Forum Topic

Fishers Lane and the Southfield Lib Dems

Good news that Ealing have confirmed that Fishers Lane will stay calm and not return to 600 cars an hour competing to get through a tiny gap next to the playground and tailing back onto South Parade. Fishers Lane now the only safe north-south route for cycling in Chiswick and links Bedford Park/ Southfield and Acton to the High Road, and schools and businesses south of the railway. It is part of the Acton to Chiswick cycle route. Gary Malcolm, leader of the Southfield Liberal Democrats has opposed every active travel measure, despite representing a party that supposedly about the environment. He and his Southfield councillor colleagues voted to rip out Fishers, all Ealing LTNs and have been very silent about Cycleway 9. Where should environmentally-conscious ex-Lib Dem supporters in Southfield put their vote in May 2022? The CW4 story tonight is I suspect cut-and-paste copy from Gary Malcolm with his latest 'survey' showing yet again overwhelming anti-active travel sentiment in Chiswick. What is not mentioned is that the survey was first advertised via the Southfield FOCUS Lib Dem newsletter on 5th October, but mysteriously multiple people who had publicly supported the Fishers changes and were regular recipients of the newsletter did not receive that one. Then a day later at 2:13pm on 6th October Gary Malcolm advertised it on OneChiswick- Against Streetspace Changes private Facebook group. He's a member of that group. To join you have to pass a test to explain why you dislike the active travel changes. It has never to my knowledge appeared on the Southfield Lib Dems' own Facebook page and or Gary Malcom's Twitter feed.  The Deputy Leader of Ealing summed up well at the Scrutiny Committee last night. https://youtu.be/jr9skHtq5P8

Edward Seaton ● 35d105 Comments

Edward, just consider you are now on the same side of the argument as Claire Moran.You are being a bit childish in minimising the benefit of the improved access simply because the local Liberal Democrats approve of them as well. They probably were originally ideas from council officers anyway. The improved access at the top end of the park is a small but significant benefit to cyclists  who are otherwise forced to dismount or wait for pedestrians to clear the alley way. The improved access at Carlton Road is a bit of a waste of time because no cyclist actually uses the designated Chiswick to East Acton Route at this point as it requires a detour. Most will just continue on St Alban's Avenue and enter the park at the entrance near that road. It would have been better if they improved access there but that would be more expensive.Nobody is arguing that not having occasionally blocking up the Fishers Lane underpass is not a good thing. However the offset is that there is increased traffic on Acton Lane. Since the Italians opened I have regularly popped over there to get delicious, ham or cheese, cannoli or to have a pizza when the weather was better. Before the Fishers Lane closure there was never really a problem going along Acton Lane and I could be there in under ten minutes. Since the closure I have abandoned that route because once the traffic queues have formed it is impossible to cycle down Acton Lane. I'm not saying queues were unheard of before but they were extremely rare outside rush hour. Now it is just not worth taking the chance. Even today when I was walking on Acton Green there was slow moving traffic going towards Chiswick Park station. I now take Fishers Lane and Belmont Road cutting through Essex Place to get to the Italians. It takes a bit longer but not enough to discourage me from visiting there.The point here is that for some local cyclists the Fishers Lane closure is a disbenefit. The issue is a complex one and  I don't think my needs should override those of people with small children who feel more comfortable cycling through the underpass with fewer vehicles using it. However, it is unfair to say that the local councillors are opposed to active travel. They just think the restriction is a bad idea and that is a view shared by the overwhelming majority of people who live in the area.

Mark Evans ● 26d

Below all the information I could find from the Ealing Council scrutiny committee papers. A report states, "Extensive traffic surveys have been carried out in the area before and after the change, and before and after enforcement started. Bus journey time (iBus) data from October 2019 to August 2021 for routes 94 (South Parade) and 272 (half of South Parade, plus Fisher’s Lane) have been analysed to measure any delays to buses.Bus journey times on route 94 reduced significantly during the 1st lockdown. "They increased marginally when lockdown eased in Aug 2020, then remained stable during the 2021 lockdown. However, the times are still an improvement on those before the first lockdown. Reductions are typically 5-10%, but in the pm peak, westbound, the reduction is much better, at around 13% or 36 seconds. These figures show that there is nosignificant extra congestion on South Parade."This does contradict Steer's report that found there had been an increase in journey times for the 94 westbound in the afternoon and evening peak.The apparent contradictions between the two reports could easily be clarified by all the data being put in the public domain. In the absence of this it is impossible to disprove that Ealing Council are using the figures selectively to make their case. For instance are they comparing bus travel times in July and August 2021 with months during the school term?All in all, if someone is willing to accept partial information from an organisation with a political and financial incentive to keep the closure running as good evidence and rejects an independent report and the overwhelming opinion of residents of the area as bad evidence, this suggests they have a pre-determined view.

Jeremy Parkinson ● 31d

Michael, we were told that the info on delays was averaged over 24 hours. My recollection is correct.As you know, the word "member" is forced on all Facebook groups by Facebook. I follow OneChiswick on Facebook. I am not a member. Indeed, my understanding is that OneChiswick does not have a membership or a membership fee. It has a Facebook page - just as Hounslow Cycling does. Your persistence on this appears to be desperate given how many times I've explained it - and given the similarity with Hounslow Cycling's Facebook page where followers are also described, automatically by Facebook, as members. It is very different from Hounslow cabinet members who are members of London Cycling Campaign which not only charges a membership fee but also provides what it describes on its website as "some fantastic benefits" including "cycling liability insurance, cycling legal advice, great discounts and a FREE set of CatEye lights for a limited time.*" https://www.lcc.org.uk/membership-benefits/These benefits mean that Hounslow cabinet members should have declared their interests but failed to until very recently, having realised that they do in fact have a "pecuniary interest" which is the definition of what should be declared. If you watched the Ealing scrutiny committee you will have seen that a councillor tried to force declarations; the legal officer reminded all that the guidance was that "pecuniary interests" should be declared. As for "security information" this is exaggeration for the sake of effect. The information was not secret or privileged. It was given to me as I passed through the foyer of Hounslow House - in earshot of members of the public - and is a message often given about which door to use as we leave or if we are coming back again. Hounslow House is a meeting place for the public. It is also where Hounslow library is. It is open whenever the library is, and the front door is the route in. At times when the library is closed, councillors and officers might be able to use the front door or might be asked to use the side gate in. When leaving, the front door might be open or we might be asked to leave by the side gate out. But here's the main point, all three - the main front door, the side gate in, the side gate out - are visible from the main road that runs along the front and side of Hounslow House. Telling me in advance which door/gate to use the following day was a routine message - and others overheard it. Besides, anyone outside could easily work it out - people try the front door and, if it doesn't open, walk a few yards on to the side. It's visible from the road. The same as we leave if the front door is closed - we are all visible leaving by the side gate out. Then there's this. On the day of the meeting, when I arrived early for another meeting beforehand, as I arrived at Hounslow House a security guard was outside the front door briefing his team for that evening and explaining - out loud - where members of his team were to stand. He walked them round to different spots, still speaking out loud saying "I want two of you there and two of you there" while pointing to the entrances, just as cabin crew do when pointing out emergency exit routes.  No secrets.  No privileged information.  Besides, anyone turning up for the meeting or the demo would have seen what was going on when they arrived.

Joanna Biddolph ● 32d

Cllr Biddolph's recollection is incorrect.  The data in the report is averaged hourly, not over 24 hours, and further broken down by weekdays, Saturday and Sunday.So she isn't off to a good start by getting her first point wrong.I trust that she welcomes the objective data showing an improvement in bus times for the 94 and 272.Given that she also called for a north-south cycling route in Chiswick, I would like to congratulate her on achieving this.Cllr Biddolph's own involvement with OneChiswick deserves some attention.  She claimed not to be a member when her Facebook profile said "member".Cllr Biddolph then provided security information for Hounslow House to suspended Riverside ward chair, David Giles, who posted this on OneChiswick.  This predated the David Amess murder but looks like a particularly irresponsible action.  However Cllr Biddolph's previous attitude towards death threats to councillors was that "it wasn't a proper death threat" so she doesn't appear to be particularly responsible in that regard.It is interesting that Cllr Biddolph views number of Facebook followers as how representative they are.  On that measure, clearly we should be asking Ant and Dec to design traffic schemes because their Facebook group has 2.3 million followers.When it comes to being representative, Cllr Biddolph may be interested to know over 5 times more people cycle on Chiswick High Rd on a single day than have donated to OneChiswick in over a year.And on the subject of money donated to OneChiswick, as a member of OneChiswick, maybe Cllr Biddolph can tell everyone - where has the money gone?

Michael Robinson ● 32d

My recollection of "data" on bus journey times along Chiswick High Road, given to a Hounslow overview and scrutiny meeting, was that the supposed negligible delay was achieved by averaging journey times over 24 hours. So, the experience of being stuck on a bus in gridlock at, say, 5pm is as real as the experience of being driven along uninterrupted at, say, 5am. Giving average delay times to imply negligible delays at peak times mocks residents' intelligence - and denies their experiences. There is also the important point about numbers - of people stuck on buses in gridlock and of people who aren't, given the number of day time buses that operate when routes are congested compared with the number of night buses operating when roads are clear. The number of people whose lived experiences are of long delays is far greater. The point "A large part of "respondents" in this case were from campaigns organised by OneChiswick, a group with the objective of removing traffic restrictions therefore hardly an objective source of information." also doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Any special interest group will attract people who agree with its stance so a group such as OneChiswick is no different from groups such as Hounslow Cycling and the London Cycling Campaign - the latter two are, to adjust Michael's words slightly, groups with the objective of imposing traffic restrictions therefore hardly objective sources of information. We know, from Twitter, that there was a leaflet drop encouraging residents to support the continued closure of Fishers Lane (I didn't see it so I don't know its source). How is that different from a campaign encouraging people to object to the closure? Which one is more "objective"? Again, let's look at numbers. Hounslow Cycling Campaign Facebook followers: 334; OneChiswick Facebook followers: 2k. It's clear to me which one is more representative.

Joanna Biddolph ● 32d

Jeremy,You are quoting selectively from the Steer report.  It actually says."Comparing January 2020 to May 2021, the data appears to show little noticeable changes, with the exception of 14:00 to 17:00 on weekdays in the westbound direction, which has shown an increase of about a minute. This may be caused by additional traffic on South Parade."The Ealing report says:"Bus journey times on route 94 reduced significantly during the 1st lockdown. They increased marginally when lockdown eased in Aug 2020, then remained stable during the 2021 lockdown. However, the times are still an improvement on those before the first lockdown. Reductions are typically 5-10%, but in the pm peak, westbound, the reduction is much better, at around 13% or 36 seconds. These figures show that there is no significant extra congestion on South Parade.""Journey times on route 272 also reduced significantly during the 1st lockdown. They went up marginally as lockdown eased in Aug 2020, then reduced again with the 2021 lockdown. As route 94 journey times did not reduce in the second lockdown, this improvement may be due to enforcement of the ban on other motor vehicles in Fisher's Lane. All journey times are an improvement on those before the first lockdown. Reductions are typically 5-10%, but in the pm peak, both ways, the reduction is much better at around 15% or 30 seconds."The source of data is exactly the same for both Steer and Ealing - it is the TfL iBus data which tracks a bus position using GPS. The Steer report covers up to June 2021 while Ealing is up to August 2021.Your belief that public opinion provides an accurate measure of traffic volumes also doesn't stand up to scrutiny.  A large part of "respondents" in this case were from campaigns organised by OneChiswick, a group with the objective of removing traffic restrictions therefore hardly an objective source of information.

Michael Robinson ● 32d

Tom Pike said, "Ealing used the bus times along South Parade, which show no additional delays, and the reduced delays of the 272 on Fishers Lane itself to inform their decision to make the restriction permanent."You can’t claim to be in favour of active travel and at the same time put anecdotal accounts above independent monitoring in rejecting active travel measures."I haven't seen the data provided by Ealing but wouldn't you accept that unverified data from an organisation with a vested interest in the outcome is less valuable as evidence than that from an independent traffic consultant?The Steer report says that westbound travel times for the 94 bus have increased by a minute in the afternoon peak westbound on South Parade/Acton Lane. Steer concludes "This may be caused by additional traffic on South Parade".This might not sound a lot but with  general car traffic levels still below pre-pandemic and bus loading only at 60% you would be expecting a fall under normal circumstances. It looks like what is happening is that most of the time tailbacks along Acton Lane do not reach the terminus of the 94 but they do occasionally which means that most buses are proceeding without delay at the moment but some are being held up for the final two stops on the route.When talking about traffic levels in the North of Chiswick Steer states, "The most notable increase is on Acton Lane, which may be due to traffic diverting from Fishers Lane".It also states "There also appears to be an increase in traffic using the east-west corridor to the north of the Tube line, for example along Bath Road. This increased traffic may also be having an impact on bus journey times along South Parade".This highlights the internal contradiction in the claims you are making. On the one hand you are telling us that up to 900 vehicles used the Fishers Lane underpass and on the other you claim that since its closure there has been no increase on cars on Acton Lane and South Parade. Both of these claims cannot be true.It is also a very unsound approach to dismiss the observed experience of local residents as evidence. You perhaps can discount the anecdotal evidence of individuals on this forum but when hundreds of people, when asked to give their view, say the same thing then this clearly has some evidential value. If you have a large pool of data in which 85% of respondents have the same opinion on a matter they are likely to be well-informed on then you have to take that as an important piece of evidence when forming an opinion.There seems to be a growing trope among people supporting these measures that anyone opposed to them is an enemy of active travel. To me this name-calling just indicates a lack of a properly evidenced argument in favour of this scheme.I don't have a dog in this fight as Acton Lane, South Parade and Fishers Lane are roads that I will rarely use. Therefore I think I can look at this question reasonably objectively. The evidence that the closure of Fishers Lane has caused a significant increase in traffic is overwhelming - it is confirmed by an independent traffic consultant's report and the daily observation of hundreds of local people.

Jeremy Parkinson ● 32d

Plenty of people in Southfield have had enough and it’s with Ealing Council. It hasn’t even got to do with Party. It is with their constant failure to recognise and cater for their Chiswick residents, their constant failure to consult, their constant failure to look out for people - like the elderly- or people other than cyclists, who certainly deserve their views to be listened to and heard, but not at the expense of everyone else.What is it that this authoritarian group of people distrust so much about consultation? It has nothing to do with democracy. Nothing to do with Labour and I am not sure it has anything much to do with climate change. It does however seem to have a lot to do with corruption.Look at the ‘consultation’ on the tower blocks in Bollo Lane, (first remove the bus service -440- with no ‘consultation’ so people can’t reach the ‘consultation’ exhibition.) You could restore the 440 route then you’d have righted one wrong  which might balance out some of the inconvenience, but what you are going to do about the build up of traffic in surrounding streets like South Parade, for the sake of a handful of increased bikes, I don’t know. Oh yes, sorry, I do, nothing. That’ll help climate change. You’ve achieved the moral high ground by doing very moral things.I am going for my flu jab on Monday and my booster on Friday. That will cost me about £30 in a taxi to travel about a mile each way to the health centre, but hey, don’t worry, I live in Chiswick and can afford it.As for the Lib Dems, I am not a member of the Lib Dems, I was pretty cross with them over their conduct on the Brexit vote, which I think they helped lose, but they are the only people to take an interest in Southfield. I have lived here nearly 40 years and cannot remember a Tory or Labour Party representative  coming to my door in that time and that very much includes Deirdre Costigan, who has certainly not spoken to me, or, in a quick poll of neighbours, any of these Southfield residents, perhaps she should stick to her own ward and get things right there before moving on to us. Maybe their clear success in speaking knowledgeably for their community, backed up by polls, is the explanation for the hatred spilling out of Costigan’s mouth

Helen Martin ● 33d

The increases in cycling cited by Councillor Costigan were not just "claims". They were from data collected in November 2019, October 2020, May 2020 and September 2021. "Overall, the increase can be estimated as 150 to 200%, and growth is continuing."You've haven't given the time period over which Kay Heatherington's counts were taken or at what time of day or day of the week - there are usually two peak times each week day, not three. If the claim were that only 60 cyclists a day are now using Fisher Lane, that's not a credible number, but 60 cyclists an hour would be reasonable, according to the Streetview images: it's possible to estimate the number of cyclists before the restrictions on Fishers Lane from these images.Cyclists made up 6% of total traffic in Streetview images of Fishers Lane from 2008 to 2019, which from the previous traffic counts would amount to 200 to 300 cyclists a day, or 20 to 30 an hour. Given the measured increase since the restrictions came in, 60 cyclists an hour would now be a reasonable number. That compares to average cycle counts now of more than 200 an hour along the High Road from 7 am to 7 pm.As for anecdotal evidence of increased pollution, both the independent INRIX and iBus data show no evidence of increased congestion along South Parade with bus times for both the 94 and 272 showing significant improvements since the restrictions were introduced. That data informed both Hounslow's and Ealing decisions on Fisher Lane - putting anecdote above independently collected data is not a pathway to informed policy.Councillor Gill's comments in his blog that trips have become longer as a result of the restrictions on Fishers Lane are similarly not supported by the evidence. Steer’s Streetspace review for Hounslow included average trip directness both before and after the restrictions were in place. Local trips north of the High Road became significantly more direct as well as falling in number with the restrictions on Fisher Lane, both in absolute terms and relative to the Borough as a whole. It’s not fair or accurate to say that Councillor Costigan or Jefferson Nwokeoma were either irresponsible or talking “nonsense” in commending the restrictions as contributing to their respective council’s climate-change commitments.As to why you weren't able to make a speech, Ealing invited six residents to speak at the meeting. Are you suggesting that out-of-borough councillors be given priority over residents? In fact you were able to state your case to Hounslow, and making the restrictions permanent required both councils to agree. They both have now agreed, and the restrictions are about to become permanent. The evidence is that Chiswick will see both less pollution and reduced emissions as a result, as well as the north-south bike route that you earlier said was a necessity in your statement of cycling priorities for Chiswick.  I appreciate it is difficult to affect policy as a political minority, and you deserve congratulations when you manage to make a positive difference.

Tom Pike ● 33d

The claim that cycling has increased by between 150% and 200% was just that: a claim. Cllr Deirdre Costigan didn't provide any numbers. I attended the Fishers Lane call-in, with my two fellow Turnham Green ward councillors Ranjit Gill and Ron Mushiso. I had asked if we, or at least one of us, could speak to the committee given that Fishers Lane is in TG ward, apart from the top few yards of. Refused. This is an extract from the councillor blog - Ranjit's turn this time:Cllr Deirdre Costigan's "claims of increased cycling along Fishers Lane became ever more fantastical and ended with a brilliantly imaginative flourish, considering her many references to having "great data": "200% and that's a conservative estimate!" she said adding that there was "no concomitant impact on South Parade and very little on Acton Lane". "Local resident Kay Etherington, who spoke for residents, blew holes in Cllr Costigan's unsubstantiated cycle count claim. Kay had run a count of cycling through the bridge, in both directions, at three peak times a day, over several days all with good, mild weather and found there were on average 60 cyclists at peak times per day. If the numbers Kay counted were 200% higher, it means the previous count was a tiny number. Even the increase is not significant enough to warrant a closure to all cars. Kay, who works from home, now has to close her windows while at her desk because of the pollution from stationary traffic caused by the closure of Fishers Lane."Why didn't any of the three of us speak? Our request was refused. Our briefing to scrutiny councillors: https://www.chiswickgunnersburyconservatives.org.uk/news/fishers-lane-our-briefing-ealing-councils-overview-and-scrutiny-callRecording of the scrutiny meeting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfFdC0ivpwgRanjit's blog in full: http://www.chiswickw4.com/default.asp?section=info&page=councillorsblog228.htm

Joanna Biddolph ● 33d