UKIP’s McKenzie goes hurtling towards a speed bump

AUSTEN COOPER, of the Croydon Cycling Campaign, is familiar with handlebars, and also Twitter handles. And yesterday he noticed something suspicious as some in UKIP decided to attack road safety measures that are proven to save lives

The scene of another road accident, this time involving a motorcyclist, this time on Thornton Road on Saturday

The scene of another road accident, this time involving a motorcyclist, on Thornton Road on Saturday

Something out of the ordinary happened in Croydon earlier this month. A debate took place in the council chamber on the merits of introducing a measure that would make our streets safer, cut the number and severity of casualties and reduce the costs of bloody incidents that in 2013 cost us dearly, in both human and financial terms.

The proposal? Having a speed limit on our residential streets.

According to campaign group, 20’s Plenty, other London boroughs, such as Camden, Islington and the City of London have adopted 20mph as their speed limit on all their roads. Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark have voted to follow suit and, subject to consultation, Haringey will join them. Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets and Greenwich are adopting policies to make 20mph the limit on residential roads.

What’s in it for Croydon?

Right now, our borough has the dubious distinction of having more people die last year due to what New York City transport officials label “traffic violence”, than were murdered.

Using the Department for Transport’s method of putting a price “on all aspects of the valuation of casualties, including the human costs, which reflect pain, grief, suffering; the direct economic costs of lost output and the medical costs associated with road accident injuries”, we can calculate that the “value” of 13 people killed and 1,079 hurt, of which 58 had “serious injuries”, in 2013 was in excess of £61 million.

Road deaths and murders graphIf this carnage were down to drugs or gangs, we could expect universal condemnation and calls for swift and decisive action. Because it is happening on our roads, a proven means of tackling this crisis has been met in some political quarters with outright hostility and half-truths.

At the Town Hall scrutiny meeting, they cited the example of Portsmouth, where a 20mph scheme has been introduced in stages since 2007. Figures there show a modest reduction in overall average speeds and a 21 per cent decrease in road casualties.

A much-longer term study was referred to at the meeting by campaigners in favour of a reduced limit. This was the research published in 2009 in the British Medical Journal, Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: controlled interrupted time series analysis. What this detailed 20-year analysis found was that 20mph zones were associated with a reduction in casualties and collisions of around 40per cent.

Specifically:
● numbers of killed or seriously injured children were reduced by half
● injuries to pedestrians were reduced by just under one-third
● a reduction in casualties among cyclists
● casualties involving riders of powered two-wheeled vehicles reduced by just under one-third
● casualties among car occupants fell by half

The Department for Transport reported in July 2013 that 72 per cent of the public are either in favour or strongly in favour of 20mph being the speed limit in residential streets; only 11 per cent were against.

At Croydon’s marathon scrutiny meeting, the matters were discussed, the evidence considered and a decision reached to go to consultation on the proposal. It’s not all plain sailing. Conservative councillors seem keen that individual streets should be able to opt out of 20mph, but council officers pointed out that this would lead to an impractical and undesirable “patchwork” effect. Some roads are likely to remain outside the 20mph zones, it being felt this would “impact severely on local transport and movement of goods and services”.

A new sign on South End: is this an admission that the road has been made more dangerous for cyclists?

A new sign on South End: is this an admission that the road has been made more dangerous for cyclists?

The Conservative councillors at the meeting – who as a group had authorised £3 million being spent in South End to remove cycle lanes to make more space for car parking – wondered whether the cost of implementing 20mph zones in Croydon could be better spent on other things.

Somewhat worryingly, Sara Bashford, recently promoted to become deputy leader of Croydon Conservatives, has since commented that it would cost “£1.5 million to make Croydon a 20mph zone”. This is at odds with the report to the committee, which concluded “in summary, this means the total costs over a 10-year period for implementing such a scheme would be in the region of £100,000”.

Then, over last weekend, Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, appeared to take to Twitter, backed up by a number of anonymous accounts, to say “it is wrong to make traffic go as slow as 20”. This despite Transport for London saying that the average motor traffic speed in London is less than that. McKenzie asserted that 20mph zones “threatens major towns” (no evidence supplied).

In an astonishingly cynical and disrespectful outburst, UKIP’s candidate declared that “We know that 2 of the 13 deaths were on Coulsdon Rd where pedestrians just walked out into the road recklessly”.

Winston McKenzie: or is it Peter Morgan

Winston McKenzie: or is it Peter Morgan?

This was McKenzie’s way of describing how Julie Maudsley, 51, and Robert Prescott, 38, died in 2013, close to the junction with Cearn Way. At their inquests, the coroner, Dr Roy Palmer, said he would consider writing a Prevention of Future Deaths report to get Croydon Council to take action at the spot, which is close to two bus stops but has no proper crossing facility. It was said that neither driver was travelling above the speed limit of 30mph.

According to Peter Staveley, UKIP’s chairman for Croydon Central and South, all UKIP’s Twitter accounts in Croydon, with the exception of his own, “are run by Peter Morgan who is one of @WinstonMcK crowd”. It is even possible that the personal @WinstonMcK account is operated by Morgan.

Staveley publicly disassociated himself with what his party colleagues had been tweeting, stating, “Obviously I disown everything that @WinstonMcK (ie Peter Morgan) has said, certainly on 20mph”.

Peter Morgan had appeared at the scrutiny committee meeting without revealing his party political credentials. Morgan is also a local and regional organiser for the Association of British Drivers, which given that their Roger Lawson was also presenting “evidence” at the meeting, means that Morgan’s organisation had two bites of the cherry.

It was Jonathan Swift who said, “When a true genius appears, you can know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in a confederacy against him.” What does this say about some of those driving the politics, and their vehicles, on Croydon’s roads?


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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Commuting, Coulsdon, Croydon Cycling Campaign, Cycling, Health, London-wide issues, Parking, Sara Bashford, Transport, Winston McKenzie and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to UKIP’s McKenzie goes hurtling towards a speed bump

  1. davidcallam says:

    To suggest that saddos from Ukip are driving Croydon politics is something of an exaggeration, surely, given their non performance at the local elections earlier this year. Not a single seat on the council. McKenzie and those who sail under his flag of convenience are a minor irritant, and best ignored.

    Like

    • KristianCyc says:

      Some of their members may be.

      Peter Morgan is involved with the taxpayer-funded Croydon Community Consortium. He chaired the local election hustings I attended. I hope I’m not alone in being concerned that the same person who is running UKIPs election campaign is also chairing publicy funded political hustings?

      A quick look at their recent meeting suggests the CCC has been arguing (successfully) for the removal of bus lanes and for increased car parking levels and reduced cycle parking levels in new developments. I do somewhat deplore the idea that my Council Tax is funding a group that is undermining sustainable transport and development in Croydon.

      Undermining sustainable transport is essentially UKIP policy, so they seem to be finding ways to influence the political system to achieve their policy targets without winning any elections.

      Like

      • Rod Davies says:

        Criticism of the Croydon Community Consortium may valid, but CCC is composed of people who choose to organise, get residents groups together and then do the hundred and one tedious jobs to keep them going.
        On the basis of their activities, they can join CCC and use it as a platform to expound upon their particular issues. If people don’t like what is coming out of CCC, the answer is to get involved in resident / community groups and go along to CCC meetings to put forward other views.
        I might readily share many of the criticisms of some of the residents associations and the people involved. But unless I and others like me are willing to put the time in, then frankly I haven’t got a leg to stand on.

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        • It is not that simple, Rod, and it is not that simple because of the conduct of the people behind CCC.

          They receive thousands of pounds of public money on condition that they are apolitical. And yet their committee includes officers of local parties and their members organised public hustings – with the prominent assistance of CCC officers – during the election campaign.

          Another example of “outsourcing” gone bad…

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          • Rod Davies says:

            I would say to that, “Create a Void, and the Nut-Cases, Greedy, Prejudiced, Bizarre and Boring will step into it”.
            The issues with CCC and similar fora, is that as a nation we have disengaged with politics at all levels. At the top the national political parties have little interest in or relevance to ordinary people’s lives and priorities, and far too frequently they are driven by special interest groups. At the bottom in community politics, it seems to be those with time on their hands and very narrow interests who get involved and again reflect their own very narrow concerns.
            Perhaps at the root of this local and national public administration functions so well that we really don’t need to be involved, and its left nothing that we really get passionate about. Perhaps also since the 70’s we have become so self-centred that in truth we don’t give a damn about community / society. Perhaps due to longer working hours, longer commuting distances and the increased proportion of people in paid employment that we simply are too worn out to do anything. Perhaps it’s a combination of all three.

            Just because someone is a member of a political party should not preclude them from these fora as long as they police themselves and maintain separation. It is an issue if they don’t.
            But bear in mind that we all have our political allegiances and just because we don’t declare them (see below) it doesn’t mean that we don’t seek to promote them in every sphere of life.

            I would argue that if we specifically exclude the politically active, we actually end up with a situation where there can be no challenge to some quite pernicious interest groups. Outwardly these groups may present themselves as composed of Mr & Mrs Average, but dig a little and they are busily shoring up the benefits they have accrued and continue to obtain from political decisions made a couple of decades ago.
            I recall very clearly attending a “public consultation event” locally roughly a decade ago where “everyone” was invited to express their views about the future Croydon. I found myself in a situation where at 50 I was the youngest person present by at least 15 years. Where were the voices of the young (anyone under 49 yrs old?). In essence the consensus was that what Croydon needs is a return to the late 1960’s, without surrendering the financial benefits of the acute housing shortage. Even though those attending denied it, everyone of them was clearly attached to a very clear political agenda that is the cause of the acute housing shortage and the economic imbalances in our society.

            (Just for the record, my allegiance is to Plaid Cymru and I do work almost tirelessly for the end of the Anglo-Angevin occupation and the legal requirement for all public signage and publications to be in Cymraeg (Welsh) and English!)

            Like

          • It appears that in this case, wave a few grand of public money at a couple of net-curtain-twitchers, and what you get is a talking shop inhabited by… your prejudiced, bizarre and boring, or just those with axes to grind and more self-importance than is healthy. And not one of them ever elected, or electable.

            As you say, the crux is to be honest and open about political interests, and to ensure there’s clear blue water separating those interests from what public funds are being used for. And that is not happening at CCC.

            Like

    • “To suggest that saddos from Ukip are driving Croydon politics is something of an exaggeration”.

      David, did I say “UKIP”?

      Like

  2. Danny Stanzl says:

    If they want to lower the speed to 20mph on more residential roads, then surely it makes sense to stop cluttering up the main arterial roads with width restrictors, removing lanes putting more crossings in and also plans to remove the underpasses on roads such as Wellesley Road.

    Instead these roads should be de-cluttered, pedestrians penalised for not crossing at designated crossing points and encourage using underpasses, so that traffic can move around these bigger roads freely, rather than it being seen as an incentive to rat-run down the side turnings.

    To be honest though it’s practically impossible to enforce a 20mph speed limit on residential roads, firstly you don’t get many police down these roads and secondly they don’t often give a long enough stretch in order for police to make an accurate measurement, without there being a kink or obstacle that wouldn’t ruin their reading, so aren’t we better off trying to educate drivers to slow down and pedestrians to pay a bit more attention when they cross.

    Like

  3. davidcallam says:

    The new council has given a public commitment to prioritise public and sustainable transport over the motor car in central Croydon. It will be interesting to see what that means in practice.

    The easiest way to control rat-running is to follow the example of many inner London boroughs and introduce traffic gates. They allow cyclists and emergency vehicles through but make the roads access only for private cars.

    And if motorists are getting the impression that they’re not wanted in residential areas, that’s good because that’s exactly right. Park and ride, please!

    Like

  4. mraemiller says:

    I know Camden has a 20mph limit already because they have spend a lot advertising it:

    “Advertising expenditure associated with the borough-wide 20mph speed limit occurred in two phases. The first, during 2012-13, to promote the public consultation, totalled approximately £3,500. Expenditure during the second phase, in 2013-14, to highlight the introduction of the borough-wide limit in Camden, totalled £35,784”

    I dont know about calming the traffic as we dont actually have the stats on how well it has worked yet but this has not made me any calm…. although it hardly matters since their policy to keep out the plebs by pedestrianising Tottenhem Court Road a main arterial road shall doubtless keep me from infecting their streets with my proletarian tyres as the entire gyratory system stagnates into a car park.

    “And if motorists are getting the impression that they’re not wanted in residential areas, that’s good because that’s exactly right”

    Yeah, go back to where you came from!

    Like

  5. mraemiller says:

    “Then, over last weekend, Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon North, appeared to take to Twitter, backed up by a number of anonymous accounts, to say “it is wrong to make traffic go as slow as 20”. This despite Transport for London saying that the average motor traffic speed in London is less than that”

    This is a classic piece of 20’s plenty recursive logic. Take the average speed and use it to set the top speed limit. This then further lowers the top speed. Take the average speed and use it to set the top speed limit. This then further lowers the top speed. Take the average speed and use it to set the top speed limit. This then further lowers the top speed. It’s a positive feedback loop. Anyone would think their real political aim is to remove motorcars from the road altogether.

    Like

  6. mraemiller says:

    “The Department for Transport reported in July 2013 that 72 per cent of the public are either in favour or strongly in favour of 20mph being the speed limit in residential streets; only 11 per cent were against”

    Leading question. Define a residential street.

    Like

  7. Pingback: 20′s plenty for Croydon

  8. davidcallam says:

    Anthony Miller: I’m sure Camden Council is happy for you to visit the borough as often as you like. It’s your car they don’t want. Leave it at home, or in a convenient car park: then, to coin a phrase, let the train take the strain.

    Like

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