Angry Exchanges at Meeting To Discuss Cycleway
Tory leader accuses council of trashing the High Road and making it a pigsty
Cllr Mushiso became frustrated when local Conservative leader Gerald McGregor was asked to change his “negative” language.
While the chair was explaining her request, Mushiso interrupted to suggest the committee meeting should be a “woke-free zone”.
“Woke” means being awake to social or racial injustice, it is also sometimes used to mock people for supposedly being overly-sensitive about some issues.
McGregor, the leader of the opposition in Hounslow Council, was calling for a full public consultation over the temporary cycle lane that runs along Chiswick High Road, from the border with Hammersmith and Fulham to Kew Bridge station.
The Hounslow Tory leader asked, “Are you setting out to trash Chiswick High Road? Because that’s what many many people think.”
“‘Improve’ is a good word,” suggested cabinet member for transport, councillor Hanif Khan, who had just updated the committee.
“Don’t use the word ‘trash,’ please,” the committee chair and Labour councillor Daanish Saeed said.
Cllr McGregor protested, “If you wish to push stuff into my mouth that’s fine, but that means I’m not speaking the truth.
“Alright, a pigsty, of Chiswick High Road, that’s been created.”
But Khan protested for the second time, and at this point Mushiso said, “Chair, this should be a woke-free zone.”
Mushiso, whose Turnham Green ward is home to the temporary route, had already been told off for saying TfL “pressurised” Hounslow Council into creating the cycle lane, which the chair said “implied something negative”.
He settled with the word “influences,” after the chair asked him not to refer to her as “she” and reminded him to have respect in accordance with the councillors code of conduct.
Councillor Saeed reminded the committee, “One thing I have said very, very clearly a couple of times is that I would like everybody to be polite, not accuse, and just to think about the words that they use.
“Everybody here has a wide enough vocabulary to think of the words that they use.
“And if you want to say something negative like ‘trash’ or ‘pigsty’, there are still other words that you can use. That’s all I’m going to say on that.”
Hounslow Council built the two-way cycle lane in December 2020 using an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO), which lasts six months.
It is now proposing a new traffic order that would which reinstate two bus lanes at sections of the cycle lane to “assess” whether that reduces traffic congestion and bus journey times.
At the meeting, councillor Khan and council officer Victoria Lawson explained that the track enables children and families to cycle.
They revealed that bus journeys times have increased by up to 1.3 minutes per kilometre, but argue this is due both to the loss of bus lanes and an increase in traffic post lockdown.
Collisions have dropped from eight to two since the lane opened, and weekday cycle flows have increased by 72 per cent, they said.
Josh Mellor - Local Democracy Reporter
July 26, 2021