The Council debated the petition submitted to the previous meeting. It was noted that petition had received over 10,000 signatures.
The Lead Petitioner, Jody Graber, introduced the petition and spoke for two minutes.
Councillor Champion moved the motion to debate the petition. Councillors Wayne, Russell, Poole and Ismail contributed to the debate. Councillor Champion exercised her right to reply.
The following main points were made in the debate:
· The petitioners were dissatisfied with the council’s People Friendly Streets programme. Concerns raised included the impact on disabled residents, inaccuracies in the Interim Highbury Monitoring Report, the impact of traffic on main roads, and suggestions that public consultation had been inadequate.
· Members noted that this topic had been debated on several occasions, at council meetings, through consultation events, online and in person. The Council had collected data on the impact of the schemes and had made this available to the public.
· The original purpose of introducing People Friendly Streets was as part of the Covid response. Modelling indicated that, if the Council did nothing, there would be a significant increase in car traffic as people stopped using public transport during the pandemic. The government issued statutory guidance requiring the Council to re-allocate road space to walking and cycling and provided funding for such schemes due to the urgency of the situation.
· In London, traffic on local roads had increased significantly over recent years. The consequence of this was increased congestion and dangerous levels of air pollution which affected the environment and people’s health. The People Friendly Streets programme sought to make Islington’s streets cleaner, greener, safer places, in response to this public health and environmental crisis.
· It was commented that the Council would be carrying out further engagement with residents on future schemes and would work to hear the broadest range of voices on the proposals.
· The Council had introduced changes to some schemes following consultation and would continue to listen to people’s views. The Council recognised the impact of the schemes on some disabled residents, and for this reason had introduced some exemptions for Blue Badge holders.
· The Council was keen to seek feedback on the schemes, and it was suggested that local views on the schemes were nuanced and opinions had shifted over time.
· It was recognised that data errors had been made in the Interim Highbury Monitoring Report, however the Council had apologised and had been transparent about this in order to repair trust and confidence. The Council wanted robust data and had since employed an independent consultant for this purpose.
· A councillor expressed her view that the People Friendly Streets scheme had a disproportionate impact on some communities and it was not right for the schemes to force people to change their behaviour, particularly if they are disabled or vulnerable.
· The Council would consider the impact on main roads and wanted to ensure that these also benefitted from schemes to reduce traffic and improve safety.
The motion to consider the petition was put to the vote and carried.
(i) That the Council continue to encourage residents to participate in local democracy by carefully considering the concerns raised in the petition and to undertake the debate in a spirit of openness and transparency;
(ii) That the petition be noted.