Environmental campaign group Extinction Rebellion are holding a meeting today in the Stephen Lawrence building at the Old Naval College in Greenwich. It will take place from 11am to 6pm with Woolwich & Greenwich MP Matt Pennycook in attendance.
The group is best known for occupying areas of central London in recent months. Greenwich could well become a focal point for the group with impending plans to build the Silvertown Tunnel with no pedestrian or cyclist access (except by waiting for a vehicle to collect riders and transport them).
The decision by Sadiq Khan, supported by Greenwich Council, to proceed with a new tunnel came under harsher spotlight yesterday with news that a bridge designed for pedestrians and cyclists linking Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf is to be scrapped. Plans to order additional Jubilee Line trains have previously been cancelled.
Greenwich Council themselves will declare a “climate emergency” at a council meeting next week – but will it mean much?
As this site has covered over previous months and years, numerous declarations and reports have not been matched by action.
Analysis of income authorities receive from parking and property developers (through Section 106 and the Community Infrastructure Levy) that can be used towards improving links for pedestrians and cyclists show Greenwich Council firmly at the bottom compared to other London Labour councils – and in some cases by vast amounts.
Differences are often so large they cannot be explained away by the allocation of 50% of developer income towards Woolwich’s Crossrail station.
Greenwich Council will spend just £206,000 derived from developers over the next three years on improving streets and public spaces via the Local Implementation Plan. As an example, Hammersmith and Fulham will spend £27 million:
Allocating extra money is crucial to ensure modal shift away from cars. As this site highlights all too often, the public realm and pedestrian links are often extremely poor across the borough. These funds are completely separate from central government funding and thus cuts from Whitehall do not impact on S106 and CIL income.
At the same meeting that Greenwich Council will declare a climate emergency, we also see responses to petitions requesting street changes which point the finger at TfL when it comes to funding improvements through the aforementioned Local Implementation Plan. But as shown time and again, borough’s can top up amounts allocated by TfL and use parking and developer income to do so to a far greater extent.
See how they state funding is provided by TfL without mentioning how boroughs top up funds. Also they use the narrow remit of “traffic management and safety improvements” which generally comes down to roads alone. Other authorities use far broader terms and look holistically at entire streets including paving and public realm.
If you follow these things as I do you notice that Greenwich Council divert attention to TfL time and again when it comes to funding improvements. Will a climate emergency declaration change that?