Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Bob Belam’s doubletalk

A 4X4 on the widest section of pavement on Browns Road E17

Help save the planet this summer runs the headline in the latest issue of WFM.

Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Bob Belam says, ‘There are lots of easy things residents can do to reduce their carbon footprint during the warmer summer months.’

Bob’s tips include shower rather than bath and turn lights off when leaving a room.

This is a bit rich from a man who recently approved the furtive extension of pavement parking on Browns Road E17. The one remaining stretch of pavement which was exclusively for pedestrians, running from Richards Place to Hoe Street, has now been converted to a car park on the narrow eastern side, where the pavement is between 1.4 metres and 1.5 metres wide. Naturally this decision was taken without any consultation or public debate. Once upon a time it would have had to be debated by the Transport Committee, but now transport decisions like this are taken behind closed doors at the Town Hall.

Bob Belam, you are a hypocrite. You are no friend of pedestrians or walking or people with a mobility handicap or children walking to school. Pavements 1.5 metres wide are utterly unsuitable for parking cars on. Councillors who actively degrade the walking environment are in no position to give tips on combating climate change.

Browns Road once used to have car free pavements.
Now the full length of the road has been converted to pavement parking. With boundless cynicism this has been done using a loophole in legislation introduced in 1985 designed to put a stop to pavement parking in Greater London. On Browns Road the space left for pedestrians falls well below national minimum acceptable widths for walkers with a mobility handicap (see photo below).

Bob Belam is the enemy of pedestrians with a mobility handicap and is actively making life easier for residents who choose to buy 4X4s. And the Browns Road pavements could easily enough be returned to the exclusive use of walkers. Simply stick a double-yellow line 'no waiting at any time' restriction down one side. But that would be greeted with howls from car-owning residents, some of whom would be obliged to find somewhere else to park.

When it comes to a choice between pedestrians and residents who buy cars, second and third cars, and bigger and wider cars, Bob will always choose the easy option - like every other politician on the planet.

And if the Council is seriously concerned about saving the planet it could spare the life of hundreds of trees by terminating publication of its crappy propaganda rag WFM, which is lavishly subsidised out of council tax. No one would miss it.

Putting cars before the requirements of wheelchair users on Browns Road.