Here’s our response to Islington’s draft Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy submitted on Dec 6th 2016.
This is a joint response from Islington Living Streets and Cycle Islington. Between us we have over 800 members and we represent the interests of pedestrians and cyclists living or working in Islington We have consulted our members whilst composing this response, and it reflects the views of our membership.
The vision described for Islington of “a community of healthy, connected and resilient people”1 is very closely allied to our own vision. To that end, we would like to see Islington’s Health and Wellbeing board fully exploiting its links between health and local government departments to shape an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice. This should be integral to a long-term preventative health strategy, which will continue to pay dividends for decades.
Focusing on the 3 priorities for Islington’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy1, evidence quoted in Public Health England’s “Everybody Active Every Day” 2 and the NICE guidance on Walking and Cycling3 states that:
- Adults who are physically active have higher levels of self-reported wellbeing and a 30% reduction in levels of depression and dementia.
- Increasing levels of physical activity in children and adults leads to lower risk of obesity and other long-term health conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
- Increased walking and cycling can:
- Increase the number of people of all ages who are out on the streets, making public spaces seem more welcoming and providing opportunities for social interaction.
- Provide an opportunity for everyone, including people with an impairment, to participate in and enjoy the outdoor environment.
Reduction in motor traffic will also reduce the negative long-term health impacts of air pollution.
In Islington, there is an urgent need to strengthen links between Public Health and the Transport and Planning departments. We want to see the Health and Wellbeing Board act on the advice issued by Public Health England (Working Together to promote Active Travel: A briefing for Local Authorities). 4
More than a quarter of the land in Islington is used for transport-related purposes 5 and the majority of this is owned and controlled by the borough. As Lucy Saunders has demonstrated in TfL’s Health Improvement Plan6, the way that this land is used has enormous health implications for residents. Sadiq Khan and Val Shawcross’s Healthy Streets and Liveable Neighbourhoods programs will aim to capitalise on this in a way that will make London’s residents healthier and happier. It is essential that Islington takes full advantage of these schemes. For example, the creation of a network of lightly-trafficked and segregated routes for cycling will enable all demographics to use cycling for transport, including parents with children, the disabled and the elderly.
Increasingly, particularly with the development of the North Central London Sustainability and Transformation Plan, Islington’s Health and Wellbeing Board is not working in isolation. The suggestions that we make below will enable Islington’s strategy to dovetail more closely with Haringey’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy and pave the way for cost-savings across the region in the long-run. In times of severely constrained budgets, we should heed the evidence-based guidance from NICE: “Following all of NICE’s recommendations on walking and cycling will help you make the best and most efficient use of resources to improve the health of people in your area.”7
We propose the following amendments:
- Page 17 (Promoting and enabling healthier lifestyles). This is the only mention of active travel, but seems to give too little emphasis to walking and cycling. The section should be amended to read: “Develop a healthy environment to encourage physical activity, in particular walking and cycling and access to healthy food and physical activity for families in their everyday lives. Adopt the Healthy Streets Approach promoted by the Mayor of London and TFL.
- Other action points for inclusion in this section or elsewhere:
- Form an Active Travel Working Group including members from Public Health, Sustainability and Planning to reduce barriers to walking and cycling and capitalise on external funding opportunities (such as the New Access Fund and the Local Growth Fund4 and TfL’s Cycling program) to shape a healthier Islington.
- Work with the transport department to produce a Walking and Cycling Vision for Islington.
- Ensure that the mayor’s Healthy Streets program is incorporated into future street upgrades and redesigns.
- Ensure the needs of pedestrians and cyclists are considered before those of other road users when developing or maintaining streets and roads. (as per NICE guidance7)
- Page 22 (Supporting Social Connectedness), add:
- Create Liveable Neighbourhoods which prioritise people over motor traffic, and encourage social connectedness.
- Islington’s draft Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-2020. https://www.islington.gov.uk/~/media/sharepoint-lists/public-records/healthandsocialcare/publicity/publicconsultation/20162017/20161026islingtonjointhealthandwellbeingstrategy201720forconsultation.pdf
- Public Health England. Everybody Active, Every Day. An evidence-based approach to physical activity. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/374914/Framework_13.pdf
- NICE Public Health Guideline PH41. Physical Activity: Walking and Cycling. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph41
- Public Health England. Working Together to Promote Active Travel: A briefing for local authorities https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/523460/Working_Together_to_Promote_Active_Travel_A_briefing_for_local_authorities.pdf
- Islington’s Transport Strategy Local Implementation Plan 2011 to 2031 https://www.islington.gov.uk/~/media/sharepoint-lists/public-records/environmentalprotection/businessplanning/plans/20122013/20120530lipmaindocument.pdf
- Transport for London. Improving the Health of Londoners. Transport Action Plan. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/improving-the-health-of-londoners-transport-action-plan.pdf
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Walking and Cycling. Local Government Briefing [LGB8] https://www.nice.org.uk/advice/lgb8/chapter/What-NICE-says