Traffic Measures To Proceed Despite Scrutiny Committee Criticism

Council decides to press on with schemes for south Chiswick

Meaures have reduced traffic on Hartington Road
Meaures have reduced traffic on Hartington Road but increased it elsewhere

The Hounslow Council cabinet decided this Tuesday (19 October) to press ahead with a number of traffic measures in the south of Chiswick despite criticisms of the proposals by its own Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

This has led to an angry reaction from the Conservative councillors representing the Chiswick area who say the are now considering what action they can take. They have called for a full public consultation on the schemes which the council has now decided to make permanent.

The cross-party Scrutiny Committee was critical of the level of consultation carried out so far to implement restrictions on traffic movement around Grove Park and Strand on the Green and queried the quality of evidence provided to justify the decision to make the experimental schemes permanent.

The council says the Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials programme was instigated at the request of government during the pandemic, to improve access for pedestrians and cyclists and air quality. It adds that its approach followed both government guidance and the Mayor of London’s Streetspace plan.

The result of the final review of the schemes is that residents to the east of the A316 - between and including Corney Road (to the north) and Riverside Drive (to the south) - will be exempt from the Staveley Road access restrictions. In addition operational hours for Staveley Road access restrictions will change to 8am – 7pm with similar operating hours proposed for Thames Road and Hartington Road access restrictions. Residents of roads between and including Grove Park Terrace and Magnolia Road will be exempt from Hartington Road access restrictions and buses and school staff within Grove Park and Fauconberg Road Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) will continue to be exempt from the Staveley Road access restrictions, as will all existing businesses within the two CPZs. Delivery vehicles will not be exempt.

The Council commissioned independent reviews of the borough’s Streetspace trials to assess impact on traffic and to analyse feedback from residents and businesses.

The final review report by traffic consultant Steer presented data on the impact of the schemes but cautioned, “it can be difficult to draw firm conclusions, including in terms of isolating changes that have arisen as a result of the schemes themselves, from changes that have arisen as a result of other factors.”

Collection of data was also hampered by vandalism of traffic counting equipment in the Chiswick area.

On the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood (SCLN) schemes the report states, “The package of measures included in the SCLN area appear to have resulted in a reduction in the number of motorised vehicle trips being made on roads in the area, primarily due to a reduction in the number of through trips. As such, the measures appear to be working together to disperse traffic. The restrictions have resulted in some redistribution of traffic within the area. This is most notable in that vehicles avoiding the diagonal closure on Staveley Road appear to be using the loop around Burlington Lane and Sutton Court Road. However, the increase in traffic on Sutton Court Road is lower than the decrease in traffic on Staveley Road.”

Across 27 schemes, over 9,900 responses were received between June 2020 and June 2021 and downloaded from the Citizenspace online consultation platform for analysis by Steer.

85% of 957 people who commented on the Hartington Road measure were opposed to it, most strongly. The principle concern was that the restriction was displacing traffic to surrounding roads (e.g. Sutton Court Road, Hogarth Roundabout, Burlington Lane/A316) causing congestion and longer journeys

535 people responded to the measures being undertaken in Strand on the Green with 82% opposed (76% strongly opposed). The most common concerns of respondents were lack of accessibility for local residents, displacement of traffic and reduced air quality.

72% of people opposed the Staveley Road restriction out of 868 commenting on this measure but there was a higher level of support than for other restrictions with 26% of respondents strongly in favour.

Commenting on the cabinet’s decision, Chiswick Riverside Councillor and Conservative Group Spokesperson for Transport, Sam Hearn, said, “The decision made by the Hounslow Cabinet to ignore the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Call-in Panel is both unjust and entirely misconceived. The sweeping and inaccurate statements made at Tuesday evening’s meeting show that council cabinet members have a poor understanding of their own traffic schemes. How can we work constructively with the council and refute the clear misunderstandings about how the schemes work if they refuse to listen to local residents, local councillors and independent cross-party committees?”

“Hounslow Labour leader, Steve Curran, has repeatedly told the cabinet that the measures being introduced are green in nature, but the simple fact is that statements like that aren’t supported by any credible, local data” said Chiswick Riverside councillor and Conservative Spokesperson for the Environment, Gabriella Giles. “There is no pre-covid or post-implementation data on air quality in the area, and there was no traffic modelling done before the experimental schemes were introduced. The truth is that these poorly designed and inadequately researched traffic changes are acting as nothing more than a PR smokescreen for a council that still has a lot of work to do in order to achieve its key net-zero targets.”

Councillor Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Transport and One Hounslow, said, “I’m pleased the review of our Streetspace trials have been through a scrutiny process and have now been agreed by Cabinet. This ensures our decisions are being discussed and tested –and rightly so. We can now move forward with confidence with a scheme that balances the convenience of local residents and businesses against the need to create safer and more attractive spaces for walking and cycling and to reduce through traffic on residential roads.

“We recognise that many residents felt very strongly about Hounslow’s Streetspace trials. That’s why it has been important for us to listen, and to show we were listening. We have done that systematically and carefully, with independent reviews and around 10,000 individuals taking part in consultation in a range of accessible ways.”

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October 24, 2021