Horn Park and Weigall Road LTN in Greenwich/Lewisham

In addition to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in other parts of the London Borough of Greenwich previously mentioned on this blog, they are now proposing a scheme in the Horn Park Lane and Weigall Road area.

This will include closures of Weigall Road, Abergeldie Road and Westhorne Avenue using cameras and will significantly affect residents of the triangle of roads between the South Circular and the A20. That is particularly so as Lewisham Council have already closed Upwood Road.

This scheme is being imposed with an Experimental Traffic Order and you can find more details plus a map on this Commonplace web site where you can post your comments: https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/horn-park-low-traffic-neighbourhood

This scheme will cause many residents to take long circuitous routes and create problems for delivery drivers and other service providers. It is completely unnecessary as the volume of traffic on these roads has never been very high.

It is important for residents of the Borough of Greenwich who are opposed to these proposals to send in objections directly to the Council, and also send them to your local councillors. You can look them up here: https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200155/councillors_and_elected_officials/598/find_your_councillor

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Greenwich LTN and Opposition to Enfield “Regime”

The London Borough of Greenwich are proposing to close a number of roads in the Westcombe Park and Maze Hill area to form a new Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This is the area to the east of Greenwich Park – they have already closed roads to the west. See map above of proposed closures.

Some of the closures will be “modal filters” (i.e. via bollards) such as on Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill which will be particularly inconvenient as these are key north/south roads between the A2 and Trafalgar/Woolwich roads. More traffic will be forced onto the main roads which are already heavily congested.

The Council is using a Commonplace web site to get feedback (and a badly designed set of questions at that), but that is not a proper way to do public consultation. This is some of what we have said before about that system:

The system is not an unbiased platform in that typically it is used to promote what a Council is planning to do – and that means after decisions have already been made to implement schemes.

It also has the problem that unlike a conventional public consultation only people who are internet enabled, and are even aware of the platform, can respond. This excludes a large number of people such as the elderly who are not internet connected or don’t spend much time on it. So it tends to be dominated by young activists and those active in local politics, i.e. the comments on it are unrepresentative of the wider population. Indeed information received from Lewisham Council about their feedback on the Lee Green LTN said that they received 9,200 comments but they were from only 3,490 respondents. Many of the comments are repetitive and there is no attempt to stop duplicate comments so the system can be exploited by organised activist groups such as cyclists.

Wildly inaccurate comments can also be made on the platform with no “rebuttal” possible – you can only “Agree” with comments, not “Disagree” with them and you cannot comment further in response. Clearly there are many people commenting who are not directly affected, and those that are affected just give very polarised comments. The comments are not helpful in determining a sensible compromise to meet the needs of the majority.

In summary, Commonplace is a system that can be used by Councils to claim they are “listening” to residents when in reality it is not a fair and honest way to collect the views of all residents. It is not an alternative to a proper public consultation and is more designed to promote the views of scheme promoters than collect unbiased information.    

But I would encourage anyone affected by this scheme in Greenwich to post their comments anyway – go to:   https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/westcombe-park-and-maze-hill-area-low-traffic-neighbourhood

Enfield LTNs

There is strong opposition to the LTNs in Enfield. A report on Guido Fawkes web site says that “The leader of loony left Enfield Council has reported the opposition to the police for calling her regime a regime”. Apparently a tweet said that the Conservative Councillors had repeatedly called Enfield Council a ‘regime’ – insults with islamaphobic undertones it was claimed.  

Guido Fawkes suggests this is regular political language and that the complainant, Nesil Casliskan, is a complete idiot. This writer agrees with Guido. When there is a deficit in democracy, as there is in Enfield and many other Labour controlled boroughs, then calling it a “regime” is very appropriate.                                     

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Stopping the School Run by Closing Roads

The “school run” is now a major cause of traffic congestion. It has got worse for three reasons: 1) more ownership of cars, 2) the ability of parents to apply to any school for admission of their children introduced a few years ago and 3) parents concern with the safety of their children if they walk or cycle to school.

Although schools do often have “catchment” areas that limit applications to a geographic area around the school if there are too many requests for places, in practice these are quite wide. For example, this map shows the catchment are for Coopers School in Chislehurst (London Borough of Bromley): https://www.schoolguide.co.uk/schools/coopers-school-chislehurst . For those who know the area, that means that children come from as far afield as Mottingham, Swanley and Orpington, i.e. several miles distant. Walking would be impractical, and even cycling would be difficult due to steep hills, so only buses or car use (if they don’t live near a bus route) would be an option for many children. The result is daily congestion around that school during school term times, particularly as there are several other schools in the same area including some private schools whose catchment areas could be even larger.

How to solve the school run problem? Some local councils are now looking at road closures during school opening/closing times to deter the use of cars and encourage the children to walk or cycle. Road safety benefits are also suggested. The Borough of Croydon have already experimented with such a scheme for six months at 3 schools. The access restrictions were enforced by ANPR cameras with £130 fines for infringement. Local residents within the boundary could obtain a permit. Croydon council has now decided to make the scheme permanent despite many objections from residents (some living within the boundary).

The justification for the scheme was that it would reduce air pollution and encourage more healthy life styles but there was no evidence of the air pollution being a problem (no measures were taken), and it is exceedingly unlikely that excluding vehicles from a very small area for very limited times of the day would have any impact on air quality. No evidence on road safety benefits was provided. Such schemes just cause vehicle users to park further away outside the boundary causing wider parking problems, or they turn-up and park earlier. It causes major problems for delivery drivers, or other visitors to homes within the boundary as drivers are often not aware of the scheme.

The London Borough of Greenwich is also considering such a scheme for eight schools according to an article in the Newsshopper local paper and it suggests the access restriction would even be imposed by rising bollards.

Such schemes are spreading across the country. Solihull is another example of an experimental scheme which was put in without consultation. One local councillor said they did not consult first because they thought people would object!

Another area considering using such a scheme is Cambridge County Council where one councillor has put it forward. Again this is was primarily on spurious environmental grounds. The writer of this article spoke on BBC Radio Cambridge on the subject on 17/7/2018 and I suggested that such policies emanate mainly from car haters and that no evidence is provided on the environmental or other benefits.

There is another motivation for such schemes which is money (just like the closure of Bank Junction in the City of London which is generating enormous sums in fines). In Croydon, some 2,000 fines were issued in six months, which is likely to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds per year of additional income to the council.

The school run and the congestion it causes is of major concern to many people but this writer does not support road closures of this nature. They just obstruct and corrupt the road network.

We oppose road closure schemes of all kinds on the grounds that they create major inconvenience for many people, rarely provide any claimed benefits and particularly so when they are used as money making schemes by councils to exploit unwary motorists.

But if you have other solutions to the congestion caused by school run drivers, that are more practical and less unreasonable, then please let us know.

Roger Lawson

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