Question from Susan Haug, Resident
"LBHF Council has sought public consultations as "best practice" in experimental traffic orders in other road closures in the area; for example, most recently regarding 'Perrymead/Studdridge/Rycroft Streets. As a local resident, l received notification of this and was able to submit comments at the time. Unusually, the Harwood Terrace experimental traffic order only consulted 40 Harwood Terrace addresses — in short, primarily those standing to benefit directly from such a closure. This restricted consultation resulted in 60-40% rejection of the closure proposition. Nonetheless, the Council took the radical action of closing the street thereby causing major traffic disruption in this previously relatively quiet and manageable area.
Shouldn't the Council have followed a similar best practices strategy in the Harwood Terrace experimental traffic order by at least consulting those residents living in the area most directly affected on Bagley’s Lane, Acfold Road, Bovingdon, Cresford and Maltings Place? These streets are most severely and directly impacted by this experimental closure as they are sandwiched between the now bottle-necked egresses of Wandsworth Bridge Road, Imperial Road/New Kings Road. I ask this question especially in light of the rejection of the original "informal" consultation?"
Answer from Councillor Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment
“Thank you very much for that question. The Council does undertake to do best practices in all its public consultations. That’s something I’m really concerned about. In this instance, we were actually keen to tackle the safety issues and air pollution issues faced by people living in Harwood Terrace. I’ve already mentioned about the volume of traffic down there and you can imagine what it was like. So Harwood Terrace, Waterford Road and Edith Row - with 400 vehicles an hour going through there much of that traffic is generated by people living outside of the borough as we have just heard. Therefore, we have discussed, or spoke to residents of Harwood Terrace, a number of them as I said to you, came to me with this particular problem. I listened to them and their particular problem, as indeed I’ve listened to people in Barkley Road and Iffley Road when there were problems there and we had to shut that road. I did the same with people in Bishops King’s Road - we’ve shut that one. I’ve done the same in other parts - in Fitzneal Street in my own ward for the same sort of reasons. So it’s about listening and then taking some sort of action.
But I also need to be sure that what people are asking for is something that everybody in that street wanted. That’s why we looked at that particular street. And when it then comes to the experimental closure - that itself is part of the consultation. The comments that come back, the emails that come back, all of these emails are going to be collated - we’ll look at all those issues that are raised and they will inform that consultation. And they, along with all the traffic surveys, the evidence that we’ve got will be used to inform the future decision - along with the residents, when we get to talk to them.”
“Given the unprecedented outcry of local residents, best exemplified by the more than 200 unique complaints from the community on this issue, isn’t it right and democratic for the Council to pause this highly unpopular pilot closure and undertake a proper consultation?”
Answer to the supplementary question
“Yes there has been an outcry and as I’ve said I’ve told officers I want to see what the issues are, in which streets, how have people changed their driving patterns, where they’ve gone - and when we’ve done that we will look at all of that data and we will bring it back here, not here, but to the Policy and Accountability Committee where it will be discussed in open. And we will look and listen to what residents are saying. And when I say listen to residents, it’s not just the 2000 or 3000 or however many it may be, but also have to listen to those people who are directly affected i.e. the residents of Harwood Terrace. Because people in Harwood Terrace are not being listened to.”