The Conservatives’ Mayoral candidate is contradicting his own party leader over a roads improvement scheme in South Croydon
Jason Perry, the Conservative candidate to become the first executive Mayor of Croydon, has launched a petition which warns against “traffic chaos” in his ward – and uses a photograph taken in Vancouver, nearly 5,000 miles away on Canada’s west coast.
This could be a cause of some embarrassment for Perry, whose election campaign revolves around him repeating, ad nauseam, that he is a “proud Croydonian, born and bred”, and not much else.
What’s worse, Perry’s petition actually goes against the Conservative Party’s own policies, as championed by none other than his leader, keen cyclist and party-goer Boris Johnson.
Perry is one of the three Conservative councillors for South Croydon ward who have decided to use Tory government-funded proposals for a protected cycle lane down the busy Brighton Road as an excuse for a bit of pre-election data-scraping.
“The South Croydon councillors oppose these works,” Perry’s councillor colleague, and former IRA gun-runner, Maria Gatland, said in an email over the weekend.
“They are damaging to the local community and local businesses,” Gatland claimed, without offering any evidence for the claim.
“We will be meeting with the director soon to hand in our petition.”
But environmental campaigners and cycling groups have rejected Gatland’s claims.
“This is just a data-scraping exercise that’s pandering to prejudice,” one source said after viewing the Tory petition.
“It’s such a shame too. In the early 2000s, Maria’s husband, Mervyn Gatland, helped fund a couple of electric rickshaws to try to kickstart a passenger service with a cooperative venture involving the Croydon Cycling Campaign and the council, which met with some initial success.
“If they really want to ‘Stop the Brighton Road Traffic Chaos’, they should get right behind the plans and push Transport for London to complete the link by building a protected cycle lane all the way down to Coulsdon.”
A government report Gear Change: One Year On, published in July 2021, hailed the 46per cent increase in cycling in England in the covid-hit previous 12 months (“the greatest increase in postwar history”).
In the report, the Prime Minister wrote that he would be increasing the amount given to councils for “active travel” to £338million as a means to reduce the ever-increasing number of motor vehicles on the nation’s roads.
Johnson wrote about investing “in more low-traffic neighbourhoods and protected cycle lanes”, exactly like the one being proposed for the Brighton Road.
The best way to discourage motor vehicle use, the Conservatives’ Prime Minister wrote, “is to make better use of the roads we’ve already got, by encouraging vehicles such as cycles and buses that take up less space per passenger.
“I know many people think that cycling and walking schemes simply increase car traffic on other roads. But there is now increasing evidence that they do not. We sometimes think of traffic as like water: if you block a stream in one place, it will find the next easiest way.
“Of course some journeys by car are essential, but traffic is not a force of nature. It is a product of people’s choices. If you make it easier and safer to walk and cycle, more people choose to walk and cycle instead of driving, and the traffic falls overall.”
Which could be a bit embarrassing for Councillor Perry if he gets that quoted back at him at any of the forthcoming Mayoral hustings events.
Indeed, closer examination of the Croydon Tories’ petition shows that they haven’t even bothered to read the council’s proposals properly.
Perry and Gatland are claiming that the Brighton Road cycle lane “will cause huge amounts of congestion and damage local businesses by removing parking and loading bays – even at ‘off-peak’ times of day, which is even more impacted by the decision to make the existing bus lanes 24/7”.
However, in a letter dated March 9, the council said that, following initial public consultation, “amendements (sic) have been made to the original plans prior to the Experimental Order being implemented”.
These “amendements” include:
- Amending the spacing of the segregation of the Mandatory Cycle lane, to allow for vehicles to pull in to enable Emergency Vehicles to pass if required
- Retaining the timed bus lane operations, with parking in the bus lanes also retained to assist residents
- Allowing off-peak loading at shopping parade locations along Brighton Road, to assist with Local Businesses
This directly contradicts the Croydon Tories’ claims. And the council letter – which you can view by clicking here – is even uploaded on the Croydon Conservatives’ own website.
The reality is that the council is not removing parking and loading bays, as the scaremongering Tories would have it, but simply relocating them.
Perry’s petition says, “We think that it’s time the Labour council started listening to Croydon.”
But as our source says, “Looks like somebody somewhere did. How inconvenient.”With fuel prices rocketing and covid rising, what better time to support a free alternative to driving and an alternative to buses filled with legally unmasked superspreaders: cycling!”
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