‘Addiscombe West Bypass’ proves to be a car crash of a policy

Irate residents of Elgin Road have used PhotoShop to good effect to illustrate their frustrations

JEREMY CLACKSON, our transport correspondent, on the continuing angst caused by traffic levels off the Addiscombe Road

The wretched legacy of Mark Watson’s time of power and influence within Croydon Council is still being felt by some of the former councillor’s unfortunate neighbours in Addiscombe, with mounting complaints from residents of some streets over ever-increasing traffic and with collisions between vehicles using the residential streets as a rat run now a regular occurrence.

A residents’ association newsletter, distributed at the weekend, claims that traffic volumes on one street in Addiscombe East ward has increased by more than 40 per cent in the past year, since the introduction of a one-way system which appears to favour neighbouring roads in Addiscombe West.

Watson was one of Croydon Labour’s “Gang of Four”, the all-powerful cabal led by Tony Newman which took over the running of the council from 2014.

In July 2015, cabinet member Watson made a presentation to the council’s traffic advisory committee that one street in the ward he represented, Lebanon Road, should be made one-way. The proposal was passed.

This crash on Elgin Road in June was followed by further multiple-vehicle smashes in July and August

Watson  happens to live on Lebanon Road.

Lebanon Road, where family homes sell for almost half a million pounds, is at the western end of a ladder of residential streets which run between the busy Lower Addiscombe Road to the north and Addiscombe Road and the tram lines to the south.

The consequences of making Lebanon Road one-way were hard-felt by Watson’s neighbours living in Addiscombe Court Road and Tunstall Road, who found that the traffic which had previously used Lebanon Road to go north was displaced on to their previously more peaceful streets. There was considerable anger directed at Watson, who was accused of abusing his position as a councillor for the benefit of his own street.

Such was the ill-feeling over how they had been treated, a new residents’ association – TACRA, for Tunstall and Addington Court roads – was formed, and lobbied successfully for their streets to be given similar dispensation to that which had benefited Lebanon Road.

Inevitably, when those road changes were granted in early 2017, the knock-on effects for Canning, Clyde, Elgin and Havelock roads was… more traffic. Perhaps worse, because of the council’s ineffectual, piecemeal changes which favoured some streets over others, residents’ association were now at loggerheads, too, over the different approaches to the ever-increasing levels of traffic.

And Councillor Watson? He was once within a few votes of being promoted to become deputy leader of Croydon Council. But the furore he created on his own doorstep had made him a political sitting duck. Watson (left) had seen the direction of travel, and while making some lame excuse, chose not to seek reselection by the Labour Party to stand as a candidate in May’s Town Hall elections.

Now, the residents of HOME – the residents’ association for Havelock, Outram, Mulberry Lane, Elgin and Addiscombe Road – have produced some startling statistics for traffic on their streets.

The figures are the result of their own surveys, rather than any independent or professional monitoring, but are sure to have alarmed many residents when they received the newsletter over the bank holiday weekend.

HOME residents’ newsletter included this illustration of how traffic volumes has shifted on to their streets in the past year

“Elgin Road has got a lot busier… from 17,000 vehicles per week to around 24,000 vehicles per week now that all the residential roads towards East Croydon are blocked to north-bound traffic,” the newsletter reported.

“The council states that there has been no net decrease in traffic flow since these changes, so traffic has had to increase in roads in Addiscombe East as there is nowhere else for them to go.”

The residents’ association produced some vivid bar charts to demonstrate their traffic monitoring findings.

How Inside Croydon predicted the impact of the piecemeal changes to the roads system last October

The RA’s findings on night-time traffic will have been particularly alarming. “Many are finding the significant increase in noise and pollution quite distressing,” they noted.

They blame the one-way system changes for three recent car crashes, one a month since June, on Elgin Road – or “the Addiscombe West Bypass” as some have taken to calling it.

“The number of vehicles travelling from the Addiscombe Road to the Lower Addiscombe Road along Elgin Road at night-time has increased by a staggering amount,” the HOME newsletter claims.

The findings have drawn some support from one other body, Rod Davies, of the East Croydon Community Organisation, stating on social media, “The substantial eastward shift in the volume of traffic does raise questions about the approach the council has taken towards traffic management, and its dismissal of HOME RA’s objections to the latest changes.”

The HOME residents’ association’s protests have become increasingly strident in recent weeks, and politically partisan against the ruling Labour group on the council because of the apparent favouritism for those streets in Addiscombe West, which continues to have three Labour councillors.

Since the local elections in May, the area covered by HOME is now in the new ward of Addiscombe East, which has one Labour councillor, Maddie Henson, and a Tory councillor, Jeet “Lucky” Bains (above right).

Bains’ position in this matter appears just as compromised as was Watson’s. Any additional traffic calming in the streets from Elgin Road westwards is likely to simply displace the traffic towards Cheyne Walk, where Bains lives.

Certainly Sean Fitzsimons, one of the Addiscombe West councillors, remains of the view that a broader, area-wide solution is required.

The map of the Addiscombe ‘ladder roads’, where the no entry signs have been placed has seen Elgin Road renamed by some unhappy residents in Addiscombe East

“On face value they make a case for further action to be taken to relieve traffic on Elgin Road,” Fitzsimons told Inside Croydon today.

“It should be pointed out that all roads in the HOME area have speed humps and 20mph speed limits. Random events, like traffic accidents, do not happen at regular intervals and are prone to clumping, but it is also the case that one crash is one too many.

“The issues I have is that they publish those stats which support their case, while ignoring others, such as there are still two residential roads in Addiscombe West, Leslie Park Road and Park Hill Road, which have more traffic than Elgin Road. This doesn’t even include the main route of Cherry Orchard Road and Addiscombe Grove.

“Where I disagree with HOME is that they are stuck in 20th Century thinking about how to handle traffic on residential roads. They want to manage the traffic by sharing it across the area. This car-centric approach is outdated, and means that cars and lorries dominate local roads instead of people.

Cllr Sean Fitzsimons: something needs to be done to tackle the rat-running

“The changes that have been induced has reduced rat-running on residential roads in Addiscombe West ward, though it still the case that Addiscombe Grove/Cherry Orchard Road is still the main South-North route, despite what they say about Elgin Road.

“For some local car drivers these changes have meant some slightly longer journeys, but it also deters some from making unnecessary short trips, which is better for the environment.

“Vehicle trips overall are down, but we have seen an increase of 100 cars a day on Elgin Road and I agree that this should be tackled. It’s how we do where I differ from some leaders in HOME. They want to reverse the changes and return all the roads to the pre-2015 system. They also want a veto on any changes to Addiscombe West roads, which I believe means that no action will ever be taken to tackle rat-running.

“My view is that no resident group should have such a veto.

“I contend that a possible answer is filtered permeability for all residential roads in the HOME area, as happened in mini-Holland pilots in Enfield and Waltham Forest.

“I understand that HOME RA leaders oppose filtered permeability as they believe it causes longer journeys for their car drivers, and that it might displace traffic. I don’t think they have asked their non-driving residents what their views are.

“I should point out that I’m not the councillor for the HOME area any more, so apart from suggesting filtered permeability to HOME I have not pushed this as an option, as that is for HOME and their ward councillors to pursue or not.

“I will continue to support measures that put residents and pedestrians first, and rat-running second.”

The HOME annual meeting is being staged on September 8, from 3pm, at Havelock Road, where the traffic situation is certain to be discussed. The local MP, Sarah Jones, and the ward councillors have all been invited. For details to attend, contact athome@addiscombe.net or visit the HOME website.

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About insidecroydon

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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16 Responses to ‘Addiscombe West Bypass’ proves to be a car crash of a policy

  1. Stephen Pollard says:

    This is another disgraceful example of the shocking legacy left by Mark “Tatty” Watson. Having ruined the heritage of the traditional feel of the Surrey Sreet Market to the tune of £1.3 million, that has upset most of the traders, having spent tens of thousands of £££’s of our money on non-art art not just in Surrey Street but around the borough, having made a total mess of the one-way street system around St. Georges Walk and Park Street and helped to create the ridiculous folly in the now pedestrian part of the High Street that no one ever sits on apart from the pigeons, and then he has the cheek to resign from the Council for other to pick up the pieces. It is hard to believe that one man has caused so much trouble and wasted so much of our money in the so-called name of progress. Shame on the man!!!

  2. The misery unleashed by the Lebanon Rd decision continues. Accidents in ACR, Tunstall and now Elgin.

    Leaving that aside we need an area solution that doesn’t involve routing the traffic down residential streets. We need to prioritise liveable streets and not rat runners journey times.

    Why can’t the HOME streets ask their residents what solution they would like? Perhaps campaign for no entry like Addiscombe West did?

    • Rod Davies says:

      The line “the misery unleashed by the Lebanon Rd decision” seems to suggest that all was OK prior to Lebanon Rd being made 1-way. The north-bound traffic that was displaced into ACR & Canning (much to their anger) and subsequently into Elgin, Havelock & Outram, used to pour into Lebanon Rd, and for 13 years the residents campaigned with no support from the adjacent roads to have this addressed.
      As the council ignored the pleas and petitions from Lebanon Rd, it made the roads from Blake to Chisholm 1-way / No Entry to reduce traffic flows. Oddly without consultation with either Cedar or Lebanon Rd’s.
      The root of the problem was the abject failure by TfL and successive council administrations (Conservative & Labour) to address the impact of the location of the Lebanon Rd tram stop on traffic flows, and devise a solution where there would be an equitable distribution of through traffic in the area.
      The current mess is solely of the council’s making and its failure to provide leadership and act as a council should for the common good.

      • Like Mark Watson, it must have slipped Rod Davies’s mind to mention that he lives on… Lebanon Road.
        Or that he is a leading member of ECCO, the East Croydon organisation, which while steadfastly supporting the Lebanon Road one-way-ing, actually opposed similar traffic restrictions being applied to Addiscombe Court and Tunstall. Funny that.

        The time has long past when some properly objective solution to the growing issues created by increasing traffic volumes in the area of all of these affected streets has been required.

        In that respect, Rod Davies is correct about the council’s failure to provide leadership for the common good, rather than compoounding a road quietening option that benefited and suited one of its councillors.

  3. Lewis White says:

    The “water coming out of holes in the bucket” principle can probably be applied to traffic flows too.

    Prior to “hole calming and management”, the bucket might have 10 holes…. water dribbles out of each.

    Maybe more emerges from some that are a liitle nearer the bottom, where water pressure is greater, or from those are a bit bigger than the others.

    Then block off 5 holes. The resulting pressure forces more out through the 5 open holes.

    My guess is that bit is the same with traffic. Unless the traffic is stopped from entering, or forced to do a longer route via a labyrinth of streets sufficient to deter the rat runner, thereby deterring all rat runners from entering the zone of 10 streets, the 5 still-uncalmed steets will bear more of the traffic than the 5 calmed ones.

    Speed humps, and an enforced 20mph limit, should in theory have some civilising effect.
    I wonder of anyone has done a speed check of all vehicles going along these now busier streets.
    Are the speeds still 30mph, If so,, speeding tickets might reduce speeds AND volumes.

  4. Chris Flynn says:

    Aren’t politicians meant to represent the views of the people?

    • James Devereux says:

      In this instance they did represent the residents. Huge majorities in Lebanon Rd, ACR and Tunstall voted for no entry for their respective streets, all seeking relief from the traffic. Nobody wants to be the road taking the traffic, and in fairness, why should they?

      Seems like HOME want unrestricted access, but for other streets to take the traffic for them. Nice if you can get it but the Addiscombe West streets had to trade unrestricted access for quieter, safer streets.

      • Scott Lasseter says:

        When did H.O.M.E say they wanted unrestricted traffic? HOME. roads have borne the brunt of these changes. Addiscombe residents seem comfortable using Elgin Road as a bypass, before the changes Elgin Road was already one of the busiest of these roads. It now carries almost 24,000 vehicles per week. There have been three accidents on Elgin Road. Please don’t portray Elgin Road residents as the villians in this dispute. Elgin Road has been dumped on.

        • James Devereux says:

          In which case HOME should simply petition for no entry like Lebanon Rd and Addiscombe Court. But for some reason they wont.

          Rather the HOME newsletter is clear it wants earlier decisions reversed (thus preserving their own unrestricted access and meaning somebody else takes the traffic)

          BTW I’d support no entry for Elgin, and like many residents I stick to the main roads out of respect for our neighbours – but presumably thats because we know what it is like to be dumped on by our neigbouring street too.

          • MP Sarah Jones and Head of Streets said at a meeting with HOME that any mitigation like this would have to go all the way up to the Trinity Roundabout. You can see why, otherwise more residential roads get dumped on and you wouldn’t agree with that, would you? No one believes that the council will close the roads all the way up to Trinity Roundabout but the serious accidents and safety risks on Elgin Road mean that the council and community have to work together for an area wide solution which shares but doesn’t dump.

      • James Devereux says:

        Im unable to reply directly to the comment which asks a question to me about whether i would like having to drive all the way to Trinity if Elgin and other roads asked for no entry

        I reiterate my earlier reply that i do stick to the main roads already, and therefore that roudabout. Yes, it adds 5 mins to my journey but it is a small price to pay for not inflicting my noise and pollution on my neighbours.

        What all of this boils down to is HOME, rather than seeking no entry, preferring to pressure other streets into taking more traffic so that HOME drivers are not inconvenienced and calling it ‘sharing’. That can be dressed up however one likes but we were not all born yesteday.

        • You can either have a road system for the common good, acknowledging that everyone (motorist or not) makes use of our roads, given that deliveries are now such a big part of the economy, or you can be individualistic and argue to close your own road; but you have to recognise that this will dump the traffic and safety issues on the next road. Longer journeys of course mean more congestion and pollution for everyone. Given the views of MP Sarah Jones and the Director of Streets, the solution to the current problems on Elgin Road will require compromise on all sides because it is clear that the Council is not going to close all the roads up to the Trinity Roundabout.

          • James Devereux says:

            Thankfully it will be residents themselves who decide the priority for their own street, not the Director of Streets, ratrunners or a vocal minority of drivers deciding it for them. Others deciding what is best for their neighbours is exacty what got us into this mess with no entry for Lebanon Rd.

            It will be a struggle to find a street comprisng several hundred mugs who are willing to vote en-masse to take the traffic on behalf of HOME and the entire area.

            Logically therefore we need a solution that keeps the traffic out of all our residential streets – unless you define agreement and compromise as imposing the northbound traffic on an unwilling street. Of course if thats really the agenda here then simply say that.

    • Stephen Pollard says:

      Yes very true, after all, we the people voted the politicians and councilors into power in the first place to serve and represent us the people, not to serve the hierarchy of the Government or the Croydon Council or themselves.
      Sadly, too many of the politicians and councilors seem to think otherwise.

  5. Rod Davies says:

    Instead of the divisive factoids, here are the Daily Averages taken from the Council’s report (not HOME RA’s)
    The recent council traffic survey, that the HOME leaflet cites, encompasses the area from Addiscombe Grove to Ashburton Rd and provides detail on the distribution of traffic.

    Survey Point Direction Volume
    Site 26, Park Hill Road, Addiscombe (LC 006) Combined 5678
    Site 11, Elgin Road, Addiscombe (LC 01) Combined 3585
    Site 21, Leslie Park Road, Addiscombe (LC) Combined 3585
    Site 18, Elgin Road, Addiscombe (Parking Sign) Combined 3327
    Site 19, Clyde Road, Addiscombe (LC 3) South South 2535
    Site 12, Havelock Road, Addiscombe (Tree) Combined 2512
    Site 17, Havelock Road, Addiscombe (TG Pole) Combined 2490
    Site 10, Clyde Road, Addiscombe (Tree) South South 2140
    Site 13, Outran Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) Combined 1997
    Site 16, Outran Road, Addiscombe (TG Pole 2) Combined 1864
    Site 14, Ashburton Road, Addiscombe (Tree) North North 1547
    Site 15, Ashburton Road, Addiscombe (Tree) North North 1493
    Site 22, Leslie Park Road, Addiscombe (TG Pole 6 Combined 1333
    Site 20, Canning Road, Addiscombe (Info Sign) Combined Combined 1250
    Site 23, Oval Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) Combined 1052
    Site 7, Lebanon Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) South South 874
    Site 2, Colson Road, Addiscombe (Parking Sign) Combined Combined 845
    Site 24, Cedar Road, Addiscombe (Cycle Sign) East East 685
    Site 3, Blake Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) South South 484
    Site 9, Canning Road, Addiscombe (LC 12) South South 480
    Site 27, Park Hill Rise, Addiscombe (LC 006) Combined 433
    Site 4, Brickwood Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) North North 396
    Site 5, Bisenden Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) South South 363
    Site 8, Addiscombe Court Road, Addiscombe (LC 001) South South 239
    Site 6, Chisholm Road, Addiscombe (20mph Sign) South North 237

    The data only reflects the vehicles crossing the junction to either Addiscombe Rd, Lwr Addiscombe Rd or Cherry Orchard Rd. It does not reflect traffic movements along roads, i.e. Tunstall Rd is absent, but the 239 south bound vehicles crossing the Addiscombe Ct Rd junction will have travelled along Tunstall as it is part of the south bound route, while most of Addiscombe Ct Rd is 1-way north-bound. Equally the figure for Lebanon Rd only reflects the traffic at the junction with Addiscombe Rd, whereas about 50% of all vehicles turn into Cedar Rd, Thus the northern half of Lebanon Rd has an average daily total closer to 1600. Also the council did not report the volume of traffic travelling in the wrong direction on the 1-way roads.

    • What’s interesting from the July 2017 data is that there was actually more southbound traffic than northbound traffic travelling through the ladder roads, yet southbound traffic does not ever seem to have been seen as a problem by residents or the Council; no roads have been closed to southbound traffic. It is because the Council has badly handled northbound traffic, by closing so many roads to northbound traffic (4 consecutive through roads until you reach Elgin Road), that problems have arisen. The Council’s system where changes are prompted by residents prioritising what is best on their own street, has put our road system into difficulties; optimal solutions are overlooked and safety issues and traffic displacement have impacted other residential roads. We need responsible leadership from the Council and compromise from residents. We need to move away from seeking someone else to blame and to focus on the common good, in order to reach a fair and sensible solution which prioritises safety on our roads.

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