Private Eye Covers Lewisham Road Closures

Magazine Private Eye covered the road closures in Lewisham in its latest edition, under the headline “Load of Bollards”. Here’s some of what the article said:

“Anger is growing in London over the current craze for ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ (LTN) schemes which seek to reduce the number of vehicles in residential streets through the use of bollards, planters, ‘pinch’ gates etc. But traffic is like water – block it off in one place and it will find the easiest alternative route.

In the borough of Lewisham, the Lee Green LTN displaces traffic from wealthier east Hither Green to the less affluent, more racially diverse west side. Several formerly quiet west Hither Green residential streets now endure more air pollution and congestion.

Clean-air campaigner Rosamund Kissi-Debrah describes the scheme as ‘a slap in the face’. In 2013 her nine-year-old daughter Ella died of an asthma attack thought to be linked to an air pollution “hot spot” near her west Hither Green home. Ms Kissi-Debrah told the local News Shopper. ‘It’s environmental racism… I don’t just campaign for my children, 1 campaign for all children. But some are more equal than others’”.

Lewisham Supporters News:

This is what we have sent to our campaign contacts on the latest news on Lewisham:

We have submitted the Change.org petition signatures (over 3,500) and all the comments received to date to the Mayor, other Councillors and Lewisham Council staff. So far all we have received is an acknowledgement from the Mayor’s Secretary. Clearly the views of those opposed are being ignored as has been evident from when these “Healthy Neighbourhood” proposals were first put forward in Lewisham.

But opposition is growing – keep the responses coming and get your friends and relations to register here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm  and ask them to sign the petition http://chng.it/RFgW8kFMX2  , plus put their comments on Commonplace here: https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/

Latest Council News:

The latest news from Lewisham Council is that cameras are being installed at four modal filter locations in Dermody Road, Manor Lane, Manor Park and Ennersdale Road. It will be a £130 fine for infringers of the road closures.

Coulgate Street, near Brockley Station, is now being closed to through traffic from 8am until 10pm each day allegedly “to help create safe space for social distancing and to support the economic recovery of local businesses as shops, cafes and other businesses reopen”.

The Council has complained about the amount of vandalism of the planters and bollards they installed. The ABD does not condone illegal acts but is this any different to the “direct action” of Extinction Rebellion and BLM to close roads, to vandalise statues and other illegal acts? It just shows the strength of local opposition to the road closures. Direct action is only taken by those who feel their political representatives are ignoring them.

Comments Received:

The ABD certainly has no objections to encouraging people to follow a healthy lifestyle, i.e. by getting some exercise by walking and cycling. This writer tries to do so every day. But closing roads is creating enormous inconvenience to many people. Here are a few recent comments received in the last 24 hours:

“Blocking roads will highly affect driving time, produce more congestion and make the journeys impossible but not reduce the pollution. Just wonder what would be those idiots next move. The best would be out of council”.

“I live in the area and recently tried to get from Blackheath Hill through Lewisham, all the diversions caused me to have to go back on myself detouring through New Cross, Through Brockley and Forest hill to get to Downham. It was a complete disgrace, we couldn’t understand why every single road was blocked or closed. It took us nearly 2 hours to get from Blackheath Hill to Downham that day as traffic was everywhere. What fantastic planning and a complete farce!!! Please help me to raise my objections. I see no reason to pay my council Tax, if Lewisham Council won’t do anything to help me. We are going to move away from Lewisham now anyway, I will be giving them nothing from now on, useless bunch of Twats!!”

“As you acknowledged, there was insufficient local consultation and a questionable use of the new Coronavirus legislation to push through these road closures. In addition, as a resident outside the road closure streets and very close to the South Circular, this has proven to be extremely disadvantageous. We have increased journey times, increased air pollution but also no longer have the option to enjoy the local benefits on the other side of the train tracks without a fourty minute round trip walking which, especially with a child under two and two full time jobs to manage, is not always an option. I would also add that Lewisham Council should have taken a more holistic approach to greening the community and improving sustainability in the long-term. The lack of traffic impact modelling of the road closures, the lack of analysis of effective behavioural change, and also the lack of implementing other measures which would better support social distancing (which I agree is spurious) or greening Lewisham compared to road closures; this could have been included”

“I would like to object to all these road closures that Lewisham are doing. It is total stupidity. Would they like to drive their car in all this carnage.”

“I 100% object to this, I am disabled and unable to walk or cycle. I don’t want to spend hours in traffic”.

“For us it means we are now completely cut off, by car, from the area in which we live.  Our only exit out is on to the Lee High Road.  We are also cut off from the borough in which we live, unless we drive round to central Lewisham or drive through Lee Green, the south circular and Catford.  And come back the same way.  We will not be doing these journeys by cycle or walking”.

“Very interested in objecting to this. I am disabled, rely on my car and can’t use public transport because of anxiety and panic attacks”.

“Yes these closures are an outrage. A separate East Berlin – style mini-state has been created. The Covid reason is utter BS. They are in fact spreading Covid since people are stuck in buses and works vans for longer as they held up by increased traffic on surrounding roads. As for the closed off roads being described as “residential” – the A205 is residential, the A20 is residential and so on. Are their residents of a lower order and thus more “pollutable” maybe? I have actually accused the Council of being racist in this respect”.

“We have been affected enormously. A 1 minute drive now takes over 40mins to get home. When schools start in Sept our child will also be heavily affected”.

“Road closures and ULEZ extension charges are punitive let alone in the middle of a pandemic – this will affect small business owners and tradesmen, people who can’t cycle or who are not fit enough to cycle huge distances, we already have a terrible bus service and I don’t want to catch COVID 19 on it and how do we get our shopping home? Typical left-wing council why would I be surprised? Anti business and free movement and pro indoctrination is their agenda. Appalling, as a tax payer and business owner I am disgusted by the arbitrary and arrogant attitude of this council who can’t even manage to take up the weeds from our streets, who replace paving stones with poorly laid tarmac, who cannot deal with rodent infestations which abound in our filthy streets, now this – they are pathetic!!!!!!”

Legal Action:

We have consulted solicitors over possible legal action, at considerable expense, but it is not an easy or straightforward case to pursue. It will require a judicial review which is a costly and lengthy legal process. More information will follow on this and possible fund raising to finance it.

What the Council Should Have Done:

Everyone would like less traffic and it is certainly the case that in areas of Lewisham and in particular roads there are problems because the roads were not designed for the volume of traffic that now uses them.

A typical example is the South Circular, a major road that has not been significantly improved for many years. This is basically a historic failure by Transport for London, the Mayor London and local boroughs to develop a sensible plan to improve the road network in South London. Road closures in Lewisham are actually pushing more traffic onto the South Circular, worsening the already bad air pollution. This is not wise when this is actually a residential road.

But even local roads such as Upwood Road in Lee Green have suffered from increased traffic and excessive parking effectively making it a one lane road and hence conflicts between drivers are common and cycling on the road may be discouraged. This problem could be solved quite easily rather than imposing a road closure which fails to recognise the needs of residents and by those attending the adjacent Colfe’s school.

Installing modal filters is a cheap and nasty solution that should not have been considered, even on a temporary basis. Using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse makes no sense either. The Council should have looked at the local issues and developed appropriate measures that would not inconvenience a large proportion of the population.

There are better solutions available! But will the Council listen?

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