Barkingside Quiets Streets opponents say it’s caused ‘chaos’
- Credit: Archant
Barkingside residents opposed to the Quiet Streets scheme say traffic “chaos” has been unleashed on their neighbourhood.
Almost 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of the planters that have been installed in side roads to channel traffic onto the main roads and encourage more people to walk and cycle.
On Wednesday, September 23, more than 150 people attended a “Barkingsidechaos” meeting, chaired by resident Kartik Parekh, who is also a member of the Barkingside Conservative Action Team.
Some of the residents think the scheme could work with modifications, whereas others want it removed completely.
Earlier in the day Cllr Linda Huggett, leader of the Conservative group, sent a letter to the council’s chief executive Andy Donald calling for an extraordinary council meeting to halt the scheme until a full consultation can be done.
She said: “The residents have told us the situation is so serious that it is only a matter of time before a tragic accident occurs. They want the scheme halted now as a matter of urgency and appropriate action taken to develop a workable scheme that is acceptable to residents.”
On Thursday, September 24 an elderly man and woman were struck by a lorry while crossing Cranbrook Road. The woman died at the scene.
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Cllr Ruth Clark (Con, Fairlop) who lives in Barkingside was at the scene of the accident and said the planters caused the traffic after the accident to be backed up because vehicles could not be diverted to the side streets.
She said: “Did they not think that if there’s a problem in Cranbrook Road then no one would be able to get anywhere?”
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting and some Labour councillors accused the Conservatives of politicising the accident to tie in to the Quiet Streets scheme.
In a tweet Mr Streeting said it was “deeply unedifying” for Cllr Clark and Cllr Howard Berlin (Con, Fairlop) “to jump on a fatality to make political points, however valid you feel those points are”.
Deputy council leader Kam Rai said the councillors should be ashamed and have “sunk to a new low.”
The conservative councillors said they weren’t trying to score political points but that the increased traffic in the area was due to the scheme and called on the MP and council to work with them to halt it.
The council has touted the success of its clean air zones, where roads are closed outside three schools at the start and end of the day, as a precursor to the current scheme.
At the meeting Cllr Clark said she thinks the traffic built up as a result of the roads being blocked is going to increase pollution near some schools.
She requested the council to install air quality monitors near Tiddlywinks nursery in Ashurst Drive.
Cllr John Howard, cabinet member for civic pride, said the reason the scheme had to be installed so quickly with a live consultation period is because it was a response to help people safely walk and cycle more during the pandemic, as the area’s roads could not handle it otherwise.
Mr Parekh said: “I get the government strategy of incentivising walking and cycling, but nobody signed up to causing havoc around our streets with permanent barriers.”
A few of the residents said they met with Cllr Martin Sachs and Cllr Judith Garfield (Lab, Barkingside) and they were receptive to ideas on how to modify the scheme.
Some residents fear the temporary scheme will be made permanent but Cllr Sachs stressed that it is a trial scheme and the “removal or resiting of the planters remains a possibility” depending on the outcome of the live consultation.
Bharat Parmar, who has lived in the area for more than 35 years, said: “The council is using the cover of Covid-19 to implement something so horrendous.
“I am a great believer in public transport and alternative means of transit but this is not going to encourage anyone to do that.
“Because the council hasn’t bothered to consult with us this is an assault on local democracy.
“Regardless of your political views you use the roads.”