Labour Councillors Revolt Over Borough Streetspace Policy
Call for traffic measures to be reviewed by scrutiny committee
Eight Labour councillors in Hounslow broken ranks with their leadership and requested a review of a decision to expand the council’s traffic schemes.
They have ‘called in’ phase 3 of the Streetspace programme presented to the borough council meeting last month which means it must be reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Hounslow Council is planning a significant expansion of the number of traffic measures introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) for the first time to many wards in the west of the borough.
Up until this stage the programme had been weighted towards Chiswick with the most significant schemes in the area and phase 3 would see this further expanded so that there was more or less blanket coverage of LTNs in W4.
The lead signatory to the request is Cllr Richard Eason who represents Isleworth, and the others are Gurmail Lal, Afzaal Kiani, Puneet Grewal, Amrit Mann, Javed Akhunzada, Surinder Purewal and Mohammed Umair. Eight signatures are the minimum required to secure a call in and opposition councillors are claiming that the move has more widespread support in the Labour group on the council.
Although it is not unprecedented for councillors to call in a decision by their own party, normally any disagreement would have been resolved behind closed doors. It has been suggested that it shows that there is a serious rift in the party over transport policy although no Labour Councillor supported a recent no confidence motion against leader Steve Curran put forward by the opposition recently . The complaints of the Labour councillors echo those that have been made for some time by the Conservatives.
The signatories to the request to ‘call in’ the decision to expand the traffic measures allege they have not been properly consulted about the schemes in their wards and that decisions are being taken by cabinet members and officer without consulting democratically elected representatives. They also say it appears that local businesses and transport providers have also been excluded from the decision making process.
The evidence used to make the decision is questioned and it is suggested that they have been derived from the aspirations of a small number of cabinet members and council officers rather than based on traffic modelling or other objective evidence.
Human rights and equalities issues are also raised. with the councillors saying that, as proposed, the measures risk seriously disadvantaging groups such as the elderly, the disabled and residents with young children.
A separate request for a call in on behalf of the opposition has been made by Cllr John Todd who in his submission states, “The Cabinet paper challenged by this call-in paints a mischievous picture of community engagement, cohesion and acceptance that the streetspace schemes described therein will materially benefit residents and businesses in the borough.”
These two call ins have been accepted for the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee which takes place on Monday 30 November at 6pm. It will be available to view online.
Cllr Sam Hearn the opposition spokesman on transport said, “The Conservative Councillors Group welcomes the admission by a senior member of the Hounslow Cabinet, confirmed at this week's meeting of the Area Forum, that the closure of Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road will be reviewed ‘in the next couple of weeks’. Such a review is long overdue. It has become increasingly apparent that the closures and associated restrictions have had a detrimental impact on the many local businesses struggling to get back on their feet. For residents, these closures have often meant long detours on streets clogged with displaced traffic. The reality delivered has been far from the promised liveable neighbourhood.
“Let us all hope that there is no equivocation when these restrictions are removed. All the moth-balled parking bays must be restored and the free thirty-minute parking concession for customers and delivery drivers reintroduced. It is important that the correct lessons are learnt so that nothing like this is ever attempted again. The council should in addition provide a detailed explanation of what went wrong with its decision-making processes and why the implementation of the flawed plans was so badly bungled. On a more positive note the council should explicitly acknowledge the benefits that are expected to flow from reopening these roads.”
To have your say on any of Hounslow’s trial Streetspace schemes click on this link or email the transport team on firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 22, 2020