View of Bloomsbury from top of the Standard Hotel, Kings Cross
FOR INFORMATION: email addresses of Ward Councillors in our area can be downloaded HERE
SAVE BLOOMSBURY is a website with news and articles on a range of local issues. The views expressed are only ever that of the author, but often have a wider resonance.
BRAG'S 2018 PUBLIC MEETING (the Read our report of what local people thought then (click on thumbnail below)
Interesting article about living in central London by Griff Rhys Jones in Fitzrovia News Newsletter.
Who we are and what we're doing
BRAG's core principle is that Residents' Matter.
The Bloomsbury Residents' Action Group (BRAG) was founded by a group of residents in May 2016, due to a growing concern that decision-makers in Camden and TfL seemed unaware of (or didn’t care about) the tens of thousands of permanent residents who live in streets south of the Euston Road.
South Camden is regularly defined as a 'commercial and entertainment district', when is it is in fact a mixed-use but predominantly residential area - a reflection of its original character as London expanded northwards towards the Euston Road in the late 18th/early 19th century.
The presence of a large transient population of students and tourists does not negate the fact that residents need a Council that will listen to their concerns and actually do something which correlates with the purpose of listening.
A new culture where residents are respected and listened to
Meaningful consultations to involve residents at an early stage
Consultation should be open to difference and debate, not a way to endorse what has already been decided behind closed doors
Independent experts to advise on traffic and pollution and the Council to start basing decisions on evidence rather than ideology: not the “one size fits all” approach
Refusal of planning approval for developments which cause indirect and direct harm to residents’ health and wellbeing
Heritage assets and their setting to be properly respected – once it’s gone, it’s gone
Particular care for people with disabilities and special needs for transport
Crime prevention to be given higher priority – more CCTV on the streets and fewer damaging road closures
Traffic management schemes
BRAG feels that the inherently worthy (and essential) aspiration to reduce pollution in central London has rarely taken into consideration the need for residents to live an ordinary day to day life.
When the roads started to be blocked off, we asked the Council to define clearly what they saw as "essential" and "inessential" car use (but received no response) as the avalanche of changes to the road management network made access for disabled people even more difficult.
Since 2016 the streets within the three ward boundaries that define South Camden (Kings Cross, Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden) have been the focus of an ever-increasing number of changes. This started with the removal of one lane of traffic along the Torrington Place -Tavistock Place Corridor that runs east-West between Gray's Inn Road and Tottenham Court Road.
The realisation that a proposal to alter traffic flow could be implemented without any consultation with the very people it would affect was a major impetus for the creation of BRAG as a local campaign group.
The changes to Tavistock Place, which have impacted on the growing number of elderly and disabled people who are long term residents of this neighbourhood, was followed by the poorly consulted-on proposal by TfL and Camden to close the north end of Judd Street. Despite considerable local opposition, this was given approval, along with the decision to prevent any northbound traffic entering Guilford Street via Lansdowne Terrace. The closure of the southern end of Bloomsbury Square to all vehicles (except cycles) has also caused issues for people living nearby.
With £9.4 funding allocated through TfL's 'Liveable Neighbourhood' initiative, residents are likely to experience further inconvenience as more and more streets in Holborn and Bloomsbury are closed to vehicles.
We were particularly conscious that for less able residents, the inherent difficulty of getting about, added to the self-isolation imposed by the pandemic, would confine many older residents to their homes and increase existing levels of isolation and loss of well being.
It is not a question of blanket opposition to the aspiration of creating a less car-dominated and polluted environment (which BRAG supports) - but how these kinds of decisions are imposed from "above" and there is never an opportunity for those who be affected to have a mature and honest debate and discussion with those who implement proposals - and do not experience the impact.
There are a large number of Community, Amenity, Tenants & Residents and Friends groups within South Camden that care about the well being of historic squares, local neighbourhoods or specific housing blocks. BRAG feels that greater links between these individual groups could be beneficial as residents tend to share similar concerns about crime, getting around, traffic management, noise nuisance, over-development and other issues.
An example of the unity of community purpose resulted in the decision by the Evening Standard not to progress their proposal for (in our view) a far too large / too long Festival of Culture in Russell Square, the historic and well used open space that lies at the heart of our important residential area.
Following extensive research and analysis of crime statistics, we have been working with other local groups, such as the Bloomsbury Association, Marchmont Association and Friends of Argyle Square, to campaign for more police resources in the three wards of South Camden. This initiative is supported by Councillor Nadia Shah, Camden's Cabinet Member for Community Safety, other councillors and a large number of local groups. The pressure seems to have resulted in additional police resources being allocated to Bloomsbury and Holborn & Covent Garden wards.
We are members of the Bloomsbury and Kings Cross Safer Neighbourhood Panels and have been lobbying TfL (in association with Camden) for financial support through the Safer Streets Fund 2021. A properly monitored network of CCTV on the streets could reduce the very high level of crime against the person that takes place in Bloomsbury, We are nevertheless concerned that a lack of reporting (due to apathy or a feeling of ‘will it make any difference’) might affect the crime figures released for the South Camden wards. We therefore encourage anybody unfortunate enough to be a victim of crime or witness an incident to report it to the police.
A Voice for Residents
BRAG is a member of several Community Liaison Groups, which have been set up to ensure residents have a voice during the construction of large developments in the Kings Cross / Bloomsbury / Holborn area.
When requested, we support residents who are objecting to planning applications that will impact negatively on residential amenity.
A long term aim is to work with Camden officers to see whether their consultation process can be improved.
We endeavour to pass on news and relevant information about consultations via the BRAG website and occasional newsletters.
BRAG campaigns for developments that do not undermine residents' quality of life.