Streets for People pledge: what we achieved

Matt Winfield, Sustrans London Director, welcomes Councillors to our Streets for People Reception

15 June 2018

Over a few weeks in April you helped us raise the importance of cycling and walking with hundreds of council candidates across London. This is what we achieved in that short space of time and what is next for our work with councillors in London.

Reaching each and every borough

In the three weeks before the election on the 3 May, over 400 of your emails made their way to council leadership candidates, reaching each and every borough across London. That put cycling and walking firmly on the agenda in elections that usually only talk about street litter, bin collections and council tax.

Local elections are so important for our walking and cycling, because our local borough controls the majority of our streets. In fact, London boroughs collectively control 95% of the capital’s streets and roads. While Sadiq Khan manages the funding, he only directly controls the remaining 5% through Transport for London. For a journey on a bike in London, councils hold most of the decision-making powers that could improve it.

What did we ask for?

We asked candidates to commit to the ‘Streets for People Pledge’. A pledge to use their four years in office and control of the borough streets to:

  • Deliver at least two schemes with protected space for cycling.
  • Create three neighbourhoods free of through-traffic.
  • Ensure redesigned streets are easy and safe to cross and truly accessible to all.
  • Create places people want to be, by enhancing and increasing public and pavement space and introducing seating, shade and shelter.

How can they fund it?

For London Boroughs that will have endured a 63% real-terms cut to government funding by 2019, this seemed like a big ask. But with Transport for London providing a share of one billion pounds to all boroughs for transport spending between 2017 and 2021, councils do have the means.

Who signed up?

As a result of your emails, 35 candidates from 25 different boroughs came back to us directly to discuss the Streets for People pledge. Many candidates wanted to know just how they could deliver the pledge, with a handful declining to take the pledge but expressing their commitment to our aims. That left us with 26 pledges from prospective leaders and mayors, representing a range of political parties and covering half of the London boroughs.

After election day and following the London borough councils’ Annual General Meetings last month, we have four council leaders and three Mayors committed to the Streets for People Pledge. They are:

  • Camden – Cllr Geogia Gould
  • Ealing – Cllr Julian Bell
  • Hackney – Mayor Philip Glanville
  • Hammersmith and Fulham – Cllr Stephen Cowan
  • Lambeth – Cllr Lib Peck
  • Lewisham – Mayor Damien Egan
  • Tower Hamlets – Mayor John Biggs

What next?

Our role from here is to support and encourage these politicians to deliver their pledges and continue to work in partnership with other organisations to do so.

Alongside these names we have more council leaders keen to deliver the pledge in part.

That’s why we brought together councillors on 12 June to discuss creating Streets for People with the Mayor’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner and councillor speakers sharing lessons learnt from Waltham Forest, Kingston, Hackney and Southwark.

But mainly, thank you

Thank you to all of you who emailed your councillors and met your local candidates to get your concerns across.

Without your support, we wouldn’t have many more councillors across London seeking to create Streets for People and seven boroughs committed to the challenge of delivering the pledge.

Now the hard work of staying true to the pledges and delivering for Londoners begins.

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How can Councillors deliver streets for people?