Act now to tell the Leaders of the Royal Borough of Greenwich that decisions should be open and transparent
In May 2022 new Leader Cllr Anthony Okereke said he intended to "put residents at the heart of every decision". The Council also pledged to review traffic management borough-wide through a transparent and inclusive process. New Deputy Leader Cllr Averil Lekau was been appointed Cabinet member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport. This means that she has direct leadership on transportation for the authority. We drafted a letter at the time asking for open and honest government from Greenwich. Many of you sent it to the new leadership. We need to remind our Councillors now about their broken pledges.
Below is an open letter to the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council. Because many of us are signing it, please do not change it. Just put your own name and email and/or street address at the bottom, paste it into an email (or print and post) and send to: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org . The postal address of the Royal Borough of Greenwich is 35 Wellington Street, London SE18 6HQ
Copy to local councillors if you wish and please, either let us know you wrote, or copy to us, at email@example.com
We wrote to you last year congratulating you on becoming leader and deputy leader of the council. The pledge in Cllr Okereke’s press release, that you aim to put “residents at the heart of every decision we make”, offered a truly welcome starting point to your leadership. We are now disillusioned with the unacceptable way in which your pledge was dishonoured.
Greenwichgonetoofar was formed to press for transparency and fairness following the imposition of the West Greenwich traffic management scheme in August 2020. The scheme was divisive and clearly influenced and introduced without openness or the level of professionalism and good governance expected of a significant local authority. False and misleading information was given that included the results of a 2019 public engagement exercise. Formal complaints about these and other aspects of the issue were in some instances ignored completely, and in others handled contrary to the requirements of the council’s complaints procedure.
The Council declared that was committed to a holistic Borough-wide approach to traffic management through transparent and inclusive processes. We welcomed this and were dismayed when this was abandoned.
Your ambition to put residents at the heart of decision-making would have required substantial cultural and organisational change. This has not happened.
The introduction of a series of five 'options' for Neighbourhood Management has been by way of an online 'consultation' managed by Commonplace. Commonplace is a platform organisation used by numerous local authorities. Assertions in Commonplace consultation are frequently oversimplified, tendentious and misleading.
For instance, the statement claiming that residents had complained about collisions within the designated West Greenwich LTN area seems intended to suggest that collisions are a problem that can be solved by recreating an LTN. Both suggestions are wrong.
First, the Baseline Analysis for the West Greenwich LTN states: "The majority of collisions were recorded along the boundary roads, with particular clusters along Blackheath Hill, notably at the junctions with Greenwich South Street and General Wolfe Road. The one fatal collision was recorded on the A2 close to the junction with Dartmouth Hill". Residents have told you, and the formal statistics are clear: forcing additional traffic on to Blackheath Hill once again will increase danger to pedestrians and is a direct consequence of the boundary road displacement strategy at the heart of the proposals.
Secondly, LTNs do not reduce traffic movement, whether inside or outside the area. Traffic is forced to find different routes, and the schemes proposed for East Greenwich make this clear. There is no apparent 'modelling' or provision for traffic circulation to enter and leave, or turn at barriers, in the extremely large East side.
The main lawful reason for using Experimental Traffic Orders to create these schemes is 'safety' and in this one major aspect, among many, the Council is abusing its powers.
We only cite one example of the distortion and pretence that accompany these proposals and ask that you reconsider the confused and unfair propositions that you have put forward. As to the Consultation process itself, we refer you to the Government's Consultation Principles (2018). They include:
- Consulting when plans are at a formative stage and taking consultation responses into account when taking policy forward.
- Giving enough information to ensure that those consulted understand the issues and can give informed responses.
- Providing validated impact assessments of the costs and benefits of the options being considered, (such as) what might be required where proposals have an impact on business or the voluntary sector.
- Allowing a proportionate amount of time taking into account the nature and impact of the proposal. Consulting too quickly will not give enough time for consideration and will reduce the quality of responses.
- Targeting the full range of people, businesses, voluntary bodies affected by the policy, as well as specific groups - ensuring they are aware of the consultation and can access it.
We have raised it in the past with you and raise it again: you have not considered - in launching these proposals - these practical principles. You have also disproportionately excluded groups, such as older people, younger people or people with disabilities that may not respond to online consultation methods. You have not considered impacts that include disruption to businesses, and accessibility to churches, education, family, friends and carers in your pursuit of apparently dogmatic and unfounded objectives on 'active' travel.
In stating openly via your Officers that there are no alternatives to be considered and that doing 'nothing' is not an option, you have also ignored the overriding objective of Consultation which is to ensure the response has the capacity to change the course of action of the authority.
Click here to sign and send our open letter to Cllr Anthony Okereke and Cllr Averil Lekau.
Thank you for backing us up on past actions: they made a difference
- We opposed the Experimental Traffic Orders with hundreds of Formal Objections to both West and East Greenwich Schemes in 2020 and 2020.
- Many of you used our template to complain to the Council's Chief Executive about maladministration.
Complaints about Council administration
The Local Government Ombudsman has power to step in to put things right and investigate what the local council has got up to. Before you can reach the Ombudsman, you have to start with a formal complaint to the Council.
1. Start with a letter to the Chief Executive, who passes it to the relevant department. (You can send copies of your letter to local councillors.) There’s an example of a West Greenwich Traffic Scheme Formal Complaint on this link.
2. If the complaint is rejected and you can go to a ‘second stage’ in which you ask for a review.
After a review, if you’re still not satisfied, you can then make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman can investigate the Council and, potentially, put things right.
3. The Ombudsman can take action, or the matter can be taken to Court.
Otherwise … contact us to get updates, to let us know what you think, or write to us to contribute to our blog at firstname.lastname@example.org