Our Town Hall reporter, KEN LEE, finds the council facing another possible U-turn on one of its street schemes
There’s a degree of chaos and confusion in the streets around the Town Hall, even more so than usual, after more than a month’s-worth of road works to unblock some of the closures and bus re-routings in Croydon town centre.
Residents on one side street relate that the new lay-out means that their road is proving more difficult to access from the High Street, forcing motorists and delivery drivers to take a longer-than-necessary detour.
And there have already been arguments between motorists and bus drivers on Fell Road, within earshot of council officials working in Fisher’s Folly, because of a two-week hiatus before one essential part of the new road scheme is implemented.
Businesses on the stretch of Croydon High Street from Katharine Street to George Street had complained that the traffic restrictions applied during the covid lockdown in 2020 had adversely impacted footfall and their trade, while bus passengers often wondered out loud whether the detour taken around the roundabouts on Park Lane was becoming one of the biggest single contributors to global warming…
Some restrictions and pedestrianisation of the High Street were first introduced in 2018, and proved to be hugely costly and not much loved.
A “parklet” art installation seat positioned around an emtombed young tree was quickly declared by the council to be too dangerous to sit on. The sapling was soon after broken by vandals and died.
And expensively-commissioned abstract “ground art” outside St George’s Walk lasted barely six months before it was scarred by tarmac after workers from one utility firm or another dug up the road to perform some important repairs, a possibility which had never been considered by those in power at the Town Hall.
Much of this, including bike gates at either end of this stretch of High Street, has now been swept away, largely unmissed and unlamented.
The latest reconfiguring of the town centre’s road restrictions was described as “improvements” by Croydon Council, which said, “We are making changes to the road layouts to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists, reduce bus journey times and improve access for local businesses and residents.”
The works were due to have been completed by February 17. But the making of Fell Road, two-way from Mint Walk to the Flyover, “giving access to drivers to turn left into the road from the Flyover”, as the council stated, won’t come in to force for another two weeks yet, on March 9.
This essential detail is missing from the council’s overview of the planned works. It is noted on a council website page, which says that “to improve traffic flows and access to businesses, we are going to trial two-way traffic for part of Fell Road” by implementing an ETMO, or Experimental Traffic Management Order.
A source at Fisher’s Folly has suggested that the delayed implementation of the two-way Fell Road may be because the application for the ETMO was not made soon enough.
Photographs taken today show that no left turn signs and no entry signs remain in place on Fell Road. On the council’s plans for all the road works, they show it to be a two-way street, with no mention of any implementation date.
Elsewhere in the town centre, one loyal reader has today observed a British Gas van reversing up Scarbrook Road in an effort to circumvent the newly introduced one-way system, and a Range Rover turning out on to the High Street after driving the wrong way up the length of the same one-way street.
Less than a week since the council completed its road works in the town centre, the resident describes the end result as “Truly bonkers!”
They told Inside Croydon: “Without access via Fell Road into Katharine Street as suggested by the council’s map, vehicles are now forced to go via Park Lane and navigate this often very busy junction, just to turn into Katharine Street, and eventually turn right into the top of Scarbrook Road from the High Street.
“I’m pretty sure someone is going to get hurt by this unnecessarily more dangerous journey just to get from the High Street into Scarbrook Road.”
The situation with Scarbrook Road, where the Croydon municipal baths once stood until demolished to make way for a car park, has become what one resident describes as a “colossal clusterfuck”.
With vehicles often parked on either side of the street, Scarbrook Road is narrow, with little room to manoeuvre. It has a junction with Surrey Street and the High Street. Vehicles are now supposed to be able to turn from the High Street into Scarbrook Road, heading downhill towards Charles Street and the new Flyover Towers.
“While the High Street was closed, Scarbrook Road was supposed to be temporary two-way working, but drivers that attempted to access into Scarbrook Road from Wandle Road, including market traders, were stopped on several occasions by the police.
“Now that the High Street has reopened, drivers continue to drive the wrong way up Scarbrook Road from Wandle Road, probably because they’re so confused about how else they can get to where they need to be.
It’s not clear whether the council ever informed the police about temporary two-way working on Scarbrook Road. According to our reader, “Now that the work appears to be complete on the High Street, there’s inadequate new signage to direct drivers on to the new routes.
“Even residents that live in Scarbrook Road are unsure of what route they should now take, which shows how much of a balls-up this has turned into.
“In short, it’s currently a freaking nightmare and everyone is confused as to what the hell is going on!”
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