Kings Cross is expecting change after the mayoral election!

6th of May 2021 is mayoral election time.

The community at Kings Cross will have to consider its options, as to which mayoral candidate is most suitable for the area. In the past a vote for Labour was a given here. But has the Labour mayor delivered better for Kings Cross than his predecessor, who once sprayed the roads with a sticky liquid to deal with air pollution?

Now, with the motor-vehicle traffic returning following the peaks of the pandemic, speeding cars and polluting vehicles are also back.

For those unaware, the Gyratory continues to be an Air Quality Focus Area. In TFL’s own definition “these are locations that not only exceed the EU annual mean limit value for NO2 but are also locations with high human exposure.”

Just before the last mayoral election in 2016 Sadiq Khan promised to keep Kings Cross on his mind, for forthcoming changes. There were in fact concrete plans for Kings Cross, which had already gone through full consultation.

Our clear expectation was that these would have been implemented. Five years have past since, and nothing much has changed, except a small area of the gyratory roads falling into the UELZ.

First, on the excuse of needing truck parking spaces for the controversial HS2 project, the improvements were kept on hanging, rather than being implemented. But even when the requirement for such truck parking spaces subsided, Kings Cross was left behind.

New cycling infrastructure, part of the cycle highway schema, omitted the gyratory area.

In the latest twist, we saw pandemic related cycle lanes in some areas created by the mayor. Some local authorities independent from that calmed traffic, with Islington even creating a new LTN zone. But Acton Street, Swinton Street,Kings Cross Road, Pentonville Road, Gray’s Inn Road,Pentonville Rise and Caledonian Road as TFL Red Routes remained largely untouched (with the exception of Southern parts of Gray’s Inn Rd, incidentally, just before the Kings Cross gyratory begins). There was no priority list on which areas need to be served first, in one email, I was told this was “due to furloughed staff at TFL”. All this in spite of pollution maps being available now and indicating that in deed Kings Cross is one of the most air-polluted areas of London.

In autumn 2020 Mayor Sadiq Khan was asked on my request in a Greater London Assembly meeting, if he could, at the very least, extend the 20 Miles speed reduction to these streets, given that you need only a few signs to do so. Sadiq Khan’s answer on record was “a yes, but”.

He argued it depended on money forthcoming from central government. In other words. TFL did not have the cash for a few street signs with the number 20 on it, or to remove the fews that currently say 30..

The Inquest on the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah advised on further reductions in air pollution and that, “there are no safe levels of pollution.” Many streets at Kings Cross house families with young children. Their choice to move elsewhere is limited, due to the fact that the majority of flats are social housing units.

Kings Cross was also the site of several cycling fatalities in collisions with cars and trucks.

The Kings Cross community asks simple questions:

Where is the overdue action to transform the gyratory streets of Kings Cross into safe streets? How many more years do we have to wait?

London mayoral and London assembly candidates need to be aware that there are three things that need to happen at Kings Cross, regardless of who wins the forthcoming elections:

  1. Deliver on the changes for Kings Cross promised in 2016 and make sure this delivers lower pollution and increased safety for local residents, pedestrians and cyclists.
  2. As a first step, implement a 20 miles speed limit on all gyratory roads at Kings Cross.
  3. Ensure that all roads of Kings Cross are part of the UELZ by October 2021 at the latest with no Red Route exemptions at the gyratory.
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We seek redress on traffic and pollution at Kings Cross!

The case of Ella Kissi-Debrah shows clearly what impact air pollution has. It kills, and by not doing enough to keep us safe, it could be deemed to be manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, an infringement of our human rights!

The Kings Cross community has campaigned for decades on air pollution, noise and road-safety.

We frequently pointed out, that Kings Cross is no longer just a through-fare, if it ever was, but that Kings Cross South and North pof Pentonville and Euston Road, East and West of Gray’s Inn Road and Kings Cross Road, is a place where people live and work, and children grow up.

We demand from TFL, the Mayor of London, Camden Council and Islington Council that this is finally and once and for all recognised and that the issue of air-pollution is finally solved. We had for too long have to witness, how traffic on roads like Euston Road, Swinton Street, Acton Street, Pentonville Road and parts of Kings Cross Road and Gray’s Inn Road and Caledonian Road are exempt from having to adhere to the most stringent of rules on air-pollution.

Kings Cross was and continues to be one of the most polluted places in terms of air in London, and therefore in the UK and in Europe. Stop excluding it from seeing what we know for decades!

It is now for clean air, for yesterday was already too late!

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School student Sofia needs our help.

King's Cross, London: how developers are constructing a community |  Financial Times

My name is Sofia and I go to a nearby state school in Finchley called St Michael’s. I am conducting my A-Level Geography fieldwork looking at the benefits of the regeneration scheme in Kings Cross.

I would really appreciate it if you could send this out to residents of Kings Cross who could help me by completing my survey.

I have studied the process of regeneration in great depth as part of my A-level syllabus. I have chosen Kings Cross as a case study since this is an area I have grown up around. My uncle and aunty both live in Kings Cross and nearby Kentish Town. I knew I would really enjoy discovering the history of the area and how it is continuing to change as a result of contemporary issues such as the coronavirus pandemic.

I remember going on walks in the past with my uncle where he would explain how the area is being regenerated. Being able to study this process in Kings Cross in depth is something really close to my heart. 

Getting this questionnaire out to an audience that could give incredibly useful results would mean the world to me. It will also give me an insight into how Kings Cross has changed and allow me to accurately complete this project to the best of my abilities. 

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After 50 years Kings Cross Roads about to become safer!

Kings Cross gyratory are about to become slower and safer!

Andrew Dismore, the Labour Assembly Member in London City Hall had asked a question to Mayor Sadiq Khan recently, if streets around the gyratory could be lowered to 20 Miles, given longstanding suggestions by local residents. These argued that the one way streets at Kings Cross, part of what is known as the Kings Cross Gyratory where too frequent providing space for quick thrill racing and speeding with excessive speeds. The area is highly populated with many residential blocks and huge amount of people walking and cycling around the often busy roads. School children, College and university students add to the mix. Soon there is also to be a Dementia Treatment Centre build.

Back in 2016 a consultation was made for road improvements at Kings Cross. Residents have been waiting for implementation since.

The point rose, after long standing local Kings Cross resident Daniel Zylbersztajn-Lewandowski posed that question, given that TFL and surrounding local councils had implemented many safety improvements in other areas during the lockdown in 2020, but omitted Kings Cross, which had been under discussion for improvements for a very long time. Kings Cross. In particular the area had passed consultation stage for TFL improvements in 2016. Daniel suggested, and local councillors in Islington and Camden agreed, that as a bare minimum, at least speeds should be reduced to 20 Miles on those one way roads, that make up the Kings Cross Gyratory.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan answered the question in City Hall as follows, on 2/11/2020

Transport for London (TfL) and I are committed to reducing road danger for all residents and visitors to London. TfL has a programme to lower the speed limit by 10mph on over 140km of TLRN over the next four years, subject to funding. This includes the introduction of a 20mph speed limit on A501 Pentonville Road, Penton Rise, Swinton Street and Grays Inn Road, which is consistent with the surrounding local road network in both Camden and Islington and will also support additional safety improvements around the Kings Cross area.”

As you will know, TfL is in discussions with Government over the funding support it needs following the impact of coronavirus on its finances. I hope that agreement can be reached soon so that vital projects such as these can restart.” (bold emphasis added)

Kings Cross residents hope that speeds will also be reduced on Acton Street, which was not specifically mentioned, but is part of the Gyratory and in fact connects Kings Cross Road and Grays Inn Road.

UPDATE 14/11/2020 Clr. Adam Harrison of Camden was assured by TFL that Acton and Swinton Street are in deed going to be slowed down as part if their Vison Zero road safety plan.

Soon no more that little speeding race track,like when this car crashed back 2017 on Acton Street

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St Pancras Hospital development

South Camden Recovery Centre | Camden and Islington NHS Foundation ...

For those interested in the proposed redevelopment of St Pancras Hospital – the one that backs onto Old St Pancras Church, click here to see the plans.

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International Biodiversity Day

This Friday, 22 May, is International Biodiversity Day. An important day for everyone interested in ecology, the environment and a sustainable future.

Highly topical at a time when man made wildlife habitat destruction and the way humans use displaced wildlife are highly likely to have resulted in this zoonotic novel virus pandemic.

We live close to an important green corridor that includes the canal. We are home to a wide variety of urban wildlife from micro-organisms in the soil and the water, to water fowl, birds, bats and other mammals.

If you’d like to know more about how to help support biodiversity, here’s one link you may find of interest 🙂

https://www.pan-uk.org

Image stating "Join our pesticide free towns campaign". By the Pesticide Action Network.

Happy International Biodiversity Day everyone!
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Criminal Damage to Our Local Trees

Stephan Shulte writes:

Yes I said “Criminal” in that if we could catch the culprits who have been vandalising our local trees we could & should try to make a case for prosecution.

Northdown Street – tree destroyed.

Northdown Street – tree destroyed.

I have been asked to make you all aware of the latest round of vandalism in our neighbourhood by our neighbour John from Wharfdale Road.  If we enjoy all the trees in our area, it can be safely said that they are only there due to the continued efforts of John and the relationship he has formed with the Council to improve our area.

This latest problem revolves around making dogs strip the bark off our trees which results in the trees dying.  When a tree is fully circle bark stripped, the tree cannot be saved and will have to be felled.  In this latest act of vandalism, 3 trees, funded by local residents about 15 years ago will die and have to be replaced.

Northdown St – second tree destroyed.

Northdown St – second tree destroyed.

I think you will all agree that this latest bit of vandalism is shameful and we must catch the culprits responsible. Gangs train their dogs to become fighting dogs by teaching them to rip tree bark.  We all now have mobile phones that have cameras so please if you see something like this going on snap a picture and send it to our Safer Neighbourhood Policing Team with a few words of explanation.  Their email address is: Caledonian.snt@met.police.uk.

As I write this several other neighbours have already started to help out with the problem.   If we want our area to improve we must all act together.

Northdown St – third tree destroyed.

Northdown St – third tree destroyed.

Bark damage. Winford Road.

Bark damage. Winford Road.

Northdown Street – tree saved so far.

Northdown Street – tree saved so far.

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Make Kings Cross the heart of zero carbon!

Britain commits to zero carbon! Writing from Kings Cross, Central London, where we have campaigned for over 30 years against car pollution both in terms of air pollution and noise pollution, it is a tremendous national policy change for the better, with local implications. Sometimes it felt like we were radical unreasonable outposts talking about all of this.

I remember Transport for London consultants accusing us during a Kings Cross traffic-calming consultation only some ten years ago of “surely not wanting to stop business and transport only ten years ago.” No, we did not; we just wanted a change what the traffic did to our communities.

Writing as we speak, Kings Cross is still heavily polluted by above all car traffic though slowly it is changing.  This week a bad diversion due to road-works pushed even more vehicles stagnantly through our streets (on which on both sides people live who need to breath).   Changes should be implemented at Kings Cross with an absolute London priority because due to the main roads going through the area, its location in central London and due to the stations, people living and working here had to suffer particularly harmful pollution for decades.

Some of the main culprits, the Royal Mail and Black Cab Diesels are still very much part of the problem here, though both have at least begun to introduce electrics. Most TFL buses have cleaner engines now, though this is the area where battery and hydrogen buses should be running too. TFL should put some more funding into electric cab incentives, to make the acquisition of an e-cab no longer more expensive than the old  Diesel models and create more charging points around the stations. There could be even new rules as to what cabs can pick up passengers at Kings Cross and St Pancras without surcharges, following the Heathrow model. Both stations, and in particular Kings Cross need also far more cycle-friendly infrastructure and facilities.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 23.26.28A cycle route is now complete West of St Pancras, and traffic further calmed and slowed down.  However, we are still waiting for the long-awaited changes to the Kings Cross gyratory system promised even before Sadiq Khan became mayor and reassured by him.

 

Many landlords still are slow on changes to heating and electrical challenges. You can probably count the solar panels here on the one hand. The council and related bodies must not make the fact that there are many period homes an obstacle to changes here. Only two years ago, one of the major social landlords in Kings Cross, Clarion, changed all gas boilers in the Kings Cross area. Although these are more efficient than their predecessors, they were yet again fossil fuel gas boilers.  Major landlords like them will have to rethink heating sources, consider centralised communal heating systems using new energy sources, installing solar energy panels and also providing safe parking spaces for bicycles, another matter so far not high on their priority list.

Councils like Camden alongside TFL will have to finally give way to reimagine space currently solely used for car parking. This is where more trees can be planted, community plots or flowering can occur and better and more inventive possibly underground local recycling points (Dutch model) could be installed, and cycle lanes constructed. Of course, some car parking needs to remain for people with disabilities and deliveries, and both of these must use the latest clean engines in their vehicles.

The funny things is, some of us imagined much of this 20-30 years ago. Some of us are now in our 50s and 60s. It says something about the generations of political and industrial leaders before us. One wonders if it had to be five minutes to midday for change to occur.

But let us not dwell on the past and change confidently and fast. Let Kings Cross be the centre of innovation and reimagination on green living and green economy. Not just the newly constructed North of Kings Cross, but also the older South of Kings Cross.

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