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  • The deadline for commenting on the Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood proposals has been extended to 22nd December.
  • The proposals have provoked much debate, for and against
  • Better Streets for Enfield have suggested an alternative scheme
  • Conservative and Labour parliamentary candidates have entered the debate

fox lane low traffic neighbourhood initial proposalsThe scheme as exhibited last week. It is likely to undergo changes before being implemented.

The plans for the Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood that were unveiled last week have certainly stirred up debate! Arguments for and against have been running on this website's forum and on social media. The Conservative and Labour contenders for the Enfield Southgate parliamentary seat have joined the fray, and pressure from within the majority Labour Party Group has prompted Enfield Council to extend the deadline for commenting on the plans to 22nd December. The Better Streets for Enfield group, which has been campaigning for a true low-traffic neighbourhood scheme, has suggested a revised scheme with more entrance/exit points for cars.

Consultation deadline extended until 22nd December

The announcement about the low-traffic neighbourhood plans in the immediate run-up to last week's exhibition was very vague about how consultation would be carried out. It could be taken to imply that the council would consider feedback at the exhibition and comments submitted via its online engagement hub, make any amendments thought necessary and then move to the combined trial implementation/​statutory consultation phase without providing any further opportunities to comment. Furthermore, the survey form on the engagement hub was to be available for a very short time - only up to last Sunday.

These unsatisfactory arrangements have now been considerably improved. Following pressure - not just from ordinary residents, but also from councillors and Labour parliamentary candidate Bambos Charalambous - the consultation deadline has been extended to 22nd December.

An update dated 19th November on the Fox Lane Area Quieter Neighbourhood page of the council's "engagement hub" provides an update/​clarification on the process that will be followed:

"[F]ollowing feedback to date, we anticipate revisions to [the initial] proposal and a key theme of the feedback already received is concern around entry and exit points into the area.

"Whilst the design will be amended in light of feedback, the principle of addressing the speed and volume of through traffic will remain. Although some streets currently suffer less of a problem, a future trial should ensure that traffic is not just moved from one local residential street within the area to another. The opportunity to provide feedback would continue throughout any trial.

"Updates and the opportunity for further engagement will continue to be published on the engagement hub for this project. A summary of the feedback and how a future trial may look is anticipated early in the New Year.

"We welcome your continued input to the process."

"Just carrying on as things are is not an option"

Deputy council leader Ian Barnes has provided further assurances about the process when replying to emails from residents:

"All comments will be carefully considered before we decide on the next steps. I should also stress that any scheme would be introduced as a ‘live trial’, allowing us to make changes in the light of feedback from residents. Any trial will not start before Spring 2020 and would only be considered as a permanent change if it improves the situation for local people and works for local businesses."

However, Cllr Barnes stresses that measures to reduce car usage are integral to wider council policies:

"The way people travel around is not just a local issue. Encouraging more people to walk, cycle and use public transport rather than use private cars is also a critical element of our emerging strategy to tackle climate change in Enfield and reducing harmful emissions in the long-term. I am clear that just carrying on as things are is not an option".

Cllr Barnes has told PGC that residents will shortly be receiving a leaflet updating them on the situation.

From outright rejection to enthusiastic endorsement

Comments on the PGC website and on social media have ranged between outright rejection of the idea of stopping through traffic to enthusiastic endorsement of the scheme as published. But in between these two extremes there have been discussions of perceived problems with details of the scheme, such as suggestions that in busy times there would be cars queuing at the two entry/exit points at either end of Fox Lane, concerns about congestion in Green Lanes and at Southgate Circus, and people pointing out that the scheme would send all traffic going to or from the Meadway Estate via Oakfield Road and the Ridgeway. Most probably, the same criticisms will have been sent to the council and will result in changes to the proposals (but hopefully councillors and council officers will also be following the debate here and elsewhere online). You can find the ongoing debate on this page in the forums.

Answers to questions about low-traffic neighbourhoods

The Better Streets for Enfield group, enthusiastic proponents of the low-traffic neighbourhood principles, have published on their website an article explaining the concepts involved and incorporating a comprehensive frequently asked questions section, which among other things outlines the scale of the problem with excessive traffic in the Fox Lane neighbourhood and answers all the points which have been raised by opponents of the scheme. On the question of whether the council's design is the best solution, they say the following:

"There are pros and cons to the council’s design. We are pleased that it completely eliminates rat running, but a bit concerned that with only two entry/exit points, Fox Lane may have too much resident traffic concentrated onto it for people to feel safe to walk or cycle. But the council says that it will take the survey feedback on board before the trial begins, and there is also an opportunity to change the design during the six-month trial."

The group has produced an alternative scheme preferred by some of its members that while preventing through traffic has many more entry/exit points:

Oliver Fox Lane LTN map 3An alternative low-traffic neighbourhood scheme proposed by Better Streets for Enfield. The red lines on the map are "point closures", the blue line is a "bus gate", in this case designed to let through emergency vehicles rather than buses.

As well as providing shorter routes for many residents, this design, with a gate on the railway bridge, would mean that very few cars would be turning into or out of Fox Lane at its junction with Green Lanes, greatly reducing delays at this junction. It would also make it much safer for cyclists to cross the railway bridge.

The candidates join the discussion

As we are currently in general election mode, the proposals were unsurprisingly seized upon by the Conservative candidate for Enfield Southgate, David Burrowes, who has been posting leaflets through people's doors with the sensationalist headline "HALT ROAD CLOSURE CHAOS!", despite the fact that the scheme does not involve closing any roads and whether or not chaos would ensure is a moot point. He does, however, have a point about the unsatisfactory initial consultation arrangements.

David Burrowes' campaign: Halt road closure chaos!

burrowes anti ltn 300pxl live in Oakfield Road with my family and like us all support proportionate measures to make our roads safer and quieter. l also know from my time as a local Councillor for 12 years and local MP for 12 years the importance of genuine local consultation. Sadly this Labour Council routinely ignores and dismisses local views, such as the opposition to removing weekly bin collections, and imposes it's own view of what is best for our neighbourhood.

You would have thought the Council would have learnt from the failed planters experiment. The plan to impose road closures on a number of our local roads, causing inevitable confusion and congestion, without proper consultation is totally unacceptable and needs to be opposed. Whether you agree or disagree with the principle of this scheme we all need to unite in opposition to the way the Labour Council is forcing this experiment upon us. The Council intend to experiment with our roads in Spring 2020 until Autumn 2020, and then decide whether to make it permanent or not. Please let me know if you want to put a halt to this scheme to allow for a full consultation with options not to proceed or make revisions BEFORE the decision in January to implement the trial

The Labour candidate, Bambos Charalambous, has also been leafleting residents. He tells them that, after extensive consultation with constituents, he asked the council to extend the consultation period, adding "A quieter neighbourhood plan will help to address the rat-running and pollution from heavy traffic, but it must be the right one for our streets and must be one that residents want."

Message from Bambos Charalambous

bambos ltn letterUPDATE: "Fox Lane and surrounding streets" proposal

I live in Devonshire Road and I am sure that many of you, like me, want to live in a quieter, healthier neighbourhood and care about having a better environment. And that is why many of us support the idea of quieter neighbourhoods.

Since the publication of the "Fox Lane and surrounding streets" proposals, I have door-knocked extensively in roads covered by the proposals. I have held house meetings in Cranley Gardens and Old Park Road. I have visited the Amberley Road "play street". I have spoken to hundreds of residents in the Lakes Estate and Fox Lane area about this. I have read and taken note of all your emails. I have listened to your views.

As a result, I have urged the council to extend the period of consultation to allow residents more time to consider the proposals and comment on them. I have said that following the consultation exercise, a revised scheme must be produced and piloted.

A quieter neighbourhood plan will help to address the rat-running and pollution from heavy traffic, but it must be the right one for our streets and must be one that residents want.

Thank you to everyone who has contacted me with their views. I want to make sure that our communities work together with the council to make positive change for all our benefit and that we do not engage in any divisive politics.

Please remember to make your views known over the coming weeks directly to the council, to your local councillor and, of course, to me.

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