Plans for a new LTN in West Greenwich were already in preparation before the publication of a new Transport Strategy in October 2022.
The Strategy commits the Council to work 'in partnership with the local community'. But 'partnership' was side-stepped when planning for a new 'Low Traffic Neighbourhood' began to replace the failed scheme removed from the West Greenwich so-called 'Hills and Vales' earlier this year.
Opposition to the original scheme was resolved by its removal in March 2022 under pressure from emergency services and local residents. The then Council leader Danny Thorpe promised to hold a borough-wide review of traffic.
No such review was carried for the Strategy, launched in October by Cllr Averil Lekau who, following the May elections, became Deputy Leader as well as Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment & Transport.
The new Strategy does not set out the function of ‘low traffic neighbourhoods’ in terms of traffic or transport needs. There is no analysis of traffic movement in the borough, despite the daily influx of 28,000 vehicles along the A2 at the southern boundary of the West Greenwich area.
Before the ink was dry on the Strategy, officers told local councillors that both east and west Greenwich were already the subject of a designated 'study area' stretching from the A102 to Greenwich High Road as part of preparation for 'traffic reduction' measures, to be assisted by consultants Phil Jones Associates (PJA).
The appointment of PJA to the project is astonishing, given the firm was engaged to design the original West Greenwich traffic management scheme in 2018. Two schemes put up for public engagement in 2019 were displayed by the firm at overcrowded sessions at James Wolfe School. PJA members present clearly did not know the area. Subsequent polling of residents living inside the area resulted in a majority rejecting both schemes.
It is not known whether PJA was involved in the subsequent August 2020 scheme. Results of the 2019 poll were never publicly owned or disclosed by the Council except via an online link to a report by consultants.
RBG's Transport Strategy
Described as an 'ambitious vision', the new Transport Strategy states the council is ‘committed to working in partnership with the local community, the Department for Transport (DFT), and Transport for London (TfL), for the benefit of everyone in Royal Greenwich.’ The Strategy depends heavily on 'behavioural change' to discourage people from using cars in favour of walking and cycling.
The Strategy contains no information on why and how borough residents use cars. It relies heavily on waging war on private car use in an effort to reduce obesity and improve health via "active travel".
Officers are dismissive of the need to engage with Transport for London about the extreme pressure on the boundaries of the area, particularly on Blackheath Hill and Trafalgar Road, where many social housing and private tenants live without the amenities enjoyed by those living on the borders of Greenwich Park.
Most of the local community use Trafalgar Road for shopping and public transport but nothing is being done to help pedestrians and little for people with disabilities.
GGTF believes ‘active travel’ initiatives should be designed with citizen co-production and co-design, rather than coercive strategies. 'Active travel' should be voluntary. Initiatives brought in with coercive strategies, and without democratic public participation, do not take account of vital needs for transportation, including emergency vehicles.
Transport for All - kept under wraps
A Transport for All workshop in January 2022 (during the currency of the former experimental LTN in West Greenwich) engaged with people with disabilities about access to and in LTNs. The results echoed the criticisms of many residents in the area: that there had been no consultation and communication about the scheme, key routes (such as Crooms Hill) were closed and no modelling of the impacts had been available. LTNs made homes relatively inaccessible, created more traffic on key routes outside the area, had impacts on the Dial-a-Ride service, and cycling had taken precedence over other alternatives modes, and increased journey times.
The workshop's report - restricted to council staff - cites a diagram adapted from the New Economics Foundation Participation Ladder indicated that strategies involving “education” and “coercion” lacked active participation from citizens in the design process.
After the original West Greenwich scheme was launched in 2020, close to 5000 people signed online petitions opposing it. Residents of Blackheath Hill and East Greenwich had been completely unaware of the changes, and were shocked by surges of displaced traffic.
Greenwichgonetoofar set up a campaign to expose the problems created by the scheme and the lack of Council accountability.
Officers are now belatedly seeking ‘resident representatives’ for discussions about the new scheme. To join the consultation contact a councillor for your ward. Greenwich Park councillors are Aidan Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
or Pat Slattery email@example.com