Lewisham Lib Dems want to see policies that improve air quality, reduce congestion, cut emissions and enable people to make easier and safer journeys on foot. Reducing the amount we travel by car should be part of this but for some older people and those with disabilities access by car will still be needed.
To provide a real alternative to driving, we need a coherent approach from central government and the Mayor of London. The Conservative government has allowed the price of public transport to increase while the cost of travelling has fallen in real terms, and the Conservatives scrapped the Local Sustainable Transport Fund which the Lib Dems brought in.
Meanwhile the Mayor of London is backing the Silvertown Tunnel, the motorway under the Thames which will bring more traffic into Lewisham. He’s also only including the northern half of the borough in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The Lib Dems back extending the ULEZ to the M25 and are opposed to the Silvertown Tunnel.
Lewisham council’s Healthy Neighbourhood project could be a way to make it easier to travel on foot or by bike. But we have concerns about the way the project is being developed. We’ve heard from lots of people that they were unaware of the proposals until very late and about a lack of genuine consultation.
It’s vital that Lewisham take the community with them, otherwise the whole programme of Healthy Neighbourhoods across the borough could be discredited.
We’re calling for proper baseline information so that the trial can show the impact on air quality, on the mode share of different journey types, and on congestion within the area and on surrounding roads. Lewisham should also ensure that disabled people and carers don’t lose out. We’re also calling for the council to ensure that they are fair and honest in the consultation and don’t just ignore voices if they happen to disagree with the council.
Above all, this must be a proper consultation and the council must honestly report the views of the community, the evidence of the impacts of the trial and on how they will amend the proposals for the future in the light of this.
Finally, we’re also calling on the council to be clearer about how they will improve walking and cycling more generally in the borough, for instance in maintaining cycleways and footpaths, taking action against pavement parking and tackling danger spots for cyclists on the road network. Labour have been continuously in power in Lewisham since 1971 and Lewisham is rated as second worst inner-London boroughs for walking and cycling by the London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets and others.
Lewisham Council need to get this right to tackle the decades long decline of provision for walking and cycling in our borough.