Thursday, 21 September 2023
Thursday, 21 September 2023
Wednesday, 20 September 2023
Wednesday, 20 September 2023
Two public consultations have shown strong local support for keeping the streets in Bethnal Green and Brick lane as they are. The results of the most recent consultation from February 2023, published last week, showed that 58% of local residents preferred the status quo, and over 75% of all respondents favoured keeping the current schemes.
Residents were offered two options in the consultation - Option 1 to reverse the low traffic neighbourhoods or Option 2 to keep them.
The street layouts were installed just two years ago at a cost of over £2 million. Today’s decision will cost the council at least a further £2.5m and is not currently budgeted for. Bart’s Hospital, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, local schools, local GPs and 82% of businesses have all supported ‘Option 2’ or keeping the schemes as they are, given the improvements to health and safety and reductions in anti-social behaviour.
Jane Harris, a campaigner with Save Our Safer Streets, who last year presented a petition signed by 3094 residents calling on the council to keep the layouts; requested to speak at this evening’s Cabinet meeting but was rejected. She said:
“We are utterly dismayed by the Mayor’s reckless and dangerous decision today. He has shown absolute contempt for the health of children and older people in the borough. Every time they’ve asked local residents what we want, we’ve said the same thing: keep and improve the new layouts.
“And now the council has decided to ignore what the majority of residents want and get rid of nearly all the improvements. This is totally undemocratic and unacceptable. It will take us back to the bad old days of unsafe roads, polluted air and really problematic anti-social behaviour in areas like Arnold Circus and Middleton Green. And he’s offering us nothing at all to mitigate any of these issues.
“We’re also very concerned about the report they based the decision on. We noticed it leaves out a huge amount of the evidence we’ve seen in favour of the schemes, including objections from the Met Police and Transport for London, and it misrepresents the views of local businesses.
Dr Emma Radcliffe, a GP and Vice Chair of the Tower Hamlets Local Medical Council, is one of 65 health professionals who have written to the mayor urging him to preserve the schemes and their associated health benefits. She said:
“Keeping the schemes is absolutely the best thing for public health in the borough. The council’s data shows that air quality is improving everywhere in Tower Hamlets, but pollution is still a big threat to our health. We also know that active travel is associated with better physical and mental health, as well as lower environmental impact.
“In a borough with the fifth worst air quality in London as well as higher rates of childhood obesity and early death from stroke and heart disease, we need to do everything possible to reduce dependency on cars and get people walking and cycling. That’s why my colleagues and I called on the mayor to retain the schemes.”
Simon Ramsay is the head of Oaklands School on Old Bethnal Green Road, in the middle of one of the low traffic neighbourhoods. He said:
“I’m absolutely appalled by this decision. The current street layouts have made our 1,000 students so much safer as they come and go and travel between our buildings: now they’ll be at risk again. The thought of thousands of extra cars, vans and HGVs chugging past our school, spewing pollution and endangering our young people, is truly awful.
“The huge disruption and noise required to reverse the schemes, not to mention the incredible waste of public money here is truly galling. The mayor recently paused a desperately needed investment programme for our school, and we will have to watch as he ploughs money into ripping up the infrastructure around our school that made it a better place to work and study.
“We see first-hand the impact of the housing and cost-of-living crises on our community, and we’re about to see rubbish piling up due to strikes. But the Mayor wants to spend at least £2.5m pulling out a scheme that only recently cost millions of taxpayers' pounds to put in.”
Rob Andari from Save Our Safer Streets said:
“All along we’ve asked the mayor to listen to everyone who is affected by our street design. We want the council to understand any specific problems with the scheme and spend money on fixing them, not wasting over £2.5 m ripping out the whole design.
“This is not the end. We know we have public support for our cause and the overwhelming evidence too. With the advice of our lawyers, we will monitor the legality of what the council has done. Our Crowd Justice page is open for donations so we are in a position to act as necessary to protect our safer streets.”
Click here to donate to our legal Crowdfunder.
Thursday, 14 September 2023
The latest council report also shows that air quality has improved both within the scheme and on boundary roads.
The cabinet papers make public the results of a consultation carried out in February - the second in less than a year. Both consultations have found that residents support the status quo. The more detailed 2019 consultation that inspired the scheme also reported strong resident support for the Liveable Streets schemes. However, the 2021 Aspire manifesto committed to reversing them.
Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Cabinet will decide on the future of the schemes next Wednesday. Alongside the two options offered to residents in the consultation - Option 1 to reverse the schemes or Option 2 to keep them - the papers also include a new option which has been developed by the council behind closed doors.
Under option 3, over 80% of the scheme removals proposed by option 1 would still be carried out, at an estimated cost of £1.2m which is not currently in the council budget. Bart’s Hospital, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, local schools and 90% of businesses have all supported ‘option 2’ or keeping the schemes as they are, given the improvements to health, safety and anti-social behaviour.
If the council decided to remove the schemes, it would be the first in the country to do so against the will of residents.
Rob Andari from local campaign group Save Our Safer Streets said: “Residents have repeatedly rejected option 1. It’s pretty safe to assume they wouldn’t welcome a decision that delivers 81% of the outcome they didn’t want, under this new, unconsulted third option 3.
“Lutfur Rahman promised to be a ‘listening Mayor’ - here is his chance to come good on that promise. At least 58% of residents have said they want to keep the current street designs and save the council more than a million pounds.
“We would love the council to spend that money on things Tower Hamlets residents really need like better housing, more funding for schools and more help during the cost of living crisis. It would be an insult to residents to ignore what they’ve said a third time and to spend their money making the air dirtier and making cycling and walking more dangerous at a time when people need cheap forms of transport more than ever.
“Last year, more than 3,000 local people signed a petition calling on the council to stop, listen and improve its plans. They haven’t stopped, they aren’t listening and they have proposed no improvements to what we already have today.”
Sunday, 06 August 2023
Rishi Sunak has ordered a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and implied that they are a destructive force in towns and cities across the UK. But from here in Tower Hamlets, allegedly one of the more divided areas on this issue, the opposite is actually true.
A clear majority of Tower Hamlets residents have consistently said they support walking and cycling infrastructure whenever we are asked in consultations - and this is despite new mayor Lutfur Rahman’s position that he has to “reopen the roads” to fix the borough. However, two separate consultations in 2019 and 2022 have failed to support this idea. While politicians can successfully treat roads as a wedge issue around elections, when people see or experience the reality of safer streets, they see the benefits as significantly outweighing any downsides.
It’s important to recognise that LTNs inherently rely on local specifics - how the traffic filters, planted areas, bike lanes and seating work with the grain of a community. It’s not possible to say that all LTNs are good or bad, much like it’s meaningless to say that all buildings are good or bad. If they are well designed, then our experience in Tower Hamlets is that they can transform thousands of lives for the better, by making it a safer and friendlier place for walking, cycling and meeting up with friends and neighbours outdoors.
In Tower Hamlets, it is especially important to think of everyone rather than just car drivers. Only one third of households in the borough have access to a car, which is amongst the lowest levels of car access in both London and the country. The borough has some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK, and there is a significant number of people who earn their living as delivery cyclists.
In a cost of living crisis, we have to help people to use the cheapest forms of transport - cycling, walking, the bus and tube. The public don’t want to see their money wasted on removing street infrastructure which could instead be invested in important priorities such as education, health and housing. And why should the safety of hundreds or thousands of people earning a living as delivery cyclists in east London be pitted against the convenience of private hire drivers?
Getting neighbourhood-level changes to streets right is not easy. There are numerous different lives and uses to balance. However, it is important that national and local governments support schemes which encourage more people to walk and cycle, and to use their cars less. Every time someone chooses an active or more sustainable option for their journey, they are reducing congestion for those who need to drive, they are improving their own and their neighbours’ health and they are helping to foster a safer and friendlier community.
Jane Harris is a local resident and campaigner with two young children and a disabled husband who uses a wheelchair. The family have seen their lives immeasurably improved by low traffic neighbourhoods in a deprived area of Tower Hamlets where they live, and Jane is campaigning to stop mayor Lutfur Rahman returning heavy traffic to the Bethnal Green streets.
Monday, 31 July 2023
In light of this, Channel 4 ran a report on LTNs today. Our Jane Harris was on hand to defend safer streets and to highlight their benefits to the local community (forward to 2m05s).
Wednesday, 19 April 2023
Since we came together as a group last summer, one of our biggest concerns has been about the way the Liveable Streets consultations have been run by Tower Hamlets Council - both the recent one in February and the one conducted last summer.
This week, we sent a report to the Tower Hamlets mayor, his cabinet and senior officers, laying out the problems we have found with how the recent Liveable Streets consultations were run.
The report was accompanied by an open letter summarising our findings, which was co-signed by the London Cycling Campaign, Oaklands School, Tower Hamlets Wheelers and over 400 locals.
Our report lays out how the conduct of the council has fallen short of the Aspire manifesto pledges at every stage since the May 2022 elections. We explain how their consultation process prevents them from fairly canvassing all views:
Tuesday, 11 April 2023
Today we issued a press release and data sheet that show Tower Hamlets Council didn't include hundreds of local residents’ responses in its analysis of last summer’s Liveable Streets consultation.
Removing these responses significantly changed the outcome of last year’s survey, which was only revealed when the council launched the second consultation in January.
The information we have now received in response to an FOI request shows that over 400 resident responses in the Bethnal Green area and over 200 residents’ responses in the Weavers area were excluded from the data the council published as “local responses”. This meant that up to 28% of local residents’ views were disregarded in the council’s analysis for some areas.
The responses were excluded because they didn’t use the code from the paper consultation packs, even though their postcodes should have been enough to identify them as ‘local’.
Our analysis shows that when these residents’ responses are included, the results reveal significantly stronger support for keeping the current street layouts.
Friday, 17 March 2023
Roman Road LDN has published a piece which reveals that Transport for London believes it was 'misrepresented' in Tower Hamlets Council's latest round of public consultations about Liveable Streets.
This has recently come to light through a Freedom of Information request in which TfL Strategy Officer Alex Williams writes, in a letter to Tower Hamlets Council:
“[W]e firmly support retention of the LTN on Old Bethnal Green Road. We have offered funding and resources to progress further bus priority measures on Hackney Road, to address any impacts caused by the LTN."
By contrast, the council claimed that TfL supported removal of the LTNs, claiming delays to busses on Hackney Road. Campaigners are concerned that this could have imapcted the consultation results.
Read the article here.
Wednesday, 15 February 2023
In our letter, we highlight the growing body of evidence in support of retaining the current road layouts. We maintain our position that "keeping and improving" the current schemes is a much better option for people in Bethnal Green, Weavers, Brick Lane and everyone who lives, works, studies and visits Tower Hamlets.
Our July 2022 open letter in response to the previous consultation was signed by 934 Tower Hamlets locals and was included as a stakeholder response in the 2022 consultation outcomes reports (see here for Bethnal Green and here for Weavers).
Tuesday, 14 February 2023
Harriet Grant has written a piece for the Guardian, covering the backdrop to Tower Hamlets council's second consultation and their proposal to remove our safer streets.
We're proud to have the forceful words from our very own Jane Harris given such prominence.
“We answered a consultation on these areas last year and the result showed a majority of respondents want the safer streets schemes to stay in place. He promised in his manifesto to be a listening mayor – so why does he need to be told twice?...
He is supposed to be everybody’s mayor but we feel he is going to war – that this is a culture war. It does not have to be this divisive, we have had constructive conversations with residents who question the scheme.
Read the article here.
Monday, 30 January 2023
Breaking news: In a show of solidarity, head teachers from Lawdale Junior School, Elizabeth Selby Infant School, Virginia Primary School, Columbia Primary School and Oaklands School all sign a letter to Tower Hamlets Council supporting the new road layouts. The head teachers say they want to protect children’s health and safety and that means rejecting the Council's proposal to remove the low-traffic areas. They ask the council to reconsider and work with them and other stakeholders to improve the current layouts.
We're sharing the content of the letter below.
You can download a PDF (723 kb) here.
Dear Mayor Rahman,
We the undersigned are all headteachers of the schools located within the Old Bethnal Green Road and Weavers “Liveable Streets” schemes and we would therefore be severely impacted by the proposals the council published on 19 January.
We have experienced Bethnal Green before the new street layouts and after. And it is clear to all of us that the recent changes to our local streets have brought about significant improvements to the safety and health around our schools.
Before, the immediate area around our schools was dominated by speeding vehicles, noise and fumes. Now, we can see from the data provided that there has been a significant reduction in cars using the roads around our schools and that this has positively affected air quality.
From the summer 2022 consultation results that you have recently published, we can see that support for the changes is a majority view in Bethnal Green and Tower Hamlets as a whole.
Are the current schemes perfect? Surely not. Can they be improved? Yes, we think so.
Ofsted requires us to identify and mitigate threats to children’s health and safety and the proposals are a threat to safe arrival and departure from school. Ofsted also requires us to communicate with stakeholders and this is why we are speaking out to make our position on this issue clear.
That is why we are deeply concerned by the proposals you have published at the start of a three-week consultation process. You haven’t put forward any options for improving the schemes by building on what we currently have. Instead, you are presenting a choice between reopening roads such as Old Bethnal Green Road to more than 6,000 vehicles per day or keeping the layouts as they are.
You are furthermore confusing matters by saying that schools such as ours will only be able to benefit from improved pedestrian crossings if the current street layouts are removed. Why should we have to choose between a safe, low-traffic area for our students and a zebra crossing outside our school? Controlled crossings in sensible places would significantly improve the current layouts, without the need to re-introduce thousands of dangerous and polluting vehicles every day around our schools.
Please reconsider your proposal and work with us and other stakeholders and the wider community on a third option, which accepts that the current layouts are popular and successful, but could be better. Don’t go back to square one. Look to improve what is already there. You are very welcome to meet us at one of our schools and walk around the neighbourhood to find out more for yourself.
Annette Rook, Headteacher Lawdale Junior School
Ann Wood, Headteacher Elizabeth Selby Infant School
Barbara Lo Giudice, Headteacher Virginia Primary School
Oliver Woodward, Headteacher Columbia Primary School
Simon Ramsay, Headteacher Oaklands School
Friday, 20 January 2023
We at Save Our Safer Streets are shocked and disappointed at a consultation launched by Tower Hamlets Council (19 Jan ‘23) on the future of Liveable Streets schemes - six months after a previous consultation on the same proposals.
The results of the last consultation, which have not been published until now, show wide-ranging support for the current street layouts.
We urge residents who support the low traffic schemes to see through the flawed and very misleading text in the new documents and vote for Option 2 - to keep the new layouts. Option 1, to remove the schemes, amounts to blatant greenwashing.
It's good that the new consultation document contains evidence which was missing in the last one, but it also contains many baseless claims. For example, it claims that ripping out both dedicated cycle lanes and quieter, traffic-free social spaces will encourage people to walk, cycle and socialise, as long as the council also puts in a few plants and a handful of new crossings and three dropped kerbs. This is nonsense. Who will cycle or walk more or sit on a solitary bench with 6,000 more cars thundering along Old Bethnal Green Rd?
We're pleased the council have included some of the clear evidence that the schemes are working. Their data shows that the new layouts have improved our neighbourhoods, reducing traffic across the area by 9,700 vehicles a day and introducing better, safer, walking and cycling routes. Residents living near the schemes supported all the current measures except one. Across the borough, support for the schemes was overwhelming.
Despite this positive data and clear local support, the Mayor and council are choosing to ignore the first consultation and the second biggest petition ever in the borough. They are trying yet again to push their same old idea - one that will cost millions of pounds.
The council’s suggested changes will have a wide impact, putting at risk much-needed improvements to Hackney Road including a proposed new bus lane which Transport for London have said can only be put in if the current street layouts remain.
So far the Mayor has ignored our repeated requests to work together respectfully to find ways to keep what is successful in the area and build on that. We believe the best solution is to listen to local people, keep the current layouts and make smaller, cost-effective changes if necessary.
Again, we urge the people of Bethnal Green to look beyond the false claims from the council and not be overwhelmed by the details in the 20-page document. As residents we need to show we still care about our streets being healthier, friendlier and safer for children, disabled and older people and all of us. Choose Option 2 – to keep the schemes. This is the only way to avoid wasting a lot of money and taking our neighbourhood back to the noisy, unhealthy and unfriendly past.
Wednesday, 28 December 2022
As 2022 draws to a close, we've put together a campaign update, reflecting on successes, learnings and next steps.
Thank you all for your continued support, and let's keep up the fight in the new year!
Thursday, 6 October 2022
Thanks to all our supporters who helped trigger a debate at the Tower Hamlets council meeting last night. Our record-breaking petition with 3094 signatures – the highest number of any roads-related petition ever on the council website – got us there!
We’re so proud of what we achieved in the meeting but very disappointed by the stonewalling and extremely partisan political behaviour from Aspire party councillors.
Our petition asked the council not to rush ahead with its plan to “reopen the roads”, but listen to community voices, experts and data before making decisions more likely to “please almost everyone”.
Outside the meeting we had a fantastic noisy showing including students from Oaklands Secondary School."
Inside, speakers for the petition, acting on our behalf, were Simon Ramsay, headteacher of Oaklands School in Bethnal Green, Jane Harris, a carer for her disabled husband, and Shaheena Parvin, a mother of five and Aspire voter, who spoke movingly of the way the new street layouts have transformed life for her family – especially her four-year-old autistic son.
After the meeting, Jane Harris said:
“I was so proud of the three of us this evening – and of the 50 supporters who came all the way to the Town Hall on a rainy weeknight to show how much they want safer, healthier, friendlier streets. We had taxi drivers, school children, a real mix of ages and ethnicities, staging a peaceful and colourful demonstration.
“Our group has worked hard for months to show the council how people really feel about the street schemes. We’ve met with councillors, sent them an 900-signature open letter, submitted one of the borough's biggest ever petitions and a range of stories about the benefits of the schemes for a diverse range of residents. We’ve drawn their attention to letters from schools, Barts Health and TfL. We’ve even published our own data analysis, assembled through FoI requests. They also have the results of their own consultation, which they haven’t shared.
“We hoped that ‘the mayor who listens’ would take all this evidence on board and actually engage with us, instead of just talking about listening. This was a great opportunity for him to alter his approach.
“It was extremely disappointing, to have our efforts belittled and dismissed by Aspire councillors who seemed not to have heard anything we have been saying. Their response to us all along has amounted to stonewalling. They are still choosing to repeat unfounded claims about issues with the schemes and never mentioning the real benefits. We’re still none the wiser about timelines or decisions about our streets.”
Jane said that a minority of councillors did show willingness to engage.
“We were really pleased that Councillor Asma Islam for Labour tabled a motion which supported many of our asks,” she said. “She said this shouldn’t be a party political issue. But Councillor Kabir Ahmed’s speech, for Aspire, was more focused on scoring political points than addressing the valid concerns of thousands of his constituents. He belittled and dismissed us. This was extremely partisan political behaviour.
“We came away shocked by his lack of any respect for the 3,094 people who have signed our petition. Why is Aspire so stuck in the past, instead of working to improve things now and for the future?”
We heard later in the meeting, Mayor Rahman announce that he would be keeping the Wapping bus gate, citing “evidence and responses to public opinion surveys.”
Responding to this, Jane continued:
“We are pleased about the bus gate, but we’re incredulous to hear that he based his decision on evidence and consultation results when he still hasn’t published any. This doesn’t feel like a listening approach to us.
“There's a long way to go. We’ll know the mayor is really listening when he and his councillors respond to our campaign asks and acknowledge what so many people keep trying to tell them – that these schemes have massive benefits.”
Unsatisfied by the council’s response, we are considering our options for next steps, including a possible legal challenge.
Monday, 3 October 2022
We at Save Our Safer Streets campaign are challenging the new Tower Hamlets Mayor and Council to publish local data on emergency service response times, air quality and traffic congestion. This is after our own analysis has shown that the new street designs in Bethnal Green have had a far more positive impact than the mayor and others have claimed.
Our analysis, using FoIs and public domain data, has shown that:
We are publishing our analysis today on a question and answer page. Some of our research is presented in a ‘look-up’ format where you can find further details and analysis on emergency response times, air quality and traffic congestion.
We’re also highlighting a letter to the mayor from Transport for London (TfL), in which it objects to the council’s plans to remove the current schemes and said the council’s consultation did not provide enough evaluation to support its proposals. TfL also says its plan to put in a new bus lane in Hackney Road cannot go ahead if Tower Hamlets council rips out the street design in Old Bethnal Green Road. Our petition on the council’s website to save the scheme and improve it instead of ripping it out closed with 3,094 signatures (the second highest for any TH e-petition).
Friday, 14 October 2022
Juliette Tuke has a short comment in the Financial Times in response to Janan Ganesh's "Why I, a non-driver, wish the car well".
Monday, 29 September 2022
Responding to Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s statement at the cabinet meeting on 28 September, Simon Ramsay, headteacher of Oaklands School on Old Bethnal Green Road, said:
“There was some positive new information in the Mayor’s announcement, such as a commitment to ‘grasp all the issues affecting our residents on both sides of the debate’. However, we are disappointed to hear him repeat many unproven claims about the impacts of the new street layouts. It’s frustrating that he didn’t share the results of the recent consultation either, six weeks after it finished.
“Our petition, signed by over 3,000 locals, asked him to take the time to listen. He says that he will, and we hope this means he will truly take all views on board.
“If he were to listen, he would hear from many people right across the community whose lives are made better by the new streets, as we have. He would hear, as our own painstaking research shows, that air quality is now better across all of Tower Hamlets than it was in 2019 and that the changes haven’t had a significant impact on traffic on boundary roads.
“If he were to listen, he would note the letter he received from TfL which said that if he ripped out the Old Bethnal Green Road design, this ‘... would prevent TfL introducing a bus priority scheme on Hackney Road as cyclists who currently benefit from the scheme would be forced back to use that road.’
“We were glad to hear the mayor talk about his commitment to net zero emissions and to working with the community to encourage people to move away from car use towards public transport and active travel. We strongly support these aims, but we’re baffled that he thinks they could be compatible with removing the street improvements that help people to walk and cycle.
“The mayor says he will provide updates on this issue ‘in due course’. A good opportunity would be 5 October, when the council will debate the petition I submitted to ‘Save our safer streets in Tower Hamlets’.
“We will be asking the council to publish evidence about the impact of street layout changes and release the results of the consultation, two months on from its closure. We are calling on them to allow time for a thorough process that looks at any specific issues that need to be addressed, with specific solutions, before reaching any decision.”
Monday, 27 September 2022
Ross Lydall, from the Evening Standard, has published an article covering our save our safer streets campaign. The article covers our recent successes in pausing the removal of the new road layouts, mobilising over 3,000 community members from Tower Hamlets to sign our petition, and crowd-funding over £16k to support a legal challenge.
We're thrilled to see coverage like this is such a high profile newspaper!
Monday, 26 September 2022
Our petition has closed today with an amazing 3,094 signatures, making it the second most-signed petition in Tower Hamlets ever! We saw people from across the community come together to ask the council to STOP, LISTEN and IMPROVE, instead of scrapping our safer, friendlier, healthier streets.
This fantastic show of support smashes the council’s threshold of 2,000 signatures – the number needed for them to hold a debate on the issues raised – and gives them an idea of just how many local people want them to take more care over the future of our streets.
We owe this great campaign milestone to everybody who signed the petition and spread the word. Special thanks are due to those tireless volunteers who hit the streets with flyers, day after day, to make sure everyone in the neighbourhood heard about the council’s plans and got the chance to raise their voice.
THANK YOU EVERYONE!
We hope the debate might lead to a process of listening and collaboration between the council and the community. But this is far from over, so please stay tuned to find out what the mayor announces this Wednesday, and to hear more about the council debate on Wednesday 5 October.
Wednesday, 21 September 2022
Tower Hamlets Council PAUSES plans to rip out street improvements in Tower Hamlets
Today we can say with some confidence that Save Our Safer Streets is having an impact on Tower Hamlets council.
In August, the council approved its strategic plan, which said that it would decide to “reopen the roads” in September and then rush to implement that decision in October. The council was publicly committed to rushing through its proposals.
Today we know that their decision on “reopening the roads” is NOT going to be pushed through in September. It is on the agenda for the 28 September 2022 cabinet meeting as an announcement, which means that no decision is going to be made.
OUR CAMPAIGN ACTIVITIES IN AUGUST AND SEPTEMBER BEAR FRUIT
Our Save Our Safer Streets activities in August and September have contributed to this change of heart by the council:
WHAT DOES THIS DELAY MEAN?
This delay to the council’s plan is a meaningful win for our campaign – in fact you could say that we are a step closer to achieving step 1 of our petition:
1. We petition the council to STOP plans to scrap the new street layouts so there is time to reach a justified decision.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
We now know the mayor will make an announcement, rather than a decision, about Liveable Streets at the cabinet meeting on 28 September, and we’ll be watching closely to see what he says. We would expect him to talk about the results of the consultation and share more information about his timetable.
We can’t be sure what the announcement will be, but we now have some time to move on to the other parts of our petition, starting with step 2:
2. We ask the council to LISTEN to residents, businesses, schools and service providers across our diverse community to understand the benefits of the new street layouts, as well as any issues.
A thorough debate at the 5 October full council meeting will be a good start, so that all our elected representatives can share their views. It is thanks to everyone’s efforts that there are enough signatures on the petition to trigger the debate.
We are preparing our plans for the 5 October meeting of the full Council and we look forward to the discussion and debate that follows. We hope that the council meeting is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with the council which could culminate in step 3 of our petition:
3. We want to find ways to IMPROVE, not hastily remove the new street layouts.
We have always said we would much rather work with the council, stakeholders and the whole community to come up with ways to improve what we have, rather than challenge any unlawful decision through the courts.
THERE’S PLENTY MORE TO DO – SO STAY IN TOUCH
We would like to thank everyone who is contributing to this campaign. Stay posted with what’s happening over on Twitter and Instagram – and please do keep pointing people towards the petition (open until 25 Sept) and the CrowdJustice page if they want to show their support for keeping and improving, rather than removing, the new street layouts in Tower Hamlets.
Tuesday, 20 September 2022
Polly Nash, in the local community Roman Road LDN magazine, has written about Transport for London's (TfL) disappointment with the Tower Hamlets' consultation that seeks support to remove the new road layouts.
Citing TFL communication with the Tower Hamlets council, the article makes clear TfL are in favour of the new road layouts. London's public transport organisation has invested in the safer road scheme and suggests its removal could put further funding in jeopardy.
Monday, 5 September 2022
Reopening the streets is already in the council’s strategic plan for October, and the final decision will be made on 28 September. At Save Our Safer Streets, we fear the only way the mayor will listen to us is through a legal challenge, and we need to prepare it now or it’ll be too late.
We’ve launched our CrowdJustice fundraiser today because we know that our safe, healthier, friendly streets mean so much to our community. Please support us with a pledge if you can, and help us to spread the word.
Click here for more information about our legal challenge and what we need from you.
Sunday, 4 September 2022
We're thrilled to have our very own newsletter, the September Issue. Download it as a PDF, here (1mb).
Sunday, 4 September 2022
More news coverage of Tower Hamlets council's plans to remove the new road layouts and of the campaign to save our safer streets, this time from MyLondon.
Thursday, 25 August 2022
Shaheena Parvin voices her support for Save Our Safer Streets in the East London Advertiser's Community View section.
As Shaheena puts it, "something beautiful happened" when they changed Old Bethnal Green Road. The road is safer so children can play and people can meet and talk. She wants Aspire to follow their election promise to listen to everyone, "including the quieter ones who have most to lose."
If you want the save our safer streets and make sure the Mayor and Aspire party listen to everyone, sign the petition to the Tower Hamlets Council.
Friday, 2 August 2022
It makes us happy to see successes for low-traffic neighbourhoods, worldwide.
Before I get too far away from it, I wanted to share a bit about how amazing yet simple Barcelona's Superblocks are. pic.twitter.com/Xn5WBaDkNj— Luke Spray (@lukespray) July 26, 2022
The most noticeable thing about the Superblocks isn't the planters or paint or anything like that, it's actually how quiet they are. People are sitting (and napping!) out there not just because of Spanish culture or the weather, but because these blocks are really peaceful. pic.twitter.com/bKAWUksPzu— Luke Spray (@lukespray) July 26, 2022
They say there isn’t room for safe, protected bike-lanes. They say there isn’t room for shade-creating, air cleaning street trees. Montreal shows that when you change your space priorities, you get better streets for EVERYONE. HT @DaveLikesBikes for video: pic.twitter.com/zzEE7H2IXN— Brent Toderian (@BrentToderian) July 30, 2022
Thursday, 11 August 2022
Sign our new petition which has gone live on the council website.
We are asking the Council to:
By signing, you’ll help to make sure the council knows how many people want to keep our safer streets. And with enough signatures we can force the council to have a proper debate about ‘reopening the roads’.
Friday, 29 July 2022
On the 21st July, TV One News visited Old Bethnal Green Road and spoke to two local residents, Abdul Woahid and a passer-by. Before the scheme went in they had some reservations but more recently they have come to appreciate the changes to the road.
"First, we struggled with the road closures. There are four schools on this road. The risk was dropping kids off and picking them up.
"After the closure, thank God, the drop-off and pick ups have become safer and this is better for us."
Old Bethnal Green Road is much safer for the children and if the side roads can be opened that would help, and be better.
Improve the new roads but do not remove them. Leave Old Bethnal Green Road as it is. It's better - safer for us. Removing them will be costly for us, for Tower Hamlets Council.
The short clip from TV One's news programme shows how locals such as Abdul have come to see the value of the new road layouts. They aren't perfect, but they feel safer for parents. Rather than calling for them to be removed, there is support across the community for working together to develop ways to improve them.
The original TV One news broadcast can be seen here.
Sunday, 24 July 2022
Tahura, a mum of four including her son Yusuf, says:
"I bring my children through Old Bethnal Green Road every weekend and I like how we can walk through without worrying about traffic. Now we have this pedestrian area, everyone can access the park easily. I think, what's the point of green space if it's surrounded by traffic? Spaces like this are so important when we haven't got our own gardens."
Sunday, 24 July 2022
The changes the council is proposing are in the name of helping car owners. Yet car owners do not make up the majority of those living in Tower Hamlets.
Less than a third of households have a car in the borough. This is the lowest proportion of car ownership per household across London. And this proportion is falling faster than in other parts of London. There has been an 18% decline in the decade since 2010.
This doesn't mean there are less cars on our roads. Tower Hamlets population is growing and, although car ownership as a proportion of the population is falling, total car numbers are going up.
This isn't a good situation: more cars, even more people, and all in the same densely populated space. We need to discourage driving and we have to put more thought into designing streets where people can walk, talk and play safely.
Our information is sourced from Centre for London's report "Reclaim the kerb: The future of parking and kerbside management", Appendix 1.
Friday, 22 July 2022
"I voted for the mayor, but not so he could destroy my area!" says Saciido. "I want it better, not worse!"
The nursery nurse and mother-of-one was "heartbroken" when she heard that her favourite seating spot on Old Bethnal Green Road might be taken away.
She says her neighbours in the building just behind the communal area are equally upset.
"Why do they want to remove this? They only put it in a year ago. I was so shocked when I heard about the plans."
She says her neighbours in the building just behind the communal area are equally upset.
"A lot of older people come out and sit here. When I explained the situation to them, they said 'No! They can't take this from us, it's not right! It's the only place we have to go when the weather is good.' That touches my heart, because they are like my grandmas, you know?"
Saciido moved to the area from Shoreditch seven years ago with her son, who is now at university and likes to play basketball on Middleton Green.
"We don't have our own gardens. I come down here, I use my phone, I watch my son playing in the park. Sometimes the children come over here playing. I watch them and I say, 'Thank you God, at least we have this space.'
"And now someone wants to come here and use it for cars and parking."
Saciido says that Old Bethnal Green Road was 'horrible' before the changes.
"There were a lot of cars here, it was noisy and dangerous for vulnerable people. Look at it now! I want to keep it like this. It's precious, like a diamond."
What she really wants to see is people working together.
"We love our area, the good and the bad. Tower Hamlets is a nice borough. If we talk, listen, work together, we can improve things for our children. I'd tell the mayor, improve things, don't destroy them! Don't take this place away, leave it alone!"
Friday, 22 July 2022
Almost £2million pounds has been spent on improving the streets in Bethnal Green. These were improvements that 68% of those who responded to a consultation voted for (see freedom of information request Ref. 33087276).
The introduction of traffic calming, green spaces, and seating areas, designed to reduce traffic and pollution in Bethnal Green, has cost £1.834 million of Tower Hamlets Council's money (this doesn't include any project-wide costs spent across the borough). Almost all this amount comes from capital funding that the council get from developers for community infrastructure projects (for a breakdown of figures, see freedom of information request Ref. 27521573).
This council money, that belongs to everyone who lives in Tower Hamlets, is meant to be used on permanent projects designed to improve our borough - new streets, housing and the like. If the improvements in Bethnal Green are removed, the council and residents won't get the money back; it will be wasted. It will also cost more money to put things back the way they were.
Let's not remove the improvements to our streets and waste this money! We want Tower Hamlets Council to consult with residents, businesses and schools to see what can be done to further improve our roads for all.
Wednesday, 20 July 2022
Dr Burman lives in Bethnal Green with his family. He is a Consultant in Respiratory Medicine, having worked in East London throughout his career.
"As a Respiratory Consultant and a father, I am very concerned about the impact of air pollution on the development of children's lungs and the health of those with respiratory conditions. Any changes that increase traffic on residential streets are risking people's health. I think the existing scheme has helped to protect the health of everyone in our community.
"I want to live where the streets are safe for our children to play and where there are spaces for everyone in our community to socialise together. Again, I think the current scheme has been a positive step, but even more could be done to improve this!"
Tuesday, 19 July 2022
UPDATE - PROGRAMME POSTPONED
This programme has been postponed till August (see this Twitter post).
We have an ace opportunity this Thursday to get Luftur Rahman to realise how many people care about safer streets. He's appearing on BBC Radio London this Thursday and Eddie Nestor the presenter is taking questions from the public.
Please send your question to [email protected].
The more emails we send the more likely Luftur Rahman will have to respond to this issue.
Tuesday, 19 July 2022
Today, we've sent a letter to the mayor of Tower Hamlets asking him to hold off from removing the improvements to our streets in Bethnal Green and the borough. We've asked for evidence to be openly shared, a longer consultation period, and full engagement with all the community.
See our press release here.
Monday, 18 July 2022
The most recent London Fire Brigade Incident Response Times report (2021) states:
"... we haven't yet noticed any impact on our attendance times due to the LTN schemes established in 2020" (p. 2)
We've yet to see any of the emergency services in London provide evidence of slow-downs from low traffic neighbourhoods and street calming.
Monday, 18 July 2022
Our friends in Bow showed they want they want cleaner, safer streets!
Saturday, 16 July 2022
An academic article (Goodman, Laverty, Thomas & Aldred 2021) shows that fire engine response times are not being adversely effected by Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).
The article - by academics from Westminster, Imperial and the School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - presents a study of fire engine response times in and around LTNs in London. The work focuses specifically on LTNs introduced in 2020 including in our borough, Tower Hamlets. The findings from the research show that there is no evidence to suggest LTNs have increased overall response times. This result applies in central, inner and outer London and whether the LTN uses physical or camera enforced restrictions. Notably, the proportion of delayed 'first engines' fell across all areas after the introduction of LTNs. In addition, reported delays 'due to traffic calming' were "more than offset" by a fall in delays from traffic or roadworks.
Research like this raises lots of questions for us in Tower Hamlets. It's still very early to know how low traffic neighbourhoods are impacting the emergency services in our borough but it's clear we really need to have free access to data, better understand the challenges and think collectively about ways forward.
Thursday, 14 July 2022
We're running "Let's Play", a children's event to enjoy the Middleton Pocket Park, on 11:15-12:00 Sunday 17th.
Thursday, 14 July 2022
Mehraj Alam, 45, who lives on Teesdale Street and runs a local business, has come to appreciate the changes to Old Bethnal Green Road.
"I was livid when they first introduced it,"" he says. "I drive for work, and it's made that less convenient for me. But I have two kids at schools along this road and it has made the school run a much more pleasurable experience. It's great to walk along there and see other families on the way to school, it feels a lot safer without the morning rush of cars.
"We've bought our eldest a bike to get to school now and it's nice to know he's not breathing so many fumes. I think it's not just good for our kids, but for kids in future years."
Mehraj has some frustrations with the scheme, however, and some suggestions for improvements. He says what he really wants is for his voice to be heard.
"I think we need to calm down a little and talk this through... We have to find a middle ground and work together. Just as we're getting used to the new street, they want to change it back, but they need to talk to us properly first. It affects our daily lives, not theirs!
“What we need to do now is move forward as a community.”
Rob from Save our Safer Streets agrees.
"We're already starting to see the local community come together over this,"" he says. "We know we won't all agree on everything, but there are too many good things about this scheme to chuck it in the bin now. We just want the Council to slow down and listen to the whole community. Keep and improve rather than panic and remove!"
Thursday, 14 July 2022
Old Bethnal Green Road before
Old Bethnal Green Road today
Wednesday, 13 July 2022
Derek Clifford, (81), who has lived on Old Bethnal Green Road for 46 years, says he has made “so many friends” by sitting on the chairs at the junction of Canrobert Street and Old Bethnal Green Road.
“It's a lovely spot!” Derek says. “I don't want it spoiled. People have got used to it now, we love it here. We don't want more changes! If they take away these red chairs, it would kill me. Where else am I going to meet people and talk to my friends? There's nowhere else for me to go.”
Wednesday, 12 July 2022
SAVE OUR SAFER STREETS believe the only way we can stop the reversal of the new green spaces and safer streets is to work together.
We need to build a common voice to show we care about the high levels of pollution in Bethnal Green. Collectively, we need to take action to improve safety and the environment for all. What's really important is that this common voice is made up of as many people as possible from across the neighbourhood. We need to show Tower Hamlets Council that a significant majority of people want to build on the improvements that have been made to our streets.
We believe that what we need is more experimentation with our streets; we need to allow our communities to find new ways to reduce pollution and to increase the number of green spaces where we can walk, talk and play.
Wednesday, 12 July 2022
Results from 5th May 2022 Local Elections.
Source Tower Hamlets Council pages.
One of the first things to be aware of is that despite what many people are saying, the Tower Hamlets council do not have a mandate for reversing the new green spaces and safer streets. The new mayor and some new councillors from the Aspire Party did pledge to institute the reversal in the May local elections. However, the votes were not a full endorsement of this pledge. The Aspire party only won 36.95% of the total vote. Labour won 36.53% and the Green Party 9%, and both these parties supported Liveable Streets. It's also worth noting that only 41.84% of the borough voted in the elections.
It's clear that there's a lot to fight for and that many people will want a say on our new green spaces and safer streets.