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More parking spaces, more fumes

05 October, 2018

Councillor Claudia Webbe

• IT is not impossible that Islington’s executive member for transport, Claudia Webbe, had a few minutes of amnesia and could not respond to my oral question at the town hall on September 20: “Are car parking spaces still being added in Islington?”, replying with unrelated material instead.

These things happen. My four previous attempts to find out by other means were also unsuccessful, but that is life too.

Aren’t we lucky, then, those of us (including Councillor Webbe) who care about air pollution, lack of physical exercise in London and the concomitant increase in sickness and early deaths, to have found the reply through Freedom of Information?

Parking is what attracts traffic. In a borough like Islington, in which 74 per cent of households have no access to any vehicle, that means attracting them from elsewhere.

The removal of parking, conversely, leads to less traffic and more people walking and cycling, as shown in the recent report, “Fewer cars, more city” (available online). That means more exercise taken by people, and less air pollution leading to an early death.

Here then are the figures for added parking in Islington. In 2015, there were 343 “orders” for parking spaces, divided as follows: four for motorbikes, 32 for the disabled, one for an electric charging point (actually on the pavement, as we found out recently, thus hindering pedestrians), 11 for loading bays, four for the car club, one for a doctors’ bay, and 290 for other vehicles.

The first 52, I would say, are “good” parking spaces, and one is an electric charging point, thus also good, except that it is on the pavement. But the other 290?

In 2016, 1,331 orders were made: one for a motorcycle, 57 for the disabled, three for electric charging points, three for loading bays and 1,268 for other vehicles.

In 2017, 1,429 orders were made: six for motorcycles, 28 for the disabled, five for electric charging points, three for doctors’ bays, five for loading bays and 1,382 for other vehicles.

In 2018, 104 orders have been made so far: one for a loading bay, 38 for electric charging points and 65 for other vehicles.

Added up, that gives 3,005 orders for parking spaces other than those for the disabled or doctors or motorcycles or for loading, presumably outside shops, or for the car club, since and including 2015. That seems rather a lot of parking, and I’d be grateful for corrections to my calculations.

If I am correct, a few questions are in order. In view of these figures, how does Cllr Webbe explain her claim that “Islington is right to act on air pollution” (Twitter, September 20) as well as her frequent expressions of support for active travel – walking and cycling?

Even if all vehicles in Islington were electric, which they are not, the pollution from brakes and tyres would remain, and so would the presence on our streets of fast-moving metal boxes that take space away from bicycles and endanger pedestrians.

Does Cllr Webbe seriously expect children and the elderly, the groups who suffer most from air pollution and lack of exercise – Unicef has declared the UK air pollution a denial of the basic human rights of children – to walk and cycle in thick traffic deliberately generated by her additions to car parking?

Wedmore Gardens, N19


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