Save Ealing's Streets canvass party views on tram
Local Labour, Lib Dems and Tory candidates outline their party's stance
In the run up to the local elections on 4th May 2006, campaigning group Save Ealing's Streets has asked the main political parties for their views on the tram.
In response Councillor Jason Stacey, leader of the Conservative Group on Ealing Council said "Conservatives in Ealing oppose the proposals for the West London Tram Scheme. We believe that the tram scheme will bring to the communities of Acton, Ealing, Hanwell and Southall traffic chaos, increased congestion, residential roads blighted by 'rat running' traffic as well as costing millions of pounds of taxpayers' money.
The West London Tram Scheme has been supported by Labour despite the clear rejection of the scheme by residents of Ealing through the public consultation undertaken by Transport for London. Despite the recent delay announced by Transport for London, they and Ealing Council have also signalled their determination to press ahead with the ill thought out scheme.
A Conservative run Ealing Council will immediately reverse the council's pro-tram stance. We will withdraw as a joint promoter of the tram and, like councils in Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham, will become opponents of the scheme. Conservatives in Ealing are prepared to use all means, including going through the courts, to stop this scheme from being implemented".
Councillor Leo Thomson, Leader of Ealing Council and Ealing Labour Group said "Ealing Labour Group supports Transport for London’s (TfL) proposal for a West London tram. We need to accommodate the needs of growing numbers of people – for homes, jobs and services - and our conclusion has been that we can only do this and retain the qualities that make Ealing such a good place to live, through a step-change improvement in the quality, reliability and capacity of our public transport system.
Huge numbers of people travel along Uxbridge Road - within 10 minutes’ walk are 60,000 people, a quarter of our jobs, half our future development sites, half our high schools, West London College, Thames Valley University and of course Ealing Hospital. With the relentless growth of car traffic – many increasingly large vehicles, many carrying just one person – it is vital that we make public transport as attractive, efficient and environmentally-friendly as possible to make it a real alternative to the private car. The West London tram would help reduce congestion, replace three major bus services, taking many buses off the roads, and move many more people around reliably, comfortably and efficiently.
The tram will be accessible to everyone irrespective of age, mobility or infirmity, with guaranteed easy access on and off the trams and room for pushchairs. It will also help tackle our significant air pollution and the health risks attached.
Because we are engaged with TfL as a potential partner, we have been able to secure substantial improvements and deal with many of the concerns residents have about the scheme. Notably traffic diversions in Acton, Ealing Broadway and seven other areas along the route have been removed, after pressure from us. TfL are still rethinking the sites of the construction compounds and have also agreed to put in major traffic management schemes to discourage rat-running through residential streets.
Listening to residents has informed our approach to this issue. We do not pretend that our position is universally popular, but we must think of the borough’s broader interest into the future. Too many others have severe traffic problems because they did not plan far enough ahead. We will give careful and serious consideration to all the arguments before any decision to commit to being a joint promoter later this year.
This is a long-term project, with much still to be done. We welcome the further involvement of Save Ealing’s Streets to help us make this scheme work for the borough and are committed to a genuine dialogue with the community as the project develops".
Councillor Gary Malcolm, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for transport said "The Lib Dems in Ealing have since the plans have been proposed attacked the council and Transport for London for both poor communication/consultation of the tram as well as the actual tram scheme itself. In fact in council the Lib Dem group has voted AGAINST the tram on many occasions. The current proposals do not allow for any real North-South movement of traffic and indicate that very few people will use the tram who currently use cars.
The Lib Dems believe there is a much missed opportunity to have a greater enforcement of bus lanes to make buses more effective. Also the government, the Mayor of London and Ealing council needs to spend more time encouraging people to use other more sustainable methods of transport. In a similar exercise conducted in Australia a large reduction of congestion (15%) occured in a major centre using a system of contacting residents to inform them of modes of transport they could use. Residents when told altered their use of cars so that more people walked, cycled and used public transport.
The Lib Dems would rather the money allocated for the tram be spent on bringing Crossrail since this can really have a positive impact for Ealing".
April 18, 2006