Following our last meeting with Cllr Ben Coleman and traffic officers from LBHF on 16 Dec we have been gathering our thoughts on how to respond and ultimately proceed.
Understandably, we are frustrated by the lack of positive outcomes in the ongoing meetings. After 6 months of discussion no active steps have yet been taken to help mitigate the traffic situation on WBR or indeed the streets to the West. In fact every one of our suggestions, apart from ‘Street Washing’ have to date been rejected.
Our chief concern now is that all the plans the officers are recommending appear to be ‘sticking-plaster’ solutions. We believe these will only serve to slightly mitigate the current traffic congestion and pollution we have been suffering since August and will not actually improve the long-standing issues on WBR.
As we have reiterated on numerous occasions we are not against the council’s green initiatives. In fact we applaud them. However, we, the residents and businesses on WBR, want to benefit from them as well, and certainly not suffer worse conditions because of them. Therefore we ask the Council to be more bold in their approach.
The current suggestions from traffic officers to help reduce through-traffic on WBR must provide a significant improvement, not only to the current crisis since Sept/Oct 2020 but from the normal traffic patterns over the last 3-5 years.
Council data indicates that the area to the east of WBR has seen an average 75% reduction in traffic since their scheme was implemented in July. Whilst we acknowledge the WBR is traditionally a busier road it must also benefit from reduced traffic and pollution, below the levels seen in 2017/19. Indeed there is an argument that WBR should have been improved first before any other schemes had been implemented.
Current Council Plans
The current plans from traffic officers are to restrict and control the number of cars entering WBR from each end. To achieve this they suggest creating pinch-points at both ends: by closing the left turn lane on New Kings Road & by doing gutter works just after the bridge reducing access from the bridge to one-lane. They also propose Bus Boarders’ to prevent vehicles overtaking buses at bus stops, Green Screens to help capture pollution particles and street washing.
While we welcome these small steps we do not believe they go far enough to improve the current situation nor will they change the ‘character’ of the road. It will remain a major through-road to HGVs & heavy traffic. This does not align with the green, pedestrian-friendly, cafe-culture road they have suggested. To achieve this the very nature of the road needs to be re-addressed with priority given to residents/retail, not vehicles.
This is why we continue to maintain that partial use of Imperial Road/Townmead Road must be considered; not to increase car capacity, but to actually halve capacity on both WBR and Townmead Road. This would bring benefit to the whole of South Fulham. This suggestion has been rejected by officers time and time again.
The Council have indicated they want to be the greenest borough in London and indeed the country. The current TCPR (Traffic, Congestion and Pollution Reduction) Scheme in South Fulham is the first step in a series of long-term plans to implement similar schemes throughout the entire borough over the next 3 years (see image). However, a council cannot install schemes that benefit only some while actively harming others. We believe that as it currently stands the scheme will not achieve the council’s stated aims of modal shift away from car use.
It is essential to continue with our meetings, to administer direct influence on the council and to encourage them to go further.
We believe our best path is always through continued communication. Unfortunately we may be left with no choice but to look at alternative steps if the Council continues to remain unresponsive to other constructive suggestions.