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.
Following reports from local residents of increased levels of speeding on Blackshaw Road, I am pleased that the police agreed to my suggestion of increased speed watches around the local area. Given that there is a nursery and St George's Hospital along this road, it is vital that speed levels are stringently enforced to ensure everyone's safety.
I will continue to work with the police, Wandsworth Council and local councillors to keep our streets safe and accessible. To this end, I am very pleased to hear that the council is currently considering implementing a zebra crossing outside the nursery to protect both children and parents.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com