It was 4.58pm on a February Friday evening when Croydon Council got round to issuing its public warning of a planned closure of part of one of the town’s six-lane urban motorways which was to happen later that night.
So just before everyone shutdown in the office for the weekend, the council press team (annual budget: somewhere north of £500,000) managed to get around to advising that from 10pm that night, the Croydon underpass would be closed and that there would be no access to Wellesley Road from Lansdowne and Sydenham Roads.
The resulting traffic jams and delays over Saturday and Sunday will have caused Croydon residents and visitors considerable inconvenience, with reports of buses stuck in stationary traffic for 30 minutes or more heading into West Croydon. And this was when there were no works being conducted, because that is being done over night – doubtless at premium rates of pay – to minimise disruption. The roadworks are due to continue throughout this week.
Not everyone in Croydon awaits with bated breath for words from Fisher’s Folly’s council HQ. Press releases issued at two minutes to five on a Friday appear to be deliberately designed to avoid any awkward questions from the local media.
Croydon Council has failed to answer questions from Inside Croydon about when they first decided that the Wellesley Road works would take place, or why they waited until 4.58pm on the day the works began to advise anyone of the intentions.
According to the council’s press release, Councillor Alison Butler, the cabinet member for planning, was supposed to have said: “The planned improvements to Wellesley Road are progressing well and will provide excellent connections between the office, retail and residential areas of the town centre.”
If the works are so well planned, it seems odd that it was only at 4.58pm on the day that they started that the council chose to publicise them.
Not that the year-long works, which are costing £2million funded by the council and City Hall, and which started in March last year, have been “progressing well”, either.
Residents have complained to Inside Croydon about the long delays to traffic trying to reach the Whitgift Centre since the works began.
Wellesley Road has been exempted from the council’s 20mph speed controls, probably out of realisation that traffic on this stretch of major road these days rarely crawls along faster than 3mph…
A new pedestrian crossing from Poplar Walk to Bedford Park that the council said would open last month remains hidden behind grill fences and plastic shrouds.
Council pictures of the plans for the Wellesley Road transformed with trees to soften Croydon’s harsh 1960s edges has noticeably less traffic than anyone remembers seeing in the area, and certainly far less than our borough planners and the Whitgift Foundation desire should the Westfield supermall development ever go ahead.
The council feels that the £2million spend will make Wellesley Road “more pedestrian and cycle-friendly”. Yes, we find that hard to believe, too.
There will still be no street-level pedestrian route from East Croydon’s Bridge to Nowhere and the Whitgift Centre, while the town centre remains split down the middle by the six lane of traffic and the tram tracks.
It remains hard to see how the “excellent connections” that Butler described in Friday night’s late-notice press release are being delivered by this £2million of spending.
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