A Parting Statement: New Year, New Start.

Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood Statement

 Let’s Embrace The Changes. Together.

Yesterday Manchester City Council announced the Levenshulme & North Burnage Active Neighbourhood’s consultation results and their revised scheme, the first phase which will be delivered from 4th Jan. It got us thinking….  

At a first glance the new scheme is heavily redacted, the phase 1 certainly does not deliver the full aims of the active neighbourhood and by leaving many of the worst rat runs open will not achieve the aims of a low traffic neighbourhood.  The timing of its delivery in the midst of Winter and the lack of a full coverage means it will have a difficult start and may not achieve all the benefits of people moving towards more active travel for some time. But we have a date, things are happening. Real physical change on our streets!

Forgive the football metaphor, whilst it might feel like a 1-1 draw away at the Nou Camp against Barcelona after leading for the whole match (There are still positives to take home with an inescapable feeling that the possibility of something more was just beyond our fingertips!)  There’s still the home leg to play though….extra time too? A metaphor too far perhaps… 

We finally have a delivery date, with a design attached. After the difficulty of the project this Summer, this is very much a positive.  

At those very first meetings with Manchester City Council two years ago this would have seemed very distant and was itself a pipedream. There is also a promise by MCC to continue to review 5 more streets for filters and look at alternatives for another 5, as well as possibilities for Phase 2.  The opportunity is still open for the project to flourish and grow. It is a bold  development and we are still hopeful of a flagship project as residents and advocates of active travel, with the issue of climate change and people’s safety ever more pressing for all of us.

“We still believe in these elements of the project to bring it all together.” 

LBN

There are still many elements not included in the Manchester City Council press release that we would also like to see included, and not forgotten. We still believe in these elements fo the project to bring it all together.  For delivery in Spring as part of the promised phase 2: 

  • Crossings over the A6 and main ‘boundary’ roads; this is well within the gift of the scheme (budget too) and could be included in future phases. 
  • School Streets; School trips continue to cause some of the most traffic.  There’s lots that can be done.  Other areas in Manchester are already trying them out too.  
  • Drop kerbs and adjustments to make our streets friendly for all to move about. 
  • Cycle storage and parking; if people are to have alternatives they need secure parking. The interest for these was huge and could still be an easy win to implement.  
  • Activation; Getting it to work won’t just happen on its own. Lots can be done to support people’s personal journeys in the active neighbourhood. It really needs people on the ground to help with that, support the changes and deliver positive messages and practical assistance to go hand in hand with trial delivery.
  • Burnage; there’s lots promised in Phase 2 that could do with further information and opportunities to feedback 
  • A rolling, positive conversation with all stakeholders by the new project team  

With the revised scheme now having a start date, the project enters a different phase beyond the bid phase and early development that Levenshulme Bee Network initiated. 

It’s a time to embrace the changes and as a community enjoy those aspects that are working and where they aren’t push for further improvements. Together. 

One of the many positives of the consultation was the sheer number of people who responded to the consultation positively with over two thirds of comments in general reporting to be in favour of the scheme.  What a base to build from! It’s clear that the community is behind change and it’s just down to really working out the detail from here on in. 

We have a trial and this is indeed a new start for a new year. 

We’ll be there, helping wherever we can but we will finally be hanging up the spurs of our Twitter account. It remains a well curated account with lots of interesting stuff and engaging debate but there is a possibility that it could confuse messages around delivery should we keep using it. So we’ll park it to let the future Manchester scheme shine and conversation evolve elsewhere.

It’s been fun sharing amazing news from across the country from the project inception.Both taking inspiration from and inspiring others to go forth and deliver ambitious active travel projects.

Going forward, we think that the best chance of this working will be clear and regular communication from the council but also for people to take ownership of their planters, adopt them, plant them up, make art with them. Make them a little bit of what they could be when/if they become permanent features in the area. Create more reasons for people to get on their bike and go for a walk, because ultimately, that is the objective. Making our neighbourhood a healthier, happier home for all.

We also think there will be new chances for people to come together and organise, create our own activation, help each other and create the best opportunity of it all working, and so, as some people believe it is partisan in nature, it makes sense for us to rest up the Levenshulme Bee Network account.      

It might not be the Christmas present we asked for.  But it is the beginning of a journey and still remains potentially, the start of something really special. 

Thank you to all of those who offered their support during the Summer as well as with the initial bid and project work. 

Don’t forget to say hello when we see you around the neighbourhood. We’re all each others neighbours after all.

Pauline and Peter on behalf of the Levenshulme Bee Network project.

See you around on Bike or Foot.

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