News in from Caroline Pidgeon- Lib Dem London Assembly Member

Tackling congestion and air pollution

In the last week the issue of air pollution affecting London has received extensive media coverage – and rightly so, with some reports saying that air pollution has recently been worse in London than in Beijing.

Another big issue, which has attracted much coverage, is that of tackling the growing level of congestion on London’s roads.  An issue it seems everyone has views on from cyclists through to taxi drivers, not to mention every motorist and van driver.

The two are of course connected, with traffic, especially from diesel vehicles, being a major contributory factor to air pollution.

Tackling congestion

In recognition that all parts of the capital have been seeing a significant growth in congestion, the London Assembly Transport Committee (which I chair) recently undertook an extensive investigation with evidence submitted from hundreds of organisations and individuals.

Congestion annoys everyone.  However it also has a staggering financial cost.  The overall annual cost to London from traffic delays on busy roads now stands £5.5 billion.  This figure represents a huge 30 per cent increase in just two years (£4.2 billion in 2012/13).

Our investigation revealed that the causes of congestion are far wider and more complex than many people imagine – stretching from pressures caused by a growing population through to the growth in internet deliveries.

Our report London Stalling’ calls on the Mayor to reform the Congestion Charge and ultimately replace it with road pricing. The Committee suggests a way of charging people for road usage that is targeted at areas of congestion and at the times when it is most severe.

In the short-term, the Congestion Charge should be reformed to better reflect the impact of vehicles. The daily flat rate should be replaced with a charging structure that ensures vehicles in the zone at peak times, and those spending longer in the zone, face the highest charges.

The report also recommends:

  • reducing restrictions on night-time deliveries
  • piloting a ban on personal deliveries to offices starting with TfL and GLA staff
  • reconsidering ‘click and collect’ at Tube and rail stations
  • devolving Vehicle Excise Duty to the Mayor
  • piloting a local Workplace Parking Levy

I am pleased to say that the report has received extensive media coverage and initiated a serious debate about how to end gridlock on our roads, including front page coverage in the Financial Times.  Many groups have supported or broadly welcomed the recommendations, stretching from the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Campaign for Better Transport, through to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Tackling air pollution

Last week Sadiq Khan was absolutely right to issue a high air pollution alert.  Every Londoner is entitled to know just how poor air quality is in London.

But the real challenge is to reduce the high levels of air pollution.

While traffic is not the only cause of air pollution, diesel fumes are the most significant contributory factor and that is why London Liberal Democrats have long advocated a number of measures to:

  • switch London buses and taxis from running on diesel, with a switch to running entirely on electricity where possible
  • ensuring that walking and cycling are made far safer and more attractive forms of transport
  • advocating sustainable forms of improved river crossings as opposed to the proposed Silvertown road tunnel, which will generate many long distance car journeys.
  • improving public transport and ensure that there are real alternatives to private transport in areas of London with poor public transport links

Some useful information on this issue can be found at the Clean Air for London website.

Helping parents return to work

With last week being a busy week for news one announcement that might have gone unnoticed was the Mayor’s decision to introduce a childcare loan scheme to allow employees of the GLA Group (including the Met, London Fire Brigade and TfL) to receive a loan to cover upfront costs such as the deposit and first month’s nursery fees, that are faced by parents returning to work.  The loans will work in a similar way to loans offered to many employees to cover season tickets on public transport.

This proposal is just a further example of the Mayor adopting ideas that I first proposed before last year’s Mayor and London Assembly elections.  The idea was set out in a package of policies I proposed to make childcare more accessible in London.

Some interesting Mayoral Answers

I hope some of the following Mayoral Answers to questions I have recently asked are of interest:

The Mayor admits that both the Piccadilly Line and the Central Line failed to provide the scheduled numbers of trains on every week day during the whole of December.

Mayors confirms London police numbers were at 31,067 officers in December, despite the objective being a police force of 32,000 officers

Confirmation that noise levels, including helicopter noise, will be included in the Mayor’s new environment report published this Spring for consultation with the public

The Mayor confirms that the earliest starting date for strengthening work on Hammersmith Bridge is Autumn 2018

Keep in touch

I try to tweet on a regular basis.  If you would like to follow me, my twitter handle is @CarolinePidgeon.

Finally, if you would like me to raise an issue, especially through Mayor’s Question Time, please send your suggestions to info@glalibdems.org.uk

Caroline Pidgeon’s London Pollution Update…. and Chris Williams’ victory in Carshalton Central is mentioned…

Cleaning up London’s air

Air pollution

With close to 10,000 Londoners dying prematurely every year we urgently need to tackle air pollution.

Sadiq Khan, as the new Mayor of London, has said some encouraging things and I have welcomed some of his initial proposals – such as bringing forward the starting date of the Ultra Low Emission Zone and introducing a new Emissions Surcharge (T-charge) on some vehicles.  However, his proposals need to go a lot further.

I have recently responded to the Mayor’s consultation stressing the need for far higher emissions standards than those currently proposed for the T-charge.  I would also like to see TfL directly procure a fleet of zero emission capable taxis and then leasing or selling them to taxi drivers. This is the only way to ensure we quickly get cleaner, cheaper-to-run taxis on our roads.

Full details of my consultation response can be seen here on the London Lib Dems website.

European vote

I was bitterly disappointed by the European Referendum result.   In particular it was a blow to London as the result so clearly did not reflect the wishes of Londoners and without question will harm London’s economy as I set out in an article I wrote for Lib Dem Voice.

Following the result London has sadly seen a rise in hate crimes and the need to stand up for the rights of EU citizens living, working and participating in our vibrant city has never been more important.

I was therefore especially pleased to join Tim Farron in visiting the Polish Social and Cultural Association in Hammersmith, which had been attacked, to highlight the vital importance of challenging racial abuse against any citizen of London.

I am also sitting on the Mayor’s group looking at devolution for London in light of Brexit and promoting London in the negotiations.

This motion passed by the London Assembly, which I seconded, might also be of interest.

Cycling Grants now available

Community groups across London can apply for up to £10,000 to fund cycling projects over a three year period.  Funding applications open on 1 August and close on 19 September 2016, with over £180,000 available in grants this year.

Transport for London (TfL) is calling all community groups and not-for-profit organisations to apply for cycling grants, which will equip them to help more people cycle.  Cycling Grants London (CGL) helps to fund cycling initiatives such as cycle training, bike maintenance courses and guided rides.  The programme is funded by TfL and managed by the environmental regeneration charity Groundwork London.

If you know any community groups who might be interested in applying for a grant please spread the word.  Full details can be seen here.

By-elections

In addition to a rapid growth in party membership in London it is very encouraging to see new councillors recently elected.  Even in the by-elections where we have not been as successful, it is great to see increases in our vote share in places such as Bexley, Haringey, Islington and Lewisham.

Many congratulations to Dan Whitehead who was elected in June as the new councillor for Surrey Docks ward in Southwark and Chris Williams, who was elected for Carshalton Central ward in Sutton at the end of July.  I was pleased to help in both their campaigns.

Keep in touch

I try to tweet on a regular basis.  If you would like to follow me, my twitter handle is @CarolinePidgeon.

Finally, if you would like me to raise an issue, especially through Mayor’s Question Time, please send your suggestions to info@glalibdems.org.uk

Here are some recent Mayoral Answers that might be of interest

Air quality information and awareness in London
Cost of closure of London fire stations
Damages paid following police car pursuits

Caroline Pidgeon reports from City Hall, London

Welcome to a new email of news from City Hall.  If you are receiving this email for the first time I hope you find it useful.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery

Not surprisingly there have been a number of announcements recently from Sadiq Khan.  One of his first announcements is his plan to introduce a ‘hopper bus fare’, which will start in September.

The new fare will automatically be given to anyone who uses Oyster pay as you go or contactless payment, and will allow passengers to make a second bus journey for free within one hour of using it on the first bus.

Along with Liberal Democrats across London I have been campaigning on this issue for many years so I obviously welcome the policy now being taken up by the new Mayor.  Indeed he should now go further and also introduce our policy of half price travel for TfL rail journeys that start before 7.30 am.  

Helping cyclists and pedestrians cross the Thames

Another area where the new Mayor has been taking up ideas I have been advocating is the consideration now being given to a pedestrian and cycle bridge linking Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf.   During the recent Mayoral election, at a London Cycling Campaign hustings, he openly admitted that he had stolen the idea from me!

At the first Mayor’s Question Time since the election I took the opportunity to remind the Mayor of the immense benefits of the proposed bridge for local residents, but also for many people who wish to commute to Canary Wharf by bike.

A further advantage of the proposed bridge that I keep highlighting is that it would help reduce overcrowding on the Jubilee Line, especially the pinch point between Canada Water and Canary Wharf.

You can read more about the proposed bridge at the Sustrans website.

And along with a pedestrian and cycling bridge I will also keep pressing the Mayor to extend the cycle hire scheme out to Rotherhithe.

Tackling London’s air pollution

Incredibly, there is a third issue where the new Mayor is now adopting ideas that we have been advocating.   The Mayor has taken up the idea of extending the size of the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone and also to introduce an extra payment on the Congestion Charge for diesel vehicles.

Details of the Mayor’s initial proposals, which will lead to a formal introduction very soon, can be seen here.

I fully support these measures being adopted and indeed I would also like to see them backed up by TfL helping London’s taxi fleet to convert to running on electricity, however this will only happen if TfL forces down their prices through bulk purchasing them and then selling or leasing them to taxi drivers and garages.   A scrappage scheme and an extensive network of rapid charging points are also desperately needed.

And now for the bad news

Sadly, there is one area where the Mayor has definitely not been listening to us and that is on the issue of the Garden Bridge.  Sadiq Khan has confirmed his support for the project, despite increasing opposition and fears about its ongoing maintenance costs falling on the taxpayer.

You can see my statement on this announcement at the London Lib Dem website.  A really good description of why we should not be proceeding with the Garden Bridge can also be seen in this excellent article.

Finally, when is a fare freeze not a fare freeze?

Recently you might have got the impression that the new Mayor is committed to freezing all fares, after all he specifically said Londoners won’t pay a penny more for their travel in 2020 than they do today.

The reality is that his pledge was not what most people understood it to mean.  Travelcards definitely will be rising over the next four years.

Keep in touch

I try to tweet on a regular basis.  If you would like to follow me, my twitter handle is @CarolinePidgeon.

Finally, if you would like me to raise an issue, especially through Mayor’s Question Time, please send your suggestions to info@glalibdems.org.uk

Some of my recent written questions, which might be of interest include:
Silvertown Tunnel
Knife crime strategy
Safer walking routes for children
Future of water cannon in London

News from the London Assembly Lib Dems….

‘Zombie knives’ set to be banned

Caroline’s campaign against knife crime saw some welcome news with reports that ‘zombie’ or other long knives might join a list of already banned knives.

Last week’s Independent on Sunday has the full story.

Caroline’s recent report on knife crime, which set out a number of policies to tackle the growing problem can be seen here.

Getting Crossrail 2 right

Caroline has responded to Transport for London’s recent consultation on Crossrail 2.

You can see a full copy of her response here.

Caroline sets out the long standing support of London Assembly Liberal Democrats for Crossrail 2. Her consultation response also reiterates the vital importance of every station on the route, from the first day of operation, providing step-free access.

Caroline’s response also calls for TfL to consider a Crossrail 2 station at Streatham and Worcester Park. Her submission also raises a number of other local issues that need to be addressed in both South West and North East London.

Caroline would like to thank local councillors and members who have fed in comments and suggestions to her submission response.

Oxford Street – are we moving closer to pedestrianisation?

The Mayor has confirmed that TfL are in the process of examining the possibility of pedestrianising Oxford Street.

The move comes in response to Stephen Knight, who presented a petition urging the Mayor and Westminster Council “to remove all motor traffic from Oxford Street, introduce a zero emissions shuttle bus, leading to full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street by 2020.”

In a letter to Stephen the Mayor said TfL and Westminster Council were “examining a range of options for improving the environment for pedestrians on Oxford Street”. The plans include “reducing traffic, widening footways, reducing and relocating bus stops and pedestrianisation”.

Responding to the Mayor’s letter Stephen said: “If Oxford Street and the West End is to remain a world class retail centre it must become a much safer and more pleasant place to visit and that must mean moving towards permanent pedestrianisation.”

For further information see a report from London Love Business.

Issues around the Garden Bridge get even murkier

Yesterday’s Sunday Observer revealed even further revelations about the Garden Bridge.  Caroline has been at the forefront of an extensive investigation into the procurement of the design contract for the bridge.  An excellent report on the most recent evidence session can be in this recent Guardian report.

Keep in touch with Caroline and Stephen

Both Caroline and Stephen can be followed on twitter.  Do follow them if you don’t already.  You can keep up with Caroline at @CarolinePidgeon and Stephen at @StephenKnight1. The GLA Liberal Democrat Assembly Group’s Twitter feed is at @GLALibDems

You can also keep up with a lot of transport issues that Caroline takes up, in every borough across London, at her own website.  Alternatively you can keep up with the activities of both Caroline and Stephen at www.glalibdems.org.uk

Finally if you would like Caroline or Stephen to raise an issue, especially through Mayor’s Question Time, please send your suggestions to info@glalibdems.org.uk

Caroline Pidgeon says that London Police Community Support Officers are here to stay

Since early September it has been known that the Metropolitan Police  were considering scrapping all 1,000 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) working in neighbourhoods in London, and across London Liberal Democrats have been campaigning to save them ever since.
 
The pressures facing the Met’s budget were initially so great that Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Met Commissioner, even predicted that London could finally lose between 5000 and 8000 police officer posts in an interview he gave to the Evening Standard in mid-October.
 
However after extensive campaigning against these cuts, and of course the horrific events in Paris, a decision was made by the Home Office to largely protect the grant given to the Met in future years.
 
The announcement that PCSOs will be protected in London was made by Sir Bernard in response to questioning last week by Caroline Pidgeon at City Hall’s Police and Crime Committee.
 
Following his announcement Caroline said:
 
“This is great news and a huge victory for everyone who values community policing.  Getting rid of London’s Police Community Support Officers would have seen London return to the dark days of remote and inaccessible policing.  Police Community Support Officers play a crucial role in building up relations and engaging with local communities, including the collection of vital intelligence for effective policing.  London is a safer place because they exist.”
 
For further details see this report on Mayorwatch website.

Caroline Pidgeon chosen as Lib Dem Mayoral Candidate

 London Liberal Democrats
A message is in from the London Liberal Democrats…

Dear Hamish,

I’m delighted to announce that Caroline Pidgeon has been selected as our Mayoral candidate.

Having worked with Caroline on the London Assembly I know what a formidable campaigner she is and what a great advocate for our party she will be over the next nine months.

Caroline is already off to a flying start – you can catch her on BBC London this morning at 8.45am, and she will be officially launching her campaign with Tim Farron later today.

Caroline has told me she wants our campaign to focus on:

  • Supply of housing to meet demand and the scandal of high rents
  • Flexibility and affordability of childcare
  • Air pollution
  • Transport fares that meet modern day lifestyles

I know that Caroline can’t wait to start campaigning and plans to visit every local party on the campaign trail as soon as possible.

Help us make sure we can produce the materials that Caroline needs to make an impact in this campaign by making a donation to her fighting fund today. (donate link)

The results of the London Assembly selection will be announced soon.

Mike Tuffrey
Chair London Region Liberal Democrats

PS Every penny you give today will go towards publicising Caroline& London Liberal Democrats’ campaigns.

London Liberal Democrats

Tom Brake MP, Caroline Pidgeon AM and Hamish, Jill and Alan by the Pond Railings before the major TFL works started recently

Tom Brake MP, Caroline Pidgeon AM and Hamish, Jill and Alan by the Pond Railings

Caroline Pidgeon’s Cycling News

Tom Brake MP, Caroline Pidgeon AM and Hamish, Jill and Alan by the Pond Railings before the major TFL works started recently
Tom Brake MP, Caroline Pidgeon AM and Hamish, Jill and Alan by the Ponds in Carshalton

From Caroline Pidgeon AM’s recent news bulletin sent to Sutton councillors…

Caroline Pidgeon AM was delighted to join Carshalton Central’s Cllr Jill Whitehead and the Mayor of London’s Cycling Ambassador Andrew Gilligan at Sutton Council’s cycling summit on Thursday 23rd July.

Caroline spoke about the Council’s draft strategy which has an ambitious target of 4% cycle modal share by 2025 from 1% currently. The strategy also plans to audit the current cycle network and to try to segregate cycle lanes where possible.

Caroline also talked about the work she has done to push the Mayor to spend more money in the Boroughs, especially outer London, to deliver a citywide cycling revolution.

Caroline Pidgeon is opposing Housing Association Sell-Off

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Lib Dems on the GLA
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Lib Dems on the GLA

Caroline Pidgeon, Lib Dem GLA member reports:

At City Hall, we are leading the campaign to stop the Conservative Government’s plans to see affordable homes sold off. Both council and housing association homes would be lost under forced sales and right to buy plans.

Every housing association home sold in London will require a public subsidy of over £100,000 and the Institute of Fiscal Studies puts the national price tag at almost £12 billion pounds over the next five years. This is money that could instead be used to build new affordable homes.

To make matters even worse, London local authorities are to be forced to sell up to a third of their existing social housing properties as they become vacant to pay for this crazy plan, denying local residents access to much needed council homes.

Only two months ago the London Mayor highlighted that housing associations are private organisations and forcing through right to buy would involve massive subsidies.   Now he has become a loyal Tory MP his priority seems to be defending his Government’s unfunded aspirations.

I am determined that we must lead the campaign against this backwards step. London of all places needs more affordable housing. The Mayor’s number one housing priority should be delivering more affordable homes, not defending ill thought out plans from Conservative central office. You can see the motion that we proposed at City Hall here.

London News in from Caroline Pidgeon GLA Member

Caroline said: “London’s Mayor should apologise for his foolish decision to purchase water cannon“.

Following this week’s decision by the Home Secretary not to authorise the use of water cannon in England and Wales, Caroline said:
 
“After carefully examining the evidence the Home Secretary has made a wise decision. Water cannon run the risk of innocent people being injured and would certainly undermine policing by public consent.”

Full details of the reasons why the vast majority of London Assembly members have opposed the use of water cannon, and details of the extensive evidence collected by the Home Office, can be seen on the GLA Web site. http://www.london.gov.uk

Caroline Pidgeon says: Step-free access to half London’s stations is not enough

Caroline Pidgeon GLA Member

Caroline Pidgeon GLA Member

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, commenting on a recent announcement that half of TfL’s rail and Underground stations will be step-free by 2018, said:

“Any progress on making more TfL rail and Underground stations step-free is obviously welcome.

“However we can hardly be complacent when the reality is that in three years’ time half of all TfL rail and Underground will still be permanently inaccessible to disabled people and the many other people who require step free access.”

“The Mayor and TfL also need to tackle the scandal that lifts at London Underground stations are frequently not working simply due to an absence of supervisory staff.”