Online consultation gives decisive thumbs down to an unprincipled 'consultation' that left most residents and businesses in the dark
Radical new plans for a low traffic neighbourhood spanning the areas on both sides of Greenwich Park has resulted in rejection of all 'options' in an official Commonplace survey for the council. Huge majorities of residents voted against the vehicle restrictions, independent data analysis shows. 'Stage 2' of the consultation was published as a 'Consultation' at the end of August 2023. Emails to those signed up to Council alerts said the scheme was about 'neighbourhood' management, as did a letter drop to residents inside the LTN.
The scheme, divided into two East Greenwich 'options' and three West Greenwich 'options', was divided into two separate (East and West) consultations, which many believed ruled out a response about the 'other' area. Click on the pie chart links, to see how the votes stacked up.
East Greenwich Option A was rejected by more than 83% of 1,641 respondents (aggregating 'negative' and 'very negative'), with just 15.4% in favour ('positive' and 'very positive') . Option B fared slightly better with 80.2% against and only 12.9% in favour.
West Greenwich Option A was rejected by 70%, and 27.5% viewed it favourably. Options B and C were similarly split, with the exception of a lower positivity rate of 18% for Option C.
Residents of the West Greenwich triangle (formerly referred to by the Council as 'Hills and Vales') have already experienced an experimental scheme for an 18-month period ending in February 2022. The removal of the scheme followed adverse impacts on residents living on the boundaries, evidence of unequal treatment of vulnerable minorities. An even greater proportion are now voting against repeating the experiment.
There was no option in the current consultation to 'do nothing', despite the fact that many residents believe the neighbourhood, now free of barriers is 'low traffic' and not generating additional problems on boundary roads or the bus network, as identified by external reports supporting the removal of the 2020 scheme in February 2022.
Analysing responses to earlier 'public consultations' on the 2020 scheme, findings included that residents within the privileged area were more likely to be in favour of retaining the scheme. Consultants also pointed out that traffic 'reduction' within the area was in part due to the existence of barriers, and that local traffic almost doubled as a result of diversions and boundary-type displacement to Royal Hill and Burney Street (supposedly part of the area), as well as to planned boundaries such as Greenwich South St and Blackheath Hill.
Greenwich still repeats the shibboleth that LTN schemes 'reduce traffic' without an analysis of displacement and re-direction, or the impact of additional internal movement to find routes.
An analysis of Equalities Act impacts in 2022 suggested a number of disproportionate impacts on vulnerable groups and proposed potential mitigations. Most have not been followed through, and the reports belie an unacceptable level of ignorance about the area. For instance, the Equalities report refers to St Ursula's School receiving SEN children, but does not mention James Wolfe Primary School at all, or the SEN provision it makes.
A suggested investigation of the likely mitigation effects of permitting Blue Badge holders through ANPR has not been carried out, despite the well-known limitations of this approach. Other recorded impacts on for example, older people with moderate difficulties whose access to carers was compromised by the scheme remain unaddressed.
Above all, the proposals were not supported by open and comprehensible hard evidence in favour of large scale traffic diversion.
In response to the result, Greenwich has belatedly leafletted the area suggesting that the Council 'is doing this' to make it 'easier and safer to walk and cycle', clean up the air, and reduce road danger. The leaflet highlights the borough's 'highest levels of childhood obesity in London', the fact that local air pollution is 'higher than WHO guidelines' (a feature of almost the entire UK), and that 'we' have the 'fourth highest number of babies being hospitalised with respiratory tract infections ... anywhere in London'. (Note - East and West Greenwich are not among borough wards categorised as deprived, according to Indices of Deprivation, 2015 (the latest available analysis by the Council)).
The area targeted for this expenditure on the traffic scheme surrounds a mile of parkland, and the more privileged streets on the southern borders overlook open heath and woodland.
On Greenwich's own analysis, existing levels of active travel are the highest in the borough (Local Implementation Plan, 2019). This means that potential changes from existing car use to active travel ('switchability') are unlikely, even with the scheme in place.