At the Council, April to June 2017

 

An aide memoire of items I’ve noted from the boroughs where I work, rest and play.  This page will be updated, if I remember, during Q2.

January to March items are here.

June 2017

The purdah period imposed by the General Election is over, so what passes for normal business resumes in the local councils in central and south west London.

Westminster City Council

Westminster’s Transport Committee meets on Monday 12 June. Papers include:

  • The minutes of the previous meeting on 8 May include discussion of the controversial two-way Baker Street proposals, with the desire to start works in July 2017, with the works taking 18 months
  • A similar update is included in the Business Report, plus high level information on Hanover Square proposals.

The Environment Scrutiny Committee meets on 21 June, with agenda item 8 focussing on Westminster’s proposed active lifestyles strategy through to 2021 titled “An Active City For All”. The committee paper sets the context, with some frightening statistics on childhood obesity and the cost of inactive lifestyles, with the detail in the appendix.

There’s a bold promise in the detailed strategy, most likely related to housing developments and parks under the council’s control:

westminster#1

If approved, the strategy will be implemented from this summer.

Croydon Council

Croydon’s Street’s Sub-Committee meets on Tuesday 13 June, and item 8 on the agenda proposes a new cycling strategy for the borough.There are six papers attached to the agenda. Of note are:

  • The draft cycling strategy is the key paper, reporting that only 1% of Croydon’s population cycle for 30 mins x 5 times per week, lower than the London average of 3%. Less than 1% of Croydon households have a bicycle.
  • Map of proposed cycling routes (7mb PDF), which is a bit difficult to read as all other roads (e.g. Purley Way) have been greyed out. This recycles the mini-Holland proposals, with a ‘cycle highway’ from Coulsdon to Purley being highlighted, with degrees of full or semi-segregation.  That’s great, other than once at Purley, you’ll be left with painted advisory lanes on Brighton Road to get anywhere near Croydon.
  • The covering committee report makes the usual arguments, but admits that any progress is heavily dependent on a mix of TfL LIP funding and CIL/s106 contributions.

Safety is recognised as a major barrier to cycling in Croydon.  However, (in my opinion) the draft strategy does little to address it – the strategy seems to rely on 20mph zones, and cycle training.  It’s frustrating to see that the only road users whose behaviour needs development are cyclists – there’s little to nothing targeting other road users such as HGV drivers, other than desire for fleet operators to be FORS members.  And if you ever cycle around the current 20 mph streets around e.g. Norbury, you’ll know they’re treated as motorised race tracks with no enforcement of the speed limit.

To me, the big omission is that the strategy does little to recognise key journeys, such as to stations, town centres and schools.  Instead of drawing green lines through parks, a targeted programme of improving road infrastructure to schools and stations would do more to address real and perceived issues with road safety, and make journeys by bike a more attractive alternative to four wheels.

Kingston-upon-Thames

Kingston’s Residents Committee meets on Wednesday 14 June, with several agenda items catching my eye.

Both consultation reports have the detailed comments provided by respondees. Players of bikelash bingo will fill in their cards quickly!

If approved, and if TfL releases the funds, then construction should be complete in 2019.One interesting snippet in the reports is the inter-generational differences in attitudes towards the proposed cycle lanes. It is clear that older residents, many of whom are car owners, are against them but younger and young people want them.  In the context of the general election results, this raises interesting challenges and opportunities for London’s local council elections next year:

GoCycle#4

In the 30 June bundle of information papers for Kingston’s councillors was the 2016 Air Quality report, with a published date of April 2017.

London Assembly

The Transport Committee meets on Wednesday 14 June.

Item 8 on the agenda has the Mayor’s response to the recommendations in the Committee’s report on London’s congestion published in January 2017.   There’s also content free responses from the association of London councils and the UK Government’s Department for Transport.

The response from Lord Ahmed for the Department of Transport is a wonderful thing, in that he states he is the minister responsible for transport in London, then states that transport is devolved to the Mayor so as the minister he has no opinion.

Councils#2

City of London

The City’s Transport Committee meets on Tuesday 13 June.

  • Item 9g repeats the papers from 16 May regarding zebra crossings – they don’t cause congestion.
  • Item 11 focuses on engine idling and reports that 700 drivers have been warned, and 70+ organisations & businesses written to. Beyond that, the actions are minimal.

The Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee meets on Monday 19 June (agenda).  Item 9 on the agenda is the annual report from the Hampstead Heath Constabulary.  There’s a nice glossy policing plan, which explains the legal framework for this private security service.  The more controversial data is in the report appendices, which lists the number of bye-law tickets they’ve issued and the fines they’ve obtained in magistrates’ courts.

hampstead#1

Those of you who are aware of the derisory fines issued by magistrates’ courts for deaths by careless driving may be angered by the fines solicited by the City of London’s private security force.

The Streets & Planning Committee meets on 20 July. Item 5b has a proposal from the highways engineers to prioritise the work programme through to 2019/20, one major reason being its inability to recruit and retain sufficient engineers.  One consequence is that lower priority work, some of which would benefit pedestrians and cyclists, will be deferred.

Merton Council

Planning committee meets on 22 June.  The enforcement report repeats the report that a household in Craven Gardens was instructed to remove a bike shed in the front garden (not a conservation area), and adds another enforcement notice for a household in Merton Hall Road (a conservation area) to remove their bike shed too.

Possibly the most interesting, even contentious, planning application on the agenda is for the redevelopment of the Haslemere Industrial Estate in Wimbledon Park, which borders the River Wandle in the famous ‘missing link’ section in Earlsfield.  This currently diverts National Cycle Route 20 away from the river onto the busy Garratt Lane.  The planning conditions will include public access to a 3.8m wide path on the riverside provided through an S106 agreement, plus a £30k contribution to other improvements on the Wandle Trail.

merton#1

Wandsworth Council

The Community Services committee meets on 21 June.  Of interest are:

  • Item 3 reviews the consultation on updated bye-laws for parks and open spaces, based on GLC-type byelaws. In practice, this provides one consistent legal framework for all of Wandsworth’s green spaces (some of which have no legal cover today).  However, it does mean that cycling will only be permitted on designated paths.  My fear is that Wandsworth’s Parks Police (council employed security force, empowered similarly to the Hampstead Heath Constabulary above) will start giving fixed penalty notices to kids learning to ride a bike.  There’s plenty of evidence (e.g. here) to suggest they don’t understand and thus misuse the scope of their legal powers.
  • Item 5 is the periodic progress report summarising state of actions and decisions from previous meetings:
    • P6 Putney Park Lane – is effectively a linear park along what is claimed to be the longest unmade road in London. Previous progress reports have noted consultation with nearby residents on improvements; this report now states work will start this summer to improve conditions for people walking and cycling.
    • P8 Cycling contra-flows – after 3 years, consultations are finally complete, but responses still need to be reviewed and proposal developed. I’ve written about Wandsworth’s glacial progress on these contraflows here.
    • P28 Cycling as a mode of transport fell from 5% to 4%, so flagged RED as a key performance indicator. (Worth comparing to the Sutton Council data below).
      wandsworthmodal
    • P46 / 47 – reports on some cycling actions. The Santander Bikes got a 13.7% increase in use in 2016 compared to 2015.   Quietways are in progress (Q4 to Wimbledon and Q5 towards Streatham and Croydon), but the design for Q4 at Earlsfield isn’t clear.
    • P68, in the proposed KPIs for 2017/18, the council proposes to add “number of cycle parking facilities available”, but this needs first to be baselined.
  • Slipped in late, after the agenda was published the previous week, was item 8 on TfL’s proposed quietways in Wandsworth.  The meeting minutes note that the proposals are supported, and that there is “an agreed scheme could now be implemented in Garratt Lane, Earlsfield” for Quietway Q4 (the two sets of previous proposals were heavily criticised during consultations). No details are provided.  The committee paper has several appendices:

 

Sutton Council

A hat-tip to @chasinzone5 for letting me know that Sutton Council’s Environment & Neighbourhood Committee meets on 22 June. Item 6 is the Sustainable Transport Report which sets out various ways the council is trying to get people out of their cars and onto public transport, their feet, or two wheels.

The committee paper may have muddled the public transport and cycling modal shares, so treat the statistics carefully.  Cycling modal share is circa 2%, so below that of Wandsworth reported above.   Appendix A has lots of actions against the individual objectives, Appendix B is the borough cycling strategy,  Appendix C has statistics for each of the targets.

Most of the local committee meetings (such as Beddington & Wallington, and Sutton itself) have papers on the borough’s approach to Local Implementation Plan funding from TfL for 2018/19. There’s usually a committee paper, referencing guidance from City Hall, and a presentation.   The Beddington meeting also has detailed on Sutton’s & TfL’s Beddington North scheme (23mb pdf) which aims to make Beddington Lane from the tram stop at Mitcham Common down to the village a more pleasant place for pedestrians and cyclists.   A consultation on the scheme closes 16 July.

Kensington & Chelsea

The Planning & Transport Committee meets on 9 June; papers include a response to the Major of London’s Ultra-low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), and highlight that air quality in K&C is one of the worst in London.

May 2017

Things quietened down as general election purdah kicked in.

London Assembly

  • Next Transport Ctte scheduled for 14 June

Kensington & Chelsea

  • Public Realm Scrutiny Ctte on 8 May: Transport report outlines timetable for adoption of the Local Plan by the council (December ’17), and an update on the local quietway implementation.  Apparently, RBKC is proud they can build quietways without “major changes to road layouts”.
    RBKCQuietways1705

Lambeth

Merton

  • Planning Ctte on 25 May: the enforcement report details how a householder in Craven Gardens, Wimbledon, has been forced to remove a small bike shed from their front garden.  The planning files suggest that it was due to a very officious council officer and a NIMBY neighbour.  Oddly, none of the enforcement reports for the previous 12 months have any reference to this case.

City of London

Westminster

  • Transport Ctte, 8 May: transport update reports that 20mph has been implemented around 30 schools, and complaints about pedicabs. The business update includes report on the Baker Street 2-way project, saying that 200 responses were received to the consultation on traffic orders, with a report being prepared.

April 2017

London Assembly

Kensington & Chelsea

  • Full Council on 26 April, with a focus on the “Local Plan” i.e. the strategic policies which will guide RBKC in the coming 5 years. There’s lots in the PDF papers (running to hundreds of page), with a strong focus on transport and development.
    • This is the updated proposal, following a consultation conducted during Autumn 2016.
    • There’s nothing to suggest RBKC will change its stance radically on active travel. Responses to consultation comments suggest there are no further developments on local quietways.
    • The usual NIMBYs made their complaints (e.g. Onslow Square) with the council officer dismissing them politely.
      rbkc#1
  • Cabinet meeting on 27 April. The Transport report is mainly a blur of budget numbers.  It does note that the Cycle Grid has been funded to the tune of £2.2m by TfL.

Kingston-upon-Thames

Merton Council

  • Full Council on 12 April. Items of interest include:
    • Public questions included one asking about the proposed diesel levy for residents owning cars in Controlled Parking Zones. Reply: council is using its powers to try and improve air quality.
    • Councillors’ strategic questions (page numbered 19) asks how many electric charging points are there for electric cars. Answer: 19, with ongoing work with TfL to install electric taxi charging points;
    • Page numbered 20 included the obligatory question from a councillor (in this case, Conservative) complaining about “speeding” cyclists and motorcyclists, allegedly using the path along the River Wandle south of Plough Lane. This is the route of cycling Quietway 4.
    • Page numbered 23 has a question about “measures to encourage cycling”. Answer: work with Sustrans on quietways, plus training for kids and adults.
    • Lots of interesting detail in the Committee Report on Sustainable Travel. There’s lots in the 12 pages, but snippets include:
      • Update on the Mitcham Common / Croydon Road “shared use path”;
      • Proposed new quietway routes:
        • New Malden to Wimbledon – working with Kingston Council;
        • Clapham Common to Wimbledon – this being TfL’s Quietway 4. Merton aims to complete its part along the River Wandle by May 2017;
        • Colliers Wood to Sutton via Morden – looks like it uses NCN20 through Morden Hall Park to Morden, then recycles existing paths and some quiet streets;
        • Colliers Wood to Wimbledon Chase – looks like it reuses the High Path route into the Merton park area;
      • Early work on a cycle hire scheme, and a cycle share scheme too.
      • Census data, 2011, suggests 3.7% of Merton’s folk cycle to work.

Wandsworth Council

Richmond-upon-Thames

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