Croydon Council officials’ ability to set neighbour against neighbour plumbed new depths this week at the Traffic Management Advisory Committee meeting held at the Town Hall.
On the agenda was the council officers’ proposal to make Canning Road and Addiscombe Court Road one-way. To the surprise of absolutely no one, and despite widespread opposition from residents on pretty much every other neighbouring street in the area east of East Croydon Station, the councillors on the committee dutifully nodded it all through.
All that is likely to be achieved by this is to take thousands of car journeys each day from one set of roads and shift them on to other roads down the ladder of streets off Addiscombe Road. As one resident told Inside Croydon, “The 1,500 vehicles a day using those roads will be displaced on to other adjacent roads, and next year the Traffic Management committee will be hearing another petition to close another road, followed by another the following year.”
The saga all began in 2015 when, with barely a mention to anyone, the council decided to make Lebanon Road one-way. This had a transformative effect on Lebanon Road, reducing the noise, pollution and nuisance of two-way, busy traffic. It has probably added thousands, if not tens of thousands, of pounds to property values for home-owners living on Lebanon Road.
That Lebanon Road happens to be where Croydon cabinet member Mark Watson lives is, of course, purely coincidental.
But there were knock-on effects, in some cases quite literally, as cars collided in the confusion created (there was little publicity for the change in the road scheme and the council’s road signs department may not have enjoyed its finest hour).
There were also repeated incidents of impatient drivers attempting reckless over-taking manoeuvres near the Lebanon Road tram stop. And the increase in traffic on neighbouring streets, which now had to cope with Lebanon Road’s displaced traffic, caused misery for the residents living there.
So earlier this year, in response to the complaints and petitions, the council ran another consultation. The brain’s trust in Fisher’s Folly managed to botch that, too.
They even admitted as much in its report to the committee this week: “The consultation documents were delivered to residents in April 2017. Due to a number of properties being missed off the mailing list a new consultation document was sent to all residents in May 2017.” Good job, guys!
Before the original change on Lebanon Road, no other streets were consulted about the proposal. This time around, residents on 35 streets in Addiscombe and Fairfield wards received consultation letters from the council. In many cases, they received them twice over.
The proposal is to make Addiscombe Court Road and Canning Road both one-way. There was no proposal to change the direction of traffic or the one-way status of the now more tranquil Lebanon Road, where Councillor Watson lives.
As the council official’s report on Wednesday night said, “The majority of respondents in Addiscombe Court Road, Addiscombe Grove, Ashburton Close, Chepstow Road and Tunstall Road were in favour of the proposed one-way working in Addiscombe Court Road and Canning Road.
“The majority of respondents in remaining roads were not in favour of one-way working.” No shit, Sherlock.
At no time has the council suggested that it should review traffic flows and management of the area as a whole, including all the residential streets which lie between the busy east-west routes into Croydon, the A222 and A232, from Cherry Orchard Road to Shirley Road. Dealing with the problem as a whole would be too much like commonsense, clearly.
Or it might reach a conclusion which suggested a change to the newly calm Lebanon Road.
Mira Armour, the secretary of the HOME residents’ association – representing Havelock, Outram, Mulberry Lane and Elgin roads, which lie to the east of Addiscombe Court and Canning – put a powerful case on behalf of her neighbours in a letter to the council following a local discussion.
“The overall view was that this consultation is an unhelpful continuation of the previous ‘road by road’ approach to traffic problems in the side roads in a small area close to East Croydon that form a rectangle between Addiscombe Road, Cherry Orchard Road, Lower Addiscombe Road and Clyde Road,” she wrote.
“The present proposal, if implemented, is seen not as a solution but as merely pushing the problem on to one or more other roads further to the east.”
One of the key complaints is that, by fixing Lebanon Road as one-way, north to south, it constrains all other options on other streets in the area. With traffic exiting Lebanon Road on Addiscombe Road, it creates safety issues with the tram stop on Addiscombe Road which have never been addressed.
“Maybe Lebanon Road needs to be reversed?” Armour suggested in her letter.
“In principle, no one says that anything is wrong with one-way changes. However, they need to be properly thought through. Having four roads in a row No Entry, with time-restricted access to the only road that would provide a way out (the Addiscombe Road/Clyde Road junction) seems merely arbitrary and not part of a properly considered plan.”
A “properly considered plan”? From Croydon Council?
You could almost sense the resigned shrug of the shoulders by the council traffic official as they wrote the report for this week’s meeting: “It must be accepted that there is no generally acceptable highway engineering solution available which can resolve the problem of high volumes of through traffic using residential roads in this area, without impacting on the access to and from homes for local residents. To effectively remove through traffic would require a new road building scheme to provide a local bypass for vehicles travelling north/south in this area. Obviously this would require a major investment which is not currently available to the council.”
And as Inside Croydon’s loyal reader will be aware, it is currently the policy of this council, as it was of the previous Tory administration, to encourage ever more traffic to drive into the centre of Croydon, to visit the temple to consumerism which will be the Hammersfield supermall (if it is ever to be built).
Councillor Watson wasn’t at this week’s meeting – he was away, probably at Council Tax-payers’ expense, at a conference in Birmingham with his mate, council leader Tony “Soprano” Newman. But Watson, together with his two ward colleagues, supported the council proposals.
Another Lebanon Road resident, Rod Davies, did speak at the meeting, apparently representing the East Croydon Community Organisation, or ECCO, which he helped to form.
Davies spoke against Lebanon Road being made northbound. He also opposed making Addiscombe Court and Canning roads one-way.
The latest proposition was the result of petitioning by TACRA, the Tunstall and Addiscombe Court Residents’ Association, an organisation which was founded because of the strong feelings aroused since the changes to Lebanon Road were introduced.
The public gallery in the Town Hall chamber was packed on Wednesday night which, according to one resident, “reflects how much our lives have been affected and the anger that residents feel about how they were treated by the Lebanon Road proposal”. They were also angered by Davies’ intervention, which was characterised as “hypocrisy”, saying that he has been “down-playing the horrendous public safety issues of the current arrangements”.
The resident said, “He seems very concerned about the risk of displacement of traffic volumes to other streets – apart from when it is his own street that benefits.”
The TACRA resident told Inside Croydon, “We are glad that the committee unanimously recognised the dreadful impact on our lives and the serious safety issues that are occurring with cars overtaking the tram, and we will be glad to put this issue, and the stress it has caused us residents behind us.”
At least, that is, until the next petition from the next residents’ association, asking for their street also to be given one-way status.
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