Newham and DfT Emergency Funding for London

Here is the text of an e-mail sent today to Councillor Asser, Cabinet Member for Environment, and Highways and Sustainable Transport and copied to Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz.

At a very well attended meeting of Newham Cyclists yesterday, we discussed the need for urgent developments in active travel following our meetings with you and your team, and in the light of the new deadline of 5 June to apply for DfT Emergency Funding for London.

As the first exercise of this kind, this is a test of the preparedness and the will of the Council to avoid a reversion to the old normal of congestion, pollution and inactivity. DfT have been explicitly clear that future funding for active travel is dependent on the delivery of initial schemes within 8 weeks. 

As you know, we have been concerned at the pace of action of the Council in comparison with comparable neighbouring boroughs.  It is not helpful that the cabinet is not due to discuss these issues until 11 June – over a month after Statutory Government Guidelines were requiring action be taken within weeks.

We are very strongly of the view that Newham Council must ensure that it applies for funding for ambitious schemes of good enough quality to deliver real practical benefits for walking and cycling, and meet the condition of swift implementation.  Any reluctance to act in the face of the local entrenched motor vehicle lobby must be weighed against the lives that are at stake.   With thousands of our residents utterly reliant on public transport to get to work, Newham should be at the forefront in creating ways for them to get about safely by walking and cycling so that they do not face having to take unnecessary health risks or risk losing their job. It is shocking that very little seems to have been done, and that time is running out

We appreciate that with the recent media focus on the severe impact of the Covid-19 crisis on our borough it would be unforgivable if we did not grasp this opportunity to significantly address the poor environment and health of residents – two issues that are significant contributors to the impact of Covid-19.

Although there is now less than a week before the deadline for applications, we renew the offers of help and point you to the concrete suggestions that we have previously made. 

If you are able to indicate what you are applying for that would be greatly appreciated; but in any event, once the application has been lodged we should be grateful for a copy.

We shall be publishing a copy of this letter on our website.”