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Proper ward partnerships could help effect air quality change

14 February, 2020

• RESPONDING to local concerns about air quality, Rowena Champion, Islington’s new executive member for transport and the environment, and Barnsbury ward councillor, states that “the council is working extremely hard to address [this] in our borough with the tools at our disposal”, (Call for action on ‘deadly impact’ of air pollution in Islington, February 7).

One “tool” always available to our councillors is political will. Take, for example, the state of our residential roads, including Liverpool Road, (We are fearful about the traffic now in Liverpool Road, February 7).

What is “fair” about them being littered with parked vehicles when fewer than one-third of the borough’s households owns or has access to a private car?

Endangering lives by hindering visibility for everyone trying to cross our streets, and subjecting cyclists to close passes and worse, this use of public space for parking by the better-off minority of vehicle-owners inverts the Labour Party’s mantra of “For the many, not the few”.

Not a good look, particularly with a by-election, together with the London mayoral election due in May. Cllr Champion’s predecessor consistently avoided the matter.

Let’s not forget the death of geneticist Dr Maria Bitner-Glindzicz, who died after an incident while cycling to work in St John Street. An inquest heard the driver of a parked van had opened his door, and she fell under a passing taxi.

It’s now widely accepted that the 20mph speed limit reduces the risk of death and serious injury. The removal of parking from the streets where we live would do likewise.

Meantime, properly functioning “ward partnerships” could also help effect change. My St Mary’s ward one hadn’t met since June 2018 until it did so, unannounced, last week (a neighbour who attended was unimpressed). With only a couple of exceptions, this seems to be the case across the borough.

If they’re to be successful, a radical restructuring of these currently top-down, council-led groups is required. Put into the hands of residents, they could become an excellent tool in the box.

Ellington Street, N7


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