Our response to the consultation on the new low emission zone

Soon after his election the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for new proposals to urgently help tackle London’s lethal air pollution. The Mayor has already introduced the T-Charge in central London, bought forward the start date of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for central London to 8 April 2019 and announced a series of measures to clean up London’s bus fleet.

TfL are now consulting on detailed proposals for two further initiatives to improve London’s air. These involve:

  • Tightening the standards of the existing London-wide Low Emission Zone from 2020, which affects heavy vehicles – buses, coaches and HGVs and other heavy specialist vehicles
  • Expanding the ULEZ for light vehicles (cars, vans and motorcycles) from central London to inner London up to, but not including the North and South Circular roads in 2021 so that all vehicles in this area are subject to emissions standards

The full proposals can be found here:  https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-3b/#our proposals 

In Thurlow Park, they involve a new low emissions zone extending up to but not including the South Circular.

As your local Labour councillors, we have responded to the consultation calling on the zone to be wider, covering all of London rather than stopping at the South Circular.

Air quality is a very important
issue for us and our residents. Thurlow Park ward straddles the South Circular
and has a number of other strategically important roads that experience heave
traffic, including Norwood Road and Lancaster Avenue. 

These roads, and the
streets leading off them, experience high volumes of cars, buses, lorries and
vans. As a consequence, the air that residents living, working, walking and
cycling in our ward, and especially on these roads, is damaging their lungs.

We are therefore
very supportive of actions which TfL and the Mayor can take to tackle air
pollution and welcome a large Ultra Low Emissions Zone. We agree with proposals
that there should be tougher emissions standards, particularly given this will especially
impact the heavy vehicles that we experience disproportionately.

We also support
the expansion of the existing Low Emission Zone. However, we are very
disappointed that it is being proposed to go only as far as the south circular.
As shown by this map displaying data from the London Air website compiled by
Kings College London, the South Circular is the worst road in our
neighbourhood. It’s a residential road, and in just Thurlow Park goes past two
schools and very near to two more.

On any given day,
these homes and schools have around 15,000 vehicles driving east and a further
12,000 vehicles travelling west past their front doors, according to data
collected by TfL which we have published here: https://thurlowparklabour.org/post/166566971597/progress-made-in-our-campaign-for-a-safer-south

Other pollution
hotspots would be missed off the new zone too – in our ward, Norwood Road sees
higher traffic and pollution, as do Robson Road, Rosendale Road, Lancaster
Avenue and Croxted Road, for example, thanks to buses, delivery vehicles and
other traffic.

The current
proposals, up to and not including the South Circular, fail to take action on
the road in the greatest need of action and does nothing to tackle the
pollution hotspots south of this boundary. They create a situation which sees
only half of our residents breathing cleaner air, while some of the worst
affected areas see no change in regulation. We are also concerned that the new
zone will push the most pollution traffic south as drivers of vehicles affected
look for alternative routes that avoid the charge. We don’t want to see the
southern half of the ward become a rat run for London’s most polluting traffic.

By extending the
zone to cover the whole city, this scenario can be avoided. We would
therefore like to see the new zone expanded to cover the whole of London,
including the South Circular.

Progress made in our campaign for a safer South Circular

Following the tragic death of Dr. Jasjot Singhota at
the zebra crossing on Thurlow Park Road, by Birkbeck Hill, in February, we have
been working to tackle speeding and improve safety on the South Circular.

In March, we organised a walkabout with TfL
officers, local residents, friends of Jas, the local Labour London Assembly
Member Flo Eshalomi, and the local Labour MP Helen Hayes. We discussed a number
of issues with the speed of traffic, the visibility of crossings and the lack
of enforcement when drivers are disregarding road safety.

We have been working with TfL to follow up on these
actions behind the scenes, and while the police inquiry into the tragic
accident is still ongoing, we are able to provide an update on this work from
TfL officers.

We asked TfL to commission a speed survey at the
crossing to give us the evidence we need to push for improvements. This took
place between 18 April and 24 April and the results are here:

Clearly, far too many drivers are exceeding the speed limit – and we are committed to continuing to work with residents to campaign for measures to tackle this. 

We also asked for a collision study, so that we
could gain a better understanding of the dangers of this crossing.

TfL officers say: 

“We have completed a collision study, which revealed at this location
there were five collisions in the 36 months up to 31st October 2016 (which is
the latest Police recorded data available, so it does not include the collision
involving Dr Singhota). Two collisions occurred on the zebra crossing involving
pedestrian’s being struck by a vehicle, whilst crossing the road. One of these
collisions resulted in a serious injury, with the other resulting in slight
injury. Three of the collisions involved vehicle shunt incidents on the
approach to the zebra crossing. Two of these three collisions involved vehicles
travelling westbound, with the other collision involving vehicles travelling
eastbound. All three shunt incidents were attributed to inappropriate speeds
and the driver failing to look properly. Two of these collisions involved cars
only, with the other involving a car and a motorcycle.”

While the ongoing police inquiry has advised that
the highway layout was not being seen as a contributory factor to the fatal
accident in February, TfL have agreed to review the layout to begin to address
our concerns. These are all things which they are able to include in the
ongoing maintenance programme so the required works can be delivered fairly
promptly.

In summary, these works include:

  • The belisha beacon (the pole with an orange ball on top by the zebra crossings) post on the north-eastern side of A205 Thurlow Park Road is solid black, and will be made black and white striped to be consistent with other crossings of this type. This should make is more visible for oncoming traffic.
  • The belisha beacons on either side of Thurlow Park Road will be re-orientated to improve their visibility.
  • Two replacement keep left bollards will be installed on the pedestrian refuge area (island) in the middle of the road.

In addition, TfL have agreed to get in touch with
the police to set up some community-led speed checks under the Community
Roadwatch scheme, which will complement the surveys that TfL have undertaken.
This scheme gives residents the opportunity to work with local police teams,
and use speed detection equipment to deter speeding on their roads. 

Dates are
yet to be finalised for this event – if you would like to be part of this
please sign up here.

TfL are also considering other interventions that
could be made in the longer term and progressed as part of their programme with
the aim of reducing speeds and improving safety along this section of Thurlow
Park Road. They say, “We intend to work with all stakeholders
to ensure that all our roads are safe for all road users.”

Our Quietways call-in

On 12 June, Lambeth Council’s website showed that a decision had been published regarding the design of Quietway 7 – the route along Rosendale Road and Turney Road.

This Quietway has been a fraught process since the outset, and we have worked closely with residents and community groups to ensure that we achieve a design that makes the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians, but that is acceptable to people living, shopping and working nearby too.

We ensured the original proposal to close Rosendale Road to through traffic was taken off the table and organised a full consultation in 2015, with public meetings, co-design workshops and exhibitions of proposals. There was an online consultation on plans in March 2016 and we have continued to push for changes since – in particularly to retain parking near to Turney School, to ensure continued access to the Rosendale Allotments and to ensure the Parkhall/ Rosendale junction does not change in a way which speeds up cars or causes additional traffic queues.

When the decision was published, we were concerned that the public feedback during the consultation and our contributions on residents’ behalf had not been taken into account as plans appeared unchanged except for the reinstatement of parking on Turney Road. And as cyclists, we don’t believe the scheme delivers the safety improvements that cyclists and pedestrians need either.

We met with the cabinet member and lead officers to express our concerns and discuss how we can address those, and will continue to meet regularly. We are meeting with TfL officers regarding the route and the junction on the South Circular too.

We have also decided to request a “call in” on the decision – this is a formal challenge to the decision and could result in the decision being sent back to rethink, or modified before it can be implemented.

Our “call in” asks for plans to be changed so that they reflect our concerns and community feedback, and for a full consultation on new plans – both online and in public workshops. Scrutiny committee are meeting in a few days to consider our request, and if it is accepted there will be a public meeting to discuss the decision and make recommendations.

Network Rail investigating long term solution to bridge strikes

Anyone who lives near Tulse Hill station of commutes to work will know that the bridge over Thurlow Park Road is regularly hit by lorries who are too tall to travel underneath.

We have been championing this issue with Transport for London and Network Rail. TfL have installed new technology which has reduced bridge strikes by a third, which means the trains are less disrupted and the South Circular is shut and completely rerouted down Lancaster Avenue  less frequently.

However, oversized lorries are still sent down Lancaster Avenue, which is a residential street and inappropriate for large articulated vehicles.

We are very pleased that Network Rail are exploring longer term solutions, in partnership with TfL, and will be conducting ground investigation works around the railway bridge to help them plan future works as part of their Railway Upgrade Plan. This includes boreholes, bridge abutment examinations and trial pits.

While in the long term we hope this will lead to them investing in either raising the bridge or lowering the road, in the short term we appreciate it may cause some disruption. Local residents will shortly receive a letter from Network Rail setting out the local impact.

As it is important for train passengers, road users , residents and staff to be safe, this type of work can only be carried out when trains are not operating and therefore they will mainly be taking place overnight and at weekends. We have been assured by Network Rail that staff and contractors have been briefed on how to work responsibly with the local community but would encourage you to get in touch with us if you experience any problems.

Some success in our campaign to end bridge strikes – a south circular technology upgrade

Many of you will be familiar with the regular delay and disruption caused by bridge strikes to the railway bridge over the South Circular in Tulse Hill. It is the most regular hit bridge in the UK – the regular collisions have caused over 200 hours of delay to Southern and Thameslink passengers in the past 12 months.

The impact of a bridge strike is incredibly disruptive – the roads are blocked, the trains are delayed and traffic is routed down residential streets. After years of inaction from TfL and Network Rail, we have been working hard to raise the profile of the problem and get some investment in solving it. We have been working with local residents, TfL officers, our MP and the London Assembly member, Flo Eshalomi AM.

The bridge’s location, near to the Tulse Hill station platforms, means it isn’t possible to raise the level, so we are petitioning for long term investment to instead lower the road in order to ensure all vehicles can fit underneath without any collision. This is a significant engineering challenge and will require substantial investment.

In the meantime, we have successfully lobbied for better technology and signage to prevent oversized lorries from attempting to go under the bridge. A detector system has been installed which is triggered by overheight vehicles. This will set off an alert to drivers that they need to stop or turn off the road before the bridge. We have had additional signage installed on the bridge, steel beams to protect it and engineers based nearby at peak hours to inspect the bridge quickly if needed, to minimise delays to train services. We have also successfully pushed for CCTV to be installed.

The cost of installation and future maintenance has been shared by TfL and Network Rail, and the systems are linked to TfL’s London Streets and Traffic Control Centre. That means the condition of the system can be monitored remotely and if a fault occurs it can be dealt with immediately. The LED signs are low energy.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Celebrate the community’s involvement in improving the neighbourhood

Streetworks is a community-led, TfL-funded project to improve West Norwood and Tulse Hill. The first phase of the project is to improve Norwood Road, and the second phase will look at improvements to the one way system and area around Tulse Hill station.

Hundreds of residents have been involved – from attending workshops and tweeting us their ideas to taking part in training and hosting their own community engagement events. 

We want to celebrate the involvement and enthusiasm of the community so on 23rd May we would like to invite you to come to our party and awards ceremony at Elmgreen School. We will hear from students at Elmgreen and members of the steering group about their involvement, and about future opportunities to get stuck in, and the Mayor of Lambeth will be awarding certificates to students. The event will conclude with a drinks and nibbles and a ‘marketplace’ of groups and local projects, should you want to find out more about this and other local opportunities.

  • Elmgreen School
  • 23 May
  • 5-6.30pm

RSVP here

Quietways update – public consultation

Since last summer, there have been a number of workshops and public meetings regarding Quietway Route 7, which includes part of Rosendale Road.

While many of you are unhappy about the choice of route, this was decided a number of years ago before we were elected councillors. However, since this was raised with us, we have done all we can to give residents a say over what this section of Quietway looks like. We have raised your concerns right to the top – having met with Andrew Gilligan, who is responsible London-wide for the Quietways programme, plus regular contact with Lambeth, TfL, the cabinet member, the leader of the council, the MP and Sustrans.

The proposals for public consultation are being completed and this will begin later this month. We’ll post links here on how to feedback online, and you’ll also receive a letter informing you the consultation dates and how to get involved if you live near the route. The project has been handed back to Lambeth officers to deliver on behalf of TfL from Sustrans, who were hired by TfL to help with hosting workshops and public engagement events.

In the meantime, please do continue to contact us with your thoughts and questions.