Council Committee Highly Critical of Grove Park Streetspace Decisions
Measures on hold as Labour councillors blast lack of consultation and evidence
Cllr Sam Hearn in celebratory mood. Picture: Peter Hogan
A series of decisions on traffic measures in Chiswick are on hold after a council committee referred them back to the borough cabinet this Thursday evening (23 September).
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee was asked to review a decision by a senior council officer to make a number of road closures in the Grove Park area permanent and to introduce a number of new measures in the area including the extension of restricted hours on Staveley Road and the closing of access to Burlington Lane from the A316.
A contingent of around 150 Chiswick residents had travelled to Hounslow House to picket the meeting and they were able to celebrate after the committee were highly critical of the way in which the decisions have been made and sent them back for consideration by the Hounslow Borough cabinet. It was recommended that the council consults residents and other stakeholders ‘properly’ on these schemes and improve the level and quality of data collected to justify any decision. This means that the implementation of the changes is delayed until they have been reviewed at a cabinet meeting.
Cllrs John Todd and Sam Hearn made the case for the decision being unconstitutional and detailed the significant impact the measures already implemented were having and that the planned measures would have. They emphasised the problems that restricting access to Grove Park would have on residents in the area to the east of the A316. Shortly before the meeting the council had announced further amendments to the scheme which would allow residents of this area exemption from the restrictions on Staveley Road.
Committee chair Daanish Saeed, who is a Labour councillor (Labour) said that in recent weeks she had spent many trips to Chiswick as a passenger when asked for their opinions of the people who were driving she said, “Unfortunately, many of them I can’t repeat here today”. She added, “We definitely need to have more consultation.”
Her colleague Cllr Gurmail Lal said of the justifications in the report recommending the changes, “The answer we have at the moment in no way addresses the concerns given to me by residents.
“This project has caused a lot of stress and anxiety and misery for the residents, It has caused too much grief.”
Only around 40 of the residents who had come to Hounslow House to protest were able to attend the meeting and they greeted a claim by Cllr Katherine Dunne, the Cabinet Member for Communities and Climate Emergency, that there was general support for these kind of measures with derision. Opponents of the scheme pointed out that the report produced by independent traffic consultants Steer had indicated levels of opposition above 80% for measures which the council were planning to make permanent.
In making recommendations for Cllr Dunne and Cllr Hanif Khan (Cabinet Member for Transport) to consider, not only was the consultation process criticised, but the committee concluded that the cabinet members had inadequate evidence to make the decision and human rights of residents might also be challenged.
Deputy Chair of the Committee, Cllr. Richard Foote said, “They need to design a scheme where individuals are part of the solution, not just part of the problem.” Addressing the Chiswick residents attending the meeting, Cllr Saeed said the committee “unanimously support you all”.
Chiswick Riverside Councillor, and Conservative Spokesperson for Traffic and Transport, Sam Hearn said, “We’re pleased that the committee accepted our arguments against the ill-thought through decision to make several controversial Streetspace schemes permanent. The changes imposed by Hounslow’s Labour council will have had a ruinous effect on local businesses if they are made permanent, as well as discriminating against vulnerable residents who rely on fettered access by road to receive deliveries, essential care services and visitors.”
A spokesperson for the Park Road Neighbours group said, “We are grateful to Cllr Saeed and all of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for their careful consideration of this decision, and for the tireless work of our local councillors, especially John Todd and Sam Hearn.
“Hounslow Council, and particularly Cabinet members Hanif Kahn and Katherine Dunne, have made a big play that they have listened to local residents. The committee could clearly see tonight that they hadn’t.
“We hope that they will now listen, but we were disappointed to see that Cllrs Khan and Dunne, and Jefferson Nwokeoma (Assistant Director of Traffic & Transport), all left the meeting this evening before the Committee’s recommendations were heard. I’m afraid we still need to see a sea-change in the way Hounslow’s Cabinet treats the residents of Chiswick.”
We asked Hounslow Council for a comment on the criticisms made by the Committee but have not received a response.
September 26, 2021