Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – the road to a car-free London needs to be traveled together

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are causing quite a stir in Ealing. You are either for them or against them; there is no middle ground. During my campaigning, the thing people ask me about most is the LTNs.

Neighbours divided over LTNs, can the prospect of clean air and safer streets bring them back together?

As a Green Party candidate for the London Assembly, I am in an uncomfortable position. Yes, of course, I support the idea of LTNs. Imagine a street without any cars, where you can hear yourself think, where you can walk and cycle around safely, where you are not breathing in toxic fumes and particles, and where you know everything is being done to stop more carbon dioxide from going into our precious atmosphere. 

The issue of health inequality, however, cannot be ignored. The Green Party is a fierce defender of social justice. This is very much my colleague Rosamond Kissi-Debrah’s argument. We cannot have some streets all lovely and clean, with others experiencing more air pollution than ever before. Air pollution, in many cases, falls on lower-income neighbourhoods, people living in flats with no escaping the poor air quality. This is not acceptable. The Green Party’s main ambition is to make London green. But not just for some. For everyone. 

Make no mistake: the Greens know LTNs are needed. We need to cut our emissions and reduce our society’s dependency on cars as soon as possible to literally save lives. That will mean a change in habits for some. Change is hard, but with an understanding of the reasons why, and with a real say in what that change looks like, we will help communities to look forward together. The way we implement an LTN matters – the Green Party would not just place future LTNs in random places to meet a quota. To ensure that LTNs are placed in a socially just way, we would strategically plan their location and implementation for the benefit of all. Rather than standard superficial consultations, we would host independently facilitated deliberative processes for real collaborative decision-making.

We must at the same time organise alternative ways for people to get around to help them out of their cars. We want to implement reliable, accessible, and affordable public transport, safe and connected-up cycle paths, school streets, and smart road pricing to encourage alternative modes of transport. 

Either way, we cannot continue as we are. We cannot scrap LTNs and go back to how things were before. Those days are now officially over, whether we like it or not. We need to stop emitting carbon, and we need to stop air pollution. So what are we going to do?

The polarisation and aggression coming from conversations on LTNs and similar topics are unconstructive. We cannot scream and shout at each other; we need to listen to each other and work together. A community group is organising a fundraiser for legal fees to have a cycle path ripped out near me. It breaks my heart. Why can’t that energy go into something positive that will help us reduce our emissions and contribute to securing a safe and healthy future for London, our home?

What is needed is a coming together, whether we agree with each other or not. The climate and ecological emergency is here, the air pollution crisis is here; we need to put our differences aside and fix this. Sian Berry aims to make sure the power the London Greens win in City Hall is shared with the people of London, in as many ways as possible (London Green Party Manifesto 2021, page 102). This would include LTNs. 

Please help give her a chance to make this happen. Vote Green for your London Mayor, and vote Green for your London Assembly candidates.

The London Green Party 2021 Manifesto – The road to a green city

A couple of weeks ago, I joined Sian Berry, Caroline Russell and my fellow Green Party constituency candidates from all over London to formally introduce the world to the London Green Party 2021 Manifesto. A manifesto, in a nutshell, is a document explaining what a party is going to do when it is elected. In London, it would cover typical city issues like housing, transport, public health, safety, jobs, schools, parks, and green spaces. But a manifesto also talks about a party’s views on issues such as racism, women’s rights, LGBTIQA+ rights, climate change and biodiversity loss. It can also address how the city is currently run and how the party would change it. So there is a lot to cover in a manifesto. 

The London Green Party 2021 Manifesto is full of ideas and solutions that we urgently need to make London greener and fairer. 

So what are some of my highlights?

Climate and ecology at the heart of everything

My favourite thing about the manifesto is that climate change and protecting our natural environment are fully incorporated in all policies. They are at the heart of all our proposals. After decades of destruction and abuse, our natural world (which we are part of!) deserves to be centre stage in all decision making. For example, we will cancel all traffic inducing road schemes, including the Silvertown Road Tunnel, diverting the funding to clean transport and better streets (page 7 and page 32 of the 2021 Manifesto). We oppose all airport expansion in London. And for me, most crucially: We will ensure that every budget and decision in City Hall formally looks at the impact on climate and ecology. We will ensure that these assessments are upheld and decision-makers are held accountable (page 108). This, to me, is crucial. No more half-baked environmental impact assessments, no more greenwashing of developments. It has to be green; otherwise, it won’t happen. We would also guarantee protection for the Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land (like a Green Belt equivalent for inside London) – so no more threats of building on our vital green and wild spaces – see ‘Gold plate the Green Belt’, page 18.

Have a say about development

Are you also fed up with the wrong kind of developments going up all over London? Too expensive, too high, not carbon neutral, the list is endless. Meanwhile, council houses are so neglected that private developers are coming in to pull them down, putting up new constructions often at the cost of precious mature trees and existing residents’ quality of life. Sian Berry wants to set up a People’s Land Commission (page 59) so that people in local areas can make their own plans for new homes and buildings.

Active travel

Cycling and walking and of course good public transport are crucial to getting people out of their cars. Too many people are forced to drive and their journeys are congested and stressful. The manifesto is full of clever ideas to help people get around without resorting to cars, reducing stress, carbon emissions, air pollution, and obesity. We want pavements to be level and wide enough for social distancing, more pedestrian crossings, and ensure accessibility for people with wheeled mobility aids such as rollators and buggies, bus stop bypasses, and safe bike lanes (page 32). 

There are hundreds more great ideas to share with you – I really encourage you to download the manifesto, grab a cup of tea and have a look. It’s a lot, so you won’t get through it straight away, but why not look up some of the issues you are most concerned about and see what the London Greens have to say about it? I hope you will be as excited about our plans as I am.

Life in lockdown

Life on lock-down is no doubt easier for me than for many others, and still I find myself finding this a hard time. I miss being out in the real world, being able to do my radio shows live from the station, going to meetings (rather than online), seeing friends and family and I really miss hugs! 

My main frustration is that even though we are all staying at home, being responsible and trying to do our bit to stop the spread of the virus, projects like HS2 and Hinkley Point are still going ahead. We’re not allowed to be out there to protest, try and stop them and to bear witness to – and report on – the wildlife crimes committed on a daily basis (ancient woodlands being destroyed, trees (with nests in them!) being felled during the precious nesting season). I feel powerless and angry. The works on these projects are not essential, and the money wasted on them should be spent on the NHS and caring for our communities and natural world which we rely on. 

My hope is that the coronavirus crisis will bring people to think more about our relationship with the environment, how vulnerable we are, and how we need to change our ways. I hope that when we come out at the other end, people will think more about their responsibility to our planet, join the Green Party or other environmental causes.

On a personal level, I have started popping tomatoes into the ground and tiny little plants are already starting to come out! It’s incredible to see, and I hope to do this with more fruit and veg. To stop being so vulnerable, we need to build up our resilience, and I think growing our own food is going to become more and more important.

About the London Assembly

  • 25 London Assembly Members elected by you at the same time as the Mayor. Eleven represent the whole capital and 14 are elected by constituencies
  • Assembly Members act as champions for Londoners by investigating issues such as transport, policing, housing and planning, the economy, health and of course: the environment
  • The Mayor should respond to Assembly motions and formal recommendations and the Assembly holds the Mayor to account
  • The Mayor must consult Assembly Members on strategies and budgets, which they can reject and amend if a majority of two-thirds agree to do so
  • The Assembly can press for changes to national, Mayoral or local policy

Did you know…
London Assembly meetings are open to the public so you can come along at any time to see what is being discussed and how your candidate is doing!

Isn’t it a waste of my vote to vote Green?
Definitely not! You vote for your constituency candidate as well as for the party and the mayor. If a candidate from you constituency doesn’t win, your vote will automatically get added  to the other London-wide candidate from the same party. In other words: the chances of getting a Green candidate into the London Assembly are good, and your vote will help achieve this!

One for the diary: Thursday 07 May 2020 London Assembly & Mayoral Elections


Meet your London Assembly candidate: Marijn van de Geer

Now more than ever we need to give environmental issues the same priority (if not higher) as any economic, social, or political issue. At the end of the day, none of it will matter if we are no longer able to live our lives on this planet in a feasible way. This may sound extreme, but we don’t think it is. At the Green Party we believe the frightening predictions of climate change and biodiversity loss to be true, and to be the biggest threat humanity has ever faced.

Not everyone believes this. Although luckily more and more people are starting to realise the severity of the situation. Believe me, I hope I am wrong and everything will be fine. But we are seeing more evidence every day to support the belief that we are heading towards catastrophe: complete societal collapse as a result of flooding, fires, droughts, extreme weather occurrences and mass starvation due to consecutive crop failures.

It’s time to pull the emergency break and start making a plan. We need to radically change the way we go about living our lives and running our country; and the same goes for London. On a local level there is so much to be done, it feels overwhelming.

We cannot delay action another minute we need to start right now

Luckily, if I do get elected to be on the London Assembly, I wouldn’t be doing this by myself. We have incredibly dedicated active Green Party members both in Ealing and in Hillingdon. We could do with more, by the way! There are so many ways in which you can get involved: delivering leaflets, knocking on people’s doors to find out what issues are important to them, working on our website and social media, designing leaflets, writing content, filming and photography, attending, hosting and organising events, liaising with local Green Parties throughout London and the UK, and much more. 

Marijn hosting a talk by Rupert Read, watch it here

The Green Party is about more than just environmental issues. We are also concerned with many other issues such as over-development, tenants’ rights, the violent crime epidemic we are witnessing, and of course protecting our NHS. We have firm policies on all of these. I would love to talk to you about our plans to make London a cleaner, healthier, safer city!

I believe improving our lives is not only about getting our leaders to take action. Too often we complain about things that actually we could be resolving ourselves if we pulled together. Time for a bit of a ‘green perspective’: people complaining about rubbish collections, which is an issue, also need to wonder: why do we have so much rubbish in the first place? It needs to come from both sides: we need our leaders to listen to us and take action, but we also need to recognise our own part in this. In this case, shouldn’t we be producing much much less waste in the first place?So this is my proposal: I will try my best to change things at the London Assembly level, but we must also work together to change things right here in Ealing and Hillingdon. We need to do both, and we need to do it together.
The London Assembly elections aren’t until May 2020. Please. Don’t wait until then to do something. Come along to one of our meetings, get in touch with suggestions or questions, help us campaign. It’s not too late yet, but soon it will be. Please help us.

About the London Assembly

  • 25 London Assembly Members elected by you at the same time as the Mayor. Eleven represent the whole capital and 14 are elected by constituencies
  • Assembly Members act as champions for Londoners by investigating issues such as transport, policing, housing and planning, the economy, health and of course: the environment
  • The Mayor should respond to Assembly motions and formal recommendations and the Assembly holds the Mayor to account
  • The Mayor must consult Assembly Members on strategies and budgets, which they can reject and amend if a majority of two-thirds agree to do so
  • The Assembly can press for changes to national, Mayoral or local policy

In the next 11 months we’ll be knocking on as many doors as we can to chat with our neighbours to get their views on what’s happening in the two boroughs and what needs doing. We’ll be going to the Colne Valley which is under threat from HS2, we’ll attend the so-called consultations on Heathrow expansion and visit other areas that need urgent attention. If you have a place in mind you think we should visit, let us know! We will be holding talks and invite guest speakers and we’ll be posting them on our website, so keep an eye on what we’re up to and please come along!

Unfortunately, just popping to the polling station every once in a while and casting your vote is not enough to keep our democratic system functional and fair. In order for democracy to work we need to constantly be engaging with it, looking after it. We are all busy and we all feel overwhelmed by the many things that need doing in our everyday lives. But I feel the issues we face are so important, we need to make time to try and make a difference.
Because if we won’t, who will?

Any questions, concerns, suggestions, comments? Please do not hesitate to get in touch: marijn@ealinggreenparty.org.uk. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Marijn’s mini bio

Actions

If you'd like to join

  1. Become a member for £3 per month.
  2. Receive a welcome email from our Secretary.
  3. Come to our monthly meeting and say hi.
  4. Get stuck in, making a fairer and greener Ealing.

Latest newsletter