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Better Ealing Streets Writes to Labour Councillors Ahead of the Council’s Cabinet Meeting

Dear Ealing Labour Councillors

We at Better Ealing Streets are a large group of Ealing residents that are passionate to see safer and better streets in Ealing; streets no longer dominated by motor vehicles thus enabling more people to walk, cycle and scoot rather than drive for many journeys – this is desperately needed in this time of climate emergency.

We are aghast at the prospect that at the forthcoming cabinet meeting Ealing Borough Labour Party could be going backwards on its active travel and climate change policies and approve the removal of many of the LTNs.

We urge you not to let this happen. We have written to Deirdre Costigan Peter Mason and Josh Blacker in a similar vein and this open letter / email sets out our concerns but also, and more importantly, our passion as residents to work with and champion the London Borough of Ealing, if, but only if, the council does the right thing by its people, both present and future generations to come, this being expand and encourage active travel, not dismantle infrastructure that the council’s own data shows is proven to work.

  • Our aims are aligned with your party’s stated policies but to be frank the only actions we see so far, from Mr Mason as leader, is the dismantling of active travel schemes. Surely Ealing Labour Party is not going to approve the dismantling of more? Consequently, we do not and cannot support any more active travel measures being removed; we are steadfast in our opposition to their removal.

    Statistics prove that they work in making our streets safer, and hence encouraging active travel and thus helping with climate change and other major societal problems such as bad health due to inactivity etc…

    We support them being modified in situ (and the reinstallation of parts of what was the West Ealing South LTN) whilst a plan is drawn to make alterations and rebrand them. The communications mess that the Council is in started when the LTNs were installed, but we feel Mr Mason has compounded the problems since he became leader, rather than solved them.

    He referred to there being a CPZ style vote and used a Survey Monkey exercise rather than a professional consultation process. We told him not to do it and the consequences if he did; we have been proven correct.

    Using the car less and addressing the climate emergency should be the central messages for communications from the council.
  • Some believe that there is clear case for a judicial review if the LTNs are removed. Their removal cannot be considered in any way to help the disadvantaged in society.

    Others too are very concerned about the loss of funding from Central Government that would ensue, making any active travel improvements to the borough financially unviable in the future. This would be a disastrous position to arrive at. Ealing’s and Labour’s reputation as a London Borough and a party that promotes healthy lives and is tackling the Climate Emergency would be in tatters.

    We cannot see how your stated objectives can be achieved without increased rather than decreased active travel infrastructure.

    The removal of LTNs will not only embolden anti-active travel groups in Ealing but throughout London as a whole and Ealing will be seen as a pariah (akin to RBKC).

    We welcome school streets and the benefits of order outside the schools they bring, but evidence suggests they do not have a great impact on increasing cycling / active travel; they do not provide safe corridors of travel as LTNs do. They cannot and should not be used as a fig leaf to hide the real damage that would be caused by the LTNs’ removal.
  • It is very important to keep all the LTNs but we want to particularly emphasise the importance of retaining the modal filter on Culmington Road between Lammas and Walpole Parks. This we believe is the most central and significant of all. As well as being a long-standing cycle route (LCN 68), It makes it immeasurably safer for children’s accessing recreation in the parks, Will To Win sports activities, council events as well as accessing Ealing Broadway schools and shops from Northfields and vice versa.

    The difference that this barrier has made to children’s safety, their quality of life and their ability to walk and cycle is absolutely clear. 

    We think it is essential we flag this up now as a major safeguarding concern, which needs a full risk assessment carried out before any modifications are made. 
  • Finally, we are keen to promote through the available channels what this administration has achieved, not to be criticising poor decisions such as removing LTNs which are proven to work.

    We see a great advantage in working together promoting with the LB of Ealing the existent Climate Emergency and the need to change our habits.

    We do not want to be fighting you in the courts (that is not constructive) but we will if you do what is palpably the wrong thing.

    Instead, we want to be in a position to champion the London Borough of Ealing, holding it as a beacon for other authorities to emulate.

    There simply is not the time to wait! Action on transport and climate change must happen now. It cannot wait months and certainly not years.

    Defending people’s rights to drive polluting cars on short city journeys where and when they like is not going to put you on the right side of history. Being brave and making the right decisions for your people and retaining the LTNs and going further with active travel schemes will be both popular in the polls and put you all on the right side of history.

Please ensure that your views are reflected in the forthcoming cabinet meeting.

Yours Sincerely

Better Ealing Streets

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Better Ealing Streets’ Complaint to the BBC

We have serious concerns about a broadcast from the BBC Science and Environment Unit on 17 March 2021.

Environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt’s report was often factually incorrect, incendiary, and we believe broke BBC guidelines on impartiality.

BBC Editorial Guidelines state, “Where our content highlights issues on which others campaign, we must take care not to endorse those campaigns, or to allow ourselves to be used to campaign to change public policy.” 

The inflammatory tone of the piece blatantly broke these guidelines.

The report also broadcast falsehoods and failed in the BBC’s remit to inform and educate. 

Mr Rowlatt did not explain what LTNs are or what they are designed to achieve. He used none of the readily available facts on traffic volume or air pollution. He presented anti-LTN opinions as fact. Worst of all, he failed to fact check a claim that taxis would not drop women to their doors at night. A quick series of calls to local cab firms would have told him that all Ealing’s taxi cab services drop passengers to their door.

The incendiary nature of the piece was shocking. It was clearly designed to inflame fears about women walking alone at night. It was heavily weighted in favour of anti-LTN views, and did not give the pro-LTN argument sufficient air time. Mr Rowlatt happily claimed that the scheme was a cash cow for councils without any context. He broadcast instances of law breaking and road rage without question. Dangerous illegal behaviour was also described on social media by Mr Rowlatt as “brilliant.”

The BBC Science and Environment Unit has jumped into this issue without adequate research. Worse still, they have used a high profile broadcast to encourage dangerous illegal behaviour.

We believe the BBC should issue a correction and a full apology for the false information and the distress caused by this piece.

www.betterealingstreets.org.uk