Greenwich Council to cut funding for street improvements?
Councils across London have been recently rubber-stamping plans on how and where to spend millions of pounds awarded annually from TfL for street improvements across the capital.
The money covers the next three years up to 2021/22 and comes from the Local Implementation Plan (LIP). Alongside TfL money, many councils across London are currently agreeing their own sources of financing alongside.
This post will look at London boroughs and compare with Greenwich. It has some rather stark findings, including that neighboring Lewisham, for example, will spend seven times as much Section 106 income per year from developers on better streets.
And it’s not just Lewisham. Greenwich Council – which will receive nearly £2 million annually from TfL over the next three years – propose spending very little income from Section 106, the Community Infrastructure Levy or parking revenue compared to every other London Labour council I researched.
This screenshot from Greenwich Council’s LIP report shows no confirmed Section 106 spend after next year for better streets nor Community Infrastructure Levy:
They also allocate zero from parking income for better streets. That’s possibly as parking income has been somewhat of a shambles and is over £12 million below budgeted amounts since 2011/2. Another £1.4 million shortfall was presented to Greenwich’s Cabinet last week.
Issues include employing less wardens in 2018 than they did in 2010 despite housing growth and being one of just three councils never to seek authorisation to use cameras against traffic contraventions. Though there’s signs they may be changing with more staff hired – so could that be revised?
Money from parking helps fund the freedom pass. Other authorities manage to fund that and improvements within boroughs. Greenwich’s chronic budget issues prevent that.
Greenwich intend to plug the gap left by a lack of S106, CIL or parking revenue by using “Capital/Revenue Funding” to a far higher degree than other councils. That’s money that could be spent on other important areas – health, education, housing, parks etc – but will not.
Let’s have a look at how other councils intend to spend revenue from developers and parking income to fund street improvements.
Lewisham propose £1.33 million each year from Section 106 – almost seven times as much as Greenwich. They also propose just half the amount taken from capital funding. Parking is TBC rather than zero in their eastern neighbours plan. They will also look to raise £250k each year from other external funding bids (they have a far better track record than Greenwich):
Next up is Labour Lambeth, who propose allocating £5 million from parking income each year towards better streets and public space improvements, and £1.3 million from S106 and CIL. That means capital funding is just £1 million a year.
Another Labour council south of the Thames is Southwark, who plan to fund street work through £6.5 million allocated each year from parking income and an average of £450k from S106 (though that does vary):
Brent Council plan to allocate a whopping £12.5 million each year until 2021/22 from parking income to improved public spaces and streets. They’ll also be £6 million from CIL income this year with S106 to be determined alongside future years.
Haringey have yet to finalise plans, along with Newham, Tower Hamlets and Islington among councils I looked into. There was no info yet from Bexley or Bromley.
What the money does
These funds run the range of street work from pothole repairs to better crossings, improved pedestrian links, attractive streets and public space, improved shopping areas and much else. Though in Greenwich it’s normally pretty much only focused on tarmac and street clutter.
I’m running an Easter appeal to help with the site. Info here. Many thanks to those who have helped.
As is clear to see, Greenwich council are operating quite differently to other Labour councils. Despite funding cuts from central government there are, and will be, other sources of funds for public space. If parking wasn’t such a mess for so long large amounts would not need to be taken from other budgets.
Sacred cows appear to be protected at all costs while some areas are ignored, whether it be just 0.3% of S106 income to parks or the possibility of not a single penny going from S106 funds to improve streets for pedestrians and cyclists after 2019/20 – despite obesity increasing, cyclist numbers falling and accidents on Greenwich borough roads rising.
TfL funding never has, and never will be, sufficient to improve public space alone. TfL’s annual £2 million is a fraction of over £90 million received from S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy income every year. I’ve not even mentioned an annual £12 million from the New Homes Bonus in this post.
Quite why Greenwich Council give so little importance to parks, better streets and healthier living compared to almost every other London council – Labour and Tory – is a mystery.
UPDATE: I’ve got Camden data. They will spend £1.3 million from S106 and £4 million from CIL income this year. TBC for other years and can’t see parking data. Another Labour council that exceeds Greenwich by quite some way.