evidence requested for Will Norman's claim of mini Holland benefits to business

The request was refused by Transport for London.

Dear Transport for London,

Will Norman has repeatedly said in recent weeks - most recently in a quote given to the Evening Standard published this morning (17 Dec 2018) - that the Mini-Holland schemes increase footfall and 'boost business'.
1. Will you please provide a copy of the evidence, in particular the data, on which Mr Norman's claims for the positive impact of the Mini-Hollands are based.
2. Will you please also provide the methodology used for the evaluation that generated that evidence.
3. Will you please also provide details of the sample of businesses that was used for the evaluation and how this sample was identified, selected or approached
4. Will you please provide details of any analysis and statistical test you conducted to enable Mr Norman to form that conclusion.

Appreciated - thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Linda Miller

FOI, Transport for London

Dear Ms Miller

TfL Ref: FOI-2478-1819

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 17 December 2018.

Your request will be processed by TfL, the Greater London Authority and its subsidiaries to provide you with a response in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and our information access policy.

A response will be sent to you by 18 January 2019. We publish a substantial range of information on our website on subjects including operational performance, contracts, expenditure, journey data, governance and our financial performance. This includes data which is frequently asked for in FOI requests or other public queries. Please check to see if this helps you.

We will publish anonymised versions of requests and responses on the www.tfl.gov.uk website. We will not publish your name and we will send a copy of the response to you before it is published on our website.

In the meantime, if you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

Melissa Nichols
FOI Case Officer

FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

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FOI, Transport for London

1 Attachment

Dear Ms Miller

 

TfL Ref: FOI-2478-1819

 

Thank you for your email received on 17 December 2018.

 

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of
the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. You
asked:

 

Will Norman has repeatedly said in recent weeks - most recently in a quote
given to the Evening Standard published this morning (17 Dec 2018) - that
the Mini-Holland schemes increase footfall and 'boost business'.

1. Will you please provide a copy of the evidence, in particular the data,
on which Mr Norman's claims for the positive impact of the Mini-Hollands
are based.

2. Will you please also provide the methodology used for the evaluation
that generated that evidence.

3. Will you please also provide details of the sample of businesses that
was used for the evaluation and how this sample was identified, selected
or approached

4. Will you please provide details of any analysis and statistical test
you conducted to enable Mr Norman to form that conclusion.

 

The Walking & Cycling Commissioner’s comments are based on the extensive
body of evidence showing that schemes which improve conditions for walking
and cycling, such as Mini-Holland programmes, can benefit businesses and
the wider economy in a number of ways. In November 2018, Transport for
London published a fully-referenced online hub collating this growing body
of evidence, which can be accessed at
[1]https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publication...

 

In accordance with s21 of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply the
requested information if it is already accessible to you elsewhere.

 

Please see attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Melissa Nichols

FOI Case Officer

 

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

 

 

 

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Dear TfL FOI Team
I asked a set of specific FOI questions requesting information to support Will Norman’s claim in the Evening Standard that “that the Mini-Holland schemes increase footfall and 'boost business'. This recent instance is not the first time that Will Norman has made similar claims: in a meeting of the Transport Committee last year he claimed that “everyone knows cyclists spend more than car drivers”.

I am therefore keen to see the evidence for Mr Norman's claims. However, your ‘reply’ failed to answer any of my original questions, instead referring me to a set of documents on the TfL 'Hub'.I have now been through these in detail.

In many cases the reports refer to non-analagous initiatives, the majority of which are not even in the UK; furthermore since they fail to take account of differences in socio-economic status, age profile of the population, weather, geography, shopping patterns etc., they bring into doubt any veridical comparability of the cases.

Crucially, what is cited in several of the schemes is the very opposite of what has happened in the mini-Holland schemes for which you claim they provide the requested evidence . They typically refer to environmental improvements, when in the Enfield mini-Holland scheme, for example, the pavement available for pedestrians has been narrowed for a significant section of one of our main shopping areas to less than that which TfL's own guidance recommends. In the Manhattan case study, ‘back-in angled parking’ was introduced on both sides of one road to increase parking, and additional space for parking created on another where it was previously unavailable, and in addition, commercial loading zones were installed to enable local businesses to more easily find space for deliveries. This is the opposite of what happened in the mini-Holland schemes, where in Enfield, space for loading and deliveries has been significantly reduced along with parking availability.

These are just a couple of the examples I could cite that only serve to emphasise the fact that these case studies do not provide any comparable initiatives and do not provide answers to the specific questions I asked you.

Furthermore the ‘Business Case: 12 case studies from around the World’ document is one of the reports that similarly fails to support Mr Norman’s claim that cyclists spend more than drivers. The New Zealand case study reports that cyclists spend less than car drivers, while the Dublin report states that ‘cyclist spending was almost equal to that of car drivers’. Almost as much remains less NOT more.

I have searched all of the documents for references to evaluations of the mini-Holland schemes. The only reference I can find is in the ‘Pedestrian Pound’ document which cites the Waltham Forest mini-Holland scheme at several points, notably in Box 16. However, while Box 16 states that “The final scheme demonstrates how streets laid out before the era of the car can be re-balanced to create a safer environment which benefits both residents and businesses” it fails to provide any evidence that it actually has done so, nor details of methodology, nor of businesses sampled, nor of data, all of which were part of my original request.

The fact that several of the studies reported on the hub show that Mr Norman’s claim regarding cyclist spend is factually incorrect is not surprising, given that this is exactly what TfL’s own surveys of shoppers have repeatedly revealed. Your surveys were based on actual interviews with shoppers. In your survey from 2013, based on over 4,000 interviews with shoppers (TfL shopper survey 2013 http://content.tfl.gov.uk/town-centres-r... the summary states that the average spend was £37 on the day of interview, similar to individuals' usual spend per visit (£34). The average spend per week was £69. The average spend per month was £277. Average spend per visit by mode was car £46, train/Tube £41, bus £32, walk £25 and cycle £22.

Because both walkers and cyclists tend to visit more frequently the data were then adjusted to take account of visit frequency. Doing so reveals that average spend per week by mode of travel was, for those walking, £86 and for those travelling by bus £73, car £62, train/Tube £48 and cycle £48. Average spend per month by mode was walk £346, bus £292, train/Tube £239, car £247 and cycle £190 (Section 3.12).
The 2014-15 TfL survey of shoppers (published in 2016 and again based on over 4,000 shoppers) is even more relevant, as it gives figures for shoppers in the two ‘mini-Holland’ boroughs (http://content.tfl.gov.uk/town-centres-r... and revealed the following, very similar, set of figures:
− Average spend per visit by mode was car £47, train/Tube £47, bus £30, walk £25 and cycle £25.
− Average spend per week by mode was walk £92, bus £71, car £71, cycle £65 and train/Tube £50
− Average spend per month by mode was walk £370, bus £284, car £283, cycle £259 and train/Tube £201.

The data relating to the mini-Holland boroughs also reveals that “Cyclists were much less likely to be shopping than visitors by other modes although it was still the predominant purpose” and that “Cyclists spent less than visitors overall at each of the Mini‐Holland town centres.”

These are figures from research commissioned by TfL itself and based on sound methodology. They suggest there is no basis for either of Mr Norman’s claims regarding benefits to businesses or spend.

Will you now please properly answer my original four FOI questions.

May I also suggest you upload the two TfL shopping surveys to the TfL online Hub, as these appear to be the best data you have available.

Yours sincerely,

Linda Miller

FOI, Transport for London

Thank you for your request for an internal review which was received on 24 January 2019.

You have stated that you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

The review will be conducted in accordance with TfL’s Internal Review Procedure, which is available via the following URL:

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/internal-revie...

Every effort will be made to provide you with a response by 21 February 2019. However, if the review will not be completed by this date, we will contact you and notify you of the revised response date as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Emma Flint
Principal Information Access Advisor
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel

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FOI, Transport for London

Dear Ms Miller,

 

IRV-108-1819

 

I am contacting you regarding the internal review of your request for
information concerning documents relied upon by Walking & Cycling
Commissioner Will Norman (FOI-2478-1819). The review has been carried out
by a panel who were not involved in preparing the original response.

 

The basis of your request for an internal review was that you were
unsatisfied with the response as you did not consider that the documents
provided to you offered evidence of comments made by Mr Norman.

 

The FOI Act provides access to recorded information held at the time of a
request. Although your request can take the form of a question, rather
than a request for specific documents, we do not have to answer your
question if it would require the creation of new information or the
provision of a judgement, explanation, advice or opinion that was not
already recorded at the time of your request. The purpose of the internal
review is simply to ascertain whether the response was compliant with the
FOI Act and therefore the panel has simply considered whether TfL’s reply
to your request provided all information held and has not considered the
perceived benefits outlined within the documentation.

 

The panel has found that the information provided is the documentation TfL
holds that has been relied upon by Will Norman, in his role as Walking &
Cycling Commissioner. Therefore the panel is satisfied that the response
to your FOI request was compliant with TfL’s statutory duties in
accordance with the FOI Act. As stated, it is not for the internal review
process to offer an opinion on whether the documentation does indeed
support or refute any comments made by Mr Norman as this consideration
would go beyond the remit of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

If you are dissatisfied with the internal review actions to date you can
refer the matter to the independent authority responsible for enforcing
the Freedom of Information Act, at the following address:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

A complaint form is available on the ICO’s website ([1]www.ico.org.uk).

 

Yours sincerely

 

Lee Hill

Information Access Manager

 

 

 

 

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