The MacGuffin of the Burlington Lane Reopening

Chiswick Riverside councillor Gabriella Giles reports back

Gabriella Giles
Cllr Gabriella Giles

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April 17, 2023

Scrutiny and Street Closures

In film, television and literature, the MacGuffin is a mechanism for telling a story...think the search for the holy grail in Arthurian legends, or in Monty Python, or in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Reflecting on Tuesday’s meeting of the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) I can’t help but think that the decision to create a school street at Burlington Lane was simply a MacGuffin.

To recap:

  • 12 January 2022 - An experimental Traffic Management Order was put in place to close access to Burlington Lane from the A316, and the school street that had been in place on Staveley Road would be changed to “prohibit motor vehicles (except buses and permit holders) entering…Monday to Saturdays, 8am to 7pm”.
  • 24 January 2022 - 7 September 2022 - The consultation period, the council conducts various data collection exercises, looking at air quality (no data prior to 2022), traffic volumes (using data from 2019 as a benchmark), active travel (no data prior to December 2021), collision data (nothing noted for 2021 & 2022, I hope that is because the figure is zero rather than not having any data).
  • 17 February 2023 - Councillors attend an online briefing where we are shown the findings of the consultation and data collection exercise. At this time, there are no discussions about the potential solutions that the council will look to introduce to address the issues raised in the consultation. These include the use of ANPR cameras to “allow access for taxis, deliveries and visitors on both Staveley Road and Burlington Lane”, and how “residents should be able to use Burlington Lane as they can for Hartington Road and Staveley Road”.
  • 24 February 2023 - The public meeting for this briefing is held over teams. Peter Thompson wrote about this and the meeting above in his last blog.
  • 25 February 2023 - At 7.10pm on a Saturday, ward councillors from Chiswick Homefields and Chiswick Riverside asked for our views on the draft Chief Officer Decision (COD) by Monday 5pm. This draft decision was dated 15 March 2023 and was to be considered as a key decision. Meaning that the decisions within it - to keep the extended hours at Staveley Road as they are, and to remove the barrier at Burlington Lane by implementing a school street which would be active for two hours in a 24-hour period - needed to have been included in the council's forward plan and would be permanent.

Thanks to the eagle-eyed Cllr John Todd, the Conservative group in Chiswick started work on understanding if the officer's decision was actually legal. Apart from the fact that we had less than one working day to review and comment, it was apparent that there was a rush on this decision to get it in before the publication date of 28th February. The timing of this is all a little tricky, as 28th February was also the day of the council’s budget setting meeting.

So why the reference to a MacGuffin? It's because, to me, it never made sense to implement a school street on Burlington Lane, when this didn’t work on Staveley Road. It never made sense to implement a school street while the other measures from the A316 didn’t operate in tandem, and while the barrier at Staveley Road is still in place and the hours and days don't reflect a school street. It's a MacGuffin.

So what is it that residents want? A scheme that works in conjunction with all the measures in Grove Park and Strand-on the-Green, where traffic doesn't thunder down a lane instead of a road. A scheme that is simple to understand that allows for visitor access. And preferably a full review of all these measures and proper consultation.

To replace a barrier with a scheme that would only have camera enforcement between the hours of 8am-9am, and 2.45pm - 3.45pm, Monday - Friday during school term time, knowing that the peak traffic hours prior to 2020 did not align, and that it would still mean free access into Grove Park, seemed like a cop-out. And to make it permanent without the chance for residents to then comment in consultation seemed a misstep.

Or was it?

The council has provided me (via a freedom of information (FOI) request) with the costs for implementing the various measures in the project, as follows:


Total Costs to Date (29.03.23)

Projected Future Costs

Barrier on Staveley Road



Camera on Hartington Road



Camera at Staveley Road



Barrier at Burlington Lane



School street at Grove Park Terrace



“Access only” scheme at Thames Road



Barrier at Harvard Hill



I do not have a breakdown of the consultation, data collection, consultant or public meeting costs by each measure, but the costs to date are as follows:

Total cost of data collection: £66.570.86

Total cost of consultancy services (excluding consultancy services used under the Streetspace programme): £26,005.40

Total cost of consultations: £21,244.40

Having received this information, it’s left me with more questions than answers, but I have to wonder why the implementation of school streets are so much higher than the camera on Hartington Road. But that is a discussion for another day.

To go back to Tuesday’s meeting, and why I think the COD was a MacGuffin, it was pretty interesting to watch. Apart from the chair’s fumbling over words, repeatedly calling John Todd "Cllr Toad" and mispronouncing Staveley, there was an obvious pre-determined list of questions as, when one committee member failed to appear, the chair was left searching for another member to ask the questions assigned to the absent councillor.

You can see for yourself the confusion in the running order, and Cllr Jo Biddolph repeatedly reminding the chair about what was expected. It was clear the others were equally concerned.

Having looked at the report from Tuesday’s meeting, which now goes to cabinet, it was interesting to see what was included in the minutes, and what wasn't. Ultimately, the recommendations in the initial COD will never work without a full review of all the other measures in Grove Park and Strand-on-the-Green, so if the council is going to mitigate through-traffic from the A316, what other choice do they have at this time?

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether this is a MacGuffin. I’d like to think not.

Other Traffic News for Grove Park

Work on the A316 Great Chertsey Road at Grove Park Bridge is due to begin on 21 April 2023. If you’re unsure where this is, I’ve marked it on the map:

It’s the part of the A316 that crosses over the railway line between Hartington and Staveley Roads. Much like when repairs took place on the A4, there will be works over a 24-hour period. And on Friday, we were advised by Hounslow’s Traffic department that they will be lifting “the access restrictions on Staveley Road, Hartington Road and on Thames Road / Strand-on-the-Green". These dates are currently:



Suspension of Restrictions


Saturday 22

Suspended (8am - 7pm)

Sunday 23, 30

Suspended (don’t operate on Sundays)


Monday 1

Suspension (8am - 7pm)


Tuesday 6 - Friday 9

Suspension (8am - 7pm)

Sunday 25

Suspended (don’t operate on Sundays)

Monday 26

Suspension (8am - 7pm)


Monday 3

Suspension (8am - 7pm)


Sunday 6

Suspended (don’t operate on Sundays)

Monday 7

Suspension (8am - 7pm)


Saturday 23

Suspension (8am - 7pm)

Sunday 24

Suspended (don’t operate on Sundays)

Saturday 30

Suspension (8am - 7pm)


Sunday 1

Suspended (don’t operate on Sundays)

And with all that, I wish you a good week!

Councillor Gabriella Giles

Chiswick Riverside

07966 270823


Tuesday, 18th April at 7:00pm: Cabinet

Tuesday 9th May at 7:00pm: Overview and Scrutiny  

Tuesday, 23rd May at 7.30pm Borough Council AGM


Chiswick: Every Saturday from 9.30am to 10.30am at Chiswick Library (the eight Conservative councillors take this surgery in turn).

Gunnersbury: First Saturday of the month from 10am to 11am at The Gunnersbury Triangle Club, Triangle Way, off The Ridgeway, W3 8LU (at least one of the Chiswick Gunnersbury ward councillors takes this surgery). 


Chiswick Gunnersbury (was Turnham Green) ward

Cllr Joanna Biddolph 07976 703446

Cllr Ranjit Gill 07976 702956

Cllr Ron Mushiso 07976 702887

Chiswick Homefields ward

Cllr Jack Emsley 07977 396017

Cllr Gerald McGregor 07866 784821

Cllr John Todd 07866 784651

Chiswick Riverside ward

Cllr Peter Thompson 07977 395810  

Cllr Gabriella Giles 07966 270823 

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