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Topic: Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests

Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
19 Aug 2020 23:36 #5483

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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[Original article]

anti ltn protester blocking warwick road bowesProtesters delay the start of work on creating the low-traffic neighbourhood

Work to create the Bowes Primary Area low-traffic neighbourhood has begun amid protests from people demanding prior consultation about the scheme, which is designed to prevent through traffic from using the area while retaining access by car to all addresses. Workers began installing 'modal filters' (planters and bollards) in selected streets on Monday morning, but were initially delayed by a large demonstration. Demonstrations continued on Tuesday and today and police were brought in to control the situation. Despite this filters are now in place at the northern end of Palmerston Road and in York Road.

modal filter palmerston road bowesA newly installed planter and bollard at the northern end of Palmerston Road. Cars and lorries using will no longer be able to access the North Circular Road

Public consultation about the scheme will start on 21st September and run for six months, during which time the council will have the option to move the locations of modal filters to find the optimum layout.

A decision as to whether Enfield Council will receive funding to install a bus gate in Brownlow Road is expected next week. If it is made available, residents of the busiest street in the area will be finally rewarded after many years of complaints to the council about the number of cars using the road, which frequently far outstrip its capacity and create tailbacks along its entire length. The bus gate will let through buses and emergency vehicles only.

modal filter york road bowesA modal filter in York Road

The scheme has stirred up strong passions, for and against. Healthy Streets Bounds Green and Better Streets for Enfield have been campaigning for a low-traffic neighbourhood and welcome it - though they have expressed reservations about the design. There are other residents, probably a small minority, who are opposed to any measures that would reroute traffic, taking the view that roads are there for people to drive along. In between, and quite possibly in the majority, there are people who might be open to the idea of a low-traffic neighbourhood, but feel that the council's scheme is badly designed and would cause them great inconvenience. But probably the greatest cause of discontent is the failure to consult in advance of simply imposing the scheme, which is what led more than 1600 people to sign a petition asking for all work to be halted until there has been a full consultation with local residents and engagement with Haringey Council and Transport for London (TfL).

The blame for the failure to consult in advance (there will be full consultation during trial operation) can largely be laid at the door of the Department for Transport. It was a condition for receiving funding for Covid Streetspace Phase 1 schemes that work should begin no later than four weeks after allocation of the funds and be completed within eight weeks, leaving no time for any meaningful consultation, since any design changes prompted by residents' feedback would then have to be approved by the DfT, TfL and the emergency services. Enfield Council was in a take it or leave it situation - and if they had not taken the opportunity, there might have been no prospect in view for many years for a solution to the completely intolerable traffic situation in Brownlow Road and Warwick Road and the problems in some other streets.

Defending the plan, deputy council leader Ian Barnes has pointed out there are 7226 residents in the area and 40 per cent of households there do not have access to a car. These people suffer the polluted air, noise, road danger and inconvenience created by people from outside the area using it as a cut-through.

demonstrators at york road brownlow road junctionPolice were called in to deal with a demonstration on Wednesday near the junction of Brownlow Road and York Road

The southern end of the low-traffic neighbourhood is on the boundary between Enfield and Haringey boroughs. Haringey Council recently informed residents of streets directly to the south of Enfield's scheme that it will be bidding for funding to create a Bounds Green low-traffic neighbourhood scheme. If successful, the scheme will be carried out in two phases. Phase 1 will block through traffic from using streets to the west of Brownlow Road and Durnsford Road. Phase 2 will stop cars driving through the triangular area between Bounds Green Road and Wood Green High Road, which extends from Bowes Park in the north to Wood Green Church in the south. The map provided by Haringey only shows the streets affected, not where the filters would be located - the designs for the schemes will be influenced by prior consultation.

bowes park and bound green ltns 700pxBowes & Bounds low-traffic neighbourhoods: the Enfield scheme and two possible Haringey schemes (based on a leaflet sent to Bounds Green residents

Haringey Council expects to hear on 24th August whether or not its bid for funding for phase 1 is successful. If it is, it will first consult councillors and residents' groups before publicising its scheme in November. Formal consultation will take place during the trial implementation period, as is happening in the Enfield scheme.

Corrections to this article

This article was amended on 20th August to correct the impression given that all demonstrators were opposed to having a low-traffic neighbourhood and the incorrect statement that the petition was in opposition to the idea of a low-traffic neighbourhood. I have since seen a copy of the petition, and it is clear that its aim is limited to calling for a halt to the proposed works until the council have engaged with the local community, TfL and Haringey Council and have gained majority support. Two new paragraphs have been added immediately after the first York Road photograph, replacing the original incorrect text, which read:

"The scheme has stirred up strong opposition from people who complain that it will make some of their journeys significantly longer, and a petition signed by 1600 people opposing the scheme has been forwarded to Enfield Council."

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
21 Aug 2020 20:11 #5484

Basil Clarke Basil Clarke's Avatar Topic Author

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I've made some amendments to the article above to correct the statement in the original version that the petition was against creating a low-traffic neighbourhood. Having seen the text of the petition, I now realise that it was asking the council to suspend work and then carry out a consultation with residents, TfL and Haringey Council. It did not express opposition to a scheme as such.

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
21 Aug 2020 20:18 #5485

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Yesterday Bambos Charalambous MP intervened in the controversy surrounding complaints that Enfield Council failed to consult properly before starting work on the Bowes Primary Area low-traffic neighbourhood.

In a letter to the secretary of state for transport, Grant Shapps, the Enfield Southgate MP complained that the conditions set by the Department for Transport (DfT) "leave insufficient time for the plans to be considered by the community prior to the trial implementation of the scheme".

The MP writes that he fully recognises and supports the role of low-traffic neighbourhoods in reducing traffic, pollution and carbon emissions and welcomes the funding for the first phase of the Bowes scheme, but says that the timeline imposed by the DfT has caused "unnecessary and avoidable local tensions".

When allocating the funding the DfT stipulated that the council must start work within four weeks of receiving the funding and complete it within eight, on pain of risking having the money clawed back at a future date and being less likely to secure funding from the next phase of the Streetspace programme. Eight weeks, according to the MP, is "clearly insufficient for any scheme to be designed and consulted on". The "usual democratic processes" of prior consultation have been denied.

Mr Charalambous concludes by asking the secretary of state to "provide the rationale for the eight-week condition and assess whether there would be an opportunity to extend the time for prior (as well as concurrent) consultation on the scheme" and requesting that in future the DfT ensures that "the timelines stipulated as funding conditions must allow expected democratic precedents".

The MP's letter was published in a tweet by Cllr Katherine Chibah, who represents Bowes Ward. It drew responses from two leading proponents of low-traffic neighbourhoods. Simon Munk argued that previous consultations on such schemes prior to their implementation had "bewildered" residents, led to a "war of words" and resulted in heavily delayed and watered down schemes. In Bowes the consultation will take place during the trial, when the scheme's effects will be evident. Matthew Kitching wrote that the DfT needed the work done within eight weeks to alleviate pressure on the transportation network [resulting from lower use of public transport as people restart work and school] sooner rather than later.

Source: Tweet by Cllr Katherine Chibah and replies

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
24 Aug 2020 12:58 #5486

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It seems no time at all since Bambos MP was speaking to Parliament in tabling a petition from Bowes residents seeking a live LTN trial to alleviate rat running traffic, pollution and associated quality of life issues in the area; pretty much what is now being implemented I had assumed.

What I have experienced with traffic issues over many years in Fox Lane, and some in Bowes, includes:
1. There is little if any incremental information a consultation will add to the considerable extant data;
2. There is no realistic chance of consensus;
3. (Probably due to 2) politicians will spend much time wringing hands, sitting on a fence and even building a fence to sit on;
4. (In general) Those streets adversely traffic-affected seek action; while
5. Those streets not affected seek the status quo, and hence continued unencumbered vehicle access;
6. Pretty much everything is viewed through the perspective a vehicle windscreen.

The strategic trends are ever clearer: London’s (finite) streets were not intended for the current volume and velocity of vehicles; air quality is a killer; physical activity is a pre cursor to good health; obesity is a national issue (disgrace); noise is now being revealed as a significant health hazard; while traffic levels is impacting the freedom and development of our kids.

Knowing that for a long time the status quo was never an option, personally I’d say good luck to HMG, TfL and Ian Barnes in their efforts to drive through three decades or so of this mush to finally give the majority who don’t own a car a shout.

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
27 Aug 2020 23:38 #5494

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Bambos Charalambous presented his petition to Parliament in November 2018. The petition consisted of 377 WARWICK ROAD signatures ONLY as there was no PUBLIC meeting of Bowes Ward residents.
Most residents became aware of this scheme (being implemented without due process) a couple of months ago when the “Quieter Neighbourhoods Street Changes“ leaflet (together with “A Bus Gate for Brownlow” flyer) landed on our doorsteps.

Aside from drivers using Warwick Road as a cut-through to and from the NCR, residents also live on this road and need access to their homes, as do surrounding roads. Displacing traffic from this neighbourhood onto an extremely busy stretch of the A406 will increase traffic and pollution in the area and very worryingly will impact on a local primary school which sits on that very road.

Disenfranchising residents of their right to consultation has caused untold anger and has split an otherwise peaceful community. Grant Shapps has a lot to answer for as does the deputy leader of this council.

In regard to point 2, on the contrary, we have a great chance of consensus as the majority opposed to this scheme are in favour of traffic calming measures. Bambos Charalambous’s letter of 20 August to the Transport Minister comes a little late in the day but states that he supports a LTN but one that follows our democratic processes.

There is a solution to every problem if people are allowed to voice their concerns and give feedback and, yes, changes are needed but not by robbing Peter to pay Paul.

I agree that London, as a city, has a problem with traffic and we all want to have cleaner air and safer streets for our children but implementing change needs careful consideration to find answers that work for all. Councils need to work together not rush through ill conceived half-plans with a “my way or the highway” attitude.

Obesity can involve mental health issues and those people need empathy not fat shaming. If exercise were the answer, we’d have got on top of it long before now.

What is a disgrace is Ian Barnes using 2011 census statistics relating to vehicle ownership, and dictating to a community about how they will travel. We will never take that lying down.

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
28 Aug 2020 09:52 #5497

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There will be full consultation on the trial - every resident will be able to comment on the current scheme. People’s behaviour is hard to predict so this is a much better and fairer way of getting feedback than people second-guessing what might happen from from a flat plan.

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
28 Aug 2020 10:19 #5498

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Carol Robson covers much ground. Let me pick up a few strands.
With a reported 114 fast-track LTN’s going into London borough’s alone, there will be many Ian Barnes’; borough leads implementing HMG and GLA requirement’s, so there seems little benefit in fingering him for what is a national roll-out.
Part of the fast-track approach is for consultation on-the –fly. That is therefore due process in these cases. Such an approach happened previously here in the Fox Lane area with a trail scheme. The trial failed, the results being negative versus objectives, and so it ceased. The process worked.
A few years prior to that, area wide facilitated sessions to build a consensus did make some progress but no “solution”. Indeed not everyone could agree there was an issue to begin with, and that occurred within a tightly selected grouping rather than the full neighbourhood where the spectrum of opinion was inevitably going to be still wider.
Post the failed trial, and so I suspect with wider awareness, the knowledge of traffic issues appeared to grow and talk was of seeking a consensus. Quite a few then saw restrictions to stop rat-running as desirable (a key objective at London and LBE levels). But then block one end of the street, block at the middle, have CCTV cameras to police it, simply use 20mph restrictions and other means, each had their supporters and inevitably, based on past experience, if not employed then their input would risk having been, “not listened too”, “faux consultation” and so forth This is a very emotive topic.
It’s almost a decade since I presented at a BHORA AGM; switching my intended talk to traffic having listened to a well-attended meeting up until then wipe the structured agenda of everything but emotion over local traffic problems. Others have followed since then, including with Bambos MP in 2018 where I outlined London’s Spatial Framework and particularly its impact on traffic – less of it and cars being at the very bottom of the travel importance hierarchy being a very short summary.
Many Bowes ward and area forums over the last decade saw similar concerns and passions, those plus the odd resident meeting, those typically dominated by a Warwick / Brownlow trade off of north – south traffic. That debate has very much widened as they are both slated to benefit but now with impacts on the status-quo life of nearby streets.
So “now” being the first people knew of it and an absence of public discussion are difficult concepts to grasp. I don’t live in the area but have been very aware of its resident stated issues, conflicts and suggested solutions for many, many years.
And that absence of awareness of things local to you is where the risk of feeling a victim comes in when something finally does happen. The parent / child reaction of it’s all Ian Barnes’ fault kicks in.
One possible solution, other than - or as well as - letting the trial go ahead and see what actually happens, is to organise a public meeting; not one focused on anger versus this trial but instead identifying what are the issues at each individual street level, what are the macro trends, requirements in the plans of LBH, LBH, and GLA / TfL, and what solutions are available around which a consensus can be built? If the belief is that a consensus can indeed be found then go out and get it. Little point in being angry at Plan A if there’s a better Plan B within reach.
Do add consistent traffic noise as a cause of fattening - research reported only this month -with the same biological cause as consistent low level stress, something frequently brought on by inequalities. Obesity is a vastly complex subject, not for here and certainly not one for fat-shaming. Being more active is however consistently viewed as medically positive.

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Bowes low-traffic neighbourhood work starts amid protests
29 Aug 2020 15:45 #5503

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Carol makes some excellent points. I've lived in the area, in a road adjacent to Warwick Road, for over 20 years, and I regularly move around in the area, at all times of the day, so I'm fairly well aware of the pedestrian and road traffic involved.
Traffic volumes went up on this road after the botched A406 works a few years back, and surrounding road closures. I think we were all aware that the situation on Warwick Road was not ideal, and that the residents there had too much traffic.
Last year, we had a "perception survey" where you could drop pins on a map. This survey clearly stated it would lead to "outline plans", and nothing more. Many residents I've spoken to didn't even notice this come through the door.
So for most people, the flyer dropping through, informing that our access was to be hugely curtailed, was an enormous shock. Many people had no idea that there was some parallel debate, with plans being drawn up, occurring elsewhere. It is not a question of perception - it is simply a fact that many people, including me, did not know that this was happening.
In terms of why many people are so cross, is that we have had no consultation on these specific plans.
Furthermore, these plans are not solely about reducing the load on Warwick - they actually restrict access for all residents. And finally, Covid powers are being used to rush them through. There are two issues being conflated - reducing through traffic on Warwick, and a clumsy attempt to prevent residents from using their cars.
Why has Barnes received so much ire?
He has made it very clear on public tweets that he believes that LTNs have a dual role - reducing through traffic, and also changing resident's own behaviour - preventing the oft-referred to "unnecessary journeys". In my experience, very few people round here make journeys unless they have to - the traffic is bad enough as it is. Very few people go out for casual drives around the north circular. He has also tweeted that he does not believe in ANPR to control access. The benefit of ANPR or camera controls is that they continue to allow residents to have easy, convenient access by car. Given his tweets on changing behaviour, it is reasonable to infer that he does not like ANPR, because he does not want residents to have easy, convenient access by car.

When our local councillor turned up to a protest to listen to questions by residents, she explained that this has been pushed through by a very small number of people - essentially Barnes and the council leader, and that she had not been consulted per se. Many people explained to her that these road blocks were going to make their essential travel extremely unpleasant. We know the roads well, so have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen. Many of these people are visiting relatives or providing care - one lady actually broke down whilst explaining how it was going to affect her.

So - local residents have woken up to a situation where Barnes has used Covid powers to unilaterally impose an LTN which doesn't just limit through traffic - it appears to have a separate goal of forcing residents to change their behaviour ("not do the journey at all" as he said), or spend much more time in traffic jams.

All of this without any consultation. And furthermore, whilst we can provide "feedback", it is not yet clear whether all affected residents within the LTN area will be consulted on whether they want to keep it, or at least modify it to an camera monitored access only scheme.

Several people who have voted Labour for decades (one of whom has previously been a councillor, and didn't pay their poll tax!) has said that nothing would induce them to vote for this council after this fiasco.

We shall see - but reducing through traffic is one thing. Preventing residents from doing journeys that they've done for decades is something else, and frankly, requires up front consultation. And yes, Grant Shapps has much to answer for as well.

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