How it started
The Bloomsbury Residents’ Action Group (BRAG) was set up at the end of May 2016 in response to local concern. We are voters and council tax payers, yet the voice of residents is going unheard.
We want residents to be properly consulted by Camden Council, the Mayor’s Office, TFL or anybody else about proposals and issues under debate or consideration that will affect the lives of thousands of residents. We do not want to be excluded or ignored.
Residents were not among the groups involved in early discussions about the trial scheme for Tavistock Place. (1)
Changes to traffic flow
Our first campaign focused on the many changes to traffic flow (either proposed or in place as a trial) that have had a serious impact on the daily lives of Bloomsbury residents.
WC1 has many densely populated residential streets, which are now frequently full of stationary, idling traffic for many hours a day. The increased congestion and pollution in Judd Street, Endsleigh Street and elsewhere began the day that Tavistock Place was closed to west-bound traffic without proper consultation with local residents.
During 2016 we were witness to high speed police cars in near misses, fire engines racing down the wrong side of the road, cyclists and motor cyclists repeatedly forced to ride into oncoming traffic.
TFL has control of the traffic lights at the north end of Judd Street. When more vehicles are allowed to move on to the Euston Road, the queues dissipate - it's as easy as that. There has been a significant reduction of traffic along Judd Street since the Public Inquiry took place in autumn 2017.
However, the closure of a westbound route along Tavistock Place has had a knock-on effect on the daily life of residents and others. Deliveries to local small businesses can be delayed by up to two hours. People with family responsibilities, and those who have disabilities and need to use cars and taxis are finding their journey times to schools, hospitals and day centres quadrupled.
For the past two years we have been busy listening to the community and feeding back residents’ concerns to Camden’s Officers, Councillors and Keir Starmer MP.
We set up a website in June 2016 in order to disseminate information. To begin with, we provided an on-line form for people to have their say (currently discontinued).
We initiated a Petition in July 2016, which was available on the internet and in some local shops and businesses.
It was also distributed by hand to flats in several local residential blocks. The Petition was presented to Camden Council in December and formed part of BRAG’s formal response to the Council’s consultation on the Tavistock-Torrington Place trial scheme.
We organised a Community Planning Day in September 2016 to engage with the community and harness local views. The report from this event also formed part of BRAG’s response to Camden’s formal consultation.
We consulted with traffic experts and developed an alternative scheme for the Tavistock-Torrington Place corridor by suggesting this returns to two-way traffic, with cycle lanes on either side of the road – in the direction of travel. We held a public meeting in October 2016 to explain our alternative proposal and a majority vote at the end of the meeting supported the motion of presenting it to Camden Council for consideration. This alternative scheme was included in BRAG’s formal response to Camden’s consultation on the Tavistock-Torrington trial.
BRAG’s alternative scheme was designed with professional advice from traffic experts and input from residents and small business traders in the area that lies immediately adjacent to the Tavistock-Torrington corridor. We felt this was a scheme that would provide a more equitable way for local residents to live ordinary day-to-day lives in central London.
As our remit is to remind decision-makers that “Residents Matter”, BRAG has also objected to a number of local planning applications where proposed development will negatively affect the wellbeing and quality of life of residents living nearby.
(1) FROM CAMDEN'S WEBSITE
How did the Council develop the project?
The Council has been working since 2014 to develop the trial and assess the impacts that the changes would have. The trial has been developed with input from Transport for London, Camden Cycling Campaign, London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets, University College London and the University of London.
(From www.camden.gov.uk - Torrington Place to Tavistock Place Experimental Traffic Changes/Frequently asked questions)
Traffic congestion and pollution following the closure of Tavistock Place to west-bound traffic