We need better alternatives to car travel

In our latest MP’s column, Enfield North representative Feryal Clark gives her verdict on the proposal to expand Ulez

Enfield North MP Feryal Clark (credit
Feryal Clark, Labour MP for Enfield North (credit

We are all aware of climate change and the damage it is already doing to our environment. If progress isn’t made now, then the health and livelihoods of future generations will be under threat.

But there’s one barrier to making that progress we need, and it’s a barrier that is part of our daily lives. A car, for many people, isn’t a luxury but a core part of enabling them to get on with their lives. When it comes to schemes designed to improve our environment, that is the consideration that must be made.

How do we reduce reliance on cars when they are lifelines to so many? It is this challenge that the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) expansion has failed to address for people in Enfield.

We know improving air quality is something we urgently need in our community. Residents living along main roads like the A10, or on Bullsmoor Lane just off the M25, will know this all too well.

I am acutely aware myself of the impact of air pollution. Every day, as I walk my child to the bus stop, I worry about the impact the pollution is having on her little lungs. The fumes she has to breath in are having a serious effect on her development and, like any mother would be, I am concerned for her future.

With over 200,00 children in London having asthma, it is clear action is needed now. So, what is the issue with expanding Ulez to combat this? On the surface, there isn’t one, but when you dig deeper into communities like Enfield, we can see that local infrastructure just is not there.

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The key to getting people to transition away from cars is to deliver a robust and reliable public transport network that gives people the flexibility that they need and use a car for. In Enfield, at present, we know that this is simply not the case. Bus routes are heavily concentrated in and around the town centre, rather than where most people live.

We have train stations, both mainline and London Overground, served by just two trains an hour at off-peak times. Providing one train every 30 minutes simply does not give people the flexibility they need for them to get out of their cars and get on the train instead.

Given the age of a lot of the cars being affected by Ulez, an incentivised car scrappage scheme, as has been proposed, is another way of getting people to rethink their travel habits. But none of these policies will work in isolation, or together, if the voices of local residents are not listened to.

The current Ulez consultation, which is open until 29th July, is going to be crucial to ensuring your views are heard. I will be making a submission, and would urge everyone else across our borough to do so too.

To take part in Transport for London’s Ulez expansion consultation:

Feryal Clark is a Labour MP for Enfield North. If you are a constituent, you can get in touch with her by phone or email:
Call 0208 804 4543
Email [email protected]

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