limited budgets and constraints. In terms of bike hangers we prioritised our delivery of secure, covered, lockable cycle storage to Council Estates to meet those who are more vulnerable and in greatest need of support. Following a sustained campaign by Cycle Islington and others we agreed the delivery of Bike Hangers on our highways, roads and streets, removing where necessary car parking places and to be implemented as and when funding became available. Due to the slow supply of external funding we recently consulted with Cycle Islington about running an in-house ‘Bike Hanger’ self-funded system allowing the Council to more quickly roll out Bike Hangers to meet demand. We made clear that in order to do so we would not not be able to subsidise the scheme in the way other boroughs were able to do so.

I will arrange a more fuller response but hope the above is helpful in the interim.

I have also copied Amanda Russell who looks after my diary so that we can organise an extra and additional meeting with me to discuss the very important issues raised in your email and letter.

Many thanks

Cllr. Claudia Webbe
Executive Member for Environment & Transport

London Borough of Islington
Labour Councillor for Bunhill Ward

Town Hall
Upper Street
London, N1 2UD

Twitter: @claudiawebbe