Ealing LTN Consultations

From the OneEaling campaign:

Ealing Council consultation: the time is now!

Dear Supporter,

Ealing Council are holding a final consultation on the LTNs. PLEASE make sure you have your say. This has to be done by 23rd July!

After this consultation, the LTNs will either be scrapped if the majority want them removed or made permanent if the majority want them to stay in place.

This is your LAST CHANCE to have your say on ALL of these schemes, everyone is eligible and all can express their views on each scheme. Make sure you fill in the reason why you do not want each LTN, those living within/surrounding the LTNs will have more weighting but those who run businesses and work in the area will also be considered.

Below are the all links and the SurveyMonkey link is the actual voting part. It takes less than a minute to complete each survey.

Please share this amongst everyone you know locally, friends, neighbours, colleagues, etc.

LTN30: Loveday

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/lovedayroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/lovedayltn

LTN35: Mattock Lane

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/mattocklaneltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/mattockltn

LTN32: Junction Road

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/junctionroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/junctionltn

LTN20: West Ealing North (Waitrose)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/westealingnorthltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/westealingnorthltn

LTN08: Olive Road (Popes Lane)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/oliveroadltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/oliveltn

LTN48: Adrienne Ave (Greenford)

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/adrienneavenueltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/adrienneltn

LTN25 Acton Central

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/actoncentralltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/actoncentralltn

Deans Road/Montague Rd Consultation for LTN to be reinstated:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/deanmontagueltn

https://www.ealing.gov.uk/info/201268/low_traffic_neighbourhoods/2821/deans_road_and_montague_avenue_low_traffic_neighbourhood/1

Thank you for your continued support.

The OneEaling Team

Inflexible Trains and Trams – Birmingham Halts Metro Services

I have pointed out in previous articles that trains and trams are not just expensive to build and run, bit are also very inflexible. They are also vulnerable to breakdowns of individual trains/trams that can rapidly bring the whole of a network to a halt.

A good example of their inflexibility has been given by the halting of all services on the West Midlands Metro system. A fault has been found on the trams so all 21 trams have been withdrawn from services until further notice.

Would this have happened if the service had used buses? No because trams are typically specially constructed vehicles so cannot be easily replaced while buses are more standard and can be rented at short notice.

Many people, including public transport managers and politicians have an irrational love of trams. They forget the lessons of history. Birmingham had an extensive tram network which ran from 1904 until 1953. But it was abandoned in favour of buses which enable routes to be changed very quickly and with much lower maintenance costs. That’s was why trams were withdrawn in Birmingham and many other UK cities after the second world war.

The closure of the West Midlands Metro service is particularly damaging because the new CAZ in Birmingham starts today (14th June). Car users now face a charge of £8 per day unless they run a compliant vehicle.

There is a Facebook group for those who oppose the Birmingham CAZ: https://www.facebook.com/groups/abcaz

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Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and School Streets

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has claimed in a tweet that “closing roads around schools to traffic at pick-up and drop-off times has reduced polluting nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23%”. He has also issued a press release saying the same thing and giving more details – see below.

But the study on which this claim is based was only launched in September 2020 so the period covered is one where traffic was much reduced due to the pandemic and when schools were closed. It is hardly likely to be representative of the normal conditions.

The press release also claims that School Streets are popular with parents but those affected by the road closures who do not have children were not included in the survey. The Mayor even claims that “18% of parents are driving to school less during the pandemic, helping to clean up London’s air”. That’s surely hardly surprising as the schools have been closed!

This looks like a good example of selecting the statistics and the surveyed population that suit your argument while ignoring the bigger picture and the truth.

School Streets are allegedly so popular that Lewisham Council have introduced road closures on roads where there are no schools under the name of School Streets, simply to stop people driving through the Lee Green LTN area. The Council seems to think they can fool people into supporting the LTN by such dubious sophistry.

Mayor’s Press Release: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/school-streets-improve-air-quality

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Pollution in LTN Rose, Nigel Farage’s Roads Election Pledge, and Emergency Service Access Problems

The Daily Telegraph has run a couple of interesting articles on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) recently. The first one (see Reference 1 below for link to the article) reports that NO2 levels fell substantially in Wandsworth after an LTN was removed. The air pollution increased on main roads where traffic congestion increased, often grinding to a halt during rush hours. There were also problems with access by emergency services to the LTNs.

The article also lists the 31 councils who have removed, modified or cancelled green roads initiatives.

The second article was on the commitment by Nigel Farage and his Reform Party (formerly the Brexit Party) to field candidates who oppose local politicians (“any and everyone”) who support the madness of the Government’s green transport revolution – see Reference 2.

Mr Farage is quoted as saying: “If measures to improve the environment really are necessary, they can only be introduced sensibly and with proper consultation, not sneaked through cynically under the guise of the pandemic”.

Comment: The ABD would certainly agree with that. The Reform Party might gain a lot of supporters in Labour controlled London boroughs such as Lewisham, Lambeth, Croydon and others where LTNs have proved to be deeply unpopular. Such boroughs were seen as good targets for the Brexit Party in the past as the concerns of many working-class voters have been ignored by the new socialist elite.

Emergency Service Access Problems Reported by the London Ambulance Service

The second Telegraph article also mentions a Freedom of Information Act request handled by the Borough of Greenwich (see Reference 3). It includes these comments from the London Ambulance Service:

“The London Ambulance Service (LAS) cannot support any scheme that involves the closure of a road to traffic using static bollards, lockable bollards, coffin bollards, gates or physical barriers like planters. The main reason for this is our vehicles do not carry any form GERDA or FB keys to access these obstacles and delays can be detrimental to patient safety.

Existing schemes already create us problems and gates and bollards are not generally routinely maintained pan London and are difficult to unlock anyway.

The nearest available ambulance is dispatched to a 999 call so we do not profile emergency access routes like the LFB because any crew from across London can be dispatched if they are nearest and this might not be a local crew.

Any delay in response to an address behind closures could be detrimental to patient safety and cause serious harm, injury or even death to a patient due to the ambulance response being delayed.

Consideration also needs to be given to the wider health and social care providers who will need access to address and are on tight schedules. Patient transport ambulance picking patients up for chemotherapy or dialysis appointments, district and community healthcare teams and social care carers will all be delayed by having to navigated additional road closures and restrictions leading to delayed care, welfare issues, humanitarian concerns and potential for emergency admission as a result of delays. Addition missed clinical appointments has a detrimental effect on service delivery and patient flow through the NHS system. Consideration of exemptions for these staff through restrictions would also need to be given.

Although the LAS does support the need to ensure social distancing this cannot be at the detriment of patients calling 999, but currently the use of any kind of bollards/gate/planter to close road is not acceptable”.

Clearly the “modal filters” used in so many LTN schemes are not advisable such as that blocking access to an ambulance in Lee Green (photo above). . Such objections may be why Councils are now installing camera systems to close roads instead. But that just creates complaints about the number of PCNs generated through inadvertent mistakes.

Reference 1: Pollution rose in Low Traffic Neighbourhood: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/12/05/exclusive-pollution-rises-low-traffic-neighbourhoods/

Reference 2: Nigel Farage’s roads election pledge:  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/12/05/exclusive-nigel-farages-roads-election-pledge/

Reference 3: London Ambulance Service FOI Letter: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/low_traffice_neighbourhood_corre_7#incoming-1657822

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Air Quality and the ULEZ – It’s a Vindictive but Unjustified Measure

This article is by James Hockney who is a Councillor in the London Borough of Enfield and represents the Bush Hill Park ward. He was the Conservatives Parliamentary Candidate for the Edmonton constituency at the last General Election.

We all want better air quality, right? Well, I have good news for you. It is getting better. 

This map from 2013 shows almost all of London outside the Central London Congestion Charge area with emissions within safe levels. Main trunk roads routes and major junctions, plus Heathrow, are the exceptions. 

However, this map is seven years old and the situation has improved.

In the latest report on Air Quality from Aether UK, which dates from 2017, it was estimated that almost all the areas identified as having dangerous levels of pollution in a study in 2010, now had safe levels of air quality. TfL’s own figures show a steady fall in emissions of NOx and this is predicted to continue.

There are a number of reasons for this. European Union legislation has been requiring lower emissions from vehicles for more than two decades. The latest standards are deemed acceptable, even in the new Ultra Low Emission Zone in Central London. Heavier vehicles have also been subject to the “Low Emission Zone” – which covers almost all of London – since 2008. A Ken Livingstone policy; implemented by Boris Johnson.

Car use has also fallen dramatically, with journeys to work by car or motorcycle in London halving from almost 154m a year in 2000 to just over 70m a year in 2017. Cycling in the same period has almost quadrupled from 11m to 40m and public transport use has increased from 260m journeys to 330m.

So, are further measures justified?

This chart from the Aether UK report suggests not:

Already, it is estimated that fewer than 1% of Londoners are exposed to air quality above the safe level. This is attributed to earlier tightening of vehicle standards and modal shift away from cars, trends that are continuing.

Lastly, whilst it is an emotive issue – and whenever one of those poorly maintained vans drives past you with its exhaust belching sooty black smoke, a very visible and noxious one – the focus on vehicles is perhaps missing the point. Again, TfL’s own reports show that domestic and commercial gas heating is the source of almost one quarter of all NOx emissions and almost half of those in Central London. Interestingly, at the time of the consultation on expanding the ULEZ, the figures for all of London showed road transport responsible for 51% of all emissions. This suggests they have fallen by a quarter in the last seven years.

When it comes to particulate emissions the story is similar. Tightening standards have cut PM10 particulate emission from vehicles by almost 95% and PM2.5 emissions have fallen by 75%. It is also unlikely that the ULEZ will cut particulate emissions very much anyway, as the majority of particulates come from brake and tyre wear and the “re-suspension” of those particles. Switching to electric vehicles isn’t going to help with that as they still need to steer and stop.

This rather makes the very marginal benefit of extending the central London ULEZ out to the A406/A205 boundary appear to be a vindictive measure, not one driven by evidence. There is a very marginal early benefit, coming from an assumption that it will bring forward decisions to change vehicles, but by 2030, emissions are predicted to be at exactly the same level with or without the scheme. 

Sadly for some people that is not going to be an option. The high-mileage company car will get changed. But if you are an elderly couple with limited cash and a fixed pension income, changing a car you probably bought expecting it to see you out, is probably not an option. So, they will pay £12.50 to drive to their local hospital. And that just doesn’t seem fair. 

It also seems unfair that the motorist is demonised as the polluter when they have done more than anybody else in the past twenty years to improve air quality. 

The expansion of ULEZ is part of a concerted attack on motorists and driving. At the same time, Councils are pushing ahead with projects like re-building the Edmonton incinerator. This project alone will emit more than 10% of the likely emissions from all the non-exempt vehicles currently driving in London. And it will generate extra traffic on the A406 as it needs to bring waste in from a far wider area than the seven partner Boroughs which form the North London Waste Authority. It is by rethinking projects like the Edmonton incinerator and by focussing on reducing our reliance on gas for domestic and commercial heating and cooking where those gains will need to come from.

If you want to help stop the expansion of the zone, please sign the petition at www.stopulez.com , share this message with your friends, family and work colleagues and consider donating to help support more adverts around London to raise awareness.

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New Parking Ticket App Combats Private & Council Tickets

Getting a parking ticket is often a cause of concern for drivers. A new App is now available to help motorists challenge such tickets.

Private companies have long issued parking charge notices use a combination of contract law and Protections of Freedoms Act 2012 (POFA 2012). Councils issue penalty charge notices which primarily are based on the Road Traffic Act 1991, Traffic Management Act 2004 and Civil Enforcement … 2007.

The first reaction for most drivers is that the parking ticket is unfair and a money-making scheme.  Whilst this is true in principle, the fact is all parking enforcement falls under some legislation which councils and private companies have to comply with.

The trouble is, most motorists do not have time to read each law and the regulations in order to understand how to fight their parking tickets. Previous apps have sorely focussed on helping drivers write letters based on mitigation. 

The New App

This has now changed with the launch of the Parking Mate UK app which provides a simple way to write appeal letters but the defences also include references to the law which makes it easier for drivers to fight their case.

The Parking Mate UK app allows drivers to:

•         Write appeal letters for private and council issued parking tickets

•         Receive a PDF of the appeal letters instantly

•         It also warns drivers if they are mentioning something that could harm their appeal chances

The company is currently reviewing a data set of ALL successful London Tribunals appeals from 2004 to May 2020 to build easy options for each contravention and allow every motorist to appeal any parking fine. For example, notices have to be issued within specific time limits and the wording of notices must be correct.  

An Example: Westminster Penalty Charge Success

There was a case of Westminster council issuing 12 tickets to 2 vans for a local business during lockdown at £130 per ticket. The law does not allow councils to issue more than 1 parking ticket to a vehicle, instead, if they believe a vehicle is a persistent offender, they should remove it. The defence for this appeal was simply that the council had issued more than 1 PCN for a continuous contravention and 10 tickets were cancelled right away saving £1,300.

Less Than 1% Of Council Tickets Are Appealed

Of the 5,952,808 tickets issued in London in 2018-19, only 36,511 were appealed, which is 0.61%. If 20% of motorists appealed, the company estimates that 90% of these appeals would win their appeal on a number of factors:

Statistics from 2018-19 in the London Tribunal for the percentage of appeals allowed says: Harrow 75%; Redbridge 73%; Ealing 68%; Lambeth 67%; and Hillingdon 63%. The lowest was Sutton with 24%.

The App producers believe that if they can make the process easy for motorists to appeal their parking tickets, we will see more appeals being successful and drivers saving their hard earned money.

About Parking Mate UK

The company was founded by Leo Musami, a former Senior Technology Project Manager who had worked with leading companies such as Accenture, C2FO, Summit Media and Centrica.

Leo has long been helping family and friends appeal tickets and after winning a number of cases for relatives, he decided to dedicate his time to helping drivers. The goal initially was to focus on helping drivers to write appeal letters, however it quickly became clear that debt recovery, court claims and bailiff enforcement were problems affecting many motorists.

Website link: https://parkingmateuk.com

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Hackney Closing Roads Without Consultation

The London Borough of Hackney is closing a number of roads using Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs). These do not require any consultation before being put into effect; you can only comment later. The roads affected immediately are Ashenden Road, Gore Road, Meeson Street, Ufton Road and Barnabas Road.

Councillor Jon Burke is the Cabinet Member on the Council responsible for these moves. When I complained on Twitter about these closures and the lack of consultation, he responded “We consult local residents, not the rat-runners”. Clearly Councillor Burke has no clear idea on how democracy should work. Calling people who use vehicles “rats” is abusive and it is wrong to ignore the general public but just listen to a few people. And in reality most of the people using these roads will be local residents.

This unfortunately is the kind of thing that is happening of late in some London boroughs (Lewisham is another example), where the Covid-19 epidemic is being used as an excuse to close roads. Local democracy is being undermined by claims of expediency. Road closures do not help with social distancing. They also create more traffic congestion and longer journey times. It’s basically just an excuse to pander to the wishes of cyclists as these are closures using “modal filters” that still allow cyclists. The ABD believes that all roads should be shared by different users, not closed to vehicle traffic.

The danger is that Experimental Traffic Orders can easily be turned into Permanent ones. The ABD is generally opposed to road closures as they damage the road network. We have submitted objections to these closures which you can also do by sending an email to streetscene.consultations@hackney.gov.uk – quote Traffic Order Numbers TT1420 and TT1421.

Note that all Traffic Orders need to be published in The Gazette (see https://www.thegazette.co.uk/ ) where all official notices appear. To search for notices from any London Borough use the search function to search for the boroughs name, e.g. “London Borough of Hackney”).

You could also send comments to Jon Burke. His email address is Jon.Burke@Hackney.gov.uk and his Twitter account is @jonburkeUK .

Roger Lawson

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Legal Action Against Congestion Charge Increase

Congestion_Charge_Logo

A law firm is raising funds to fight the proposed changes to the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax). That includes a sharp price rise and extended hours. This is what they say:

“We believe that the Mayor of London has acted unlawfully by overriding his duty as a public body to act fairly in the exercise of his function, namely his failure to engage in a formal consultation period with those affected that is adequate and fair as established in the case law. A flawed consultation process restricting the right to be heard is now a common ground for judicial review”.

Go here for more information or to make a donation: https://www.gofundme.com/f/join-the-legal-challenge-to-the-congestion-charge?

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Congestion Charge Increase – Make Your Views Known!

Anyone who pays the London Congestion Charge will know that it is proposed to increase it immediately to £15 per day and extend the hours. Although it is suggested this is a “temporary” increase, bearing in mind it seems to have been prompted mainly by TfL’s financial difficulties, it is quite likely it will be made permanent.

Transport for London (TfL) are inviting comments on the proposals. You can send your comments to yoursay@tfl.gov.uk. But it needs to be done by the 4th June so don’t delay!

These are some comments we have sent which you can use as you see fit but it’s best to use your own words:

“Please note that we object to the proposed increase in the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax)  to £15 per day, whether a temporary increase or a permanent one. We also object to the extension of hours.

The very large increase in the charge is simply irrational. The Congestion Charge was originally designed to reduce traffic congestion but has not done that (see this page of our web site for a full analysis: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/congestion.htm ). It has just turned into a tax on Londoners to support public transport. And it is an excessive and punitive tax where the costs to collect the tax consume most of the revenue. It particularly discriminates against the less well off and those who have no choice about their working hours or transport options – for example the disabled or elderly.

The impact of the Covid-19 epidemic might encourage people to use private transport rather than public transport because the former is clearly safer. But the cost of the Congestion Tax is already so high, plus the cost of parking is very high, that it is very unlikely to result in substantial numbers of people moving to commuting by car into London. Most of the vehicles entering the Central Congestion Zone are goods vehicles, or those on essential journeys or on ones that cannot be made by public transport. They cannot avoid paying the tax.

Clearly the intent of the proposed increase is to solve the budget problems of TfL by raising a tax on a small minority of hard-working Londoners. Why should they have to pay for the Mayor’s financial incompetence which is as big a cause of the deficit in TfL as the recent pandemic.

The increase in the charge and the extended hours will have a very detrimental impact on businesses such as theatres that rely on customers visiting central London. It will also prejudice those such as the police who have to work unsocial hours in central London and cannot easily use public transport. This simply looks like the Covid-19 epidemic is being used as an excuse to attack private vehicle use in London, which is totally unjustified.

We urge you to reconsider this proposal, and look at other ways to balance the TfL budget.

In our view the Congestion Tax should be scrapped as being ineffective and regressive, not increased”.

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Good News for Londoners, and The Truth About TfL Budgets

As readers probably know, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has run out of money with the result that Transport for London has had to be bailed out by the Government. The Mayor subsequently decided to raise the Congestion Tax by 30% and restrict usage of the Freedom Pass. That’s bad news but one consequence is that the funds provided by TfL to London boroughs for such projects as “Healthy Neighbourhoods” or “Mini-Hollands” will be curtailed.

An article in Local Transport Today (LTT) reports that in a letter to Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown, borough representatives have complained about what this will mean in terms of their operations and their ability to deliver transport projects.

Local boroughs are under great financial pressure from the Covid-19 epidemic because it has resulted in a loss of much of their parking income and PCNs. Now they may lose one of the major sources of funds for transport projects. To quote from the LTT article: “Frost and Jones say there is a risk that boroughs may “no longer be able to assist TfL in delivering the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) in any meaningful way.  This would be particularly damaging because, as the MTS acknowledges, the boroughs are a key delivery partner as the authorities, which manage the vast majority of London’s highway network. They say a “severe reduction” in borough capacity will also “hamper the opportunity for officers to work with TfL to explore how some of the positive behaviour changes observed on the network in recent weeks (improved air quality, more active travel, reduced private vehicle trips etc) can be locked-in and a ‘new normal’ forged.  This could therefore represent an historic missed opportunity in what is likely to be a very small window of time where people may be open to doing things radically differently”.

The ABD suggests that scrapping projects that involve road closures, reducing road capacity and the expenditure on more cycle lanes which are little used would be a very good idea indeed. We have been campaigning against the MTS since it was launched as it is a misconceived attempt to change travel behaviour, force people to travel as the Mayor and TfL want rather than by their choice, and has never been justified by any cost/benefit analysis.

One example of the new financial limitations was indicated in a note issued by a Lewisham councillor. It said: “Healthy Neighbourhoods – while the lockdown has highlighted how pleasant life can be without traffic, TfL’s parlous finances mean it has halted funding for HNP. The Council is looking at whether and how the plans for Lee Green and central Lewisham can be integrated into some temporary measures we have funding for as part of Covid-19 response that would encourage social distancing, walking and cycling. We expect to be able publish these within the next few weeks”.

It seems neither the Council nor central Government is giving up on wanting us all to walk and cycle everywhere to relieve the pressure on public transport and avoid the close contact and hence infection risk on buses and the underground. But the Mayor’s policy of raising the Congestion Tax and taxes such as the ULEZ will pressure people to stop using cars and move to public transport. It’s simply irrational.

A good letter was published in the Times newspaper on this subject from John Hines who lives in Loughton, Essex. This is part of what it said: “This is bound to push more travellers back on to trains, the Tube and buses, where social distancing is next to impossible. One would hope he has calculated the effect this will have on the R number. He should be held to account, particularly as many of us who travel into London do not live in London and have no say in who is elected mayor”.

The Government has made it plain that it was solely the Mayor’s decision to raise the Congestion Tax and that he should not blame them. They also said this in a note issued on the bail-out: “The settlement for TfL was needed for two reasons. Most important is the significant fall in revenue caused by COVID-19. However, an important secondary factor was the pre-existing poor condition of TfL’s financial position as a result of decisions made over the last 4 years. Combined with significant cost increases and delays to Crossrail, this left TfL in serious financial difficulty even before the public health emergency.

The Mayor has claimed a great success in achieving a reduced operating loss in TfL. But this ignores all the wasted capital expenditure on projects such as Cycle Superhighways and the interest on debt that has risen to record levels. A proper analysis of the financial position of TfL, issued before the epidemic hit, is here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2020/01/17/tfl-business-plan-and-budget-for-the-next-5-years-more-of-the-same/

Is it not time for the Government to step in and take full control of TfL? It is wrong for the Mayor to pursue reckless policies such as his Transport Strategy when there is no financial justification and no democratic mandate for it.

But the Government is actually recklessly encouraging local Councils to “embed new social norms” for travel by restricting vehicle use and encouraging walking and cycling. They want to change the way you wish to travel and to live without consultation and with no justification. That’s not democracy.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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