Lebanon Road rat running starts councillor’s chicken run

Candidate selections for next year’s Town Hall elections are still a long way off, as Croydon’s political parties await the deliberations of the Boundary Commissioners on the re-drawn map of the borough’s council wards.

Croydon council leader Tony Newman, left, and Mark Watson have readily worn symbolic white ribbons

Mark Watson, right, with council leader Tony Newman

But the “chicken run” – where some sitting councillors who might feel under pressure seek a safer seat elsewhere in the borough – may have already begun, with one of the clique of senior councillors who control the Labour group at the Town Hall understood already to be considering his options.

In the case of Mark Watson, any chicken run that he makes will be necessary because of the mishandling of the rat run traffic problems he has seen inflicted on his neighbours in Addiscombe ward.

The possibility of a move by Watson, the cabinet member for jobs and economy and a trusted member of Labour-lite council leader Tony Newman’s “Gang of Four” which has a firm grip on all their party’s activities at the Town Hall, was being openly discussed at a residents’ meeting last week.

In 2014, Watson polled the fewest votes of the three Labour candidates in Tory target ward Addiscombe, retaining his seat on the council by just 239 votes from a leading figure in a local residents’ association who was standing for the Conservatives.

Since then, Lebanon Road resident Watson has attracted the fury of many Addiscombe residents after changes to the one-way system in the ladder of roads near his home adversely affected traffic on other streets, but has miraculously managed to reduce the number of vehicles driving past his own front door.

Such has been the anger, there’s even been a new residents’ association formed to campaign on the issue, and members of TACRA – the Tunstall and Addiscombe Court Residents’ Association – were out leafleting at the weekend.

“People are really angry,” one resident told Inside Croydon. “There’s 400 residents here, all with a vote, and they all blame Mark Watson. They really do hate him – people on the doorstep on our streets have been saying that they are disgusted and that Watson’s behaviour has been disgraceful.

“Our written complaints to the council have not been answered. And Watson’s just disappeared altogether. We’re all pissed off because he’s benefited directly from the road changes, while residents in Addiscombe Court Road and Tunstall Road are suffering the consequences.

“And we weren’t even consulted.” Sound familiar?

No where has anyone on the council put forward any measures to reduce car use. This dangerous driving might not have happened if

Residents claim that since the changes to the one-way system, there’s been a spate of dangerous driving instances near the Lebanon Road tram stop

TACRA’s leaflet says that following the introduction by the council of the one-way system in Lebanon Road a year ago, more than 2,000 cars a day have been displaced, with around 1,500 of them now channelled into Addiscombe Court Road. “Also displaced was the head-to-head traffic conflicts formerly experienced in Lebanon Road and the change has resulted in risks to public safety around Lebanon Road tram stop,” the TACRA leaflet states.

“Residents continue to suffer from a significant rise in traffic noise and environmental pollution, damage to parked cars, traffic congestion, vibration in homes near speed bumps, large commercial lorries using the roads, greatly worsened road safety, offensive and threatening behavior from and between drivers, and vehicles overtaking one another or travelling the wrong way down both streets.”

Under threat? Labour's three Addiscombe councillors, from left, Mark Watson, Patricia Hay-Justice and Sean Fitzsimons

Watson’s conduct has put more pressure on his Addiscombe ward Labour colleagues, Patricia Hay-Justice and Sean Fitzsimons

TACRA has been busy in the past few months, holding meetings, gathering signatures on petitions, talking to the other ward councillors, Sean Fitzsimons and Patricia Hay-Justice, and with Stuart King, the cabinet member for roads, and holding “walkabouts” with councillors and other nearby residents’ groups to observe traffic in the area between Cherry Orchard Road and Canning Road.

“Piecemeal approaches to the ‘rat running’ through our area don’t work,” TACRA states in its leaflet. They maintain that in July 2015 – six months before any change to the one-way system was implemented – the secretary of the Canning and Clyde Roads Residents’ Association contacted the council seeking a proper consultation on the matter. None was ever held with those who live on Addiscombe Court Road, Tunstall Road or Canning Road.

Residents are demanding an immediate solution to their traffic problems, and TACRA is even recommending that their neighbours write to the local government ombudsman over the way they have been treated by Croydon Council and Watson.

They have now run their own consultation, and have heard from 118 households, 85 per cent of whom want a return to the roads system that existed before Lebanon Road was made one way. Their petition is to be presented formally at next Monday’s council meeting. King, as chair of the council’s traffic management advisory committee, has also confirmed that the Lebanon Road issue will be on its agenda for February.

With Watson’s £1million brainchild for Surrey Street market being so badly received by residents and traders alike – yesterday, Watson’s Sunday market had just seven stalls – this problem on his own doorstep is probably the last thing that he and his political allies, like Newman, need.

For Watson, the impending boundary changes do offer an “escape route”. The council’s own recommendation to the Boundary Commission (undoubtedly heavily influenced by the local Labour leadership, potentially including Watson himself) was to split Addiscombe into two, east and west. It would make part of this Croydon Central election battleground easier to win for the Tories, but Addiscombe West might, just, offer some refuge for Watson.

The Boundary Commission is due to publish its draft recommendations for new wards in March, which will signal a six-month-long scramble for selection for safe or safer seats among most of the borough’s 70 councillors ahead of the local elections in May 2018.

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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
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12 Responses to Lebanon Road rat running starts councillor’s chicken run

  1. They did the same in Woodside Ward, Scott, Newman & the missing Ali. A consultation was conducted where the cynical believed that residents were deliberately not given the full information regarding the changes in surrounding roads.
    It was impossible to judge the real impact of the proposed one way system on all roads in the Albert Ladder without considering all the changes.
    Fortunately residents were able to put together all the information and forced the council to consider alternative proposals that were implemented as the proposal was unworkable in its original form & would have caused further traffic problems with the building of the school.
    This in a ward with a 34% turnout, a Labour vote likely to be split between Momentum & Progress supporters, many residents upset at the direction the council is taking & the effectiveness of their Ward Councilors, the run up to the next election & the shuffling of seats is going to be interesting……..

  2. A risk assessment would in my opinion show that the current layout is dangerous. Cars travelling eastwards behind a tram are trapped when the tram stops at the Lebanon Road tram stop. They are then tempted to overtake the tram on a blind bend risking a head on collision with an oncoming westbound tram.

    • This was identified immediately, almost a year ago, and with photographic evidence: https://insidecroydon.com/2016/05/30/road-rage-breaks-out-over-one-way-system-in-addiscombe/

    • Rod Davies says:

      The traffic issues around the Lebanon Rd tram stops and the co-located bus stops have long been an issue. It is not simply the issue of cars & vans overtaking waiting trams.
      At this point on Addiscombe Rd there are the following issues;
      – Pedestrians moving to and from the tram and bus stops crossing Addiscombe Rd, the junctions at Lebanon Rd, Addiscombe Court Rd, Leyburn Gardens and Park Hill Rise.
      – Motor vehicles joining and leaving Addiscombe Rd.
      – Motor vehicles overtaking waiting trams
      – Buses pulling out from the bus stop without properly looking to see if any oncoming traffic is approaching.
      – Cyclists overtaking waiting trams.
      The issue of motor vehicles overtaking trams can be easily reduced by making the length of Addiscombe Rd “No Overtaking” from East Croydon station to the junction with Chepstow Rd.
      The issues relating to pedestrians are more complex and are largely due in my opinion to thoughtlessness on the part of drivers and the use of the entire area as a rat-run between areas outside of Central Croydon.
      The key to addressing many of the local traffic issues is to manage traffic on that section of Addiscombe Road in such a way that trams, buses and pedestrians have priority and that motor vehicles cannot travel faster than 20 mph or slower. Disincentivising drivers from using Addiscombe Rd as part of a rat-run should significantly reduce the problems.
      However, no matter what is done on Addiscombe Rd, the traffic will be displaced onto other roads and ultimately the solution is to dissuade a large number of people from driving into Croydon in the first place and persuade them to use public transport.

  3. Not only is this a chicken run, it could well be a case of chickens coming home to roost if the situation is not resolved.

    As a life long Labour voter resident in this street I am at the end of my tether. I don’t see myself voting for them again unless the situation is resolved.

  4. Rod Davies says:

    The campaign to have the traffic issues on Lebanon Rd started back at the end of the 1990’s. It took years to get the council to take action, despite support from both Conservative and Labour local councillors. Before Lebanon Rd was made one-way, it was well known that impact of traffic upon the Lebanon Rd residents was intolerable. The volume of traffic being approximately double that which Addiscombe Court Rd currently experiences.

    It was known that residents representatives to the east of Lebanon Rd opposed any change, largely because the presence of the tram stop and the vehicle restrictions pushed the vast bulk of north and south bound traffic onto Lebanon Rd, and then some into Cedar Rd and the roads that link to Addiscombe Rd. Such opinions had been voiced at community meetings.

    It was not, and is not, within the council’s authority to undertake an area review and implement the changes required. This is known by ECCO, TACRA, Canning & Clyde RA, HOME RA and so on.

    Last year in response to TACRA’s complaints various resident representatives, a council officer and councillors toured the area to look at the traffic conditions. The council officer proposed that TACRA could consider the options and put forward some local traffic management changes to address their immediate issues. It was clear that they would be pushing at an open door.

    TACRA, I understand, declined this opportunity to effect some immediate change to reduce the volume of traffic.

    TACRA’s position is that there should be an area review and they have enlisted the support of resident representatives from across the area. TACRA’s strategy has coincided with recent interest in traffic issues from the HOME RA led Addiscombe Planning Forum. As one of the Lebanon Rd campaign group, I will support TACRA to get the same reduction in traffic flows via whichever route they choose with the exception of a reversal of the Lebanon Rd decision.

    The Addiscombe Planning Forum has sought a meeting with Jo Negrini to raise the issues. This is a good approach as stakeholders from the communities east of the London~Brighton railway line can articulate their concerns. But this whole matter will need to be directed to TfL to address within the context of the programmed traffic management reviews, which inevitably will significant time due to the scope of the required change and the breadth of stakeholder consultation.

  5. traffic382 says:

    The council’s own traffic figures, published in a response to an FOI, show traffic volumes in Addiscombe Court Road doubled, and have plummeted in Lebanon Road. Mark Watson (of Lebanon Road) conceded this in his one and only newsletter to ACR residents on this subject. Now ACR is blighted by the same head to head conflicts as were seen in Lebanon Road. We don’t know how Canning Road has fared, as the council has not measured traffic in their street.

    What has angered residents is the knowledge that their current misery is the result of a decision to consult only those roads likely to be beneficiaries, and to exclude those who would be disadvantaged. Prior to the Traffic Committee taking the decision to make Lebanon Road one way, Canning and Clyde requested the council to consult Addiscombe Court Road and Tunstall residents – in the same way as Lebanon Road. The council refused.

    In the updates I and other residents received from TACRA, the residents’ association, they have been clear that the council requested TACRA to informally consult in their streets, and that any traffic reducing proposals would be subject to consultation by the committee. Unlike the Lebanon Road proposal, which has bypassed democratic consultation (by not consulting the worst affected streets), the council is unwilling to do similar for us. It is incredibly disingenuous to suggest that Addiscombe Court Road and Tunstall have been offered the same consultation-avoiding magic bullet as offered to Lebanon Road. We have not.

    Furthermore, unless you and the Council officers are omniscient it is unclear how it could be known that residents groups east of Lebanon Road opposed the change because of the tram – neither you nor the council asked them. ACR and Tunstall did not even have a residents’ association at that time. So unless the newly formed TACRA has the power of time travel, it too would have been unable to speak for residents. If it was indeed known, as you assert, it should have been included in the impact analysis and committee report. I wonder why it wasn’t?

    It would make for an altogether more reasoned debate if you could please resist the temptation to masquerade your opinion and vested interest as incontrovertible fact.

    • Rod Davies says:

      There is no doubt that the north bound traffic is now using Addiscombe Court Rd, but by the figures cited it is 25% less than previously used Lebanon Rd. The ratio of north-bound traffic to south-bound traffic formerly using Lebanon Rd was roughly 2:1. 2000 vehicles going north and 1000 going south. The south-bound traffic is still there. So what has happened is that the weight of traffic is now shared more evenly. There is a need to disincentivise drivers from using Addiscombe Rd.
      The consultation was consistent with other traffic management changes. The traffic management changes to Canning, Tunstall, Addiscombe Ct, Chisholm, Bisenden, and Brickwood Roads over the years all occurred without consultation with the neighbouring roads. There was no consultation with residents regarding traffic impacts when the tram stops were installed. These changes pushed thousands of vehicles into Lebanon Rd and it resulted in a chaotic situation.
      As Canning & Clyde RA knew about the council meeting they could have appeared and objected, as could anyone. The notices of the meeting were posted at the ends of the street. ECCO posted it on its website. It was raised in an ECCO meeting at which some residents from Addiscombe Ct Rd and Tunstall Rd were present, and every house in those roads had been leafleted about the meeting.
      In the actual council meeting, the officer presented the report and the committee posed various questions including whether consultation conformed with the law and was consistent. Cllr Thomas (former chair of the same committee) was invited to comment and had nothing to say, other than he did not oppose it. The one person in opposition spoke and the chair acknowledged their position but stated that it was outside of the purview of that committee and the council to meet his request.
      A comparison between the council’s responsiveness to Lebanon Rd’s residents and those of Addiscombe Ct Rd / Tunstall Rd would without doubt show that council officers have been far more proactive in relation to Addiscombe Ct Rd and Tunstall Rd than Lebanon Rd. They have actually come out to meet residents and look at the issue. It took years for the Lebanon Rd residents to get an acknowledgement, never mind an actual response.
      Whatever may be perceived that the council delivered to Lebanon Rd it was no “magic bullet”. The council simply can’t deliver that solution because it doesn’t have the authority. Which is why we scaled back our request from an area wide solution to a local solution.
      The traffic issues on Lebanon Rd were known about for years and raised in various fora. People speaking on behalf of streets and communities voiced their opinions and willingness to compromise. No one from the other roads stood to join with the residents of Lebanon Rd to campaign for action, and it’s not surprising they didn’t because they all benefitted from it. Now that Addiscombe Ct Rd is experiencing the north-bound traffic flow, it wants action and support from Lebanon Rd and the adjoining roads.
      It was so well known about that the Conservatives in their election campaign included it, and a commitment to address it, on the leaflet which I assume was put through every door in Addiscombe Ct Rd and Tunstall Rd. Both Labour and Conservative backed the change. Oddly I heard nothing about anyone from either road voicing objection when the canvassers went round, and I made the point of asking Gavin Barwell when he came round.
      What TACRA has been offered is significantly better than was offered to the Lebanon Rd residents. TACRA has been offered the opportunity to consult with its members and for it to put forward what they want, with that being presented to committee. All that Lebanon Rd got was, after many years; an acknowledgement of the issue and a proposal devised by officers. The Lebanon Rd campaign did not decide which direction of travel the one-way flow would be.
      The fact is that the roads from Brickwood to Tunstall now alternate south-bound / north-bound. So all that happened was the flow of traffic in Lebanon Rd was made consistent with the other roads in the area. The southern end of Addiscombe Court Rd remains two-way, but TACRA has the opportunity to propose it is made one-way if they want.
      I am aware that there is the suggestion that Lebanon Rd’s direction should be changed to north-bound so that the traffic flows in behind the tram and Addiscombe Ct Rd would be quieter. The flaw in that is that all south bound traffic would be pushed onto Tunstall Rd. Given that Tunstall Nursery is there it would simply increase risks to children. Alternative would be reverse all road directions to (making ACR south-bound and Tunstall north-bound) which would be very expensive.

      • Rod: you’ve been advised previously that your statistics are wrong and misleading.

        The facts are these: Addiscombe Court Road and Tunstall Road residents were not consulted when Lebanon Road residents were given the somewhat leading question: “How do you fancy shifting a lot of that nasty rat-running traffic on to your neighbours’ streets?”. Or something like that, to which there was only ever going to be one answer.
        And the council’s own data, as shown in this FoI, https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/325444/response/798841/attach/html/2/attachment.docx.html, demonstrates a 400% increase in traffic using Addiscombe Court Road.

        To try in your comments, repeatedly, to minimise the impact on your neighbours’ streets to justify the beneficial effects on your own street, Lebanon Road, is disingenuous in the extreme.

        • Rod Davies says:

          I don’t ever recall any of the adjacent streets in the last 26 years demanding wider consultation on any of the other road changes that worked in their favour. Why would they?
          But let no one forget that originally all the streets were two way and there were no weight restrictions.
          Did C&CRA consider the impact on the adjoining roads when HGV’s were barred from Canning Rd, pushing them mainly onto Lebanon Rd?
          Did any of these residents bring to the attention of the councillors that the siting of the tramstop would divert north-bound traffic into the Cedar Rd / Lebanon Rd and away from Addiscombe Ct Rd and Canning Rd?
          Answers on a postcard please.

          • Good to see you finally come round to the logical conclusion that dealing with these roafs in an isolated, one-off fashion has never worked, and that a more co-ordinated approach, which does not favour one street over all others, is required.

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