Greenwich Council look set to reopen roads in West Greenwich to through-traffic from 7am to 9am – at a cost of £25,000 – if Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Transport, Sarah Merrill (Labour – Shooters Hill) agrees.
A new document confirms the plan which has been rumoured for weeks.
The Hills and Vales scheme proved controversial, and this latest change is sure to arouse more controversy.
The document states:
“To agree to amend the West Greenwich Low Traffic Neighbourhood experimental scheme to vary the access arrangement in Hyde Vale set out in Section 6 to allow vehicular access in both directions, through a camera enforced modal filter on Hyde Vale, between 7am and 9am Monday to Friday.”
“To agree to exempt taxis and refuse vehicles from the camera enforced modal filters in the West Greenwich Low Traffic Neighbourhood experimental scheme.”
The report states: “Allowing time limited motor vehicle access along Hyde Vale could increase the level of traffic passing these schools during morning arrival times above that seen during the West Greenwich LTN experimental scheme’s operation.”
Then this line which is bound to generate debate, as traffic levels could rise above pre-2020 levels:
“They could also potentially increase beyond the level seen before the LTN’s implementation.”
“Lack of space means that scope for changes to the road layout near these schools is extremely limited. Subject to the Cabinet Member agreeing the recommendation of Option 2, consideration will be given to improvements to signage, road markings, visibility at crossing points and additional work with pupils to mitigate any possible impacts where possible.”
Black cabs would be allowed through at all times though not minicabs. The report states:
“Taxis are disproportionately used by those with mobility issues and those on the lowest incomes. They can also form an important part of car-free living, increasing the range of public transport, walking and cycling trips. Giving taxis priority access would be in-line with the priority afforded to taxis and public transport in other locations (such as bus lanes) and would follow the trend of recent case law”.
The original LTN saw fixed obstacles such as raised planters. That was replaced with cameras in recent weeks.
When they installed fixed obstacles, emergency services had complained and also raised the issue that Greenwich Council had not shared designs or drawings.
However in this report Greenwich Council claim “The Royal Borough worked closely with the Emergency Services and engaged in the cross-London response to the issue.”
The authority lacked the option of cameras after the onset of the pandemic in spring 2020 as despite having powers for CCTV monitoring of moving traffic offences for 15 years, was one of just three London councils that never sought approval to do so, as this excerpt from a 2019 council report shows:
They had been talking about the issue for years but never applied for powers. This shows it was on the agenda back in February 2017:
That lack of power meant Greenwich Council could not use CCTV to enforce cars parking outside schools, driving the wrong way down one-way streets, in bus lanes and cycle lanes to give just a few examples.
The LTN in West Greenwich was brought in using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) on 25 August 2020.
The council’s report notes:
“An ETRO can stay in force for up to a maximum of 18 months while the effects are monitored and assessed. The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 allow for the modification of experimental traffic orders but any variation or modification must be made no more than 12 months after the order was made if the Council wishes to retain the ability to convert the ETRO into a permanent TMO at the end of the experimental process.
Any modification to the West Greenwich experimental scheme must therefore be made before the 25 August 2021 to remain within the 12 months period during which modification is permitted.”
The results of a consultation show those within the area supported the measures, while those outside did not by a wide margin:
The loosening of restrictions for vehicles comes as Greenwich continue to refuse to fund cycle hire expansion in the borough. They are however funding driverless cars, with a post on that shortly.
The council also continues to allocate little money from new developments to improved transport and pedestrian links. It frequently decides in agreements with developers to allocate less to transport than TfL state is required.
One prime example recently has been 1,750 homes by a gyratory near Plumstead station. Plans to remove the gyratory were scrapped, TfL gained less money than requested for new bus services and income from developers almost entirely ignores improving pedestrian links to nearby Plumstead station.
When approved, Cllr Sarah Merrill (then Cabinet member for Planning and Regeneration) and who will make the decision on West Greenwich roads, stated “there was no magic answer” to poor access to the station despite millions incoming from new development with little directed to improving sustainable transport links.