A long-delayed Freedom of Information request, FOI-53675, admits Greenwich made false claims that the Metropolitan Police wrote to the Council to ‘back’ the West Greenwich Traffic Management Scheme in 2020. The true position was that the Met joined other emergency services in condemning the Council's plans as dangerous and impeding services.
The Council failed to take into account the July 2020 consultation held with the emergency services before the traffic scheme was put in. This resulted in a wholesale condemnation of modal filter schemes as endangering life.
Repeated complaints by the ambulance services about hold ups to critical emergency calls finally led to a limited opening up, by conversion to ANPR, of just three barriers in the 'low traffic' neighbourhood.
The FOI disclosure also forwarded what the Council claims is ‘documented’ evidence of heavy traffic on Crooms Hill. Grainy iPhone shots of traffic queuing to pass residents' parking on a narrow stretch of the Hill do not include verifiable records or reports of accidents, incidents or collisions.
Greenwich Council falsely maintained for 18 months that the Metropolitan Police had given written support to the Scheme, which closes Crooms Hill to traffic at its northern end.
The Met’s supposed written request was cited twice in a letter from Royal Greenwich to residents on 12 August 2020, announcing that the West Greenwich Traffic Management Scheme was due to be introduced within one week. Referring to ‘excessive and dangerous’ traffic in the area, and vehicles ‘driving on footpaths’, the Council justified the modal filter scheme by saying: ‘the Metropolitan Police has written regarding remedial action on Crooms Hill’. The letter stated that ‘key feedback we received and incorporated in the measures’ included ‘the Metropolitan Police Service detailing road safety issues at the northern end of Crooms Hill, due to current levels of traffic’.
But the Metropolitan Police, as statutory consultees, objected to the scheme in July 2020, backing the ambulance and fire services in condemning modal filters (road blocks) as hampering emergency access.
Despite the absence of evidence, Greenwich maintained the narrative of the Met’s support for more than a year in its website information on the traffic policy, and in Council officers’ reports used to uphold top level Council decisions.
The original FOI request, made on 11 December 2020, asked: ‘What road safety measures were “detailed” by the Metropolitan Police Service as applicable to the northern end of Crooms Hill? Please also disclose the letter or written advice by the Police Service.’ After almost a year of prevarication, the response provided on 29 October 2021 admits that no such letter or written advice was ever received.
Former councillor Mehboob Khan, who led lobbying by Crooms Hill for ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ money, also maintained the fiction of Met support, telling the September 2020 council meeting: ‘The Metropolitan Police have demanded action by the council and if the council had failed to act upon the Metropolitan Police’s advice we would have been neglecting our duty towards our residents.’ He also intervened in a Highways Committee on 24 February 2021, stating ‘The Metropolitan Police wrote to the council and demanded action to tackle the amount of vehicles using these residential streets at peak hours.’
For many years, traffic has queued on both sides of residents’ parking places provided on the narrow, northern section of Crooms Hill. On nearby Royal Hill, a major pedestrian thoroughfare, an identically narrow stretch of road allows no parking. And a new modification to the traffic Scheme exposes pedestrians and primary school children to additional risks from morning peak hour traffic as a result of measures to relieve traffic displacement from Crooms Hill which had spread to East Greenwich and contributes to severe congestion on Trafalgar Road. (See – Council ‘modification’ consultation offers route to scrapping the West Greenwich Scheme)
The Council’s FOI response now claims that unspecified ‘feedback’ might have emerged in phone calls with the emergency services.
The Council also provided what it claims is ‘documented evidence’ in the form of phone photos taken by a Crooms Hill resident, together with redacted correspondence. The blurry snaps show occasional congestion on the narrow northern section. Peak time traffic was forced to negotiate the width restriction caused by resident parking. But there are no objective, credible or official records of accidents, collisions, or ‘incidents’, and no evidence of danger to pedestrians or cyclists. The section of Crooms Hill benefits from the only zebra crossing in the area, facilitating pedestrian access to Greenwich Park, in which wide footpaths run parallel to Crooms Hill, well protected from traffic.