Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Rethinking London – Future Cities

This passed me by last year, well it was launched on April 1st but it is not a joke. There is a campaign to create a Greater London National Park with all the protection that status gives. This might seem bonkers at first but some of the statistics fly in the face of the media representation of our capital as a concrete jungle bursting at the seems with people and traffic.
  • 47% of London is green space
  • it is over 60% if you include blue and open space
  • there are 8 million trees, the same number as people
  • over 1,300 sites of Importance for Nature Conservation covering 19% of the capital
  • home to more than 1,500 species of flowering plants
  • home to 300 species of birds

Last December the London Mayor took the first steps along this road to safeguard the city's green spaces, waterways and natural treasures - and open them up for people to enjoy.

While National Park status will not protect London from Fracking there is still a major debate to be had about housing needs and how and where to accommodate them. This should be about looking forward at the type of city we want to create for future generations in the light of climate change, resilience, food and energy security and sustainability.

Part of this means a re-think about how we move around and the impact on air quality and quality of life. It seems that here in dear old Blighty we are reluctant to take on new ideas, especially those that emanate from across the English Channel, but sooner or later we are going to have to ditch the car. This is a growing trend across Europe and it’s heading our way, whether you like it or not, public transport (and feet) is both the past and the future.

Meanwhile, Martina Juvara of Urban Silence Ltd, writes in her article: “Rethinking Cities in 2015 – Food for Thought on Devolution” regarding the lack of any link between environmental stringency on climate change legislation and a nation’s GDP, citing the Economist article, ‘Green Tape’. She also highlights the World Bank report that indicates that 2015 will be the year for new urban technologies and it will be the year in which there will be a peak of working age population (at 66%) probably followed by demographic stagnation and then decline in the second half of the 21st century.

Monday, March 02, 2015

A Safer School Run

This is a message from the Fullwell Safer Neighbourhood Team
A request to all those who take part in the school run. We are receiving numerous complaints from all of our Primary Schools in relation to inconsiderate and dangerous behaviour when dropping children off too school. If parking is at a premium in the immediate vicinity of the school then please allow sufficient time to find a parking space and get your children to school safely. We know that this is a stressful time and that the roads are extremely busy, but it could be your child who is injured if you don’t address this issue.

There has been a significant increase in the trend to stop and drop, where the driver just stops in the middle of the road and lets the children get out there and then. Not only is this practice causing an obstruction of the highway (yes this is a traffic offence with penalties), but most importantly it is also putting these childrens' lives at risk. We have recently had a child knocked over after getting out of a vehicle that had stopped and dropped, very fortunately their injuries were not serious, but it could have been a lot worse.
And here’s a comment from a mum via London on Toast
Personally, I’m glad to have seen two Community Police persons during our school run yesterday, standing on the pavement near the gates. It simply amazes me how many people park right over the yellow lines or climb kerbs on the road right in front of my daughter’s school at peak drop-off time.

Here are some other things that can help improve safety during the school run:
  • Don’t make three-point turns in the roads around school.
  • Don’t park over peoples’ driveways.
  • Park on an adjacent street and walk a block to the gates.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Redbridge Council & The Spirit Level

Recently Redbridge Council set up a ‘Fairness Commission’ to investigate poverty and inequality within the borough and make recommendations on how these issues should be tackled by the council and its partners.

Inequalities and lack of opportunities can affect people in negative ways across the whole of their lives. Research shows that at school, children from more affluent families will overtake children from poorer families by the age of seven. Precarious and low paid employment has deep impacts on a working adult’s physical and mental health while isolation and loneliness can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack among the elderly. At a time of severe financial challenges it is important that the Council takes a leading role in making sure that resources are being used as effectively as possible to support local communities.

The Redbridge Fairness Commission will examine different aspects of life in the Borough and ask how local public, private and third sectors can contribute to ensuring that everyone has access to the opportunities they need to meet their aspirations.
The Commission is a panel of representatives from the community and voluntary sector, business, councillors, academia etc. They will look at ways to help tackle inequality and poverty in Redbridge and make it a fairer place for everyone.

The Commission will be running throughout 2015 and will discuss fairness in relation to a different theme at each of its monthly public meetings (see schedule here). Evidence is being collected now for the March meeting when the theme will be ‘Living in Redbridge’ which will have its focus on housing and environmental issues.

At the end of this year, the Commission will have identified, and will make recommendations for addressing, different types of inequality in Redbridge. This will influence how the Council should spend money and on what. But to do this the Commissioners need to know what the Community thinks about Fairness in Redbridge.

As well as the monthly meetings there will also be a variety of outreach and engagement activities with community groups, which we pre-empted by inviting the co-Chair, Mark Santos, to come and speak at our June coffee morning. There is also an on-line facility to take the views of the public click here.

The title of this post is derived from the book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.