In response to a mail we sent to Richard Watts on 1 May 2018 as part of the LCC campaign for Liveable Neighbourhoods, we received the following email reply on 2 May.
Thank you for your email. Islington Council, under Islington Labour’s leadership, is firmly committed to making the borough a fairer place for all. This has to include taking action to clean up the air we breathe and creating safe routes and spaces for people walking and cycling, so that Islington remains a welcoming, safe and attractive place to live.
Islington Labour has now published its manifesto for the local elections in May 2018. I am pleased to confirm that the manifesto includes a pledge to submit a bid to the Mayor’s Liveable Neighbourhood scheme at every opportunity.
Levels of air pollution, while far improved when London was a much more industrial city, are unacceptably high. This disproportionately affects boroughs like Islington, which have a large number of less well-off residents. For Islington Labour, tackling poor air quality is a matter of fairness.
Poor air quality is caused by a variety of factors, with damaging emissions from diesel buses, lorries and cars contributing to dangerous levels of pollutants in the air. The Labour-led Council has already taken pioneering action to improve air quality in the borough. We have introduced a ‘diesel surcharge’ on residents’ parking and at pay-and-display parking bays, to encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles. We are also installing 100 electric vehicle charging points in the borough this year and 400 more over the next four years.
Islington was the first borough to introduce a 20mph speed limit on our roads, making them safer and reducing harmful motor vehicle emissions. It was also the first in the country to implement an anti-engine idling ban, which is strictly enforced.
While we are proud of our record on creating more safe space for people walking and cycling, we know that many people choose not to cycle because some streets can feel unwelcoming and are too dominated by motor traffic. This prevents many from taking part in active travel and enjoying the health benefits that come with it. We are committed to helping more people walk and cycle safely in the borough, and fully support the Mayor of London’s vision that 80% of all trips are made by foot, cycle or public transport by 2041.
We will work towards banning lorries (HGVs) from driving through the borough on residential roads, and bring forward plans to improve air quality near local schools by closing streets at school opening and closing times. We will also support more ‘play streets’ to be set up and seek to improve access across the borough for people with disabilities. Furthermore, we will investigate closing certain roads to through traffic to prevent rat-running, in consultation with local residents and businesses, to make neighbourhoods more liveable and improve pedestrian and cycle routes.
We will also bring forward a new Transport Strategy in 2019, that supports our ambition of making Islington’s transport environment healthy by promoting active travel and reducing the negative health impacts of motor vehicle travel on Islington residents, particularly in poorer communities.
When developing our plans for liveable neighbourhoods and healthy streets, we will seek to make streets more accessible and interesting for those who feel isolated, with things to do and see and which enable people to seamlessly get things done whilst on the move. We will create more places to relax, sit and talk.
We want to do more to tackle social isolation, and will make it a requirement of all relevant council-provided and commissioned services to reduce loneliness and use outreach services to engage those who feel alone.
I hope this helps to demonstrate how Islington Labour will continue to make Islington safer and healthier over the next four years and beyond.
Cllr Richard Watts
We ask candidates to submit a high-quality, safe Liveable Neighbourhood bid during the next four years. The bid will be based in an area with high potential for walking and cycling, will provide big wins for both, and will take major steps to prioritise people walking and cycling over private cars in the area.
The Liveable Neighbourhood programme is the updated version of the TfL Mini-Holland programme which has already delivered outstanding results in Waltham Forest. (See links at the end of this page.) Councils across London will be able to bid over the next 4 years for funding between £1m–£10m to create an area where people choose to walk and cycle, and where motor traffic is reduced. Seven boroughs have already won funding for their schemes. Although Islington bid in 2017 for the Clerkenwell Green scheme, this was not selected for funding. But there is still time! We want to make sure that our council bids for and builds the best Liveable Neighbourhood possible—one that will make streets safer and more enjoyable for pedestrians and cyclists, and that will reduce unnecessary motor vehicle use, reducing air pollution and congestion. We want our council to start thinking about how they can create healthier, cleaner, happier communities, and use the Liveable Neighbourhood funding to transform our borough. Let’s not miss this opportunity to bid for funding which could make a real difference to our crowded central London borough.
One ideal place to spend Liveable Neighbourhood funding would be Holloway Road at Nag’s Head. This could leverage plans TfL and Islington are already working on for a cycle route along the Nag’s Head gyratory. Another good option would be Angel Town Centre, where Islington is already working on a Liveable Neighbourhood bid. (Imagine a filtered, low-traffic square at the bottom end of Liverpool Road, and cycle tracks with bus stop bypasses replacing parking on Upper Street.)
We’re very pleased that funding is available and that Islington is preparing a bid. But we’re not out of the woods yet: funds could still be spent repaving streets without reducing traffic or creating #space4cycling. That’s where you come in! Contact your councillors and explain how a strong Liveable Neighbourhood bid will help your family and your ward. Make the case for a bid that ensures a greener, cleaner Islington by reducing traffic overall and adding #space4cycling on main roads.
Links to further reading
In Waltham Forest, there is a Mini-Holland scheme
TfL Strategic Cycling Analysis (press release)
Download the Strategic Cycling Analysis
One of our members asks for transformation in Islington