Report of the Corporate Director, Community
Prior to the consideration of the report of the Corporate Director of Community, the Panel received a Deputation (Minute 123 also refers).
Title of Deputation 1
The road block at West Harrow Station
Reason for Deputation
Objection – based on lack of passing trade to shops, on the Harrow side of the blockage.
In summary, the shop had experienced revenue losses due to the pandemic and due to being located in the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) area. Other shops had experienced the same effects made by the roadblocks which had, in addition made deliveries challenging. The LTN should be removed for businesses in the area to recover. The Deputee also noted that driving in the area proved challenging when it came to day-to-day tasks.
The Panel thanked the Deputee for their presentation and the Chair invited questions to which the Deputee responded that a consultation prior to the changes made should have taken place.
The Panel received the officer report which provided details of the six-month review of the four low traffic neighbourhood schemes introduced as part of the Harrow Streetspace Programme in October 2020 and considered the future of the schemes.
An officer presented the report and highlighted the following:
· The scheme had been introduced by Transport for London (TfL) and the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) were part of this scheme. They had been introduced on a trial basis in late 2020 and a monthly review process had been agreed to observe the progress of the trials.
· Ongoing adjustments had been made throughout the trial, including improving access for emergency vehicles.
· There had been an increase in walking but an increased difficulty with vehicle congestion and delay on surrounding main roads.
· The schemes had caused an overall negative response from the public.
The Panel raised a number of questions to which the officer responded to as follows:
· Comments and ideas would be considered with reference to how the schemes could be adapted.
· The budget set out had not just been for the removal of planters but also for traffic sign and road markings to be removed or replaced. The budget had been an estimate and therefore the actual budget could fall below this. There should not be an issue with re-using the planters; there had been a need to ensure they would be re-used appropriately and that recommendations would be listened to.
· The cost of removal had not been included in TfL’s budget allocation and so the extra cost for the removal of the LTNs had been placed onto the individual boroughs.
The Panel agreed that a number of Councillors, who were not members of the Panel, could address the meeting. The issues raised included:
· The recommendations were welcomed and supported with lessons to be learnt from this when it came to future schemes being implemented.
· That there had still been a need for traffic calming measures as there were some positive outcomes from this scheme.
· Public engagement had been crucial, and that the public should be listened to.
In response to the comments made, members of the Panel made the following comments:
· Ultimately, there had been a high volume of engagement with considerable officer time spent on this. There were lessons to be learnt from this and the recommendations were supported.
· Climate change remained an important issue to be tackled and it was recognised that there were positive intentions within this scheme and had been an opportunity to encourage walking and cycling.
· The need for improved health and environment remained, but it had been highlighted that the approach and implementation had to be equally considered.
A Member proposed to an additional recommendation to review the capital spend for these issues. This was agreed by the Panel.
Resolved to RECOMMEND: (to Cabinet)
(1) having considered the information contained in the report of the Corporate Director, Community, the LTN schemes be removed with immediate effect.
(2) the Corporate Director – Community, following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment,
(a) to work towards introducing speed reductions in roads and streets with identified road safety issues where budget and enforcement constraints allow;
(b) a review of the Francis Road width restriction.
(3) the Corporate Director – Community, following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Environment, review the Council capital programme in order to ring-fence dedicated additional funding to promote relevant walking, cycling and road safety measures and schemes.
Reason for Recommendations: The four schemes were implemented in October 2020 on an experimental basis for 6-months in neighbourhoods with longstanding and ongoing concerns around safety, speeding and high levels of traffic and pollution to test the effects of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the four areas.
The details in this report highlighted that whilst the residential roads within the LTN had benefitted from reduced levels of traffic, speeding and vehicle damage, surrounding roads had experienced an increase in levels of traffic, longer journey times and waiting times at junctions, and increased vehicle emissions thereby reducing air quality.
With the need for social distancing to continue for the longer-term, alongside the return of schools and easing of lockdown restrictions it was expected that levels of car usage would remain high, if not increase, in the short term, thereby putting further strain on the highways and junctions, and further impacting air quality for those residing on these already busy roads.
The engagement and consultation over the experimental six-month period had highlighted that a strong majority did not agree with the LTNs, did not feel that they were working, and did not agree with the proposal to retain the LTNs using ANPR and virtual permits.
The original Transport for London (TfL) funding for the schemes had been exhausted and any new scheme would require new funding. In respect of the considered option of using of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras there would be a capital purchase cost of £172,000, in addition to this would be the full year operational costs of £93,500. There was no funding for this option in the Parking Services budget.
There remained support from residents to retain the 20mph speed limit introduced as part of the LTNs and the need to ensure the Francis Road width restriction met the requirements of reducing large vehicular traffic and through traffic.