Question from Nick Smith, Resident
"Since Harwood Terrace has been closed the air quality in the area has significantly improved and residents no longer have to contend with over 400 vehicles an hour using their quiet street as a rat run. Would the Cabinet Member for the Environment please make sure that rat running through Harwood Terrace is not allowed in the future?"
Answer from Councillor Wesley Harcourt, Cabinet Member for the Environment
“I will reiterate what I said earlier - the idea of rat-running is not something that is supported. You have raised it quite clearly and your colleague also has raised it quite clearly - and residents from Harwood Terrace have raised it with me quite clearly. Rat-running is not an acceptable issue. There are other streets in this borough that come to me complaining about rat-running. Now I’ve had an email this morning from somebody saying they support the closure of Harwood Terrace because they live in a street in another part of the borough where their road was constantly used as a rat-run. And as soon as we looked at that one and changed the layout it made the world of difference. And it’s absolutely essential, given the situation we’re in now, with climate emergency, air pollution, and everything else, that we reduce the volume of traffic. 27,000 or 37,000 vehicles in each direction a week is wholly unacceptable through our residential streets.
We are here to make sure that our residents can live safe and healthy lives and that is the reason why we took the action that we did in closing Harwood Terrace, on an experimental basis. Now, at no point can it be said, and I’m looking at the traffic counts in other streets just to get hard evidence - and we do need hard evidence before we can actually make a decision, it’s not something that you can just do on a whim. Therefore when we’ve got that we’ll be looking at how much traffic there is in other streets, but I doubt very much whether any other street is experiencing 30,000 vehicles a week in each direction, let alone 400 an hour at peak times.”
“Could the Cabinet Member please confirm that [the objectives for the closure] were reasonable objectives and that they are being met without a disproportionately negative impact on other nearby residential streets? And with the overall benefit of a reduction in the number of car journeys in the area.”
Answer to the supplementary question
“Thank you for that. I think the objectives that you mentioned - the stop the rat-running, the safety of cyclists, and air quality - are all absolutely admirable objectives. I think they’re perfectly sound objectives. They’re objectives that, as I’ve said earlier, they meet the Council’s aims, it with the London Mayor’s London-wide strategy as well. Those are things that we support, and we need to start thinking now about how do we reduce the numbers of cars being used. It’s not sustainable into the future. It is something that is a big, big problem. We’ve heard, I think you may have heard, the news the other day - is Bristol going to ban private vehicles from the town centre, Birmingham are doing the same, there’s other places, other parts of London where they’re looking at exactly the same idea. So these are good fair aims and I do support them and we will continue to support them.”