Last night (on 25/8/2020), Janet Daby and Vicky Foxcroft, two M.P.s who represent Lewisham constituencies, hosted a Zoom conference to hear people’s views about the road closures in the borough. There were as many as 100 attendees when more wanted to join but apparently could not do so. I will only summarise some of the proceedings and the key comments.
It was clear by the end of the event that there were only very few people supportive of Lewisham Council’s plan for a “Healthy Neighbourhood” (or Low Traffic Neighbourhood as others call these schemes involving road closures). Most of the speakers opposed the current road closures and I’ll give some of the comments below. The supporters of the scheme talked about saving the planet, cutting air pollution and road traffic accidents and getting everyone out of cars.
But it was very obvious how many were reliant on vehicles. For example one of the first speakers, Dr Petula Peters who has to take her sister to hospital said it was now an absolute nightmare with the new road arrangements. Her GP was also having difficulties getting to see patients.
Several people complained about the impact on the South Circular as traffic is now forced to use that more. Others spoke about the impact on the elderly and disabled and the lack of an equality impact assessment. It’s all terribly divisive one person said.
The lack of consultation was also mentioned by many people and one good point made was that there was no traffic modelling undertaken before the roads were closed. That would have predicted the current problems.
Many minor roads that were previously quiet were seeing much more traffic as vehicles divert around the closed roads – this prompted some people to ask for the scheme to be extended over a much wider area.
Viv Hammond summarised the views of many in these words: “It has totally changed our lives”. She is very concerned about the air pollution created and it is “making life very difficult”. As Vicky said “the whole idea that cars will go away is just ridiculous. They have cut Lewisham in half. Everyone can’t walk or cycle. A badly thought out scheme that has not worked. What are M.P.s going to do about it?”, She was clapped at this point.
In the concluding remarks from Janet Daby she mentioned that the Council planned a public meeting and consultation in September. She summarised the objections and concerns and will talk to the Council but note that M.P.s have no direct influence over local Councillors.
Perhaps the mood of the audience was summarised by one person who interjected just before the meeting was closed and the audio turned off. He said “A load or rubbish – they’ll do nothing”. It indicated the frustration of residents and the view that Councillors are simply not listening to complaints and acting on them.
But it’s worth pointing out that Lewisham Council’s policies are partly being driven by central Government edicts, as one speaker in the meeting indicated, over which even Labour M.P.s might have some influence. I suggest voters ask them to make representations on the issue.
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Having read the last paragraph it seems the public can have no influence over councils or government. Lewisham council is 100% Labour and the government Conservative. So who do we turn to when we want honest answers and actions?
Clearly you may have some influence when the next elections happen (both local council ones and national ones). It’s worth pointing out that local councils do not have to follow central government guidance religously. They have a lot of flexibility. For example road closures are only being implemented by some London boroughs, not all of them. Your local councillors make decisions about local Traffic Orders, not central Government so you should tackle them of you don’t like what they are doing and make clear you will vote against them when possible. Or of course you could stand yourself for a local election!
I live in Upwood road Greenwich side and agree with the closure of Upwood road which is now a residential road not a rat run
There were various meetings at Trinity school in Taunton road and at Monor House showing road closures
The traffic on main roads may be down to people who are on furlough and not using public transport which has been reported that passengers numbers are sufficiently down
Well the A205 (South Circular) is a residential road. Do you want to close that also? Upwood Road was a key part of the road network and should not be closed. There are some traffic problems on that road, but they could be solved without closing it..
I am a bus driver in new cross bus garage living on longhurst rd. The first week when they started temporary road closure, it once took me 1 hour to drive home from new cross for simply 2.6 miles journey! After the road closure started, everytime when i drive 321 on lee high road and 21 and 436 on molesworth street i feel i am going to hqve heart attack on because i no longer can keep up scheduled timetable as all the side roads closure forcing all the traffic to main roads such as lee high rd. I have old back injuries i do not want to walk or cycles to work. Most residents i know around here suffering from road. Closures. It makes our daily lives completely in hell. Air quality improving but we are getting more depressed and stressed with lewisham councils temp rd closures scheme? How can this promote healthy neighbourhood?? most cars now are hybrid or co2 emission less than 110 gram. This temp rd closures just make more more new ppl cycling on the road. These ppl never trained in cycling school. On the road they never stop, they go through red lights, they dont signal. This scheme also promotes lots of teenagers and gangsterd to mess around when cycling and taking up the whole lane. ( i saw these on regent st and north greenwich penisula). Continuing to close these roads, lewishsm will become one of the worst borough to live in and we will definitely move out of this area soon and all the property prices in this area going to drop tremoundously ! (good luck for council to receive council tax each year!) is this the result lewisham councilors are looking for? how shameful and disgusting using this way to get funding from london mayor!!
Continue what i just typed above. My sob and i were hit by a cyclist flying down the hill when we tried to cross lewisham way. Since pandemic outbreak recently, more more ameuture cyclists on the road s now who dont wear helmets, wearing earphone when cycling and using mobile phone one hand when cycling and they completely ignore other vehicles signaling and disrespect high way code. I saw 2 cyclists crashed on old kent road, one is carrying his kid on the back of bicycle. I also saw some cyclists crashed on oxford street and ended up calling police and ambulance. Is this the result lewisham council looking for? cyclists dont even pay for road tax. What contribution they got to our neighbourhood? in this covid 19 recession, many ppl lost jobs and lewisham wants to make more ppl stuck in traffic, being late for work and more likely to lose jobs when they have to drive to work?? How can council foot their own politicians bills by creating more burden to local residents and families? any young family with toddlers and babies will definitely need cars to drive family around with buggies. Its super dangerous cycling toddler around and one bus can only fit 2 prams or 1 wheelchair or 2 shopping trolleys! We family with young kids do need to drive our cars to get things down! Continue close all the side roads, we and many other families will definitely sell our homes in this neighbourhood and move out of lewisham borough. A side road closures borough is NOT a healthy neighborhood in our definition. Not at all!!
I live on near Torridon Road and as an essential key worker I need to use the Blackwall Tunnel. I used to cut across Lee or Hither Green to Blackheath and over the Heath down by the old Greenwich District hospital. This has been my preferred route for years, since coming in from Eltham or Kidbrooke is too stressful. I now cannot cut across this route and instead I am forced to sit in traffic going through central Lewisham. The traffic system is an absolute nightmare, even if I stagger my journey well after 10am. Yesterday I tried to get through Lewisham at 1.30pm and it was an absolute disgrace with a huge bottleneck by Molesworth St and Lewisham Station for traffic trying to turn left to Greenwich and right towards the clock tower. This now adds at least an extra 30 to 45 minutes to a journey which was already horrendous. I cannot use public transport as I need to travel once at work. I cannot cycle, nor would I choose to having been in a traumatic experience in a hit and run scenario as a child. I am also angry over the lack of care and consideration of all residents and the underhand manner in which this disaster was implemented – when we were on lockdown!!! What I do see is increased pockets of pollution for those who have even more traffic passing their homes. This is also impacting on people’s mental health, as if we have not suffered enough! The Labour administration should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this to happen with lack of consultation. This is an example of COVID_19 being used as an excuse for those who have been democratically elected by residents ignoring their residents. This added to poor waste disposal options causing increased fly tipping and huge council tax bills is totally unacceptable. Unless the community wakes up to this, we will face more of this dictatorship-like interventions running roughshod over our absolute democratic right to be consulted effectively and in a timely manner. Using COVID – 19 is just a poor excuse for this behavior. I am in support of cleaner and greener living but not like this.