It was an absolute pleasure to take part in Wimbledon Sustainable Fashion Week with Wimbledon Go Inspire. I was so inspired by the incredible panel talking about sustainable fashion. I even got to wear some incredible sustainable knitwear.
Recently, I have received many emails about the climate emergency and how a potential Labour government would respond to it. We are facing a climate crisis and urgent action needs to be taken to avoid it. UN reports have shown that existing policies are not doing enough to avert cataclysmic climate related events, and we are already seeing historic weather activities causing floods, wildfires and droughts around the world.
A Labour government would put climate change at the heart of our agenda to help build a better Britain. Labour would deliver zero-carbon power by 2030, insulate 19 million homes and establish a National Wealth Fund to help create over a million jobs in green industry. Labour will make the UK a clean energy superpower to cut energy bills and improve national energy security.
As an A&E doctor and mother, I am incredibly concerned about the impact of poor air quality in our local area. I see many people attending hospital with breathing difficulties directly linked to toxic air, which contributes to thousands of premature deaths every year. It is my belief that it is the right thing to do to adopt enforceable targets and bring in preventative measures to tackle air pollution. As such, I am supportive of the ULEZ expansion coming to Tooting.
However, I also acknowledge its impact on people’s budgets. I called on Sadiq to expand the scrappage scheme support – which he delivered on without Government support despite money being provided for similar schemes in other cities. Furthermore, I am pleased that he has further expanded the scheme, and information about the scrappage scheme can be found here. Wandsworth Council have also announced support through the Wandsworth Sustainable Travel Fund, details of which can be found here. The expansion of ULEZ was also mandated by the Government as part of the TfL bailout deal during the height of the pandemic – so they wanted the expansion to go ahead as well.
Many local residents have been in touch regarding the expansion of the Cambo Oil Field, 75 miles to the west of the Shetland Islands in Scotland.
I want to be clear in the fact that I oppose the expansion of the Cambo Oil Field. The climate crisis is the defining issue of our generation and should be treated with the urgency required. By expanding oil and gas exploration, we are abandoning our obligations to end the ongoing climate crisis.
Ahead of COP26, we must support the end of oil and gas exploration whilst protecting our communities and jobs.
I know that the Climate and Ecological Emergency (CEE) Bill is one of interest to many people here in Tooting.
On 9th February, the CEE Bill was debated in a thirty-minute adjournment debate. Adjournment debates are spaces at the end of the Parliamentary day when MPs can debate a specific topic.
As you may know, the CEE Bill is a Private Members Bill (Presentation Bill), meaning that it does not involve a debate or a vote in Parliament, but rather it is a way of drawing attention to an issue. I support the principles of this Bill and will therefore continue to support Parliamentary measures that seek to implement many of the principles laid out in the Bill.
Indeed, I have already supported several amendments to the Environment Bill in order to improve it, such as Clause 2 for environmental targets on particulate matter and Clause 7 for Environmental Improvement Plans.
I will absolutely continue to support strong and effective amendments to the Environment Bill when it returns to the House of Commons in due course.
The climate crisis is an imminent threat to current and future generations. Please know that I am committed to holding the Government to account on their approach to climate change.
Today Wandsworth Council has announced that it is suspending the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that it implemented across our community. Wandsworth Council failed from the start to communicate the implementation of LTNs to local residents, and instead of listening and reviewing they have now decided to pull them out because do not want the fuss.
As I have said before, I was not consulted and nor were local residents on these changes. They were brought in overnight and pitted neighbour against neighbour, causing fierce rows and division. The Council should be ashamed.
When the going got tough, they tried to pass the buck, and now Wandsworth Council is wasting tens of thousands of pounds by scrapping the LTNs entirely. The Conservative Cabinet Member for Transport's position is untenable.
Attention will now turn to the TfL Streetspace scheme on Upper Tooting Road, Balham High Road and Tooting High Street. I know that this is a scheme that has its issues and needs reviewing. However, I am confident that TfL want to make it work for our local environment.
Contrast TfL's response with that of Wandsworth Council. TfL is taking feedback on board, they are hosting a virtual public meeting next week to gather feedback from local people and I am meeting with a TfL representative next week to discuss the scheme. I will be taking him to meet some of the affected businesses and discussing the issues emergency services have had. TfL evidently want the scheme to work and they deserve credit for trying.
I have been clear from the start that I am supportive of schemes which encourage cycling and make our streets safer. We do that by engaging in polite and respectful discussion to bring about changes collectively.
I have received lots of correspondence from local residents regarding the changes that have been made to our roads as part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood and the Streetspace schemes on the A24 (Tooting High Street/Upper Tooting Road/Balham High Road). As part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, many streets have had filters put in to close the road to all vehicles except cycles and some now have turning restrictions. As part of the Streetspace scheme, a number of changes have been made to Tooting High Street/Upper Tooting Road/Balham High Road including the installation of wands to segregate cycle lanes, a number of turning restrictions as well as changes to bus stops.
These changes have come about as a result of statutory guidance that the Government issued in May, stating that local authorities were expected to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians “as swiftly as possible”. (If you would like to read more about this statutory guidance you can read it in full here.)
As a result, TfL made £55m of funding available to the 33 councils in London as part of its “Streetspace for London” programme to urgently create new segregated cycle lanes, extend pavements and close roads to traffic. Wandsworth Council was given £1,923,500 by TfL and used this money to implement the LTNs. TfL has, in consultation with Wandsworth Council but acting separately, implemented changes to the A24.
I am supportive of initiatives which reduce car usage, make our streets safer, encourage cycling and create a better local environment. But we must make it work for everyone in Tooting and Balham.
I know that lots of local residents have concerns and comments about how the changes have affected our community. The only way to have your voice heard is to feed into the consultations that Wandsworth Council is running and to let TfL know what you think by emailing them.
To respond to Wandsworth Council's consultation, click here.
To provide feedback to TfL please email: email@example.com
It is important to note that I was not consulted prior to the implementation of these changes to our roads and I have no control over the decisions that have been made. As the local MP, I can lobby the Government and the relevant Ministers, but I cannot make decisions for the Conservative Council. I am listening and engaging with local residents on this but I cannot make alterations to these changes.
If you have already provided your feedback to Wandsworth Council's consultation and/or emailed TfL, and you want to raise your concerns with other officials, you may also wish to contact Wandsworth Council's Transport spokesperson Councillor John Locker via email at Cllr.J.Locker@Wandsworth.gov.uk, or the Government's Minister of State with responsibility for cycling and walking Chris Heaton-Harris MP via email at firstname.lastname@example.org