Merton bids for share of £100m to create ‘mini Holland’

Merton Council’s cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration cycled to the Mayor of London’s office today to personally deliver the council’s bid for a share of the £100m on offer to transform Merton into a ‘mini Holland’. 

Councillor Andrew Judge delivering Merton Council's bid to the Mayor of London

Councillor Andrew Judge delivering Merton Council’s bid to the Mayor of London today

The bid showcases how the council could use the money to install segregated cycle lanes, cycle priority at busy junctions as well as rejuvenate existing, underused alleyways to link up different parts of the borough with cycle ways. A share of the money available would also enable the council to potentially divert cars away from part of Wimbledon town centre, allowing the space to be used by buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

Merton’s main commercial and cultural centre, Wimbledon, is the hub in the council’s cycle transformation proposal. Mitcham, Morden, Raynes Park and Colliers Wood would also benefit from better cycle connections to Wimbledon and between each other. The council is committed to ensuring all areas of the borough are well connected for people in the East and the West of the borough, allowing people to access employment and leisure opportunities in the different areas of Merton and beyond. The council is also committed to creating a better cycle network that can work in conjunction with the car and public transport.

Funding would allow the council to make the roads more appealing to cycle on and encourage more people to get out on their bikes, especially for short journeys. Merton has above the London average cycle ownership which means there is significant potential for people to benefit from the health and social aspects of cycling. Offering free cycle training to community groups and schools would also form an integral part of ensuring Merton’s transformation into a mini Holland is a success.

Cabinet member for environmental sustainability and regeneration Councillor Andrew Judge said: “In Merton we have a strong ambition to make cycling as safe and convenient as it is in the Netherlands. We want men and women of all ages and children to be able to choose cycling safely for journeys in every part of Merton. No longer should people feel that if they get on a bike they have to jostle with heavy traffic. It is about achieving a better balance. The more people cycle, the healthier they will be and everybody else will be better off: the roads will be less congested and the air cleaner.

“This bid has been well constructed and has support across our local community. It is an unprecedented opportunity to transform our streets to make them safer, but also to redesign our town centres and neighbourhoods to make them better altogether for residents and local businesses. We support the mini Holland approach entirely and want to be an exemplar of this Mayoral programme. I hope that everyone will back the bid.”

Merton’s bid has cross party support.

Leader of Merton Council Councillor Stephen Alambritis said: “The funds which are being made available will give us a great opportunity to make our roads safer for all users. With well thought out plans, we would be able to accommodate drivers, pedestrians, cyclists as well as the many bus routes which we benefit from having in Merton.”

Leader of the Merton Conservative Group Councillor Oonagh Moulton said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Merton. Whilst much more detailed work remains to be done on the plans if Merton’s bid is successful, as well as extensive discussions with the public and the piloting of potential solutions, this is a rare opportunity for such a substantial investment in our local transport infrastructure. We must all work together, including with the Mayor of London, to ensure that there is a balance in the finally agreed proposals, which recognise the needs of all residents, visitors and businesses in Merton.”

Leader of Merton Liberal Democrats Councillor Iain Dysart said: “The funding will mean that the council can make the roads a safer environment for our cyclists while ensuring all road users benefit from any changes that are made.”

Leader of the Merton Park Independents Councillor Peter Southgate said: “The money available could potentially make a huge difference for the better, not only to cyclists, but also to all road users across the borough.”

Leader of the Merton Coalition, UKIP Councillor Suzanne Evans said: “We would welcome the funding from the Mayor so we can see Merton become a borough that is safe for cyclists, but that also works for all road users.”