CROYDON COMMENTARY: Even ward councillors need to check what petitions they are signing, and what their party policies are.
AUSTEN COOPER sifts through some of the contradictory opposition to road closures in Upper Norwood
Let’s get one thing straight. The measures introduced in Upper Norwood on Monday are not road closures. The roads are open to residents and service providers. They are just “closed” to rat runners.
Comments such as those made last week by councillor Pat Ryan go against his own council’s policies, and ignore the evidence available in his Crystal Palace and Upper Norwood ward.
Councillor Ryan is a member of the council’s Traffic Management Advisory Committee. So you’d expect him to be aware of and supportive of his own council’s transport policies. Such as A Transport Vision for Croydon.
In that document, from as long ago as 2015, Croydon’s Labour-run council, including Councillor Ryan, was promising to take action to stop “rat-running”, where cars use residential side streets to avoid the traffic on main routes, often at high speeds.
Then there’s the third Local Implementation Plan, from 2019, that said the council will “investigate the use of access restrictions, timed road closures and pedestrian zones to reduce rat-running and external traffic in residential areas”. Seems clear enough.
That Implementation Plan is based on the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy, published in 2018. If Labour Councillor Ryan doesn’t support a Labour council or a Labour Mayor, then why is he a Labour councillor?
People complaining about congestion on Church Road at the Triangle were blaming the Low Traffic Neighbourhood even before it was fully introduced, rather than obstructive scaffolding propping up a building since March 21, after a motorist (we understand who had taken unwell), crashed into the building, making it unsafe.
For more than four months, the scaffolding has been blocking one lane completely, and drivers are using the pavement (illegally, and dangerously).
You’d think a councillor worried about congestion would be doing something about this dangerous situation.
“Concerns” being expressed about traffic systems affecting trade in the Crystal Palace Triangle is nothing new. Shop-keepers, bar owners and traders were strongly opposed to the one-way system when that was introduced, back in 2004. On that occasion, Councillor Ryan supported the council’s traffic scheme.
Indeed, Councillor Ryan is not always consistent when it comes to what traffic schemes he opposes or supports.
Councillor Ryan is one of more than 200 people to have put their name to a petition, one which broadly supports the principle of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Set up three weeks ago, it calls for, “Get the 410 back on Auckland Road and keep the Low Traffic Neighbourhood”.
The petition calls on the council to, “Replace the planters on Auckland Road with a bus gate. Buses, emergency and utility vehicles will be able to travel through the gate…
“We’ve enjoyed the quieter roads that we’ve had because of roadworks and the covid Lockdown. We want to keep Auckland Road calm: No longer a rat run with threatening speeds and dangerous overtaking; Less polluted, less noisy, less traffic jams. A liveable neighbourhood; The freedom to allow people to walk, cycle and scoot.
“This all contributes to a stronger, healthier community.”
Signing this petition seems contradictory to the councillor’s comments last week that claimed that those very same measures would “decimate” the community?
There is another petition concerned with the lives of the people of Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace, as mentioned in Inside Croydon’s report on Monday, and which has three times as many signatures opposing the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme.
Such concern for the people living and working in SE19 comes from a petition organiser who happens to live in a cul-de-sac in leafy Chislehurst, and has been signed by people as far afield as Orpington, Balham, Carshalton and Newton Abbot. The organiser of the petition is a leading protagonist of an extremist car drivers’ organisation that would have us believe that carbon dioxide emissions from motor cars are good for the planet. Seriously.
Perhaps Councillor Ryan, and others who have declared that the road changes will in some way be a disaster for the area, should make a calmer, more considered judgement on the scheme after it has been allowed to operate for a few months, perhaps tweaked a little here and there.
And while they do that, they could also consider some relevant facts about the area and its traffic problem. The ward that the councillor represents has, according to data about Croydon, an above average percentage of car-free households: 38.6 per cent, higher than the borough’s overall figure of 33.5 per cent and close to London’s 41.6 per cent.
Therefore, it’s high time that councillors and council decisions reflected these changes and that we give people a chance to breathe cleaner air and enjoy a real choice of travel, and not be trapped by outmoded attitudes to transportation.
- Austen Cooper is a member of the Croydon Cycling Campaign. He writes here in a personal capacity
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