Newham risks ‘falling further behind’: Campaigners criticise town hall plans to support walking and cycling

Newham has been criticised for not showing enough ambition over its plans to promote walking and cyc

Newham has been criticised for not showing enough ambition over its plans to promote walking and cycling. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Campaigners have criticised plans to cut car use and promote active travel, claiming they lack ambition.

Newham Cyclists welcomed town hall recognition of the need for a rebalancing between motor traffic, walking and cycling, but warned the borough risks failing to achieve the changes needed for more active travel.

The comments follow publication of a paper detailing a council bid for emergency funding aimed at helping to keep the borough moving. The details are due to be voted on by cabinet chiefs on June 11.

Public transport use has fallen as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. There are concerns that as lockdown eases some people may struggle to travel while others will get behind the wheel, putting pressure on roads and worsening air quality.

Arnold Ridout, the group’s coordinator, said: “Newham Cyclists welcome the recognition that there needs to be a rebalancing between motor traffic and active travel and a new, more intensive, approach to promoting walking and cycling .

“The background analysis in the paper is extremely persuasive.”

He added the group appreciated £5million of TfL funding for active travel schemes has been removed and replaced by the “uncertainty” of reallocation and a need to rebid for funding.

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“However, an examination of the detail of the proposed programme outlined in this paper shows that its timing and ambition does not match the challenges that affect Newham, nor does it fully match the government’s statutory guidelines.

“Unless the cabinet takes the extra steps we have suggested, Newham seriously risks failing to achieve the necessary step change towards active travel, failing in its bids for funding and consequently falling further behind comparable boroughs,” Mr Ridout said.

Among the group’s evidence of a lack of ambition on Newham’s part are that only seven schools are identified as potential sites for restrictions on traffic during the school run.

The plans also fail to mention curbing parking on pavements; improving enforcement action to encourage walking and cycling; introducing 24 hour bus lanes as well as lacking any reference to introducing more 20mph speed limits.

Newham Council was approached for comment but has not sent the Recorder a response.