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Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Let’s walk not talk

As we start a new year and the snow has melted away we need to have a proper vision of how we can improve our transport network in Ealing.

Following the May elections, the new Coalition Government brought us welcome news that we will not have the blight of a larger Heathrow airport, saving us of much air pollution and extra noise disturbance.

We also saw that funding for Crossrail has been assured, bringing better transport connections to our borough as well as investment. But we need to capitalise on this opportunity and ensure we have a transport interchange at Ealing Broadway which will cope with the resulting large increase in passengers.

The current plans from Ealing Council are totally inadequate. Liberal Democrats believe that we need to aim high and look to see where the money can be found for a proper solution, before agreeing to something that is little more than shuffling a few buses around Haven Green.

The first step would be to deal with the problem of poor access to stations, especially for the disabled. We believe that this and all other Crossrail stations in the borough should have suitable step-free interchanges. Only by linking up different types of public transport can we really encourage others to use cars less.

The Council should more proactively encourage more walking around the borough, through the planning and provision of traffic free areas and more frequent and safer crossings.

Cyclists are suffering at the moment with roads that have so many potholes or uneven surfaces that it make it dangerous going even a relatively short distance. Cycling is cheap to encourage, helps people live healthy lives and at the same time reduces traffic levels on our congested roads.

In my ward, covering Acton and Chiswick, we have funded many cycling improvements. Liberal Democrats want to see Ealing Council match-funding more such projects via ward fora. The Council should ensure that more cycling infrastructure is joined up and in places that make cycling safer not just pretty. We welcome some of Ealing’s recent announcements regarding cycling but we need to see action not just press releases.

However because so much transport relies on finance from the London Mayor, we need to assess what he has done in the past two years:
·         Only one new orbital bus route. Outer London needs more orbital routes to encourage regeneration in Ealing
·         Cancelled the escalator at Greenford station
·         Tube station ticket office closures – a loss of over 7000 hours per week
·         No improved North - South routes to link Greenford and Northolt into Ealing’s town centre
·         The cycling initiatives are central London focussed, very expensive and have not yielded the expected uptake in cycling.

So my party wants to see Ealing Council join the Mayor in making a New Year’s resolution: plan a wonderful new transport interchange for Ealing Broadway, with action to provide better access NOW.

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