Can you park outside your house? For many people living in the centre of town this is a dream; but why can’t we make it a reality?
The last month has shown us that a one way system across Whitstable might just work, but also that any change to traffic needs to consider the impact it has on local businesses, road safety and be done in conjunction with a rethink of how people who depend on public transport get into town.
Last weekend, Labour MP Rosie Duffield, was out with local candidates in the centre of Whitstable, hearing how the almost 300% rise in off street parking permits over the last five years is hitting people hard. She described the “the council is ‘cashing in’ on growing waiting lists for these places rather than considering new ways to stop the high street and local streets being gridlocked”. We all understand that tourism brings money into our town but this council isn’t squaring up to the traffic it brings.
Labour is committed to a new Park and Ride for the Whitstable but more importantly also believes we need an independent strategic plan to be commissioned to explore the problem of parking. A plan in which the council can work alongside concerned residents associations, businesses and local residents to identify the options and then consult widely across the town as to which has the greatest support. A consultation which involves face to face stakeholder events, local surveys and town hall style meetings to engage with all the local community rather than just those groups who are most organised.
All options should be on the table, like in Bristol’s recent’s consultation on Citizen Space.
George Caffrey, Labour candidate for Gorrell, notes that “previous attempts to impose solutions haven’t worked, nothing should be off the table. We need radical ideas we can all get behind”. If you agree, vote Labour on May 2
As air pollution continues to pose a huge public risk to the health of people up and down the country, we must now pose radical solutions to reduce it. As councils like Islington, Hackney and Walthamstow have announced a ‘School Streets’ initiative to cut air pollution in areas where schools reside, it is now time for Canterbury City Council to take up the same mantle and act.
The ‘School Streets’ allows local headteachers and residents to come together and petition their council to prevent vehicles from entering certain streets during school hours or around school pick up/drop offs. By restricting access, school streets prevent the risks of road traffic accidents and health conditions linked to air pollution, which includes lung diseases and a reduction of life expectancy. Children under the age of 14 are one of the most susceptible demographics to these associated health problems, therefore, it is a necessary move to tackle a growing public health problem.
Whilst the initiative would be open to all, the council already has a number of ‘Air Quality Management Areas’ where air pollution exceeds the target determined by the City Council. AQMA’s in Wincheap Road and Sturry Road are both a stone’s throw from Wincheap primary and Parkside Community School respectively. If there was the introduction of a similar initiative to those launched in Islington, Hackney and Walthamstow, there could be a huge reduction in air pollution levels, mitigating the associated health risks.
Just last year, Canterbury City Council launched their air quality action plan, which put in place fines for drivers who leave their engines running, as well as the supposed intention to endorse a car free day, for drivers to leave their cars at home for one day. Though these measured should not be criticised, it is evident they don’t go far enough. Where is the action around schools? Where is the action around hospitals, given pregnant women are also another demographic particularly susceptible to the associated risks? Where is the action around areas where there is a higher density of older people?
If we are to think seriously about tackling this immediate issue, we cannot just deliver miniscule reforms. We need a wide-ranging strategy that looks at the areas and the people most at risk. Implementing a School Streets initiative would begin that process.