Croydon Wants Your Views

The London Borough of Croydon want your views on how they can improve transport in the borough. Croydon is now a notoriously anti-car council with the 20 mph wide area schemes that were a waste of money, and road closures outside schools that will have little benefit but generate a lot of inconvenience for residents and visitors.

Go here to complete their survey:

https://getinvolved.croydon.gov.uk/kms/elab.aspx?CampaignId=735

The deadline for comments is the 30th September so get your comments in now!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Stopping the School Run by Closing Roads

The “school run” is now a major cause of traffic congestion. It has got worse for three reasons: 1) more ownership of cars, 2) the ability of parents to apply to any school for admission of their children introduced a few years ago and 3) parents concern with the safety of their children if they walk or cycle to school.

Although schools do often have “catchment” areas that limit applications to a geographic area around the school if there are too many requests for places, in practice these are quite wide. For example, this map shows the catchment are for Coopers School in Chislehurst (London Borough of Bromley): https://www.schoolguide.co.uk/schools/coopers-school-chislehurst . For those who know the area, that means that children come from as far afield as Mottingham, Swanley and Orpington, i.e. several miles distant. Walking would be impractical, and even cycling would be difficult due to steep hills, so only buses or car use (if they don’t live near a bus route) would be an option for many children. The result is daily congestion around that school during school term times, particularly as there are several other schools in the same area including some private schools whose catchment areas could be even larger.

How to solve the school run problem? Some local councils are now looking at road closures during school opening/closing times to deter the use of cars and encourage the children to walk or cycle. Road safety benefits are also suggested. The Borough of Croydon have already experimented with such a scheme for six months at 3 schools. The access restrictions were enforced by ANPR cameras with £130 fines for infringement. Local residents within the boundary could obtain a permit. Croydon council has now decided to make the scheme permanent despite many objections from residents (some living within the boundary).

The justification for the scheme was that it would reduce air pollution and encourage more healthy life styles but there was no evidence of the air pollution being a problem (no measures were taken), and it is exceedingly unlikely that excluding vehicles from a very small area for very limited times of the day would have any impact on air quality. No evidence on road safety benefits was provided. Such schemes just cause vehicle users to park further away outside the boundary causing wider parking problems, or they turn-up and park earlier. It causes major problems for delivery drivers, or other visitors to homes within the boundary as drivers are often not aware of the scheme.

The London Borough of Greenwich is also considering such a scheme for eight schools according to an article in the Newsshopper local paper and it suggests the access restriction would even be imposed by rising bollards.

Such schemes are spreading across the country. Solihull is another example of an experimental scheme which was put in without consultation. One local councillor said they did not consult first because they thought people would object!

Another area considering using such a scheme is Cambridge County Council where one councillor has put it forward. Again this is was primarily on spurious environmental grounds. The writer of this article spoke on BBC Radio Cambridge on the subject on 17/7/2018 and I suggested that such policies emanate mainly from car haters and that no evidence is provided on the environmental or other benefits.

There is another motivation for such schemes which is money (just like the closure of Bank Junction in the City of London which is generating enormous sums in fines). In Croydon, some 2,000 fines were issued in six months, which is likely to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds per year of additional income to the council.

The school run and the congestion it causes is of major concern to many people but this writer does not support road closures of this nature. They just obstruct and corrupt the road network.

In Croydon local activist Peter Morgan claims the council have acted illegally by not taking notice of objections and failing to meet their obligations under the Traffic Management Act. He is asking the Secretary of State to block the councils move.

The Alliance of British Drivers opposes road closure schemes of all kinds on the grounds that they create major inconvenience for many people, rarely provide any claimed benefits and particularly so when they are used as money making schemes by councils to exploit unwary motorists.

But if you have other solutions to the congestion caused by school run drivers, that are more practical and less unreasonable, then please let us know.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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South London Road Network

Residents of South London will know that the road network in London suffers from major congestion, and it’s even worse in south London than the rest of the capital. Croydon resident Peter Morgan recently met with Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South. Here’s a note on the meeting which you may find interesting.

He found it was a positive and useful meeting, this is his understanding of what was agreed:

1    Acceptance that building sections of new road, and improving existing roads could deliver real and lasting benefits in terms of improved economic activity and productivity and reduced congestion and pollution. Road schemes can often deliver very high cost/benefit ratios. The Coulsdon Bypass was one good example of this.

2    South London between the M25, A3, A205 and A20 has been badly neglected compared with other parts of London and the wider country. This has led to very slow journeys in the south London quadrant, and this has a major negative impact on the lives and productivity of millions living and working in this area.

3    There is a systemic problem due to no-one with overall responsibility for movement in this area. Responsibility is divided between national government, Highways England, the M25 management group, Surrey and Kent county councils, the London Mayor and TfL, and local councils such as Croydon, Sutton, Tandridge and Reigate and Banstead. The Mayor of London has tended to ignore issues of movement crossing the GLA boundary, and instead focused on central and inner London – where very different travel and transport situations apply.

4    We need to know what Croydon and TfL are planning or proposing for roads in Croydon – reference government money for schemes that reduce congestion and boost the economy. We are concerned that they may focus on the wrong sections of road, and they may propose the wrong kind of scheme, notably involving the promotion of the positive primacy of cycling ahead of all other modes and purposes.  TfL’s Fiveways scheme has a low benefit / cost ratio in part due to this. Commuting to work by car, and movement of goods by lorry are key elements of a successful and productive society. We looked at specific examples for concern, notably at Fiveways, Purley Cross, Thornton Heath Pond and the Lombard Roundabout.

5    We noted that building massive new roads may well not be feasible. Instead we should look at improving the A23 and its links.

6    Specific schemes to address these sections of road should be developed.

6A    A bypass for Hooley – a major scheme with big benefits. 6B    An improved means of movement between A23 north and M23 south, and M23 north and A23 south at Merstham, notably a free-flow u-turn facility using the currently unused over bridge.  This could be done quickly and cheaply with a huge benefit cost advantage. 6C    Improvements between Hooley and the southern roundabout at the end of the Coulsdon Bypass. 6D    Improvements to Lion Green Road and the junctions at either end. 6E    Improvements between the northern junction at the end of the Bypass and Purley Cross, and at either end of this section. 6F    Improvements on the A22 between Downscourt Road and Purley Cross, notably possible widening and using the northern bridge arch. 6G    Improvements on the A23 along the length of Purley Way.

7    Grade separation offers huge potential benefits by keeping traffic mooing, rather than stopping and waiting at red lights. Grade separation improvements do not need to involve massive property demolition, nor building huge new slip roads. Small scale 30mph and 40mph schemes can offer real benefits at relatively low cost. 6C and 6G are examples of this.

8    There were other schemes on the M25 which could deliver real benefits in Croydon, notably my suggested new junctions at Westerham and Walton on the Hill.

Peter is looking forward to the next steps to making our road network more fit for purposes. But he has surely identified some of the issues and the problems that should be tackled.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Should a Value Be Placed on a Life, re Croydon 20MPH?

The scheme to implement a wide area, signed-only 20 Mph speed limit in the London Borough of Croydon has been covered in past articles (see the ABD’s campaign page here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/croydon20.htm ). The scheme will cost over £1 million and there have been lots of objections from local residents and the ABD. But Councillors have pushed it through regardless.

It is now the subject of a Judicial Review over the defective consultation process. In addition, I made a complaint to Croydon Council about that in June, and after an initial brush off have had a final response from Jo Negrini, their CEO. She ignored my arguments about the lack of proper cost/benefit justification and lack of provision of the likely benefits in the consultation documents. She simply argued that a value cannot be placed on a life.

This is an extract from my response: “you say (on page 3) that “the report emphasises several times that a value cannot be placed on a life and therefore the benefit of preventing, even a single fatality, cannot be said not to represent value for money to the public”. You use that statement to justify the fact that no proper cost/benefit analysis was done, or the benefit of the scheme put to councillors before they made a decision to proceed.

Such a statement just shows how ignorant you are on road safety matters and the decision-making process used on public schemes (or perhaps you are not so ignorant and are just using this as a poor excuse). A value is placed on a life everyday when evaluating public expenditure. That is for the simple reason that when comparing projects, or looking at where limited cash resources are spent (and as Theresa May recently said: “there is no magic money tree”), it is rational to choose the most cost-effective projects in which to invest. By so doing, the most lives are saved.

The problem with the Croydon 20 wide area scheme is that an enormous amount of money has been spent, that could have been better spent on other road safety projects. And hence saved more lives!

Valuing lives may be seen as somewhat hard-nosed for those who do not have any scientific background, or have not been schooled in how to make rational decisions, but it is how road safety schemes normally are, and should be evaluated.”

This unfortunately is a very good example of the poor quality of local authority decision making in not just London but the UK as a whole. Uneducated and ill-informed councillors make policy decisions that their executive staff are expected to justify and implement. But good council officers should tell the truth and stand up for what is right.

Simillarly the Mayor of London has caught this bug. So he went ahead with the London “T-Charge” this week despite being advised that it would not show any significant benefit in terms of reduced air pollution. It has just imposed enormous costs on one of the poorest sections of the community (those who drive very old cars), but the Mayor thinks it makes for good headlines. Just line up some young schoolchildren for a photo-shoot (a very dubioius practice) and explain this is one step to fixing air pollution problems in London. It makes for great publicity, and helps the Mayor to raise more in taxes under the guise of public health! Great politics if you can fool the public for long enough.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

Judicial Reviews invoked by Motoring Groups

T-Charge. The Sun has reported that FairFuelUK are planning to challenge the Mayor of London’s introduction of the “Toxicity Tax” (“T-Charge”) via a judicial review in the High Court. This is a tax of £10 on certain older vehicles that do not meet newer emission standards that is being imposed from October if they are driven into the central congestion charge area.

The challenge will be on the basis that it is unfair discrimination against a small minority of road users when other vehicles (e.g. TfL buses) and other sources (e.g. construction machinery and diggers) generate more pollution. In other words, it is an unreasonable attack on car users.

FairFuelUK may be looking for financial support to enable them to fight this case (judicial reviews are expensive), so anyone interested in this matter should keep an eye open for further news.

Croydon 20MPH. Another judicial review where the case has already been filed in court is that over the public consultation in Croydon on implementation of the blanket 20 MPH speed limit. The ABD supported an active local campaign against the proposals (see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm ) and we have also complained to the Council about the defective consultation process. The process was changed from one area to another, apparently with the objective of obtaining the desired result, the information provided to residents was biased, the results ignored, and objections not considered properly. There are established legal principles about how public consultation should be run to ensure they are fair and unbiased, which is no doubt the basis of the challenge.

Both cases are in essence about illogical and unreasonable attacks on car and van drivers in the name of environmental improvement when there will allegedly be negligible advantage but significant costs imposed on drivers.

Roger Lawson

 

Croydon 20 – Pushing Ahead Regardless of Objections

Croydon Council are pushing ahead with implementing wide-area, signed-only 20 MPH speed limits in the rest of the borough despite enormous numbers of objections.

The consultation process on Area 1 was clearly subject to fraud, and on Area 2 the vote in favour narrowed very substantially. So for areas 3, 4 and 5, which by their nature were more likely to oppose the proposal, they abandoned the previous consultation process and moved straight to a “statutory consultation”. That meant people had to take the trouble to write in with specific objections rather than simply respond to an on-line poll. The other advantage of that change is that objections to statutory consultations can be ignored so long as the council simply gives reasons to do so.

Was this process ethical? Absolutely not.

And what was the result of the formal statutory consultation on Areas 3, 4 and 5? They got 3,357 representations in total from 2,050 individuals, but only 103 of the representations were in support of the proposals. In detail there were a total of 18,862 objections of different kinds. These numbers are enormous for such a relatively small geographic area.

But are the Councillors and Council Officers going to reconsider? Absolutely not. A typical example of how dogma and policy decisions overrides the will of the people in some councils. The recommendation in a report to the Traffic Management Advisory Committee is to proceed regardless – see the report here which will be considered at a meeting on the 9th May – see Meeting-Agenda (Item 7 on the Agenda).

Residents of Croydon should go along to the meeting to show their concern about this anti-democratic approach, or make their feelings known to their local Councillors. And next time there is a vote for local Councillors, just bear in mind which Councillors and which political party (the Labour Party) have taken this stance in Croydon.

The last time I saw this ignoring of the electorate take place was in the London Borough of Richmond where the LibDems pushed through an emission based permit parking scheme against strong public opposition. They were subsequently removed from control of the Council by popular vote. And a very good thing that was too.

You can see more about the scheme in Croydon on this web page and our objections:  http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm . The ABD did make written submissions on these schemes including on the latest 3 areas.

The report from Croydon Council does not adequately deal with all the objections, and in some regards is grossly misleading. For example, in Para 3.1.8 it says Manchester reported falls in cyclist and pedestrian casualties in 20 mph zones but due to the average speed reduction being only 0.7mph the further roll-out was being halted. In actual fact what Manchester City Council actually said (you can find their report on the web) was “Overall the results show that casualties in the phase 1 20mph area have not reduced as much as the casualty numbers citywide“. In other words, there was absolutely no benefit whatsoever in terms of casualties despite very high expenditure and if anything it made accident numbers worse.

Both ethics and democracy have clearly be thrown out of the window in Croydon.

Roger Lawson

Croydon Proceeds with 20 Mph Zones

The London Borough of Croydon are pushing ahead with imposing wide-area 20 mph speed limits on the whole of the borough. There are two regions already committed to implementation after public consultations, with three more to go.

On the public consultation on the last region, the North-East, they only got a narrow margin of support in response to the question “Do you support the proposal to lower the speed limit to 20 mph for residential roads shown in the plan”. There were 50.5% responses which said “Yes” versus 47.1% who said “No”. Only responses from residents within the region were accepted though so all visitors and other road users from other parts of the borough or outside the borough were ignored.

The ABD put some effort into raising awareness of the public consultation which at least meant they got over 3,100 responses.

But for the remaining three areas, the Council have decided to do away with a wide public consultation despite previously having agreed that would be the process and will only perform a “Statutory Consultation” as required by law. In other words, they will advertise the proposal and await responses. They will then consider them and like all such consultations, they can they ignore the result if they don’t like what is submitted.

Now everyone who knows Croydon will be aware that the three remaining parts of the borough are more rural in character than the first two. So it was very likely that they would have voted the other way and opposed a wide area 20 mph limit.

It would therefore appear that after only narrowly winning the votes of residents in previous consultations (and in fact rigging the results in the first area as we previously reported), they have given up on proper public consultations because they feared losing the vote.

That is what happens when dogmatic politicians take control of a Council and decide they know best, as is clearly the case in Croydon. Their idea of democracy is surely very different to most people’s. The Statutory Consultation will run from the 18 January 2017 till 15 February 2017. We will provide more information on it when known.

In the meantime, local resident Peter Morgan has organised a public meeting on this subject in Coulsdon on Friday the 6th January 2017, starting at 7.30pm at the Coulsdon Community Centre (upstairs room), Chipstead Valley Rd, Coulsdon CR5 3BE. Please do attend if you live in Croydon.

Roger Lawson