Islington Council is giving a mixed message, says Caroline Allen (pictured above)
Published: 13 April, 2012
by CAROLINE ALLEN
ISLINGTON Green Party has been campaigning long and hard for a drastic improvement in transport measures across the borough, and last week at the full council meeting we were encouraged by the adoption of a new transport strategy by the council.
There is much to commend in the new strategy: the aims – to make Islington’s transport environment more fair, efficient, safe, secure, vibrant and healthy – can hardly be controversial.
However, the targets for increasing walking and cycling are very unambitious compared to neighbouring boroughs. An increase in one percentage point for walking in a year and three in 10 years, and a 0.6 percentage point for cycling in one year and four per cent in 13 years are hardly going to radically change the borough and meet the document’s aims.
What really concerns me, though, is that while this document has been signed off, the actions of the council seem to be in direct opposition to it.
The Roamer parking scheme encourages short journeys by car and now the council seems to want to encourage more cars from out of the borough by offering free parking spaces to non-residents, so encouraging the type of traffic it claims it can do nothing about. The council claim they need to do this to support business and yet, again and again, research shows that shoppers who visit on foot and public transport spend more. Congested, polluted streets are not conducive to lingering to shop.
We have spoken to many Islington residents who really noticed the recent spike in pollution. Running eyes, coughing and shortness of breath all seem to be worryingly common and Islington has some of the highest figures for acute admissions for asthma and other pulmonary conditions. It is well recognised that those on lower incomes are most likely to be affected.
We will be continuing to hold the council to account on this serious health and fairness issue, this strategy is welcome, but must be just the beginning.
• Caroline Allen lives in Islington and is the Green Party candidate for Islington, Hackney and Waltham Forest in the London Assembly election on May 3.