What are the councils up to? March 2021 edition

An aide memoire of items I’ve noted from the boroughs where I work, rest and play, in case it is of use to others.

Here’s a link back to January & February 2021’s round-up if you want to rummage backwards.

Consultations closing

City of London

  • City has opened a consultation on a revised local plan, influencing planning decisions to 2036.  Consultation closes 7 May.  For some reason, the City has gone retro and wants respondees to fill in and email back – or even post! – a PDF or MS Word document (linked at bottom of page).
  • City has opened a consultation on part-pedestrianising Bank junction. Closes 10 May.
  • 8 March, Epping Forest Ctte has updated cycling strategy for sign-off, with ctte paper. Not my parish, so I’ll defer to locals, but apparently this has been updated since the Autumn 2020 draft with consultation feedback. Strategy does not look disabled friendly.  There’s also papers on car parking charges, and the Super’s report says another two deer were killed in vehicle collisions.
  • 30 March, Planning & Transport Ctte, has a paper on short-stay cycle parking. It seems that new developments have installed more long-stay (employee/resident) spaces, and short-changed the City by over 700 short-stay.  The City is looking opportunities for making covid-street additions permanent, along with empty retail space and possibly cycle cafes.
  • 30 March, West Wickham & Commons Ctte, has the results of a user survey from last year. Lots of support for upgrading the cycle track accessing Spring Park (presumably, the muddy track from NCN21 near Addington Village).
  • 8 April, Policy & Resources, has papers allocating £10m for year 1 of the City’s climate change strategy.
  • 13 April, Planning & Transport, has lots of papers on the covid streets changes (widened pavements, cycle lanes etc – see item 6).  Looks like the City wishes to retain most of them, probably requiring experimental traffic orders to replace the temporary TMOs.
  • 14 April, Projects Sub-Ctte, has the same covid streets papers as above, plus an interesting paper on cooler streets with e.g. investments studying sustainable drainage.

Croydon Council

  • 1 March, Cabinet, focuses on finances (lots of papers).  Council is effectively bankrupt, with the failed Brick-by-brick housing company as the major drain, although other budgets have been badly affected by the pandemic.  Car parking/penalty revenues are down by >£2m.  Capital spending has been curtailed, with the walking & cycling programme gutted in FY20/21 by £775k to just £100k, separate to TfL’s streetspace initiatives.
  • 22 March, Cabinet, includes a paper on the “growth zone”, which was centred on the Westfield redevelopment which has stalled.  The presentation appendix notes the tension between a car-centred redevelopment (huge new car parks) and a more sustainable plan, with the pandemic hiatus giving opportunity to rethink.
  • 30 March, Scrutiny, proposes a new study group to look at town centre redevelopment and report back in October.
  • 12 April, Cabinet, has a call-in to review to the decisions re Crystal Palace low traffic neighbourhood.

Government / Department for Transport / Professional bodies

Hammersmith & Fulham

Kensington & Chelsea

  • 3 March, full Council looks at budget papers for FY21/22 onwards.   The Budget Working Group paper notes the council’s dependence on car parking & related revenues, and with the number of permits falling, and the council giving EV owners cheap £20 permits, a significant loss in revenue is needed. So the council needs a “5/10 year plan”.  The main ctte paper includes appendices on capital plans. Although there’s a carefully written paragraph about supporting safer streets and active travel, there’s nothing in the budget beyond this FY20/21.
  • 17 March, Leadership Team has the much anticipated paper on re-installing a cycle lane on Kensington High Street, do something else, or do nothing.  The council officers have had 2 months to write these papers, after cllrs withdrew the Thalassites decision following the threat of a judicial review.  Despite this extra time, the papers are shambolic.
    • Main ctte paper is a cut-and-paste of various anecdotes, and recycles the council’s anti-cycling thinking.  It is interesting that actual statistics are provided by 3rd party agencies and transport for London, whereas the anti-argument is full of “it is believed” statements.  The map showing cycle routes in the borough clearly shows the absence of an east-west route between the borders with Hammersmith and Westminster councils.   Possibly most seriously, the lists of stakeholders for and against the scheme is very partial – significant bodies like Imperial NHS, and the councils Labour and LibDem cllrs are omitted. Yet every crony canape club gets listed. 
    • Reinstalling the cycle lane will cost about £40,000.  If the council doesn’t restore the scheme, it seems likely that TfL will refuse to fund the £211,000 of sunk costs, leaving these to be picked up by RBKC’s residents via the council’s reserves.
    • The alternative options paper is a hoot – round-the-houses, magic paint, tidal flows, and my favourite: a cycle lane down the middle of Kensington High Street.
    • The letter from TfL demolishes the nonsense spouted by the crony business forums, pointing out that most businesses in KHS were closed due to lockdowns.  There’s a comprehensive analysis of bus journey times, pointing out that once other roadworks (water, gas) were finished, bus journey times returned to 2019 times. But after the cycle lane was ripped out, bus journey times slowed due to illegal parking.  With the TfL-commissioned independent survey showing that the majority of RBKC residents support the scheme.
    • And in shock news (sarc), the council chose option 3, doing nothing for now, and wasting paper at some future point.
  • See TfL below for Will Norman’s letter to Assembly Member Devenish re RBKC’s wastes of money re cycling schemes, and the results of an independent survey commissioned by TfL showing 2/3rds of RBKC’s residents support segregated cycle lanes.
  • Decision scheduled to participate in London’s e-scooter trial, opened 4 Jan’21, finalised 25 March with decision report.   RBKC’s participation is part of a London-wide project (although not all boroughs have decided to be involved).  The effort involved is extraordinary e.g. speed limits, vehicle IDs, geofencing and power-offs if the scooters stray into RBKC’s parks.
  • Related decision to park e-scooters on footways due 17 Feb’21 … not before 15 April.
  • Decision re TfL’s Holland Park cycle route scheme – opened October 2019, kicked backwards another month to not before 20 Febnot before 18 March 23 April 21 May 17 June15 July1 September15 October12 November 7 Dec4 Jan 20218 February1 March … not before 1 April.
  • Decision re Holland Park footpath renewals … opened and bouncing since October 2019 … 8 July10 August14 Sept9 October12 November7 Dec4 Jan 20218 February1 March … not before 1 April
  • Decision scheduled to review streetscape, opened 1 May, not before 5 June8 July 10 August14 Sept9 October5 November7 Dec4 Jan 20218 February … 1 March … not before 1 April.
  • If you think RBKC’s tardiness regarding the decisions above is bad, try this one: Decision re potential study with Network Rail on a Crossrail/Elizabeth Line station near Kensal canalside, scheduled 22 May 2017 – over 1,350 days ago (31 Jan’21) … not before 4 Jan’21 … 17 March
  • New decision scheduled: pedestrian improvements at traffic lights between Kings Road and Old Brompton Road, opened 25 Jan’21, not before 23 Feb’21 1 March … not before 1 April.
  • Decision re electric vehicle charging points , opened 23 Feb’21, not before 6 April .

Kingston Council

Lambeth Council

London Assembly / Mayor of London

Merton Council

Richmond Council

Royal Parks

Surrey County Council

Sutton Council

Transport for London

  • 1 March, Walking & Cycling Commissioner Will Norman responds to Tory anti-cycling Assembly Member Tony Devenish with a startling letter pointing out that TfL is doing an independent survey in Kensington & Chelsea, and how RBKC has wasted huge sums of TfL money e.g. the Kensington High Street cycle lane.
  • 3 March, the first Programme & Investment Ctte of 2021 with all the papers in a 7mb pdf.  Main report starts on pdf pg 35 (numbered 29) with Healthy Streets reports from pdf pg 54 (num’d 48).  Largely restates that we already know: lots of progress in 2020 about school streets, low traffic neighbourhoods, and space for walking and cycling, and that the public largely like them. The authors acknowledge the Bishopsgate judgement, and note that whilst the legality of the streetspace guidance and schemes’ decision making is questioned, the legality of the streetspace projects beyond Bishopsgate was not.   There’s a big section on surface assets – roads, bridges, flyovers – starting about pg numbered 100 with lots of stats. Anti-terrorism works on Westminster Bridge should start by Oct’21, which I guess includes the seg’d cycle lanes. 
  • 16 March, TfL Board with papers in a 6mb pdf.  Commissioner’s Report starts on pdf pg 30, numbered 24.
  • 22 March, Department for Transprot agreement to fund Transport for London on existing terms to 18 May, after the May elections.

Transport for London – Freedom of Information requests

Wandsworth Council

Westminster Council

  • 3 March, full council, completing this set of those using full council this month to finalise budgets for FY21/22 and beyond.
  • 15 March, Communities, reports include comments on 9 school streets, and unspecified efforts to improve air quality.
  • 30 March, planning ctte has applications for a ‘mountain’ visitor attraction at Marble Arch, and lots of new bollards in front of National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.  The Marble Arch paper has some questionable observations about the islands being a low volume route for pedestrians and cyclists between Hyde Park, Edgware Road and Oxford Street.
  • 12 April, CIL disbursements. One of the projects receives £345k for carbon-offsetting construction works on streets projects.  Food for though.

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