Living Streets for Haringey

Yesterday's meeting A Low Traffic Future for Haringey – healthier, fairer streets held in the Green Rooms on Station Road was full of good ideas and good intentions. The overarching theme was Active Travel. Slow vehicles down, get people out of their cars, encourage walking and cycling, lay out our streets to put people first, have better enforcement and regulation. The event was well-organised by Haringey Living Streets who want to build on the momentum they’ve generated. 

Campaigner Paul Gasson shows his slide on ‘seeds of change’
Campaigner Paul Gasson shows his slide on ‘seeds of change’

There was a good turn-out from Haringey councillors (with Councillor Hearn on the panel), a short well-focused speech by MP Catherine West and plenty of enthusiasm all round. There is a degree of optimism about the idea of liveable neighbourhoods – work is under way in Crouch End with funding from Transport for London. And there were two very good presentations from academic Rachel Aldred and campaigner Paul Gasson. Rachel provided convincing evidence that the rate of injury from accidents and the risk of ill-health from pollution disproportionately affects poorer children. Paul described the progress made in the centre of Walthamstow and along the Lea Bridge Road over the last few years. He showed how confident political leadership and good use of a money from TfL overcame initial popular disapproval at trying to do too much too quickly. His analysis of what councils must do to make progress - see the attached slide – is one we would strongly endorse.

So what’s not to like? Noel Park, where we live - the fourth most disadvantaged ward in Haringey - has the highest rate of accidents involving pedestrian injuries in the borough. This high incidence must be linked to the pressure of traffic on the High Road and the surrounding streets. We last campaigned on it in a big way in 2015, meeting the then Cabinet member for the Environment, Stuart McNamara, to point out the unfair distribution of traffic in Wood Green and the way it bears so heavily on Hornsey Park. Nothing came of that. 

Could it turn out differently? We’re not holding our breath. To the east we face a powerful lobby that wants to pedestrianise the High Road, to the west the developer St William is reluctant for Mary Neuner Road to share the load through their brand new upmarket estate. So: a low-traffic neighbourhood in Hornsey Park? The successful scheme in Walthamstow effectively decommissioned a B road carrying 5000 vehicles a day. Great stuff - but Hornsey Park Road was carrying 12,000 at the last count. Does Haringey have the political will to tackle a problem on this scale and take on the powerful opposition it will arouse? We’ve asked for a meeting with councillors to discuss it – a proposal already endorsed by Councillor Ibrahim. Many thanks to her for that response. Let’s see where we can get to this time. 

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