Introducing low-traffic neighborhoods without prior consultation was a mistake, says Labor politician in London
Leonie Cooper AM told a conference on reducing carbon emissions that big changes mean taking people with you
London’s new low-traffic neighborhoods programs should not have been introduced without prior local consultation, a Labor member of the London Assembly said.
Speaking to the Center for London’s Countdown to Net Zero think tank online conference yesterday Leonie Cooper (pictured), AM for Wandsworth & Merton and also a union adviser at Wandsworth, said “people were absolutely angry” about the widespread and rapid introduction of LTNs, designed to block through traffic in residential areas.
“In the context of the pandemic and the non-existent consultation, people just found it too much,” Cooper said. “Taking people with you when you make a really big change is essential. The consultation has now resumed, and that’s really important. You’re not going to take people with you if you say tomorrow morning we’re turning London into Amsterdam.
In The Conservative-led borough of Cooper – a target for Labor in next year’s municipal election – new LTNs have been deleted after only a month following strong local criticism. “I have a lot of sympathy for the people who were really upset with the LTN,” Cooper said. “I think policymakers were to blame because people deserve to be consulted on change outside of their homes, on their own streets and in their own communities. That’s what we have to do, and then you take the people with you.
The one-day event reviewed progress towards Sadiq Khan’s ambitious goal of net zero carbon emissions in the capital by 2030. In a session on Rethinking London Transport for 2030, speakers agreed that a broader approach was needed, including improving public transport, tackling freight and delivery vehicles – which constitute 20 percent of road traffic but are responsible for 25 percent of carbon emissions – promoting ‘micro-mobility’ and helping Londoners switch to electric vehicles.
“People are riding their moral high horse, but we need a more subtle, more nuanced approach, with a better understanding of what is happening on the ground,” said Isabel Dedring, global transport leader at Arup and before. Deputy Mayor of London for transport under Boris Johnson. “We have to use the whole toolbox. It’s not the real world to think that everyone can ride a bike outside of Barnet.
More electric vehicle charging points were urgently needed, said Jamie Heywood, Uber director for Northern and Eastern Europe. The company, which aims for its 45,000 vehicles in the UK to be electric by 2025, is subsidizing its drivers to change cars and has pledged £ 5million to London boroughs to install points charging.
But although London now owns 30% of the country’s charging points and the government is investing £ 1.8bn in charging infrastructure, the total bill for a complete network is estimated at £ 20bn, Heywood added. Amsterdam is the example to follow, he said, with electric cars now accounting for a quarter of all new cars sold compared to one in 10 in the UK, and a legal right for drivers to have points of recharge near their home.
Cooper warned that “we have to face the scale of the challenge in London,” stressing that it is a bigger and more complex city than Amsterdam. It called for more city hall powers to ensure the capital’s 32 boroughs, which are responsible for 95% of London’s roads, were on board, and praised the City of London Corporation strategies on sustainability.
She also called for investing in public transport and “getting people back on the buses” at the same time. “The main thing should be to get away from private vehicles,” she said. “We need to be much more divided on this, just like we share public transport. ”
Additional road pricing, a policy supported by all speakers during the session, would be considered by city hall, Cooper added. Dedring said Mayor Khan’s second term was the “perfect time” to introduce the policy.
The large-scale conference also included sessions on building sustainable housing and neighborhoods and creating green jobs, with a focus on combining post-pandemic economic recovery with moving to net zero emissions.
The Center for London’s Countdown to Net Zero conference can be viewed in its entirety here.
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