Croydon Streetspace Consultation

The London Borough of Croydon has launched a public consultation on their “Streetspace” proposals. Namely the road closures that have hit residents in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood areas under the guise of a “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” when it has been anything but that. Traffic congestion has been horrendous and has even impacted roads in the adjacent borough of Bromley.

They are also consulting on Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes in Broad Green and Albert Road with the former including a permit scheme for residents. There are also proposals for the Town Centre.

See https://new.croydon.gov.uk/croydon-streetspace for details – see bottom right for an open on-line consultation on the Crystal Palace and South Norwood scheme. This is the opportunity to have your say so please complete it!

These measures are claimed to be temporary but if the Council gets enough support they will undoubtedly make them permanent in due course. There is an active campaign against the closures under the name “Open Our Roads” who have already filed for a judicial review of the Council’s actions.

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Sadiq Khan Bailed Out Again and Legal Action Over LTNs

A deal was done over the weekend to keep Transport for London (TfL) afloat – at least temporarily. The Mayor’s Press Release issued yesterday (see below) was headlined “Mayor sees off plan to extend C-Charge as deal reached on TfL funding” which is a typical bit of political point scoring from Sadiq Khan. There was of course an enormous amount of opposition to extending the Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax) to a wider area as so many people would have been affected. But the Mayor has had to concede to some changes to keep London’s public transport system functioning until next March.

Some of the details are:

£1.8 billion of Government grant and borrowing made available – but note the increase in borrowing when TfL already has too much debt.

Concessionary fares will remain for older and younger Londoners.

Public transport fares will only increase as previously agreed.

Transport for London to make £160m of savings this financial year, and City Hall will need to raise additional income to protect concessions for older and younger Londoners for future years – if the Mayor wants to continue these. But where is he going to make those savings or raise the additional income from? It does not say.

A modest increase in council tax is to be looked at and the temporary changes to the central London Congestion Charge that were introduced in June 2020 will remain, i.e. they are likely to become permanent.

As one commentator said, this looks like kicking the can down the road as it will not solve the basic imbalance between income and expenditure in TfL over the next 6 months so come next March some tougher decisions will need to be made. It is very unlikely that the impact of the Covid-10 epidemic will have disappeared by then.

Postscript: the full terms of the bail-out have now been published in the Government’s letter to Sadiq Khan. See https://tinyurl.com/yyyxnvnp . You can see why he might be furious over the outcome because it makes it clear that TfL will remain under Government scrutiny and the Mayor has to come up with a sensible and “sustainable” financial plan for it.

Legal Action Over LTNs

The Daily Telegraph has reported on the commencement of legal action against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Enfield which we covered in a previous blog post. See link below to full article. It refers to “Emergency Traffic Orders” when I think it is talking about Temporary or Experimental Traffic Orders introduced under the Emergency Procedures introduced in June because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The Telegraph articles also refers to legal challenges being mounted in Croydon and Lambeth. The OneLambeth campaign are raising funds for the legal challenge – see https://www.gofundme.com/f/OneLambeth . Please support them.

It will be worthwhile to follow these legal cases and we hope to report more details in due course.

Just to show how strongly the residents of Crystal Palace (Croydon) feel about the road closures, see this YouTube video of a demonstration over the weekend:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMrQna7tFmM

Telegraph Article: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/31/green-roads-council-becomes-first-taken-court-campaigners-say/

Emergency Traffic Order Procedures: https://tinyurl.com/ybns7rwx

Mayor of London Press Release: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-reaches-deal-on-tfl-funding

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Crystal Palace Road Closures – Legal Action Threatened

One of the areas hit by road closures by Croydon Council is the Triangle area of Crystal Palace. The roads Sylvan Hill, Stambourne Way and Fox Hill have been closed using the typical “emergency” measures seen elsewhere. But the problem is that this has caused traffic to divert onto roads in the adjacent borough of Bromley.

According to a report in “Inside Croydon” (see https://insidecroydon.com/2020/08/18/bromley-in-legal-moves-against-croydon-over-road-closures/ ) Bromley Council leader Colin Smith has threatened legal action because they were not consulted about these closures. He says the closures are causing “abject misery and inconvenience to Bromley residents on a daily basis”.

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Climate Assemblies Exposed As Platforms For Extremists

The ABD has issued the following press release:

Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly wants totalitarian kangaroo climate courts for net zero non-believers. At first it seemed like the LTT article (1) on the London Borough of Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly Report was an April Fool joke, but the actual report (2) does contain the following on page 5:

“People who fail to support the law of net zero greenhouse gas emissions should be identified and penalised. We want the majority of socially responsible residents supported and recognised for contributions they make. We also want to see those who let us down identified and penalised.”

It appears that Croydon Council wish to introduce some “thought police” as in George Orwell’s novel to tell us what we should believe.

ABD Environment Spokesman Paul Biggs said: “UK Net Zero policy should be scrutinised by all voters via a proper democratic process including a full cost-benefit analysis (3) rather than by a selected few overseen by biased advisors, which include Extinction Rebellion. In a free and democratic society people are entitled to hold their own views and make their own travel and lifestyle decisions. It’s ridiculous that a supposedly Conservative government is pandering to environmental extremists by supporting the setting up of assemblies dominated by extremists to advise on decisions that will negatively impact the economy and our lifestyles when there is not likely to be any beneficial impact on global CO2 emissions, weather or climate.”

Ends

Notes for Editors

(1) Local Transport Today: Punish people who don’t back net zero: https://www.transportxtra.com/publications/local-transport-today/news/65037/-punish-people-who-don-t-back-net-zero-

(2) Croydon Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change Report:  https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/documents/s21475/Appendix%201%20Final%20report%20on%20Citizens%20Assembly%20on%20Climate%20Change.pdf

(3) Petition: Hold a referendum to scrap the UK’s policy of Net Zero CO2 by 2050   https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300316

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Croydon Permit Parking Charges – Public Ignored

The London Borough of Croydon has published the responses to their consultation on changes to parking charges that will result in large increases, particularly for certain vehicles. It will mean the permit parking charge for a vehicle emitting more than 225 g/km of CO2 will rise from £80 to £300. There will also be an additional surcharge of 30% for pre-2015 diesel vehicles and it is also proposed to introduce similar increases for Pay & Display parking spaces.

Councillors have decided to push ahead with the proposals despite the fact that of the 148,000 cars registered in Croydon only 9,000 pay for parking permits. So the impact on air pollution in Croydon will be negligible even if some residents respond by changing their vehicles. As most of the air pollution comes from buses, HGVs and LGVs, charging resident car owners in the name of reducing pollution is pointless.

But the Council will make as much as £162,000 in additional permit charges each year which gives you some idea of the motive for this change.

There were 1,149 responses to the public consultation of which 1,039 submitted objections (i.e. 90%) with only 62 responses in support. Some 19% of respondents suggested this was simply a way for the council to generate income, and they were certainly correct on that point. The council’s response to that was to say the parking charges were insufficient to reduce the number of cars on the roads of Croydon.

You can read all the responses to the public consultation and the Council’s report here: https://tinyurl.com/y3o4oby2 . Here’s a summary of one response: “It is a tax on the poor. It’s not fair on those people who cannot afford to buy a new card…. It is another poverty tax…..”.

Comment: This is a typical example of doing a public consultation and then ignoring the result, apart from ignoring the logic and likely impact of the proposal. Regrettably Labour controlled councils such as Croydon often adopt the stance of ignoring the views of the public because Councillors think they know better what is good for you. I hope that those impacted will bear this in mind at the next borough elections.

Roger Lawson

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Higher Permit Parking Charges in Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham

We previously covered the increase in permit parking charges in Camden – see https://tinyurl.com/y2tw5kcd . This will particularly affect users of larger vehicles that emit more CO2 and diesel engined vehicles and are described as “Emission Based Parking Charges”.

Now Croydon, Kingston and Lewisham are proposing similar changes. In Croydon it will mean the permit parking charge for a vehicle emitting more than 225 g/km of CO2 will rise from £80 to £300. There will also be an additional surcharge of 30% for pre-2015 diesel vehicles. It is also proposed to introduce similar increases for Pay & Display Parking Spaces. There is more information and a link to the full council report in this Inside Croydon article: https://tinyurl.com/y4pfwj99

The justification is to reduce air pollution and help with climate change when levels of CO2 have no impact on public health whatsoever – if anything higher CO2 levels have benefits for plants and animals. So it’s fundamentally misconceived. There is also no evidence that such charges will have any impact on air pollution as anyone with off-street parking will not be affected, many vehicles that drive on Croydon roads do not park in the borough and most problem emissions such as particulates are from buses, HGVs and LGVs which won’t be affected.

Although the Council has not yet published the impact it will have on money raised by the borough from permit parking charges, it is likely to lead to very substantial increases. Readers are reminded that permit parking charges can not be used as a revenue raising measure. This is well established by previous legal cases (Camden v Cran and in Barnet).

There will be a public consultation on these proposals – Croydon residents are encouraged to respond.

Kingston Council

Very similar proposals are also being put forward by Kingston Council. See https://tinyurl.com/yxdss7do . In Kingston the highest rate will be £350 per annum plus an additional £50 for diesel vehicles (even diesel hybrid ones). Affected residents should submit objections.

These changes are undoubtedly being encouraged by Transport for London (TfL) as part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy. But the attempt to improve public health by introducing emission based parking charges is fundamentally misconceived and will not work. It’s all about money as usual with Councils of late.

Roger Lawson

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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

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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

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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

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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