BRAG PRESENTS AT COUNCIL CABINET MEETING

Tavistock Trial goes to Public Inquiry

BRAG reports that more local people are against, than for, the trial

On 22nd February, Camden Council Cabinet met to make the decision on whether the one-way road layout trial (Experimental Traffic Order) on Tavistock Place and Torrington Place should be made permanent or scrapped. BRAG made a presentation to the meeting.  The outcome of the meeting was that the Cabinet referred the matter to an independent public inquiry; we understand this must take place within six months.

What BRAG said

The points made to the Cabinet, by BRAG Chair, Nicky Coates were:

  1. Local people are angry and concerned because the consultation has been inadequate, and also because the displaced traffic from the trial has caused hugely increased congestion and pollution, and has even been holding up emergency vehicles; this in an area with three major hospitals and three major rail stations – an area of high security risk which has been the subject of previous terrorist attacks.

  2. BRAG has produced a compromise plan which would be good for all the community, with two separate cycle lanes and two-way traffic.  We know the Council papers find fault with this plan – but traffic experts say it is a viable alternative and allows for a fairer sharing of road space; this alternative plan means there would be no need for the one-way system, and its consequential choking congestion, in surrounding communities.

  3. If there is a public inquiry, we are asking that the merits of alternative plans, including our two-way plan and the possibility of west-bound (as opposed to east-bound) one-way traffic, be independently assessed as part of that. And, if there is a public inquiry, we are asking: why do the Cabinet papers say the Council would take steps towards making the trial permanent before a final decision is made?

  4. Finally, the Council tells us that 79% said ‘yes’ to the trial. But 79% of who? The vast majority of those who responded (86%) do not even live in the borough of Camden. It should be the local people who count.  The Council could find only 564 local (WC1) residents in favour of the trial; whereas the BRAG petition found 760 against. So, of those who have expressed a view, more local people are against, than for, the trial. And those are the views that should count.

So BRAG very much welcomes an independent review and supported the proposal for a public inquiry, at the Cabinet meeting.

The proceedings of the Cabinet can be viewed on video at:

http://camden.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/272182

Next steps

The next step will be a meeting for all parties with the Independent Inspector, who will decide on the scope of the Inquiry.  BRAG will be asking the Inspector to consider not only the trial layout, but alternative schemes, including our compromise plan.  We await information from the Council on meeting dates.

Public inquiry triggered by failure to follow key procedural steps – at cost of c.£100,000

 

Although BRAG supports the independent inquiry, this is not something we had asked for.  It was apparently considered to be advisable by the Council, because they had failed to follow certain procedural steps which are required of Councils when making an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO).  This is explained in the Council Cabinet documents:

 

'An ETO can be made permanent without further notice and consultation if specific procedural steps have been followed throughout, but it seems that copy documents, which were stated to be on deposit once the ETO had been made, could not be inspected by the public at the due place and time at the start of the relevant period, so the safer course is to proceed with re-advertising and making provision for objections to be made in what would be the normal way if the shortened process is not followed.' (‘Torrington Place/Tavistock Place route – Trial Traffic Scheme’ Paragraph 3.2)

 

BRAG had complained to the Council about their flawed procedures on consultation on many fronts but had not been aware of this particular oversight by the Council.  The cost of the public inquiry will be in the region of £100,000.  (‘Torrington Place/Tavistock Place route – Trial Traffic Scheme’ paragraph 10.2)

 

Cabinet papers on the trial can be viewed at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=29988#mgDocuments

The BRAG Petition

BRAG’s Petition called on Camden Council to abandon the trial scheme along Tavistock-Torrington Place. It was presented to Councillor Sarah Hayward at her office in Camden Town Hall, Judd Street at 12.30pm on Tuesday 21st December 2016.  Camden’s official photographer recorded the occasion.

 

As well as being Leader of Camden Council, Sarah Hayward is also a Kings Cross Councillor and the changes to traffic flow have impacted negatively on many residents who live in her ward.

 

It is essential that the names of residents who opposed the scheme by signing BRAG’s Petition are included in the figures of those who opposed the scheme. Councillor Hayward said she would ask Officers to cross-check all the names against those who took part in the public consultation.   

 

We believe there is a strong likelihood that there are residents who signed the BRAG petition who will not have responded to the survey on line (as they do not use the internet), or will not have filled in one of the Council’s consultation documents (as distribution of these was very poor). There are also many residents in the affected area who do not speak English as their first language, and the Council’s consultation form was only published in English. These residents too may have signed the BRAG petition but not signed the consultation form.

 

The BRAG Petition was posted on the BRAG website, only in English. However, it was also available at the Leigh Street Chemist, which is widely used by local residents and where languages other than English are spoken by the staff. BRAG Committee members also spoke to individual residents, many of whom requested to sign the Petition.

 

Camden’s formal consultation ended on 21st October 2016. A basic breakdown of the figures released by the council said that of the 15,000 responses, 1,387 were Camden residents. Of the residents, 61 per cent were in favour, while 38 per cent were not in favour. The key question is: where did the Camden respondents actually live?

 

The Tavistock-Torrington Place trial scheme is located in WC1 and has impacted on people who live in that specific part of Camden.  Camden is a large borough, and it is possible that the 61% in favour of the scheme live in streets north of the Euston Road such as Kentish Town, Camden Town, Cantelowes etc.

 

But why should the views of these Camden residents’ (who perhaps use the Tavistock Place cycle way to have an easy journey to work) have equal weight to Camden residents who experience its negative impact on their day-to-day lives? 

 

BRAG’s Petition was signed by a total of 1083 people. 831 signatures were from people who live in the London Borough of Camden, of which 92% are residents of WC1 (760 signatures) i.e. from Kings Cross, Bloomsbury & Holborn & Covent Garden wards - plus 5 from Fitzrovia (W1).

See the map here.

This means that 71% of the total number of BRAG Petitioners who see the scheme as a failure live in close proximity to Tavistock-Torrington Place.  These are the residents who matter.