Fractious Area Forum Meeting Fails to Find Consensus

Transport issues raise temperature in the Town Hall

Cheque for £10million presented at meeting. Picture: Twitter/Jane O'Donnell

A meeting of the Chiswick Area Forum in the Town Hall this Tuesday evening (22 November) exposed the pronounced divisions in the community over the issue of transport.

There was large turnout with many people turning up to hear presentations from Hounslow Highways and the lead officer for transport in the borough.

The tone of the meeting was set early on with even the earlier presentation from the street maintenance contractor being interrupted by complaints about Cycleway 9 and LTNs.

The presentation of a petition on crossing the A4 caused some confusion as it was unclear exactly what it was objected to, but the meeting really became fractious during the presentation by Jefferson Nwokeoma, the senior council officer.

From the very beginning Mr Nwokeoma was subject to interruptions as he explained the council’s policies along with Cllr Katherine Dunne, the councillor with responsibility for transport in the borough. Cllr Dunne said the changes being made were necessary as part of the council’s efforts to deal with a climate emergency. Cllr Peter Thompson supported the call to tackle climate change and said that people should be cycling more and switching to electric vehicles but that the cycle lane was in the wrong place and the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood wasn’t working.

Cllr Katherine Dunne and Jefferson Nwokeoma, council officer, defend the measures

The chair of the meeting, Cllr Ron Mushiso, often struggled to control the meeting with a noisy majority voicing opposition to the council’s policies particularly the cycle lane and the South Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood Scheme.

Mr Nwokeoma explained the rationale behind the policies and pointed out that the number of motor vehicles travelling through Grove Park had been too high with over 8,000 cars crossing the area before restrictions were introduced a view which received some support in the hall.

When the public were invited to comment, most reported increased problems with access including significantly increased journey times and difficulties for carers due to access restrictions. Mr Nwokeoma was accused of not listening on a number of occasions and remained impassive when described as an ‘idiot’ by one of the speakers.

Issues at the Chiswick Area Forum sharply divided the audience
Issues at the Chiswick Area Forum sharply divided the audience. Picture: Cllr Andrew Steed

Many did speak up for the measures including Dr Edward Seaton who hailed what he said were the safety and health benefits of the cycle lane.

Opponents of the measure brought a large cheque for £10,000,000 to the front of the hall which they say is the amount raised in fines by Hounslow Council on Staveley Road and Hartington Road over six months. It is claimed that the real motivation for some of the measures is financial and that this is putting extra stress on people during a cost-of-living crisis. The figure of £10 million is disputed by supporters of the scheme and Mr. Nwokeoma claims most of the people being fined live outside the Chiswick area.

The meeting can now be viewed here Chiswick Area Forum Part 1 and here Chiswick Area Forum Part 2.

The next Chiswick Area Forum meeting is currently scheduled for 7 February 2023.

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November 27, 2022