View from City Hall: Santander Cycle scheme and Cycleway 4 are good news for Southwark – but TfL needs urgent support

News Desk (07 October, 2020)

I am delighted that the Santander Cycle scheme has finally arrived in our borough, writes Florence Eshalomi… This good news has been supplemented by the completion of the Cycleway 4 route which stretches from Tower Bridge to join up with Rotherhithe through Bermondsey. With a significant uptick in cycling in the capital since lockdown began, ...

34310Florence Eshalomi, MP for Vauxhall and Southwark and Lambeth assembly member

I am delighted that the Santander Cycle scheme has finally arrived in our borough, writes Florence Eshalomi…

This good news has been supplemented by the completion of the Cycleway 4 route which stretches from Tower Bridge to join up with Rotherhithe through Bermondsey.

With a significant uptick in cycling in the capital since lockdown began, this could not have come at a better time. We know that air quality disproportionately impacts poorer Londoners, contributing to almost 10,000 premature deaths each year. This is why we cannot afford a car-led recovery from the pandemic and must switch to greener ways of getting around the capital wherever possible.

However, walking and cycling in our city must be made safer. The latest figures show that 166 Londoners were tragically killed or seriously injured on Southwark’s roads last year. TfL’s ‘Vision Zero’ plan aims to bring this number down to zero within the next two decades. It has been encouraging to see some progress made to this effect, with an overhaul of Rotherhithe Roundabout and the installation of three new pedestrian crossings on Jamaica Road.

October marks Black History Month, and it has been positive to see the mayor announce that he is working with the social enterprise, the Black Curriculum, to ensure that City Hall’s London Curriculum is even more representative of our city and its overlooked and often suppressed histories.

This will hopefully boost the inspiring efforts of the many pupils across the capital who have called on their schools and the government to decolonise their lessons in all subject areas.

I recently met virtually with the 1st Southwark Scout Group – the young Scouts were armed with questions about the recent Black Lives Matter movement and how I would be working to help address the issue of racism and creating positive opportunities for them and their peers.

We will continue to keep the pressure on, and proudly celebrate the huge contribution that people from BAME backgrounds have made to making London the successful and pluralistic city that it is.

With a concerning rise in cases, the economic impact of a potentially imminent second wave of COVID-19 will be at the forefront of the minds of countless business owners in Southwark, and particularly those working in the cultural and hospitality sectors. Frustratingly, the chancellor’s recently announced ‘Winter Economic Plan’ fell short of offering the support that London’s enterprises and firms of all sizes desperately need.

In recent months, City Hall has stepped in to offer a share in millions of pounds of grants to struggling businesses. However, we cannot escape the reality that the Government needs to give certain sectors and industries another shot in the arm to protect thousands of jobs as we enter some very challenging winter months ahead.

Due to having lost most of its revenue during lockdown, TfL is also on the brink of bankruptcy and needs a long-term and sustainable government funding package to protect key transport services and infrastructure projects. Ministers need to get around the table with TfL and the mayor to urgently put this in place.

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