“Cowardly” Islington Council bans residents from questioning Archway Road transport scheme

Islington Council has been accused of “cowardly” behaviour after its members voted against taking public questions at the annual Budget Meeting.

Residents who attended the meeting have accused the Council of using an “us and them” style after being banned from posing their questions about planned changes to the gyratory transport system on Archway Road– changes that residents say will see 50 empty buses an hour coming down Archway Road simply to turn around.

The public had been informed that Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington’s transport leader, would be answering questions on the matter.

But when at the start of the meeting the Mayor asked councillors to vote on whether or not they would take questions from the public gallery, they resoundingly voted “no”.

Attendee and Archway resident Chris Sparks said: “This is downright disgusting behaviour and something I would never expect from a Labour council.

“We were upset, there is no need for this us and them style. That is not democracy.”

Plans to remove the gyratory system on Archway Road were announced earlier this year by Transport for London (TfL).

The scheme will see the one-way system made two-way. Bus stands from the existing site on Vorley Road will be moved to on-street locations, meaning new bus stands on Archway Road.

Transport for London, which is implementing the change, says the scheme will make the area safer and more attractive, making it more pedestrian- and cycle-friendly.

Residents fear the scheme will worsen pollution and increase congestion around the Archway area, displacing traffic onto residential streets. A high-speed crash outside the Vorley Road nursery at the end of last month raised further alarm about the impact increased traffic will have on an area with a high population of children.

A peaceful protest was staged outside the Town Hall before the budget meeting and a petition against the plans has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.


Chris Bailey, resident of Harberton Road, said: “The idea that [the council] would consciously work with TfL on a scheme that puts that level of unnecessary bus journeys through a residential area past all these kids walking to school beggars belief.

“I find it remarkable and depressing that they didn’t at least give people the opportunities to make their views heard. By not doing that, they increasingly suggest they have something to hide.”

During the meeting Councillor Webbe gave two responses to questions that had been submitted by residents on the issue. They both received booing and heckling from the public gallery.

Vorley Road, the site of the 28 January accident

Vorley Road, the site of the 28 January accident (Google Streetview)

The first question came from Kiat Phua, who is campaigning against the plans.

She said: “Many parents are alarmed by the accident outside Archway Children’s Centre on 28 January .

“Could the council make Vorley Road safer by banning left turns from Junction Road as part of the traffic reversal – and look into separating Vorley Road from MacDonald Road as part of the longer-term plan for more affordable housing in the area?”

The second, from Jenny Thompson, questioned what would be done to ensure the 600-plus families who regularly use the centre are not exposed to high levels of pollution as a result of the changes.

 

Cllr Webbe’s responses to both questions were met with shouts from the public gallery including: “It’s too late!”, “It’s a dog’s dinner!” and “Did you consult your tenants on Anthony Road? No!”

Since the meeting, Cllr Webbe has told Islington Now: “The Council responded to the consultation on behalf of residents and represented all the views expressed as part of its response.

“Our response to the consultation is publicly available and I believe is detailed on both TfL’s and the Council’s website. We were praised by all for fairly representing their views.”

Picture: Google Streetview

2 comments on ““Cowardly” Islington Council bans residents from questioning Archway Road transport scheme

  1. Please correct – The Council did not consult on the TfL gyratory removal scheme at Archway, TfL consulted on this. The Council responded to the consultation on behalf of residents and represented all the views expressed as part of its response. Our response to the consultation is publicly available and I believe is detailed on both TfL’s and the Council’s website. We were praised by all for fairly representing their views. Please correct.

  2. Councillor Claudia Webbe
    Executive Member for Environment and Transport
    Labour Member for Bunhill Ward

    Mr Boris Johnson
    Mayor of London
    Greater London Authority
    City Hall
    The Queen’s Walk
    London
    SE1 2AA
    13th January 2015

    Dear Boris,

    Archway Gyratory Proposals

    I am writing to provide Islington Council’s formal response to the recent consultation on the proposals
    to remove the gyratory at Archway. A more detailed technical response to Transport for London has
    also been prepared and is appended to this letter.

    First, I would like to thank you for the work that your colleagues at Transport for London have done so
    far in terms of engaging with the local community and groups in the lead up and during the public
    consultation, including presentations at the local Ward Partnership meetings, and meetings with local
    businesses and stakeholders (such as pedestrian and cycle groups).

    The removal of the gyratory will bring significant economic, transport and place making benefits to the
    local area. Relocation of the bus stand will unlock an important development site at the heart of the
    town centre providing new homes for local people.

    At this point in time, Archway is experiencing unprecedented levels of change with still further change
    to come as key sites in and around the town centre are developed. The planned public space and
    pedestrian improvements will make Archway a more attractive and inviting place to live and visit and
    will support its revival as a shopping centre. Islington Council therefore continues to support the
    removal of the gyratory and looks forward to working with Transport for London to further refine these
    proposals and take them forward.

    In particular, we look forward to working with Transport for London to develop detailed plans for the
    new public space outside the station. This is a rare and exciting opportunity to create a new public
    space in a densely built up urban area and it is important that this scheme makes the best possible
    contribution to the regeneration of the area. We expect the Council and local community to remain
    closely involved as the plans for the new space develop.

    T
    I am also very keen to talk to you and your colleagues at the GLA about how the development and
    construction of this scheme can be used to provide employment and training opportunities for local
    people. I would be grateful if you could let me know how I should best pursue this matter.

    However, we have a number of concerns with the proposals, which we understand are shared by
    residents and businesses. We hope that Transport for London will address these concerns as the
    scheme progresses, although we recognise that in many cases this will be extremely difficult.

    Displacement of Traffic into Local Streets
    Residents are concerned about the displacement of traffic into local streets as a result of the
    proposed banning of certain traffic movements, and in particular, the banning of the right turn from St
    John’s Way to Archway Road/Highgate Hill.

    Vorley Road and MacDonald Road
    The banning of the above right turn will lead to increased levels of car traffic on Vorley Road and
    MacDonald Road. To some degree this will be mitigated by a reduction in the number of buses that
    will use these streets due to the removal of the bus stand. However, there are a couple of very
    sensitive land uses located on these streets – the Vorley Road Children’s Centre and the Girdlestone
    Estate, and we are concerned about the impact of any increase in traffic levels, and associated
    impacts on air quality, on the children and residents. We are therefore asking Transport for London to
    investigate some options that would eliminate or mitigate against this increase in traffic.

    Cressida Road, Hornsey Lane and Hazelville Road
    The banning of the right turn will also lead to increased traffic levels in these streets much to the
    concern of local residents. Again we have suggested measures that will eliminate or mitigate against
    these increases. In the event that these measures are not practical, we would ask that traffic levels in
    these streets are monitored before and after the gyratory is removed and supplementary traffic
    measures are implemented if necessary. This work should be carried out in close collaboration with
    the residents of these streets.

    St John’s Grove and Pemberton Gardens
    There are also concerns that more traffic may use other local roads that are already used as a cut
    through, such as St John’s Grove and Pemberton Gardens which has a school. These roads should
    also be monitored, to ensure that any impacts are minimised and mitigated where necessary.

    Relocation of Bus Stops
    Whilst supportive of the proposals to remove all traffic from the western arm of the gyratory, we share
    residents’ concerns about the impact that this will have on bus passengers. In particular, residents
    are concerned about the increased walking distance between some stops and the fact that some bus
    routes travelling in the same direction will be split across more than one stop (most notably for buses
    to Archway Road). We have asked Transport for London to examine options to eliminate or mitigate
    against these impacts.

    Extension of Local Bus Routes
    Local residents have suggested that local bus routes (routes 17, 41 and 390) could be extended
    northwards to serve the Whittington Hospital and southwards (routes 143 and W5) to serve Upper
    Holloway Station. Again we have asked Transport for London to give serious consideration to
    residents’ suggestions – we are particularly keen to see improved bus access to the Whittington.

    Cycle Facilities
    The proposals provide substantial improvements for people cycling in the local area, but we think
    further improvements are needed. The Islington Cycle Action Group has raised concerns and has
    asked for further improvements to the scheme. We hope that Transport for London will carefully
    consider ICAG’s concerns. In particular, we hope that Transport for London will explore:
    • whether it is possible to extend the off-road cycle tracks further up Archway Road in both
    directions; and
    • alternatives to the southbound cycle track through the new public space to avoid conflict
    between cyclists and pedestrians.
    To accommodate the expected increase in cycling in the long term, and to provide alternatives for
    people who prefer to cycle on quieter roads, we hope to continue working with Transport for London
    to improve the wider cycle route network.

    Pedestrians
    The proposals provide substantial benefits for people walking in the local area. However, we would
    ask that as the scheme progresses to the detailed design stage Transport for London explores
    options to widen and declutter the footways particularly on Holloway Road, St John’s Way and the
    south side of Junction Road. We also hope that Transport for London will implement a wayfinding
    strategy to make it easier for pedestrians to navigate their way around the newly redesigned town
    centre.

    Traffic calming and 20mph speed limit
    To further encourage walking and cycling, to make the area feel more safe and welcoming, minimise
    impacts on air quality, and to mitigate against any displacement of traffic in local streets, it is essential
    that traffic speeds are reduced and physical traffic calming measures are implemented. As Islington
    is an enforceable 20mph borough, we would like to see the 20mph speed limit to be extended to
    cover TfL’s roads as well.

    Air Quality
    Whilst it is likely that air quality will improve in some parts of the town centre, other areas will be
    exposed to increased traffic levels and possibly a reduction in air quality – notably on Vorley Road /
    MacDonald Road and St John’s Way. We hope that Transport for London will work with us to
    properly evaluate the impact that the proposals will have on air quality and to develop measures to
    mitigate against any adverse impacts where possible.

    Loss of Trees and Green Space
    The proposals could lead to a loss of around 25 trees in a densely built up urban area and the loss of
    a small area of the Archway Corner green space. We therefore hope that Transport for London will
    ensure that the final scheme includes a tree planting and greenspace strategy to increase the amount
    of green space and the number and quality of trees in the local area as the scheme is built out.

    Parking and Loading
    Local businesses are concerned about the potential loss of parking and loading facilities within the
    town centre and we look forward to working with Transport for London to examine how this can be
    avoided or at least mitigated.

    Management Arrangements
    Following implementation of the scheme, we hope that we can put appropriate management and
    maintenance arrangements in place to ensure that the new road layout and public space is properly
    cleaned and maintained.

    In conclusion, the council remains keen to see the removal of the gyratory go forward as we feel that
    the benefits of the scheme outweigh the dis-benefits by far. However, it is vitally important that local
    concerns about the scheme are fully and properly addressed. Whilst accepting that it may not be
    possible to fully resolve every concern that has been raised, I hope that Transport for London will
    work with us to properly consider these concerns in detail and amend the proposals wherever
    possible.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss any of the matters raised in this letter.

    Yours sincerely
    Councillor Claudia Webbe
    Executive Member for Environment and Transport

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