A meeting this week saw Greenwich Council’s Highway Officers refuse to support plans to restrict lorries along Vanbrugh Hill in east Greenwich.
A petition had called for action on Vanbrugh Hill against a number of traffic offences such as many cars driving the wrong way down roads to avoid queues alongside limits on lorries.
Hundreds of new homes have been built in recent years beside the road.
In response, the council’s Highways Department said it didn’t support limits, stating councillors should “endorse Officers’ recommendations that no restrictions be introduced on vehicles over 7.5 tonnes using Vanbrugh Hill”.
The meeting saw a council officer state “We do not support a 7.5 tonne limit…for reasons that we are currently unable to effectively enforce”. See the 1 hour 28 minute mark below:
The meeting saw occasions where council staff told councillors and the public what Greenwich couldn’t do, yet failed to often state what they can do.
For example, they often stated the council has no powers over cameras for speeding and running red lights. That’s correct.
What they often didn’t say is that enforcement against large lorries is possible and local authorities have the power to use CCTV to enforce certain “moving traffic offences”.
They can also use it for blocking yellow box junctions, and it could that the limited size of the existing box encourages drivers to run red lights.
Indeed, they do propose using it if drivers go the wrong side of pedestrian refuges but not lorries using the road. Using cameras specifically against lorries was undertaken by the London Borough of Hillingdon, for example, back in 2015.
Brent council adopted powers 10 years before Greenwich, and have long included a lorry ban.
Using CCTV for moving traffic offences plus limited illegal parking such as on bus lanes and outside schools has long been the case in London though Greenwich were extremely slow to adopt powers, and did so only after 28 out of London 32 boroughs had done so. They were 30th out of 34 if including the City of London and TfL, adopting it around 16 years after it became possible.
Now those powers are being extended outside of London after years of campaigning.
There’s echoes here with pavement parking, whereby it’s been illegal in London since the early 1970s but not so outside the capital.
Greenwich have however acted like the borough is outside the M25 including telling residents nothing could be done about it in the past. They also failed to bring parking enforcement inhouse for five years after being told to do so by government, which would have permitted enforcement in various areas managed by Greenwich Housing department.
In terms of what is to happen on Vanbrugh Hill, there will be new traffic islands though no zebra or signalised crossing.
They state that the “estimated £50,900 cost of these changes has been allocated from the 2022/23 Local Implementation Plan grant funding that Transport for London has assigned to the Council.
Work has been delayed due to TfL’s financial issues, with Greenwich reluctant to use their own income.
The LIP grant is an annual sum of money TfL give council’s for transport projects. Prior to the pandemic, Greenwich were around the bottom in all of London for supplementing this total using revenue from parking, CCTV enforcement and income related to new development.
There appears little to no change in their stance of refusing to supplement TfL’s allocation using those revenue sources to create improved public space and streets.