With the Leader’s permission three speakers addressed the Cabinet for 5 minutes each, having submitted two petitions and a valid deputation request.
Eilidh Mactaggart, the first speaker, submitted a petition in support of keeping Harwood Terrace closed. She stated that her main concerns were safety of residents, pedestrians and children going to school. She informed the meeting that during her 32nd week of pregnancy she was run over by a “rat runner” while taking her dog for a walk in the evening. The car was driving at speed on the wrong side of the road, as he overtook the car in front, who had stopped to give her way. She suffered a detached placenta and had to have an emergency caesarean section, her premature baby needed neonatal care. Luckily, they both survived. She added that it was a common fact that several “rat runners” used the road at great speed as a short cut into New King’s Road. Hence her support for the permanent closure of Hardwood Terrace.
In response to a question from Councillor Stainton, Ms Mactaggart stated that she did not believe a compromise on the closure of the road would be an acceptable solution as it should remain closed at all times. To minimise the ripple effect caused by this closure on the surrounding roads, she suggested extending the bus lane all the way into New King’s Road and introducing traffic calming measures on other roads using new technology.
The Leader agreed with Councillor Stainton’s comments that residents should not be expected to develop a solution. Officers would need to find an appropriate solution with residents’ input.
Councillor Loveday queried whether there were traffic enforcement cameras in the area. Ms Mactaggart stated that there were cameras which were not working at the time. The Police had not been able to catch the driver.
James Spokoini submitted a petition requesting the re-opening of Hardwood Terrace. He stated that the Council had committed many errors during the process before closing the road and had not followed the correct procedure from the start. He added that a letter notifying residents of the experimental traffic order was only sent to Harwood Terrace residents and the Council had ignored the ;large majority of responses which objected to the closure. He urged the Council to commit to a full public consultation before taking a decision and said that the Council needed to give enough time for residents to properly access all data, make comments and only then develop a suitable solution.
In response to a question from Councillor Connell, Mr Spokoini stated that he did not have a solution, as he was not an engineer. His concern was that the Council had not carried out a full consultation from the beginning. He stated that the Council needed to talk to residents, TfL and neighbouring boroughs, as well as rely on comprehensive new data and find a proper area wide solution.
The Leader acknowledged that the Council had not started the process well but that it was fully committed to finding a common solution that would benefit everyone
Nick Smith submitted a deputation in support of keeping Hardwood Terrace closed. . He talked about the data obtained since the closure of Hardwood Terrace, which he stated evidenced that the closure had been a success. This data had been given by officers at the SW6 meetings. It showed a considerable net reduction in traffic volume on the roads in the surrounding area except for Bagleys Lane.
In response to a question from Councillor Loveday, Councillor Coleman stated that this data was also given to all present at the SW6 Traffic Working Party meeting on the previous week. The data also showed an increase in traffic in Bagleys Lane and slower bus journeys indicating that there were some positive and negative results of the experiment.
The Leader added that the Council would need to look at the evidence from traffic reduction in the whole area, not just on Hardwood Terrace.
Bram Kainth (Chief Officer – Public Realm) gave a presentation providing some data and an alternative possible solution. He stated that since the experiment began 12,000 extra cars a week were using Bagley’s Lane and the journey times for buses had increased considerably. There was a positive impact on Wandsworth Bridge Road and Kings Road but an increase in queues and slower journey times in surrounding streets. Nine out of ten cars came from outside H&F as evidenced by the PCNs at Bagleys junction.
His proposal was to use number-plate recognition technology for the experimental closure of Imperial Road, Harwood Terrace and Bagleys Lane to all motor vehicles except permit holders, H&F residents and their visitors, buses, taxis, bicycles, emergency services, electric vehicles, deliveries and refuse trucks.
Bram Kainth added that the enforcement would be via automated cameras using a “white list” of permitted vehicle registrations. There would be warning and access signs at strategic places around the area and it should exclude 80%+ of existing traffic, reduce bus journeys and pollution.
Councillor Loveday asked Bram Kainth questions in relation to the data given and questioned whether it was enough and robust information for Cabinet to make a decision. He believed that the closure had caused traffic in other parts of the area. Nevertheless, he agreed that the Council must reduce all traffic on residential areas across the borough.
The Leader stated that Councillor Coleman had worked with residents from both sides of the argument and had shared all of the data to find a consensus and a solution that would improve the life of residents. As a result, officers had come up with a proposal which used the latest technology available.
Councillor Loveday added that in principle, as a Ward Councillor, he supported a traffic reduction scheme. However, an oral presentation by officers at a meeting was not enough to make a decision. To make a decision at Cabinet there was a need for a public report with all evidence and proper decisions to reduce traffic flow to all residents, not just one road.
Councillor Coleman stated that one of the aims of the SW6 Traffic Working Party, which he chaired, was to reconnect with residents to find a successful, common long-term solution. They had considered four options for Harwood Terrace. One of the proposals was to use the latest number-plate recognition technology to undertake another experimental traffic order – this proposal would allow all H&F residents, buses and emergency/utility vehicles to drive in the area whilst restrictions would apply to out of borough traffic.
Councillor Stainton stated that Ward Councillors should have been invited to the SW6 Traffic Working Party. Councillor Coleman replied that he had only invited those who had shown an interest or constructive engagement. He added that if this proposal went ahead it would be experimental and if successful would be implemented.
In response to a question from Councillor Alford, Bram Kainth explained that the scheme would have cameras recognising registration plates, permit holders and visitors number plates would be registered on the “white list”. The other number plates would be checked with the DVLA, ie whether the car keeper was a resident in the borough. If not an H&F resident, or none of the exception vehicles. they would first get a warning and then a fine on the second offence.
Bram Kainth added that they would need to keep Harwood Terrace closed for a minimum of 3.5 to 4 weeks, from the point of any decision making, in order to install the cameras and to have the new technology in place.
The Leader stated that the SW6 Traffic Working Party would discuss the proposal to use the number-plate recognition technology to implement the experimental traffic restriction on out of borough traffic in the area. In addition, the Parsons Greens and Waltham and Sands End Ward Councillors would be invited to a full briefing meeting to discuss this proposal.
The Leader concluded that the Cabinet Member would consider and take any decisions, relating to future experimental traffic orders, and that when any new experimental traffic order came into effect the experimental traffic order of closing Harwood Terrace would end meaning that Harwood Terrace would reopen.
1. To note the petitions and deputation.
2. To note that the Cabinet Member for the Environment will consider, and take any decisions, relating to future experimental traffic orders, and when any new experimental traffic order comes into effect the experimental traffic order closing Harwood Terrace will end and Harwood Terrace will reopen.
3. To note that the SW6 Traffic Working Party will discuss the proposal to use the latest number-plate recognition technology to implement the experimental traffic restriction on out of Borough traffic to Imperial Road, Harwood Terrace and Bagleys Lane. This will restrict all motor vehicles except permit holders, buses, taxis, bicycles, H&F residents and their visitors, emergency services, electric vehicles, deliveries and refuse trucks.
4. To note that the Parsons Greens and Waltham and Sands End Ward Councillors are to be invited to a full briefing meeting to discuss the above proposal.