Tavistock - Torrington Place: Background information
What did the evidence at Public Inquiry really prove? See summary of the outcome and BRAG'S letter to Camden's Cabinet Members, asking them to respect the recommendations of the Independent Inspector
READ THE INSPECTOR'S REPORT HERE
Prior to the Cabinet meeting the OFFICER'S REPORT (starting page 89) was also reviewed by the Council's CULTURE AND ENVIRONMENT SCRUTINY COMMITTEE on 3rd September.
BRAG Committee members attended this Scrutiny Committee meeting, but did not give a deputation.
Councillor Sue Vincent pointed out that: “London has to keep moving, people need to be able to get to hotels....We need robust evidence to show we’re well informed to make the decision.”
We would agree with that....
Outcome of Public Inquiry
At a Camden Cabinet meeting on 5 September 2018, the Council did NOT accept the outcome of the Public Inquiry, but agreed to make a final decision after A FURTHER CONSULTATION (which ends 24 December 2018)
The Inquiry conclusion recommended a west-bound route; but the Council is making the east-bound route permanent
The long-awaited decision by Camden Council on the Tavistock-Torrington corridor has been made. In direct contravention of the independent Inspector’s recommendation that an Order to make the east-bound Experimental Traffic Order should NOT be made permanent, and that the route should be changed to west-bound, the council decided at a cabinet meeting on 5 September to make the east-bound Order permanent.
Having delayed, the Council says it has run out of time
Having waited over 3 months to make a decision (the Inspector's Report was made available on 22 May 2018) the Council is now saying it has no time to do anything else, before the expiry of the present east-bound Order on 31 October. They say they will consult on a west-bound route for the future, but many local people have little faith in the Council’s methods of consultation, or in a promise that the Council might genuinely consider changing to west-bound in the future.
Four weeks of evidence; over £300,000 cost
The Inquiry heard four weeks’ of evidence, during which key council evidence, particularly on pollution and cycling numbers, was challenged and discredited. It cost well over £300,000 (the council having estimated it would cost £100,000); the full cost has not yet been divulged.
No councillors attended at all
Not one Camden Councillor attended the Inquiry at all, perhaps indicating the lack of importance accorded to it by the Council. A seasoned Inquiry watcher said he had never known this before.
BRAG was one of several groups allowed to speak for two minutes at the cabinet meeting, its main points being:
The east-bound route had adverse impacts on cycling safety, and no positive impact on cycling numbers, pollution, health or modal shift to active travel
West-bound would have the same benefits for cyclists, as well as less displaced traffic and pollution on to residential streets and the restoration of a vital west-bound route
The Council says changing to west-bound in the time frame would be ‘challenging’ – but an officer specifically told the Inquiry that west-bound could be trialled without any major geometric design changes
Leaving the decision until September, and thus closing down their options, looks very like a convenient delay
It would a disgraceful abuse of public money and public trust if the Council were simply to manufacture ways of side-stepping the recommendations and effectively act as if the Inquiry had never happened.
BRAG urged Camden Council to:
Implement a west-bound route, permanent or ETO; making it clear that any continuation of the east-bound route is genuinely temporary while preparations for the change to west-bound are made.
Delay the toxically controversial plans for road blocks on Judd Street and Hunter Street until the Tavistock corridor is resolved; and start to see traffic planning holistically.
And finally, to avoid further blunders and loss of faith in the council, adopt a more effective way of engaging with and consulting local people.
The Officer's report to Cabinet on September 5 recommended a further report to be brought back to Cabinet in April 2019 ‘assessing a westbound scheme for the corridor, including the responses to a formal consultation (which is intended to be held in autumn 2018) with a view to Cabinet deciding whether or not to promote a westbound scheme so as to replace the eastbound scheme’.
This one will run and run....