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.

Emily Grassi – Hobbayne Candidate

Candidate Introduction: Emily Grassi

Emily Grassi

I am standing as candidate of the Green Party for the ward of Hobbayne. 

I’ve been a member of the Green Party since 2017, joining shortly after moving to the UK. I joined the Green Party because it’s the only party that fully and consistently represents my moral and ethical values of climate and social justice, anti-racism, equity, international co-operation and freedom of movement.

I was born in Italy and raised by an Italian father and British mother. As a dual citizen, I am proudly European, and I feel fully represented by the Green Party’s clear position on Brexit. If elected I intend to honour this position by giving voice to all residents regardless of their country of origin, background, faith or gender. 

I work in museum education and public engagement, a sector I’m strongly passionate about. I believe in the crucial role of learning for providing both children and adults with the tools to make a real difference in their society. I believe in education as a lifelong process in which each one of us can improve themselves and grow in empathy and understanding towards people and nature. 

If chosen as the councillor for this ward, I would listen to what the residents need and want to change, and I would do my best to help them achieve this in line with my Green values. 

Your political voice is important, vote Green if like me you believe in a more just and sustainable society.

Meena Hans – Ealing Broadway Candidate

Candidate Introduction: Meena Hans

I am proud to stand as a candidate for the Green Party in the ward of Ealing Broadway.

I have been an active member of the Green Party since 2010 and have stood in local elections three times, as a parliamentary candidate twice and as the borough candidate for the London Assembly.

I am an adult education teacher and have been teaching in and around the borough for over 25 years.

I have lived in Ealing Broadway for eight years now, but I have lived in the borough of Ealing for most of my life. I grew up in Southall and have lived in various parts of the borough throughout my life, so am very familiar with the area and its needs.

If chosen as the councillor for this ward, I would listen to what the residents want changed and do my best to help them achieve this, as well as upholding my Green values of fighting air pollution, which in London kills around 10,000 people a year, fighting to keep our green spaces, which studies have proven are needed for our mental well-being and also help with lessening air pollution, fighting overdevelopment which puts a strain on the current infrastructure.

I believe any housing built should take into consideration the need for space inside and outside, as the mental well-being of people should be the most important factor when thinking of housing. Not the current view of packing in as many people as possible into tiny spaces.

I would also like to see more dedicated cycle lanes in the area, as many people do not cycle because they are afraid of being hit by other motorised vehicles or they cycle on the pavement which in turn puts pedestrians in danger.

Another issue I would like to see tackled is the cleanliness of the streets, or lack thereof! It is vital for streets to be cleaned more often than they currently are.

If you want someone with a positive outlook, who is willing to listen, work hard on your behalf and wants to make life in Ealing Broadway better for all its residents, vote Green.


Thank you!
Meena Hans

Dr Kate Crossland – Hanger Hill Candidate

Candidate Introduction: Dr Kate Crossland

Dr Kate Crossland
Dr Kate Crossland

I am standing as a Green Candidate to represent the ward I live in- Hanger Hill. 

I joined the Green Party because I felt frustrated that while we can all make personal ‘green’ choices, individual change is not enough. A sustainable choice needs to be made the easiest choice; and for that we need our communities, organisations, businesses and all levels of government to act together. Political change is necessary and I believe the Green party has within its members the experience and knowledge to do this most effectively. 

Change to protect the planet (and everything on it) from climate change and loss of biodiversity is not easy. There are difficult decisions to make, and these must be made in a just and fair way. The Green party have always had strong socially just policies- not only on traditional green issues- which make us a necessary part of driving the changes needed now. 

I bring transferable skills from both my day-job as a Palliative Care Doctor and from working voluntarily in my local community, as Chair of the Residents Association, and Chair of the Parent-Teacher Association. I have a particular interest in communication skills, a subject I teach to medical students.

I am honoured to have the privilege of standing for election again. I intend, along with other Green candidates, to keep Green issues firmly in voters and councillors minds. 

If elected, I will work with both councillors and council officers to keep the Climate Emergency at the centre of our local government’s decision making, while making sure of clear and open  communication to all. 

If not elected, I will continue trying to do this too!

Ealing Green Party Response to Ealing Council Draft Climate And Ecological Emergency Strategy

The Ealing Green Party has reviewed the Ealing Council Climate Emergency Strategy and highlights five areas with specific recommendations for improvement.

Along with improving targets in energy, food systems, transport, waste and green spaces the Ealing Green Party feel that education, communication and engagement must underpin all efforts to address the challenges we face as communities across Ealing, London and worldwide.

You can read the letter in full here.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Low traffic neighbourhoods are being introduced across Ealing, with ten schemes starting in the next month. Some residents feel angry and scared and are concerned that the implementation is undemocratic. The scheme is being labelled as ‘not fit for purpose’. 

I’d like to address these concerns. We must talk as a community about our response to the climate emergency, and the interconnected issues of air pollution and health, including covid-19. 



‘Fit for purpose’
The purpose of a low traffic neighbourhood is to reduce air pollution, decrease vehicle collisions and increase community activity. That’s from the council’s communications. Great, but I want to state the aims in much stronger terms. 

The purpose of an LTN is to address the climate crisis, by making active transport a more convenient choice than driving. 
The purpose of an LTN is to cut air pollution around homes because air pollution kills.
The purpose of an LTN is to address COVID 19 by leaving space for public transport to be used by those who have to.
The purpose of an LTN is to address COVID 19 by reducing air pollution because evidence suggests air pollution is linked to COVID 19 death rates. The purpose of an LTN is to get us working together to address these immense challenges and to feel great about being part of a community that acts to change the world for the better, not just for ourselves, but for all.

Road Open to

Congestion will be worse’
The evidence suggests otherwise. London Living Streets have some great information on this. I’d like to introduce two concepts.

 ‘Induced demand’– if driving is easier, more people will do it. If you make it harder, you get ‘Traffic evaporation’ – where people who can switch to other means of transport.

‘Disabled people/older people will be worse off’


The evidence suggests otherwise. Quieter, safer residential streets are easier for those with poor mobility to get around. Reduced air pollution is better for those with health problems. And who decided disabled and older people aren’t concerned about the climate crisis? If you are not someone who has to drive, why not turn this concern into positive action? Use active transport and leave the roads as clear as possible for public transport and those who have no option but to drive. And campaign for the infrastructure and incentives to make these journeys electric. 

‘Emergency Services will be affected’
Emergency Services have been consulted and have not raised concerns. 

‘Consultation’
Consultation before is ideal. I can’t disagree here. Ealing Council have made it clear that in this particular situation the Government legislation enacted to support covid measures means they cannot undertake consultation. The council have chosen to do more consultation once the schemes are in place than they are required to do. 

In fact, low traffic neighbourhoods have been in the Mayor’s transport plan and in Ealing Transport strategy for some time. This is not new, although it feels quick because the council are having to respond to new government legislation and crucially, available funding, while they can. 

But there’s something unsaid here. 

Change is hard. Change that requires short term pain (getting used to new ways of getting around) for long term gain (air pollution, climate) is hard and unpopular. We elect our council to serve our community responsibly. Opponents of LTN have charged them with not doing this by failing to consult. I suggest the opposite. If our council failed to take advantage of this opportunity to address the interrelated issues of climate change, air pollution and COVID, then yes, they would indeed by failing to serve out community responsibly. 
and finally:

‘LTN are inconvenient’
This is precisely the point of them. Make driving less convenient, to achieve the aims. Underneath this sentiment is something more challenging. Inconvenient to who? To those with the privilege of car ownership. Are we really saying that a longer driving time, where no other option is possible, is not a price worth paying to benefit those in our local, national and international community affected by climate change, COVID, and air pollution? I really, really hope not. 

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/201146/neighbourhood_and_streets/2699/low_traffic_neighbourhoods/1
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

Our Land: Save Gurnell and Protect Warren Farm – 1st July 2020

Here is the talk that was presented on 1st July by the Save Gurnell and Hanwell Nature campaign groups:

Here is a link to the Save Gurnell slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Uj7vqQz4KEka-zL4aK39a7x0YpKxGPLm/view?usp=sharing

Info from Save Gurnell

London Borough of Ealing plan to demolish the current Gurnell Leisure Centre, replace it with a new one and build 599 homes in 6 tower blocks up to 17 storeys high on Metropolitan Open Land – this is London’s Green Belt and must be protected.  This development is inappropriate and will cause significant harm to the MOL and the surrounding area.

In addition to this, they are proposing to relocate the current BMX track and create a new BMX cycle track on Long Fields meadow by Stockdove Way – this is a Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC). The plans will see half the meadow destoyed and once it’s lost we can never get it back.

In both cases, the environmental impact has not been adequately assessed. Please don’t let Ealing Council get away with this.

Please go to our website for information on http://savegurnell.org.uk/how-to-object.html – go to “contact us” to join the mailing list.

Gurnell Planning Application

https://pam.ealing.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=Q9K21JJM0GW00

BMX Planning Application

https://pam.ealing.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=makeComment&keyVal=Q8XTU7JMKMH00

Please object to both of these and neighbours to do the same and ask your friends, family members to do the same. You are no restricted to one objection per household – every member can object. 

We are tagergeting 1,500 objecteion for Gunrell and curretly have 550 with just a handful of supporters.  The BMX track has 330 comments and is currently split 50/50 support/object due to the BMX club rallying support – if you oppose this development please submt your comments and object to this proposal.


Info from Hanwell Nature


If you would like more info on Hanwell Nature and Warren Farm, please visit: http://www.hanwellnature.com/
I
f you would like to stay in touch please sign up for their newsletter here: http://www.hanwellnature.com/mailing-list/
I
f you would like to get in touch with Samantha please email her at samantha@hanwellnature.com


Thank you to those who joined us, and we hope to see even more of you at the next one.

The Future

We live in uncertain times and yet through the Covid-19 crisis, many of us feel we have been shown a different way of life, a slower pace. One where we can achieve a work/life balance that allows us to spend more time with those we love, where we can take a deep breath of clean air.

Many have commented that this coronavirus has done what environmentalists have failed to do. It has also highlighted many wrongs in our societies.

So how do we move forward in a way that keeps the positive changes, into a life we want? A world we want to live in, societies that are fairer where there is much less or no inequality, where we live in peace and harmony with each other and with the planet.

The Green Party has long talked about some of these solutions. For example, schools with smaller classes where children learn more practical skills that will help them in life. In the Covid-19 world, this could be implemented by children attending school part-time. For example, classes could be divided into two and each group attends school for two and a half days a week and the other days they learn at home with their parents, where the life skills such as cooking, growing food, repairing and making things could be taught. Moving away from the target driven education they receive now which leaves no space for fun activities. Learning should always be fun because you remember the things you enjoy and you work harder at them.

The parents, if working, could work from home doing longer days when the children are at school and shorter days when they are at home. If the parents are not able to work from home, then a four-day week, which research has shown to actually improve productivity, should be adopted to allow time for family and one’s own personal development. Many people working from home have also gained two or three hours a day which were previously spent commuting to work and can now be spent enjoying exercise and increased leisure time alone or with their families.

In the pre-coronavirus world, stress was seen as a natural, normal consequence of life when it is the complete opposite. Stress and mental health issues have risen steeply, to where more and more incredibly young children are being seen by doctors for depression. Surely, there is something very wrong with a society in which such young children are being diagnosed with depression and an ever-increasing number of people of all ages with mental health issues.

Some contend this is due to a loss of connection with others and feeling unfulfilled in a target driven society. We are all too busy to enjoy life. Looking after the health and welfare of people should be the first responsibility of a civilised society, not money. The need to bring in ever increasing profits has drained society of joy. There needs to be a balance. We need time to relax and learn to enjoy life. The old saying, ‘Work to live, not live to work’ needs to be remembered because what is the point of working so hard if you don’t then have the time to do the things you enjoy? The Universal Basic Income, which we have been champions of long before it was picked up other parties, would be a good step towards helping people to realise some of these ambitions.

The environment has also benefited. The lack of cars and aeroplanes has left the air cleaner, so we can take a good deep breath and hear the birds singing. Wildlife has also prospered due to our absence and interference. People are out enjoying parks, walking and cycling.

We have promoted this in our policies for quite some time as a way of improving our general health, the environment and lessening the demand on the NHS. It is simple, if people are walking and cycling more, they will be healthier and less likely to suffer from issues associated with a lack of exercise and an unbalanced diet, such as diabetes, obesity and various heart conditions.

Another aspect of this issue is that more should be invested in public transport, so that it is cheaper, more reliable and completely green to the point that owning a car will seem pointless. Thereby ridding us of the congestion issue, too.

During this period, many people have taken to gardening and growing their own food. At this time with Brexit looming and a trade deal with the USA which seems to mean lower standards of food production, it would be a good skill to encourage, as people could grow enough for themselves and share with neighbours, having the positive effect of creating communities, more nutritious food and less food waste.

This also raises other issues, such as a lack of gardens and tower blocks with limited or no outdoor space. We should be building homes that give people a certain quality of life and are eco-friendly. Each home a generator of energy.

In conclusion, continuing some aspects of life under Covid-19, would bring us closer to the goal of creating a more sustainable way of life, fairer and more equal societies where work is balanced with the needs of a personal life, as well as respect for the planet.

Towers and the Greens

Highrise towers are a huge concern for Ealing’s residents. 

Here are some frequently asked questions about towers and the Greens. 

Aren’t high rise towers an eco-friendly housing solution? 

There are some amazing examples of this, and the technology is improving. 

A 21story office tower in Vienna: https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/news/detail/?nId=250

Shanghai: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/aug/23/inside-shanghai-tower-china-tallest-building-green-skyscrapers

Fantastic to see progress being made. The Green Party would ensure all buildings were built to PassivHaus or equivalent standard. But this is not what we are seeing built in Ealing in 2020. 

In general, as buildings get higher, the energy demands go up. Lifts, of course, but also pumping water, ventilation, embedded construction costs. Heating can become difficult to control with high losses if not properly insulated. Smaller buildings, up to probably (depending on design) around 10 floors, are generally the most energy efficient way to build new homes. 

But you’ll all be familiar with ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. Let’s think about this with housing too. 

Reduce energy demands of the housing we have by making sure housing is fitted to the highest environmental standards, by retrofitting with insulation for example. 

Reuse- refit and refurbish what we have already. Look at ways to bring second homes and long-term empty homes back into the general market. 

Recycle- Get local communities involved in identifying sites that would be suitable for small developments. And make these homes available at a price that those who need it can afford. 

Towers make the existing community miserable, isn’t that a good reason to stop them?

Existing redundant towers in Ealing

There are certainly problems created in existing communities. Here are some focusing on the effect on the local environment:

Tall buildings can cause high winds at their base. The shadows thrown create shadows and dark streets. This means the houses around them need more artificial light for affected properties. Sunlight for solar panels can also be blocked. 

Large numbers of new residents in an existing community can have negative effects if not planned for properly. Improved public transport and cycling facilities need to be provided, to prevent traffic build up. This is rarely done. We need to build housing that means you don’t rely on a car to lead a full life. 

Why do Greens get involved in planning? Aren’t you about environmental issues?

As you can see there are plenty of environmental issues in planning. And so far we have just talked about buildings. There’s also protecting the green spaces- parks, areas of outstanding national beauty, local green space protection, metropolitan open land protection, trees preservation orders. 

A common misconception about the Green Party is that we are only interested in ‘green’ issues. We see it like this:

The Green Party is a party of social and environmental justice, which supports a radical transformation of society for the benefit of all, and for the planet as a whole. We understand that the threats to economic, social and environmental wellbeing are part of the same problem, and recognise that solving one of these crises cannot be achieved without solving the others (from our core values, https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/core-values.html).

We need to look at the environmental impact of towers, but also at whether they solve the housing issues affecting our society. In Ealing, they don’t offer enough solutions to the need for genuinely affordable housing, social housing, housing for families, provision for the homeless. Rather, Government policy has encouraged the treatment of housing as a form of speculative investment, rather than a basic requirement for individual and social well-being.

We need more housing, so what do you suggest if you don’t like towers?

What we actually need is more social and more affordable housing. We don’t need tower blocks that only the affluent can afford and which are being built to make gigantic profits for developers, landowners and speculators.

But how can we afford these high environmental standards?

Landowners and developer make vast profits from current tower block developments. Developers can afford to build high quality flats and still make a profit. It just needs the political will to stand up to developers and insist on this. 

So what’s next?

Get involved! We have the solutions if we work together. 

Stops the Towers are working with local MPs to propose a Design Review Panel. This would be a great start. 

Ealing groups to get involved with:

http://savegurnell.org.uk/index.html
https://stopthetowers.info/

Check out more on Green Party policy here: https://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ho.html

More on planning from Ealing Greens here:

https://www.ealinggreenparty.org.uk/2019/11/09/planning-balancing-climate-crisis-and-
housing/

https://www.ealinggreenparty.org.uk/2019/11/22/the-gurnell-project-ealing-council-is-
at-it-again/

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