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.”


Readout from 1 June 2020 Meeting

Virtual meetings appear to be popular, as 20 of us logged in yesterday for our belated May monthly meeting. We

  • had an introduction to Love Newham Streets and agreed to co-ordinate with them;
  • discussed the Council’s transport response to teh Covid-19 crisis and decided to write to Councillor Asser in advance of the 5 June deadline for applications for DfT Emergency Funding for London money;
  • discussed how to take the issue of crime on the Greenway forward having received a response from Will Norman to our letter concerning crime on the Greenway;
  • discussed how we might get Fix Your Ride back and running;
  • thought it useful to have a resource listing bike shops/repairers in the borough.

    If you were not at the meeting (or even if you were) and would like further details on any of these matters please get in touch.


Covid -19 and Active Travel – an Update

Since our earlier post more guidance has been issued by various authorities and the process is continuing. Details can be found on our Discussion Group .

This post updates and sumarises our meetings with Councillor Asser in anticipation of further discussion at our monthly meeting on Monday (1 June)

On 27 May there was a meeting of Manor Park residents with Councillors Dawood and Patel, Councillor Asser, and Newham Officers to discuss active travel. A significant proportion of participants were our members. The next day Councillor Asser, supported at officer level by Richard Wadey, met 9 of us. We should record our gratitude for the time and effort all these have given to meeting with us.

Throughout this process we have collated and shared all the suggestions that have come to us for active travel improvements and also provided a list of “quick wins”.

Newham faces problems in avoiding a return to the “old normal” …

It was clear that Councillor Asser and his team of officers had been working and thinking very hard and had been in discussion with neighbouring boroughs and outside experts. They have been very transparent. He outlined the challenges he faced: (a) money, (b) a determination on his part that to ensure that schemes could actually be put in place on the ground, (c) a desire that temporary schemes should become permanent, (d) avoiding criminal removal of temporary schemes as has been experienced with one of the school street pilots, (e) resources, (he did mention that some furloughed TfL staff had been called upon), and (f) the fact that Newham was starting from behind other, more progressive authorities.

The Council was concentrating at present on pavement widening, cycle paths, School Steets and resurrecting plans for low traffic neighbourhoods hit by withdrawal of old funding sources by TfL.

Councillor Asser explained his approach of seeking to address the entrenched motor car lobby in Newham by speaking to residents and businesses direct.

On funding:

  • The Council has or is on the point of applying for £2m from a TfL emergency pot;
  • It is monitoring the allocation of the Government’s announced £250m of which £25m has been allocatedto London;
  • It is actively pursing an emerging extra (as yet indeterminate) sum from the Government for road closures and School Streets;
  • The Council is spending £1m from its existing capital fund. Further decisions would have to be made to “rebalance” money allocated to “Keep Newham Moving” under the old regime.

In practical terms:

  • A Cabinet meeting will take place on 11 June for decisions to be made (including on the parking permit scheme consulted upon prior to the current crisis):
  • Experimental Traffic orders are being prepared, in conjunction with Waltham Forest to implement the joint Low Traffic Neighbourhood previously at the planning stage and on which early consultation had taken place;
  • Discussions had been initiated with TfL on converting bus lanes on main corridors to 24 hr operation and Councillor Asser agreed that these discussions ought ot include the question of rephasing lights;
  • Next week a portal should go live for the public to record their suggestions for schemes;
  • Applications for funding are being made and prepared – which involves specific schemes.

We for our part stressed the following:

  • Ugenct action is vital given that lives are at stake. The Mayor has rightly and eloquently publicised the particular problems that Newham faces. It would be damaging if the Council is not seen to be doing everything it can to directly address those problems.
  • Extra resources should be pulled in if needed; we offered practical help.
  • The Council needed to avoid extreme risk aversion in the face of the motor car lobby that could not be entirely overcome. Elsewhere where measures have been put in place they have proved popular.
  • There were a host of minor measures that would help active travel, many of which we have raised and which fall outside the main schemes being currently worked on. These should be followed up, especially when put on the portal, as this would not only improve the conditions for active travel but increase public engagement if suggestions are seen to be acted upon.
… but Newham also has opportunities to benefit from active travel.

Our plea for urgency has since been reinforced as it emerged that Government funding will be withdrawn if schemes are not meaningful and not completed in less than 10 weeks. Over 1 month will have passed between the Government’s original guidelines envisaging action within weeks and and the crucial Cabinet meeting. In the meantime other Councils have made significantly more progress.

Keep well and keep cycling,


Covid – 19 and Active Travel in Newham

A lot has been going on since our note to Councillor Asser on 6 May;

(1) Government Guidelines to Local Authorities were issued on 9 May outlining bold and clear actions that should be taken in weeks “to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling, both to encourage active travel and to enable social distancing to restart”  In respect of immediate measures these were more radical than envisaged in our submission.  Of the various funding sources announced, the £2b over 5 years and £250m for pop up bike lanes was already announced in February.

(2) TfL have issued their Streetspace for London Plan followed by interim guidance to Local Authorities on 15 May.  This plan also meets the challenge and urgency of the situation; and includes temporary cycle routes, additional space for walking and cycling in town centres and transport hubs, accelerating Low Traffic neighbourhoods.  On the downside some existing sources of existing TfL funding have been adversely affected or moved into the Streetspace Plan.

(3) Newham Cyclists held meeting with Council officers responsible for sustainable transport on 15 May.  This covered a wide range of options available for measures that could be taken in accordance with the Government Guidelines and gave us a chance to put forward the many suggestions we had gathered from a variety of sources.

(4) Later on 15 May the Mayor of Newham released a statement indicating that the Council had “been working on plans over recent weeks to invest more to encourage walking and cycling.” Some action has been taken in Green Street and High Street North to facilitate social distancing on the pavement but everything else remains as an option or under discussion or has no implementation date. An analysis of why Newham Cyclists is concerned with this response as falling short of expectations is set out below.

(5) This week Councillor Asser has been in touch with us.  He kindly offered a meeting which we are arranging for next week.  In doing so he emphasised the work in hand relating to cycling, walking, low traffic neighbourhoods and school streets in the face of challenges in respect of finance and resources. He expressed a determination that projects should not be announced before it is clear they can be implemented.

The Newham Response

It is clear that urgent action is needed.  The Government Guidelines specify a number of actions to be taken within weeks.  These are matched to the Mayor’s statement in the annex.

There is no mention in the Mayor’s statement of a number of key elements of the Government Guidelines for action.  Nor any mention of (a) removal of the legal parking on pavements which make social distancing impossible and (b) ending the free permit for residents to park on the street.  Those actions that are mentioned (other than High Street North and Green St) are subject variously to consideration of options, an implementation period without a time limit, examination or, in the case of Streetscape Plans discussions with TfL.

It is true that all local authorities face challenges to finance and pressure on resources. We see other London Boroughs having taken more significant action already.  It also is likely that any new funding will go to those authorities that are nimble in putting forward credible schemes meeting tough deadlines.     Indeed there are opportunities for quick and cheap interventions in Newham meeting the Government Guidelines. We have put these forward and will continue to do so.

The response from Newham Council so far gives us concern that it is continuing to fall behind in active travel, and that it will not take the opportunity (albeit in grim circumstances) of achieving a rebalancing of the priority between motor vehicles and active/sustainable transport in the borough.  There remains a high risk of returning to what the Mayor has called the “old normal” with its well – recognised effects on air quality, the general environment, public health and safety – areas where Newham already lags behind the country and other London Boroughs. We fear that history will not look kindly on Newham if it fails to grasp this opportunity to match other boroughs which took effective steps to protect their residents from Covd-19.  The fact that there is an organised motor vehicle lobby in Newham should not prevent steps being taken to restrict motor vehicles in favour of active travel which, where taken elsewhere have proved to be successful.  The example of Waltham Forest shows that they will turn out to be popular too.


Points in government guidelines are in italics;

  • “Pop up” cycle facilities.  The Mayor’s statement includes the carefully nuanced i.e. limited, statement that “From next week, more changes will be introduced, and options explored, in other high ‘footfall’ areas of the borough to help residents shop, walk and cycle safely. 

    The statement goes on to specify in this respect (a) “Examining which roads can be narrowed or converted to one-way only by using barriers to create more social distancing space” and (b) Reviewing ‘insets’ for car parking, and other parking bays, in high ‘footfall’ areas to see which ones can be removed to widen footpath areas for safe walking or cycling.”  One way streets – even with cycle contraflows are a second best option compared with Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.  Cycling will not be made more attractive if those cycling are pushed into through traffic.  In contrast the Government Guidelines advocate segregated cycle lanes as far as possible.

  • Using cones and barriers to widen footways particularly outside shops and transport hubs.  Action has been taken, as announced by the Mayor, in High Street North and Green Street.  Some inset parking bays have been removed and loading time have been limited, but the predominant action is stencilling the pavement and putting up signs.  These, and the decluttering of pavements promised by the Mayor, are not a substitute for creating genuine space for walking and cycling.

  • Encouraging walking and cycling to school, for example through the introduction of more ‘school streets’.  The mayor’s statement does not mention adding to the existing 5 school street schemes in Newham.
  • Reducing speed limits: 20mph speed limits are being more widely adopted as an appropriate speed limit for residential roads, and many through streets in built-up areas. Not specifically mentioned in the Mayor’s statement.  Newham has traditionally been reluctant to introduce 20 mph limits (despite our consistent suggestions in response to consultations) and even in some cases failed to signpost the existing ones clearly. 

  • Introducing pedestrian and cycle zones: restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times (or at all times) to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets. Not specifically mentioned in the Mayor’s statement.

  • Modal filters (also known as filtered permeability); closing roads to motor traffic, for example by using planters or large barriers. Often used in residential areas, this can create neighbourhoods that are low-traffic or traffic free.  The Mayor’s statement does mention implementing “more” low traffic neighbourhood schemes.  Newham Cyclists are not aware of any existing “Liveable Neighbourhood” or “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” schemes although at least two (Custom House and Forest Gate North) have been in the planning stage.  No areas are specifically stated nor any time scale provided.  Newham Cyclists have proposed others that could be easily implemented.
  • Changes to junction design to accommodate more cyclists.  Not mentioned in the Mayor’s statement.
  • Whole-route’ approaches to create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town and city centres.  Not mentioned in the Mayor’s statement despite Newham having been identified (in 2016 by TfL) as having a number of “strategic” corridors with the greatest cycling potential in London.
  • Identifying and bringing forward permanent schemes already planned.  Not mentioned in the Mayor’s statement other than the general reference to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

The Implications of the Covid-19 Crisis

The Covid-19 crisis is a tragedy from which Newham has suffered more than most areas. This tragedy has implications in many areas of life including, as discussed at our annual Meeting, for walking and cycling in the borough.

In the light of this discussion we have sent this submission to Councillor Asser, Cabinet Member for the Environment, Highways & Sustainable Transport. It sets out some actions that could be taken now to facilitate social distancing for those walking and cycling and steps that need to be taken to rebalance priority between motor vehicles and active travel once the lockdown is eased. Many of these demands will be familiar from our previous campaigning.

Also here is a template, which we encourage all those keen to improve active travel in Newham to send to their local councillors. It can be amended to suit precisely what you want to say and can highlight your local bottlenecks.

Keep well everyone,


Annual Meeting 27 April 2020: Readout

20 of us gathered virtually for our Annual Meeting. Given the circumstances we focussed on essential business and our reaction to the Covid-19 crisis.

The following were elected Officers:

Co-ordinator – Arnold Ridout

Deputy Co-ordinator – Kerena Fussell

Secretary – Kate Byrne

Treasurer – Bill Bremner

Ride Co-ordinator – Steve Smith

Infrastructure Rep – Olawale Ajibola

Deputy Infrastructure Rep – Chris Kershaw

QEOP Rep – Jonathan Rothwell

The Annual Report, Accounts for 2019-20 and the Budget for 2020-21 were approved. Steve’s Ride Report and an album of Robin’s photos are now available. We hope to arrange for cashless donations at Fix Your Ride sessions when they resume..

In response to the current crisis we encourage members as individuals to lobby their Counsellors on the immediate advantages in promoting cycling and walking and, once the lockdown is eased, to take the opprtunities to maintain the impetus given to sustainable transport and better air quality in the face of an anticipated flight to motor vehicles. A number of templates for this are avaiable including that of Living Streets and British Cycling and those already used have propmpted some responses. We will also provide a template. Other London local authorities are known to be actively looking at how to exit the lockdown by exploiting the opportunities to promote sustainable transport.

We agreed to supplement important individual effots with a Newham Cyclists submission to the Council to remind it of the opportunities available now and post lockdown. This should take into account that the Council’s enforcement officers are presently stretched, but include for the longer term: 20mph, liveable neighbourhoods and ensuring that future road proposals provide good quality provision for cycling – especially given teh anticipated “flight back to cars”.

We also agreed to collate and pass on members suggestions for temporary improvements as part of this exercise. These suggestions should be sent by e-mail –

We are in the process of putting together some good cycling routes which we shall publish if we can.

We were warned of increased cycle thefts including breaking open of cycle hoops.

Finally we agreed to keep our next (virtual) meeting to our regular last Monday in the month slot despite this falling on a bank holiday.


Annual Meeting Monday 27 April 2020 7.30pm

Due to the Covid 19 crisis this year’s annual meeting will be held using the Newham Cyclists Zoom account.

If you would like to participate can you please indicate by e-mailing or responding to the social media notices. You will then be sent an invite.

The agenda will be:

*Election of officers

*Accounts 2019 -2020 and Budget 2020-2021 (to follow)

*Agreement of Annual Report 2019-20

*Any other business.


Advice on Cycling

If you have started cycling during the current crisis or have newly returned and would like some helpful advice this is available from the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and Newham Cyclists, the borough section of the LCC. Resources available include:

An LCC helpline: You can access the free advice service via Facebook Messenger at or 020 7234 9310 or You will be connected with LCC representatives, who have a wealth of cycling information and knowledge and will be on hand to advise people on basic cycle skills, locking and parking bikes, safe route planning, where to buy bikes and gear, and cycling safely in traffic including near HGVs and lorries.

Free LCC Membership for NHS staff: LCC has 11,500 members who pay an annual subscription and support the charity’s campaigning and cycling promotion work. They get benefits including free liability insurance, access to cycling news and information, free legal advice and a range of discounts. Individual members normally pay £49/year but staff working for London NHS trusts or at London hospitals can access membership for free for an initial period of three months, which may be extended if the coronavirus crisis continues beyond June.

Newham specific advice from local cyclists: e-mail us at letting us know in general terms what your query is and how you wish to be contacted and we will get in touch and try to answer.

Finally, Handlebars are crowdfunding for their scheme to donate a bike for NHS Key workers.


Co-ordinator, Newham Cyclists

Readout from 30 March 2020 Meeting

This was our first attempt at a virtual meeting which, despite glitches, was judged a success by the 15 who participated.

We discussed the operation of the group during the current Covid 19 crisis and the various ways in which we could help.

We decided (a) to hold a virtual, short form Annual Meeting next month; (b) to subscribe to Zoom; and (c) to investigate further with LCC the approach by Newham Council to relaxation of parking enforcement, in the light of the opportunity to exploit the benefits of active travel. For example, there was an opportunity for some temporary cycle lanes on some of the very worst roads within the QEOP.

We agreed the broad lines of next year’s budget, which should enable us to keep about £500 in reserve to meet LCC’s suggestion to local groups to avoid spending their reserves at present. We decided not to press for the usual payment from LCC based on membership given the circumstances.

There was a general infrastucture update and focussing on the light phasing at Stratford Town Centre.

Keep well