I am always amazed and humbled at how social media can so immediately unite people across the globe. My LinkedIn and Facebook (yep, my social media shows my age group) have been inundated with messages of protest at the events unfolding in the Ukraine, and compassion and support for those caught up in them.
Bringing focus back to our local concerns, you'll be aware that Islington Local Council elections will take place on Thursday 5 May. If you're new to the area, the deadline to register to vote is midnight Thursday 14 April. Following a review by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England, the number of wards in Islington will increase from 16 to 17 and the number of councillors increases from 48 to 51. The number of councillors elected for each ward is 3.
You can see from this handy map that Barnsbury ward now stretches to the Cally Road, while St Mary's ward has expanded east to become St Mary's and St James' (click here for the old boundaries). In terms of LTNs, our interest is in the St Mary's Church LTN (currently in place under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO), and subject to consultation), and the area mainly west of that, bounded by Mackenzie Road to the north, Caledonian Road to the west, Pentonville Road to the south and Upper Street/south Holloway Road to the east.
So what are our local candidates saying about LTNs?
- LibDems have not officially said whether they are pro or against. They are not keen on ETOs as they want the Council to consult before making changes. It's a fact that ETOs were used at a time that the (Conservative) government mandated urgent change and instructed local Councils to co-operate. And now that we're out of that phase, the (Labour) Council is indeed moving to a consultative process.
- The LibDem candidates that I have spoken to do not like LTNs (so presumably want to scrap them going forward), which will leave Barnsbury & St Mary's streets with no protection against the traffic that blights them.
- The Labour candidates that I have spoken to are in favour of continuing to roll LTNs out using the Engagement & Design process. The candidates and literature have made it clear that Labour in this borough continues to be in favour of LTNs, now called 'Liveable Neighbourhoods'.
- A Labour Council would start the E&D process after the May election. If Labour councillors are in place during the next period, we'll be pressing very strongly to make sure that the process is efficient and timely!
- Green party candidates are in favour of the LTNs and in favour of making our streets safer, quieter and healthier. In Councillor Russell's words:
I'd like to thank Cllr Rowena Champion for bravely bringing forward these transformative public health measures to make our streets more people-friendly, less vehicle dominated, safer and less polluted.
- I haven't had a Conservative candidate on my doorstep, but their leaflets are clear that LTNs are a no-no and that the Conservatives would reverse them. I'm reminded of Michel Scott's "snip snap" scene. The Conservatives do not appear to have any plan (whether coherent or otherwise) to get rid of traffic blight, or promote active travel, or make the streets safe and healthy for our children, or... you get where I'm going with this.
What is clear so far is:
- From the literature and discussions that have been presented so far, (a) Labour and Green candidates support plans for safe, quiet and healthy streets, (b) Conservative candidates oppose and want to roll back existing plans, and (c) neither LibDem nor Conservatives have any plans for reducing traffic or pollution, or promoting active travel going forward.
- There is a loud but very small minority of people shouting against LTNs. These tend to be people who own cars. Given that over 70% of Islington does not own a car, these people do not speak for Islington.
- There is a silent majority of people voting for LTNs. These are the Islington residents who use their streets every day, to walk or cycle, to take their children to school, to shop at their local store. These are the people, you, us, that need to make sure that our voices are heard.
How can we do that? We need to reach out to our networks, through Twitter, Facebook, NextDoor, and others that I probably don't even know about. Find a link (some are suggested below!) and post it along with the 💚 Green Heart 💚 and tags #lovemyltn and #lowtrafficislington. We need to make sure that the public narrative reflects our views.
Some links for starters:
- "Prevent the east west cut-through"
- Cut cost and headache
- Pollution: who pays?
- Let's crack on with it!
All our best
Low Traffic Barnsbury & St Mary's