Disappearing planters! 3 reasons this is bad news for the High Street and bad news for residents

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Bromley Council has removed planters enabling social distancing on Beckenham High Street and near Bromley South, reinstating a small number of parking spaces. Please write to your elected representatives today to let them know why this is a bad idea, and submit questions to the Portfolio Holder at the next Environment committee meeting (info on how to do this can be found here). The website WriteToThem will give you contact details for your MP, Councillors, and GLA representatives.

Why is it a bad idea to remove the planters now?

  1. Social distancing. The planters were introduced to enable social distancing – we shouldn’t make it harder for people on the High Streets to social distance, especially given that just a week ago a senior Government scientist and SAGE member warned that the UK is about to enter “an extended peak” of infections and hospitalisations.
  2. Pedestrian Pound. Local businesses have had a hard couple of years, and evidence suggests that making it easier for people to access shops on foot is one of the best ways to increase footfall (a common measure of business performance) – it has been estimated that walking and other non-motorised transport projects typically increase retail sales by 30% (see page 23 of Living Streets’ Pedestrian Pound report, 2018).
  3. Climate Change, Air Quality and Congestion. We desperately need to support people to make more short, local journeys on foot rather in the car, to reduce our carbon footprint, to clean up our air and to reduce traffic on our roads. Current trends indicate massive increase in vehicle miles in Bromley borough, the annual traffic by motor vehicles has increased from 800 million to a billion between 2009 and 2019As we have noted before, this means that unless we support people to get out of their cars and travel on foot or bicycle where possible, the future of Bromley’s roads is traffic jams, and congestion is bad news for anyone travelling by road.
Beckenham High Street: Planters removed, three parking spaces reinstated

Happy International Day of Clean Air for blue skies!

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7 September is the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. In 2021, the theme of this day is “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet”. Why not take 2 minutes today to raise your concerns with your elected representatives in central and local government? 

Here are some ideas and resources for how you could do this:

Contact your elected representatives

The website WriteToThem will give you contact details for your MP, Councillors, and GLA representatives.  

If writing to your MP, encourage them to engage with the Environment Bill – perhaps using this resource from British Lung Foundation: https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign/clean-air/environment-bill or, alternatively, the set of demands set out by Mums for Lungs here. (Here’s ClientEarth on why the Environment Bill matters.)

If writing to your councillors, you might want to ask them questions relating to the report we published in July this year (“Air pollution and safety around Bromley schools”). You may also want to ask them what progress Bromley Council has made on the actions set out in Appendix A of Bromley Council’s Air Quality Action Plan, which can be downloaded here (Appendix A starts on page 25). Bromley Council’s consultation on its Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) 2020-2025 received 869 responses from the public over 6 weeks in June-August 2020 – according to the Council, this is three times the average response for such consultations. You can read Bromley Living Streets’ response to that consultation here, and you can use the map on page 8 of the AQAP to see whether your local area is part of Bromley’s Air Quality Management Area. You can find out more about Air Quality Management Areas here.

What else could you do today?

You could nominate your local school for free resources, workshops and interventions on idling – https://idlingaction.london/schools/; or you could sign them up for Airly’s #LetSchoolsBreathe campaign.

You could join Breathe London’s Network as an individual, or the Breathe London Node as a community organisation or local government.

You could print, photocopy and distribute these amazing anti-idling flyers produced by Mums for Lungs, or ask Mums for Lungs to send you some of their wood burning flyers by completing this form.

Have a great day!