Ealing Labour are determined to shape Ealing for the better and tackle the big challenges we know we face now and in the years ahead. The climate emergency is one of the defining issues of our time. And it is already affecting Ealing. This year, London hit temperatures of 40o for the first time in recorded history, and we also saw devastating fires. This came only a few short months after Storm Eunice brought the worst winds in 30 years. London’s air pollution already causes 4,000 deaths a year, and is having real impacts on children’s health, with the poorest communities being hit hardest.
But the good news is that in Ealing we know what we need to do and we have a plan to deliver this. The evidence is clear – the greatest contributor to filthy air in our borough is from transport, including petrol and diesel cars, trucks and buses. As well as de-carbonising our own fleet and working with TfL on theirs, we need to support residents to choose cleaner, sustainable, and active ways to travel. We also need to work with TfL and lobby the Government for decent funding to make public transport accessible and attractive to everyone. And we need to have safe, well maintained roads for those who have no option but to drive.
That’s why our manifesto committed to investing at least £10m to increase cycling, walking, running, and scooting and reduce polluting vehicles through active travel schemes. Since the election, we have already made progress on our ambitious target to rapidly expand our popular School Streets programme to 50 schools by 2026. Recent TfL research, which included Holy Family school in Ealing, has shown the value of school streets, not only for children’s safety and health but also in fostering an increased sense of community. With great support from schools and local families, we have implemented 17 school streets so far, with more to come in January, delivering schemes only where we have the support of local residents.
We’ll be investing £35m in improving our roads, tracks and pavements, and just after the election we boosted funding for our highways programme by £6.25m for this year alone. Work is rapidly progressing on the Uxbridge Road cycle lane, including a key section between Southall and Hanwell, improving safety on this key route. The Greenford Road cycle lane has now been completed, with plans also in place for cycle lanes in Northolt, expanding active travel options to all parts of the borough. And straight after the election we announced we were slashing the cost of bike hangar permits so that they are now the lowest in London!
We know that the best way to deliver on our promises is not to make top down decisions but to work in partnership with local people and businesses to co-design solutions to the challenges we face. We’re committed to being open, transparent, and inclusive in doing this. We’ve listened and learned, and are committed to improving how we engage with local people, including on transport and active travel projects.
In August, we launched our ambitious, resident-focused Travel in Ealing Charter. We worked with hundreds of residents and stakeholders from across all seven towns to produce this Charter, and to reset our relationship so we can move forward together.
It starts with a simple principle, that we want to work with residents to identify the problems that need fixing, and come up with solutions together. Local people know their area best, and our schemes will be all the better for having local input.
This is already happening across our seven towns. From Let’s Go Southall to Visions for Northolt, we are trialling new, innovative ways to involve residents through the life of a project and beyond. We know that we need to listen to what local people tell us the problems are, and invest time and resources into coming up with solutions together.
Another great example of this is the Southall Wellbeing Way. This is a £1m project to transform the towpath and green spaces in Southall. All the proposals were developed with local people, facilitated by the great team and volunteers at Let’s Go Southall and the Canal and Rivers Trust.
We know that rebuilding trust on active travel will take time. Going forward, we’ll be honest about the goals and objectives of a scheme, and how we will judge success. We need to be prepared to change our minds, to change or remove a scheme where we know it hasn’t worked. This means that those schemes which do stay are clearly justified and we can demonstrate are making a difference.
We have made tackling the climate emergency one of the top three priorities of Ealing council, and as part of this commitment I’m proud to be our first ever cabinet member for climate action. In the face of a government that is back tracking on climate promises, Ealing Labour will deliver our pledge to achieving net zero by 2030, ensuring clear air for our children to breathe. But we need to work with local people to solve real world problems where they live, and that’s exactly what we will do.