Peter Mason says restrictions have led to huge increase in cycling
Peter Mason talking to camera by the Fisher's Lane underpass
The leader of Ealing Council, Peter Mason, came to Chiswick last week to make a videoed statement from the Fisher’s Lane underpass.
He was filmed there on Friday (24 September) outlining the reasons why cabinet had decided to make the restrictions on traffic using the route permanent the previous Wednesday night.
Councillor Mason said, “I’ve cycled to Fishers Lane this morning, which we’ve been working in partnership with Hounslow Council to deliver significant improvements to the cycle scheme and I’m happy to say that we’ve taken the decision to make it permanent.
“We’ve seen a huge, 140% increase in the number of people cycling in the area in the last twelve months and we want to make steps to support residents in getting on their bikes wherever possible.
“It provides a safe route for people of all ages, including children, to cycle or walk to local parks, schools and shops. It also links four east-west routes from Chiswick to Acton and sees motor traffic removed from Fisher’s Lane except for buses. The benefits are clear not only for cyclists, but pedestrians and those using public transport too.”
The borough leader also outlined a number of other active travel initiatives which they have implemented or are planning in the borough but he has attracted the ire of Boris Johnson’s transport adviser, Andrew Gilligan for scrapping most of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood Schemes (LTNs) implemented in the borough during lockdown. It has been suggested that central government funding for transport projects in the borough will be reduced as a result.
Cllr Mason said, “Following a review of traffic and air quality data, alongside careful consideration of responses to our recent consultations, we’ve also confirmed the end of trials in some other parts of the borough.
“We remain committed to active travel, but if we are going to achieve the kind of change we need to tackle the climate crisis we know we must take local people with us and be honest about what works and what does not.”
A survey carried out by Hounslow Council’s independent traffic consultant Steer showed that over 90% of respondents were opposed to the Fisher’s Lane closure and there was over 70% opposition to the scheme in a survey carried out by Southfield ward residents by local Liberal Democrat ward councillors.
The cabinet member with responsibility for transport at Ealing Council, Deirdre Costigan, has claimed that the high level of opposition relates to a time when Turnham Green Terrace was also closed to through traffic.
Cllr Peter Mason cycling through the underpass
The new traffic order to make the order permanent will require a statutory consultation to be held but there is no indication from Ealing Council that a ‘CPZ-style’ consultation will be held for residents near Fisher’s Lane.
The decision to make the Fisher’s Lane closure permanent has been ‘called in’ by the Liberal Democrats.
Southfield ward councillor Andrew Steed says, “Liberal Democrats note that the changes made at Fisher’s Lane were carried out using Conservative Government COVID legislation. The Government were offering large sums of money to local authorities to quickly introduce measures to enact social distancing. Hounslow moved quickly and closed Turnham Green Terrace.
“At the time this was the pretext for the restrictions at Fisher’s Lane. Since then, Ealing have changed the rationale, and now justify the changes on the creation of a Safe Cycle Route linking Acton to Chiswick.
“The report presented to Cabinet continued very little detail on Fisher’s Lane, and as many residents have pointed out, there was a contrast with the detailed information on the LTNs that were also discussed at the meeting. The other difference is that the Council Leader, Peter Mason had given a commitment that a simple yes/no vote would decide the fate of LTNs.
“Fisher’s Lane is not a LTN, although in practice there is little to distinguish it from a LTN. However, we have no simple yes/no vote, residents in Southfield will take part in a formal, legalistic consultation where there are no questions to be asked just an email address to send in comments to the Council.”
Councillor Mason has said there will be a ‘big conversation’ in the coming weeks about how the council communicates with residents, learning the lessons of the implementation of these schemes and establishing a charter for active travel to set out standards.
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October 1, 2021