No pass for Maryland station

Maryland residents and Green Party members have been campaigning to get Maryland station included in Zone 2/3

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Maryland residents and Green Party members have been campaigning to get Maryland station included in ‘Zone 2/3’, like all other Stratford stations.

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‘Maryland is a Stratford station’ by @MarylandPoint

Sadly we discovered this week that the campaign to rezone Maryland as zone 2/3 hit a major stumbling block. Staff from the office of Mayor Sadiq Khan responded with a no, but only commented on the financial concerns campaigners had raised:

The re-zoning of stations in the Stratford area from Zone 3 to Zone 2/3 was done as part of plans to secure the Olympic legacy and on the basis that it would be self-funding due to the increased value of the land owned by the Greater London Authority in the area. These considerations do not apply in the same way to Maryland. The decision to re-zone the other stations was also made to prevent passengers from having to travel through Zone 3 on the Jubilee line to reach Stratford. Without these changes Jubilee Line users would still have had to buy a Zone 3 ticket, which would have put them at a disadvantage compared to Central Line users.

While we are disappointed about this, we’ll continue to urge TfL and the Labour Mayor of London that safety and overcrowding is an issue they should reconsider.

Rezoning Maryland to 2/3 would encourage residents to board there, easing the scary over-crowding at Forest Gate and Stratford stations. Already a real danger, particularly at rush hour and on West Ham match days, station over-crowding will only get worse once the Elizabeth link (aka Crossrail) opens for Stratford, Maryland and Forest Gate in December 2018.

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Newham Record piece on complaints to TfL about overcrowding at Stratford

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Yes, as an added bonus, it would make travel cheaper for local residents too, which could be a huge relief for many struggling with ever rising costs. However our main priority, and that of TfL and the Mayor of London’s office, should be in making sure all travellers are safe when using Newham’s stations.

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Local campaigners in the Friends of Maryland group have pledged to continue the campaign, with support from Councillor Seyi Akiwowo and their ongoing petition.

Hopefully the increase in foot traffic from the Elizabeth Line will lead to a full review of the situation, if we’re unable to get it resolved sooner.

Stratford Town Centre Improvements

Newham Council has proposed changes to the one-way traffic system around the Stratford Mall (including the Broadway and Great Eastern Road), including the introduction of two-way traffic flows.

The council’s aim is to reduce accidents in the area and “encourage more people to visit the Broadway, High Street and Cultural Quarter” to support local businesses and venues.Stratford Improvements 1

The information available online is relatively limited and vague, proposing:

  • a two-way traffic system and road calming measures like 20mph limits
  • upgrading the existing cycle tracks making them more distinct
  • improving shared pedestrian and cycle spaces
  • widen the pedestrian crossing at Meridian Square
  • move other intersections to “where pedestrians prefer to cross”
  • resurface pavements, “removing old street furniture and introducing new landscaping”
  • enhancements to the ‘public areas’ around St John’s Church and the Theatre Square

So far, we’re quite excited by these proposals – which look like they might resolve many of the issues we’ve had with the shared pavement/cycle paths, although cyclists will still have to fend for themselves in certain quarters. The resurfacing of pavements and improvements to traffic crossings are also very welcome – some paths in Stratford remain uneven or steep, which can be difficult for those with mobility issues, or prams.

Our highlights from the details specified on the proposals map include:

An additional ‘Quiet way’ cycle route (for families and less confident cyclists) along Theatre Square.

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Relocating the station taxi rank from tucked away the other side of Westfield stairs to the behind the bus station, so access is improved – brilliant for those of us who are less mobile! – and taxis are easier for visitors to find.

Coaches have also been relocated from both sides of the shopping centre, to Montfichet Road, near the station’s Westfield exit.

The former rank and coach stop on Great Eastern Road will become a pick up/drop off zone.

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The main concerns are the execution of changes from a one-way ring road to a two-way traffic flow. Apparently local residents and businesses will be kept informed as the project progresses.

We’ll add more information as/when we get it.nc-nov-consult-events

You can take part in the public consultation via the Council’s online survey, and you can find the proposal’s full map in the consultation leaflet (pdf)

Alternatively, the Council is holding public information events in November, and hopefully more detailed displays of the proposals will be available at Stratford, Plaistow and Forest Gate libraries until 28 November.

Construction is proposed to be completed in phases, starting in summer 2017. Based on current projections, completion is estimated for spring 2019.

Update: Newham Cyclists and the London Cycling Campaign have both published their responses to the proposals, and residents have pointed out that there is a gap between the works featured in this proposal and the works on Maryland point – raising concerns there might be issues if the cycle paths aren’t continued. Stratford has had problems with cycle paths that just stop before, so if you are a cyclist you might want to look at that as an area for feedback.

Deadline is 28 November, so please respond here, if you haven’t already.

 

The Silvertown Tunnel

The proposed Silvertown Tunnel is a four lane road link between Newham’s Royal Docks and the Greenwich Peninsula. The required land in Newham was purchased by TfL years ago, before any formal planning proposal was submitted.

The scheme entered the planning stage in October 2015 and a decision is expected in late-2017.stunnel

The case against:

  • TfL expects traffic levels to increase by more than a third on major roads across Newham with Silvertown and Canning Town the worst hit.
  • More traffic means poorer air quality. Newham residents already suffer the impact of some of the highest levels of air pollution in London.
  • The tunnel will bring many more HGVs into East London, endangering pedestrians and people on bikes.
  • The earliest possible completion date is 2022/23.
  • The Silvertown Tunnel is expected to cost at least £1 billion.
  • The tunnel will be tolled, and a toll will also be introduced at Blackwall Tunnel. Whilst West London river crossings will remain free to use – and as those are all bridges, not tunnels, they are available to pedestrians and cyclists too!
  • Greenwich Green Party are also concerned about the traffic congestion and air pollution increases this tunnel would cause south of the river. The Woolwich Road flyover is already one of the most polluted spots in London.  Furthermore, it will also make existing bottlenecks at Kidbrooke and Eltham – where the A102 and A2 have only two lanes in each direction – worse.
  • The tunnel will be financed using Public Private Finance Initiatives – essentially a expensive loan from a private company who also builds the infrastructure. These have crippled the NHS and schools with debt.

The Silvertown/Royal Docks area is already heavily over-polluted, from both the airport and existing building works, we feel TfL’s proposal doesn’t give this harmful impact on local residents and businesses enough consideration. We held an townhall-style event in Britannia Village, near the proposed tunnel’s entrance. Understandably, local residents were angry and felt unheard in the process. Many would prefer a bridge, while others didn’t want any river crossing in the area – as their community was being fractured by all the other approved developments.

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In addition to the negative health and infrastructure impacts, this project unfairly targets East Londoners to pay for the privilege of crossing the river, with the introduction of the proposed tolls.

TfL’s proposal claims the tolls are to aid with congestion reduction – but this could, and should, have been thorough trialled at the existing tunnel before public funds are committed to building such an expensive and polluting new tunnel.

It’s also confusing that TfL highlights the continuing need to reduce congestion on these routes, when the argument for building the Silvertown Tunnel was initially to relieve congestion at Blackwall. Is this new tunnel not fit for purpose? Or are the tolls really more about providing a guaranteed revenue stream for the private-partnership funders?

“The Mayor of London is loudly promoting a £750 million Silvertown Tunnel between the Royal Docks and the Greenwich peninsular as the solution to congestion on east London’s roads.

But a simple investigation of the facts shows this scheme to be expensive, unnecessary and dangerous.

TfL admit the only way to stop a tidal wave of extra traffic flooding roads across east London would be to impose toll charges. Motorists would pay around £2.50 to cross the Thames using either the new tunnel or the old Blackwall Tunnel which is currently free.”

Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member in 2014 , challenged in a Big Debate piece in the Newham Recorder against Newham Councillor Ken Clark, who claimed that “A Gallions bridge and the Silvertown tunnel would reduce the congestion we see in Newham”, without any details on how, or indeed IF, local infrastructure would be improved to deal with the extra traffic these crossings would generate.

Newham has one of the lowest levels of car ownership in London with two thirds of residents commuting by public transport. Newham Green Party believes that residents should have the choice to cross the river on foot or by bike. We welcome new north-south public transport links that would take the strain off current routes.

Caroline Russell, one of Green Party’s London Assembly Members, has also criticised the scheme. She says:

“I will continue to support local people to fight this road tunnel through the planning process and at City Hall I will hold the Mayor to account for his decision to progress this scheme.”

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Caroline Russel and Sian Berry protesting near the proposed tunnel’s entrance

In a recent announcement, Mayor Sadiq Khan attempted to greenwash the project by announcing that buses services through the tunnel would have space for bikes. The Mayor’s support for the Silvertown Tunnel is utterly incompatible with his commitment to reduce air pollution in London.

The Green Party, with locals on both sides of the river, are not the only group campaigning against the tunnel – Hackney, Lewisham and Southwark Councils coming out against it in 2015, and Newham Council in 2016 – after having initially supported it. Greenwich Council gave their support via formal feedback in the second stage of the consultation (Nov. 2015).

There is also an independent group, called No to Silvertown Tunnel, who you can follow on Twitter @NoSilvertownTnl

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We’re taking part in the public consultation – several members have responded independently with their views, but we are also preparing an official response from the Newham branch of the party, and welcome feedback from local residents and/or businesses, if they would like it included. Closing date for this final feedback to the consultation is 15th November 2016, therefore we ask for all feedback you would like us to include to be submitted to us by 5pm on Friday 11th November, either in the comments or by email.

#FairFares for London transport

Rachel Collinson outside Pontoon Dock station Today Rachel Collinson, our local representative for the upcoming GLA election, joined Newham Greens members out around the borough to leaflet and talk to commuters about TfL’s latest fare changes, and how we hope to make a difference with our own #FairFares policy if we can secure a bigger presence on the Greater London Assembly, and perhaps even our first Green Mayor of London!
(The GLA and Mayoral election is run on PR vote, we usually get a much better result than at more traditional FPTP elections for MPs and local councillors. We came third in 2010, so we think Sian is really in with a shot!)

Rachel Collinson leafletting in Stratford
We had a lovely (if a bit chilly!) morning with volunteers around Newham, watching the sun rise on a beautiful day.

Sun rising over Thames Barrier Park

In fact, it was so nice that Rachel and a few more volunteers headed back out to meet people on their homeward journeys in the Royal Docks and at London City Airport station this evening.

We heard stories and feedback about all sorts of transport concerns, as well as about a lot of other local issues. Interesting and helpful conversations were had around the borough, whether it was 7 AM or PM, and we’d like to thank everyone who came to volunteer or stopped for a chat – the time was truly appreciated!

Rachel Collinson with volunteer Ed at London City Airport

In case you missed our volunteers today, what could #FairFares mean for you? Well, you can find the full lowdown at Sian Berry’s website, but here are the parts we’re most excited by:

  1. Simplify the zone pricing structure, leading to fairer charges London-wide.
  2. Single zone with a fairer flat-rate fare for all of London by 2025. Prices would start to get cheaper from 2016, with 2 of the current zones removed in 2017.
  3. Our “ONE Ticket” policy means that you pay 1 charge for your complete journey, not each time you change bus/train/tube as part of it.
  4. Lower rates for the daily pay-as-you-go caps, so part-time workers can gain from the savings too.
  5. Integrating TfL’s cycle hire scheme, taxis and riverboats into the Oyster system for easier payments on the go.

FairFares policy transition timeline