A Tory Minister has once again shown how out of touch he and his party are with Islington.
Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, took to Sky News on Monday 19th January to attack Islington Labour's ground-breaking 20mph speed limit policy.
In 2013, Islington Labour agreed to introduce 20mph speed limits on all the roads in the borough that the council controls. This policy has made roads safer for all residents - including pedestrians and cyclists.
Other London Boroughs have followed Islington's lead, with Lewisham last week becoming the newest member of the 20mph borough club.
However, Mr Pickles decided to attack this successful policy, describing it as “unreasonable” and that it “brings the law into contempt.”
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport (pictured), has today written to Mr Pickles challenging him on his views and pointing out the evidence which shows that the 20mph policy is right for Islington. You can read Cllr Webbe's letter here.
Commenting on Mr Pickles remarks, Cllr Webbe said: “We brought in a 20mph limit to make Islington’s roads safer for everyone, with strong backing from our community. Our 20mph policy is also part of improving air quality in the borough and has seen public health benefits as a result of encouraging more active travel amongst residents – such as walking and cycling.
“Since 2013, other councils across the country have followed our lead and are also introducing 20mph to make their roads safer. Police in Islington are helping to enforce the 20mph limit.
“We’re very disappointed the communities secretary doesn’t support our work to create safer streets for people who walk, cycle and drive in Islington.
“I’d like to invite him to visit Islington and explain to local people why he thinks cars and lorries should be driving faster through our streets, past our homes and schools.”
The road safety charity, Brake, have also criticised Mr Pickles' comments, adding: "We disagree with Mr Pickles’ comments and we’re in support of Islington Borough Council, who received widespread local support. The minister has got it entirely the wrong way round. It’s our view that decision makers should look carefully at where 30mph limits are kept.
The GO20 campaign is all about defending everyone’s right to walk and cycle in their neighbourhood, encouraging people to make healthier and more sustainable travel choices.
It’s clear that 20mph limits in communities like Islington can help make boroughs healthier, and more active. We would expect a Government minister to support that view and we are surprised and disappointed at his comments."
Research shows that on urban roads with low traffic speeds any 1mph reduction in average speed can reduce the collision frequency by around 6%. There is also clear evidence confirming the greater chance of survival of pedestrians at lower speeds, with The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) finding a 2.5% chance of a pedestrian being fatally injured when struck at 20mph, compared to a 20% chance at 30mph.
Since the introduction of the policy, the council has worked with colleagues in the police to explain the new speed limits to local motorists. Having carried out 24 targeted ‘stop and advise’ speed reduction operations across 13 different locations, and speaking with more than 900 motorists, from October 2014 the police are now enforcing the speed limits and issuing fixed penalty notices where appropriate.
Since 2011, the Tory-led Government and Mr Pickles have cut funding to Islington by half. Despite this, Islington Labour has protected vital public services by delivering tough choices, with the right priorities.
Pictured Above - Cllr Claudia Webbe with local police officers enforcing the 20mph speed limits.