'Under Labour, Haringey is being left behind'

People ride bicycles in a bike lane in Chelsea, London, after the government unveiled a further ??25

Cyclists on a London bike lane - Credit: Aaron Chown/PA

Over the last fortnight, much news has revolved around the COP26 climate change conference, as governments wrangle over decarbonisation targets. This is, of course, mainly based around high level issues - use of coal, methane emissions, and deforestation. However, if the UK is to achieve its target, this will rely on action not only from central government, but also from councils.

In particular, local government has a great deal of responsibility over transport. In London this is partly in the gift of the mayor, who has control over TfL, and policies such as the ULEZ. But one of the main ways councils have the power to make a difference is through improving our cycling infrastructure.

I was therefore glad to read in the Ham&High a couple of weeks ago about the growth of cycling, and serious investment in cycling infrastructure from the head of a local cycling organisation. I was also saddened however, because of course, this eulogy was not about Haringey, but Camden. For whilst Haringey Labour have been focusing their efforts on finding reasons why things like cycle lanes, street dining, and road closures for events are too difficult to implement, other boroughs have been getting serious.

Cllr Luke Cawley-Harrison. Picture: Haringey Lib Dems

Cllr Luke Cawley Harrison says that Haringey Council is behind in creating a cycling infrastructure - Credit: Archant

Haringey has been criticised in the past by a range of groups for ‘all talk and no action’ on active travel, and that has continued under the new cabinet since the removal of Cllr Ejiofor as leader in May. Even if we had some change, and the council were to hit its meagre targets, it would, for instance, take until 2039 to install enough bike hangars just to meet the existing waiting list! This failure is as baffling as it is disappointing. 

It is time for a big change in priorities. Whilst Haringey Labour likes to talk a good game, our borough is not only being left behind, but is increasingly becoming one of the most dangerous boroughs for walking and cycling in London. We can no longer continue to give them the benefit of the doubt that new projects are coming ‘in a few months’.

Last year Haringey secured £1million from TfL (one of the highest amounts in London), to improve the borough for walking and cycling, but where has that money gone?

Unless there is real change at the top, nothing ever changes in Haringey.

Luke Cawley-Harrison (Lib Dem) is leader of the opposition, Haringey Council

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