Considering Staveley Road Traffic Measures from Staveley in Cumbria
Chiswick Riverside councillor Sam Hearn
Friday 3 rd July: My ward councillor colleagues and I have been working with council officers since the autumn to identify the best way to invest TfL funding in measures to stop the commuter rat-running along Grove Park's largely residential streets. At long last the cabinet member responsible for the Transport, Cllr Hanif Khan, will join Chiswick Riverside ward councillors in a virtual meeting .
Now that TfL is bankrupt it is government funding that is providing councils with the ability to implement schemes to stop the rat-running and encourage cycling and walking. This however has become the excuse for the council to deploy experimental traffic orders that will impose overly complex and ill-thought out measures. Some of the measures incorporate technology that officers have little experience of and that they have previously refused to use.
When pressed Cllr Khan does not understand why public consultation before the proposed measures are introduced is an essential democratic control to ensure that public money is not wasted, people's lives are not needlessly damaged and businesses hamstrung. He is not a traffic engineer and does not live in the area and yet he claims to know better than the 1,200 people who have signed the petition already submitted to the council asking them to think again and the hundreds of people who have already contacted him by email.
There is little meeting of minds. However, Cllr Khan admits that there is a need to look again at the details of the Edensor Road school street scheme but everything else can wait until after implementation. He refuses to accept that, apart from the School Streets, the measures do not have to operate 24/7. The fact that the proposed road closures and diversions will force drivers along residential streets that they would otherwise avoid is a “price worth paying”. How does this assist pedestrians or make cycling safer? Nor could he explain why the proposed measures provided nothing that would reduce the excessive vehicle speeds recorded on our roads nor why the package includes nothing that would assist social distancing – a key requirement for the government funding.
Saturday 4 th July: I wake up in the Lake District having travelled overnight. Up on the fells above Staveley picking field mushrooms. The light drizzle persists for most of the day but it is wonderful to be out in fresh air. We arrive at the newly reopened Hawkshead Brewery and sit outside to drink our beers in the approved socially distanced manner. The brewery's free face masks are a great souvenir.
Sunday 5 th July: Another long walk. The sun comes out, butterflies crowd around banks of wild flowers and a lone fawn dashes across our path. You can almost forget Covid-19. Time to reflect on the meeting with Cllr Khan. He says that he does not want the residents of Chiswick Riverside to be locked into an “exclusive bubble” and yet weirdly that is exactly what his traffic measures will deliver. He and the small team of traffic officers are trying to deliver 40 schemes across the borough. Serious mistakes will be made.
Monday 6 th July: A short walk this morning with a detour to avoid a farm where there is a polite notice asking walkers not to cross their land even on the public footpath. Everyone else has been very welcoming. On the way home I catch up with fellow councillors on the phone.
Tuesday 7 th July : Residents continue to contact me about the proposed changes to the street network. It seems that everyone is faced by different problems. Some are worrying unnecessarily whilst others are quite simply seriously disadvantaged. Click on this link to see FAQs prepared by the council.
Joined the virtual Conservative councillors' group meeting. This prepares us for the meeting with the officers' Gold crisis team meeting on Wednesday. We need to understand what the recovery phase will look like and what preparations are being made for a possible second spike. There are several issues on which we require updates.
Wednesday 8 th July: The virtual meeting with the officer responsible for the measures in South Chiswick reveals that although the programme is still proceeding rapidly (so that the funding is not “lost”) a number of key areas remain unresolved. It emerges that there will be an interim review of the new measures after three months in addition to the review at six months. There is now a requirement to engage with ward councillors. No comment. The council website has been updated to reflect the change in the project governance.
And there is a new consultation where you can record your comments on any of the schemes including South Chiswick, Devonshire Road and Turnham Green Terrace.
The Gold crisis team meeting remains confidential. The officer updates are useful and give us a chance to probe more deeply.
Thursday 9 th July: Joined the St Paul's Grove Park weekly virtual poetry and readings session. The selections can be found posted as anthologies lodged on www.stpaulsgrovepark.com The Group has decided to keep running even though the lock-down is ending and the church has opened for the first time on Sunday.
The normal casework continues. Why did no one tell me about street trees when I applied to be a councillor? If you are interested in running as a Conservative candidate in 2022 contact firstname.lastname@example.org or one of your ward councillors.
Cllr Sam Hearn
10 July 2020