Streets for People have written the following open letter to Cllr Tracey Rawlins, executive member for transport at Manchester City Council, in which we call for a public meeting for residents to be updated, and have the chance to discuss, MCC’s Levenshulme & Burnage Active Neighbourhood project. We will update you as soon as we have a reply.
In the meantime, please ask friends and family to sign our Join the Dots petition.
“To Cllr Tracey Rawlins. cc: Chris Boardman, Cllr Azra Ali, Cllr Ben Clay, Cllr Bev Craig, Cllr Zahid Hussain, Cllr Dzidra Noor, Cllr Basat Sheikh, Afzal Khan MP
5 July 2021
Dear Cllr Rawlins (and copied parties)
I am Chair of Streets for People Levenshulme and Burnage, a group of local residents campaigning for better walking and cycling facilities in our area, and to end to the dominance of motor vehicles, which is rapidly accelerating the climate emergency, making us sick from air pollution and reinforcing inequalities.
As you will be aware, Manchester City Council has a long-running Active Neighbourhood project in our area. We are now nearly seven months into what was supposed to be a six month trial of modal filters, with the intention of submitting a business case for an extra £1.8 million in funding for a permanent scheme to significantly improve walking cycling facilities in our area following the trial period.
Although you will be aware that the scheme has been a source of debate and occasional disagreement, you will also be aware that the scheme has consistently demonstrated clear majority support through the various ways in which it has been consulted on. Indeed, the consultation prior to the beginning of the trail demonstrated, in the words of MCC, an ‘overwhelming’ two thirds majority in favour of the much more ambitious plans than MCC subsequently implemented. You will also know that MCC is committed both to vastly improving active travel infrastructure across the city (having signed up to the Made to Move proposals), and that MCC has promised to cut carbon emissions in the city to ‘net zero’ by 2040, which entails very quickly reducing car-based emissions (and therefore trips by car).
Streets for People recognise that the filter trial has brought significant benefits to many residents, particularly the 40% of households with no access to a car, most of who are from the most economically disadvantaged parts of our community. We have seen more people riding bikes, more people walking comfortably in the road (where pavement parking prevents comfortable pavement walking), and we know that it has given confidence to many residents for whom walking was previously not an option (for example the child of one of our members who could not previously walk to school unaccompanied because of dangerous rat-running traffic). Removal of the trial filters would only be a backwards step.
However, the measures implemented so far are currently insufficient to meet the aims of the active neighbourhood project, or the funding criteria for a permanent scheme. The watering-down of the trial, plus the lack of new crossings and other traffic calming measures on so-called boundary roads, means that the trial has not created a network of safe walking and cycling routes between residential properties and community amenities, such as shops, mosques and bus stops. Also, despite extra extensive consultation, the North Burnage section of the trial, due to begin in the Spring, is yet to emerge. Finally, while a two hour school street trial is very welcome, we need a much faster and more ambitious programme of school streets than the one that has so far developed. Our ‘join the dots petition’, which has now been signed by over 300 residents, makes these points strongly.
We feel that the original aims of the scheme can be met if MCC would be clearer on the important social, economic and environmental reasons for seriously tackling car dependency. MCC could then build on the solid majority base of support for project and its aims, to take even more of the community with it and create an infrastructure which makes it attractive and viable for residents to leave their car at home for short journeys.
More than anything, we believe it is time for MCC to hold a public meeting (online if necessary) to update residents on the project and what it intends to do next. Whatever anyone’s opinion on the matter, everyone in the community deserves to be told what MCC’s plans are, and the opportunity to put their case across both to MCC and fellow residents.
Positive change that makes a real difference was never easy. Above all, our community deserves clear communication and the chance to speak with each other, away from the divisive and, for many residents, inaccessible space of social media. With a commitment to democracy, leadership, and taking climate science seriously, we will create a healthier and safer community for all residents.
We look forward to receiving your commitment to stage a public meeting, in which the project managers address the community and allow residents to offer their views in response, to be held in the next four weeks.
Chair, Streets for People Levenshulme and Burnage”