Greenwich Council has not yet analysed the results of its consultations into major low-traffic and cycle route schemes, more than five months after they closed.
Residents were asked during the winter for their comments on plans to close streets east of Greenwich Park to through traffic as well as a flagship cycle route between Eltham and Greenwich Park.
But while thousands of comments were received on the proposals, no analysis has been completed the responses, despite a councillor being told summaries would be available after May.
The revelation comes less than two weeks after the council watered down its year-old low-traffic neighbourhood in west Greenwich, allowing traffic to flow down narrow Royal Hill during the morning rush hour. 853 first revealed the plans in July.
The low-traffic zone – together with a separate closure of Greenwich Park to through traffic and the narrowing of the A206 for a cycle lane – was blamed for increased traffic in streets east of the park.
At first, the council reacted bullishly, planning to extend the west Greenwich closures east as far as Westcombe Hill, and unveiling other traffic plans for elsewhere in the borough. The plans were sold as encouraging people to switch to walking or cycling for short journeys, to prevent traffic levels soaring as London emerged from the pandemic.
But councillors were spooked by Conservative councillors campaigning against traffic measures in wards in the south of the borough – where car ownership is more common – and began to back away from the plans.
Transport cabinet member Sizwe James was replaced by Sarah Merrill, who promised a borough-wide review of transport, including panels of residents to help inform future decisions.
The lack of analysis was discovered by Conservative councillor Spencer Drury, who submitted a request under freedom of information laws after being denied access to summaries of the analysis in his role as Eltham North councillor. He had originally been told summaries would be made available after local by-elections on 6 May.
Drury said: “Greenwich Council introduced massive changes to our roads, cycle lanes and main streets over the last 18 months accompanied by substantial consultation exercises which we were assured would help inform the way forward. The response to my freedom of information request suggests that beyond a cursory glance, the council paid no attention to residents’ responses and they certainly haven’t been considered in the round to pick out the way schemes could work better for our communities in the future.
“Whether you are pro or anti low-traffic neighbourhoods, or the other schemes, this is a hugely frustrating situation as it makes clear the council simply isn’t listening. Greenwich residents were promised that their responses to the consultations would be valued, but instead that seem to have been left mouldering in a virtual cupboard.”
Drury asked for information on:
- Maze Hill and Westcombe Park area low-traffic neighbourhood – plans to stop through traffic on Vanbrugh Hill, Maze Hill, Westcombe Hill and Halstow Road
- Horn Park low-traffic neighbourhood – plans to stop through traffic on Weigall Road and Abergelde Road in Lee, as well as a Westhorne Avenue service road, following similar measures in neighbouring roads run by Lewisham Council
- Woolwich low-traffic neighbourhood – a plan to make Sandy Hill Road one-way
- Eltham to Greenwich Park strategic cycle route – this included a plan to stop through traffic in the Page Estate, Eltham, which was abandoned in May, although other elements of the scheme remained
The council also asked for comments on a cycle route from Shooters Hill Road to Greenwich Park, although Drury did not specifically ask for the analysis of this. This route, aimed at local school students, caused concern among traders on Old Dover Road as it would have involved closing the Blackheath shopping street to through traffic. All these consultations closed on various dates in March.
He was told by a council officer: “No further summary of these responses has been completed at this stage. Work has been ongoing to undertake further data analysis to inform next steps on a scheme-by-scheme basis: this has slowed our progress but should lead to a better end result for all.
“With regards to the [Eltham to Greenwich Park] strategic cycle route proposals, we are also working with Transport for London to understand the deliverability options for this route, which will allow us to finalise the analysis of these results, as part of the process described above.
“Responses related to the Greenwich Park to Shooters Hill Road strategic cycle routes scheme will be used to inform future proposals for this route.”
The lack of analysis casts doubt on whether any of the schemes will see the light of day – even though Greenwich Council had pledged to cut car use by 45 per cent within nine years in its climate emergency plans.
A first phase of the Greenwich Park to Shooters Hill Road cycle route was opened last year, however, it is no longer segregated with wands. There had been complaints that the cycle lanes had filled with debris because they were not swept.
With local elections due in May, a number of Labour councils have begun to pull back from low-traffic neighbourhood schemes, including Tower Hamlets, which announced yesterday it was suspending its “liveable streets” programme in the wake of a the party losing a by-election in Bethnal Green. Ealing set up nine low-traffic neighbourhoods and is to remove seven of them. However, five schemes in Lambeth are staying in place, pending the results of a series of consultations.
853 asked Greenwich Council on Thursday morning for a comment; it had not supplied one by Friday evening.
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