Statement on Real’s involvement with Liveable Streets

Real has received enquiries about our involvement in the public consultations by Tower Hamlets Council in respect of their Liveable Streets initiative. It would appear that there is some misinformation on this in the public domain and we consider it important to set the record straight. This statement is to clarify the involvement that Real has had in those consultations, and its position in respect of the initiative.

About Real

Real is a user-led organisation of disabled people, and a registered charity. It is run by disabled people: 100% of its board and the vast majority of its staff are disabled people, and 100% of the voting membership are disabled people. This year Real published a new five-year strategic plan setting out our aims and objectives – you can find it on our website here. Towards the end of this statement we have listed our current funding streams, including from Tower Hamlets Council in relation to Local Voices.

Real is a party-politically neutral organisation. All of our external positioning is based on the views of our members and project participants, and where applicable informed by evidence and data. Real has a documented approach for agreeing policy positions by the CEO and the board on different topics.

Real’s involvement in consultations on Liveable Streets

Real was asked by Tower Hamlets Council officers to support them to conduct a consultation event for the Liveable Streets project as part of the Local Voices project. That project includes funding to support disabled people to participate in Tower Hamlets Council consultations. An engagement event was held on 16 July 2020 Tower Hamlets Council officers, with two LV network members contributing on the day, and to further LV network members feeding and subsequently. Officers took their own notes following the event and the attached notes were subsequently sent on to officers.

On 26 November 2020 a Tower Hamlets Council representative of the Liveable Streets project attended a panel discussion comprising five people as part of the annual Local Voices Transport Workshop – notes of that discussion are not yet available but to clarify the Liveable Streets initiative was not a main focus of the discussions.

Real was not invited to support any consultation in respect of the Wapping Liveable Streets consultations. Real has been approached by officers to support them in consulting in respect of the Old Ford Road West scheme but this has not yet been organised.

Real’s position on Liveable Streets

Real, as an organisation, currently has no formal policy position on Liveable Streets. Our role up until now has been to support disabled people to contribute to other mainstream consultation processes.

It has been reported to us that people believe Real has endorsed the Liveable Streets programme. This is not the case. No such endorsement has been made, privately or publicly. In order to do this we would need to have a much more extensive range of input from different disabled people across the borough then we have done so so far.

We have reviewed all of the publicly available material on the council’s website including original papers that went to Cabinet, equality impact assessments and the subsequent review at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Each of those documents includes the statement “We also continue our work with REAL, Age UK and local community groups to ensure the needs of the community are captured.”

After research we have not been able to find any publicly available written statement that says Real endorses this initiative. We therefore think the comments brought to our attention may be a case of stories being amplified through repetition. However, please do bring to our attention any instances you are aware of where someone has said Real supports this initiative and we will take appropriate action to clarify our position.

It might be difficult to develop a consensus on Liveable Streets in relation to disability. Disabled people are not all the same, and different impairment types have different access needs. For some people (e.g. those with hearing or sight impairments) having reduced traffic in an area can be beneficial. For others, who rely on cars directly or indirectly, low car environments can create challenges. Our main aim is to ensure that the voices of disabled people, across a range of impairment types, are properly heard and taken into account in the decision-making processes.

Real may develop a policy position from information derived from several of our funded projects and feed those points of view back to the local authority and its decision-making bodies. We can only do this when we have the time and resource to do so, and we are not currently funded to feed into every Liveable Streets consultation. Furthermore, the funding for the Local Voices project from Tower Hamlets Council is due to end in December 2020 and until we secure more funding it is not clear if and how we will be able to feed into consultations on the programme going forward.

About Real’s current funding

Real gets its funding from a variety of sources including Tower Hamlets Council, through a mixture of service level agreements and grants through the Local Community Fund, and some other independent funding trusts. It is currently funded in the following ways (you can click on each link to jump to the service pages):

Local Voices (Tower Hamlets Council service level agreement) – supporting Tower Hamlets Council engagement and coproduction with local disabled people

Local Link (Tower Hamlets Council service level agreement) – information, advice and advocacy to disabled people in conjunction with six other local organisations

THEN and NOW (Tower Hamlets Council Local Community Fund grant) – supporting local employers to be better and more inclusive employers of disabled people

Take Control of Your Life (Tower Hamlets Council Local Community Fund grant) – independent support planning for local disabled people.

Various new short-term projects aimed at addressing the issues disabled people are experiencing in respect of COVID 19 (City Bridge Trust, Wakefield and Tetley Trust)


Further queries

If you have any comments or questions in relation to this statement please send them to us at

[attachment: notes of 16 July 2020 meeting]

Bow Consultation Livablestreets 16-7-2020