This year has again been characterised by many meetings, with much discussion and argument, but very few results. As I write, at the end of April, an election period has once more intervened to delay matters, including publication of the results of the second consultation on the Baker Street Two-way scheme. We hope to see final plans emerge which will appeal to all stakeholders.
In recent weeks the strength of feeling over the Baker Street proposals has been surpassed by the controversy caused by the suggestion that Regent’s Park should be closed to through traffic for most of the day as part of the Cycle Superhighway 11 Scheme. Transport for London spent months refusing to disclose key traffic modelling data on the potential displacement of traffic onto residential roads throughout the route and finally admitted that they had not taken into consideration the impact of major projects like the years of HS2 construction. Then, immediately ahead of the Mayoral election purdah period, TfL rushed through a consultation and, only eight days after it closed, some highly selective figures were leaked claiming to show public support for the scheme! An unprecedented scale of opposition from amenity societies, groups of residents and other bodies along the route, including Westminster City Council, calls these figures into question. Fortunately Tulip Siddiq MP has secured undertakings from TfL that they will fully disclose their data, update the modelling to cover previous omissions and conduct a further consultation before any decisions are made.
The brilliantly refurbished pedestrian underpass at the Marylebone Road junction with Baker Street shows how much goodwill TfL can attract when it behaves in a civilised manner, working with a body like the Baker Street Quarter Partnership with support from the residents. TfL management should carry this lesson over into its dealings with the community that pays its salaries.
Some aspects of the Cycle Quietway proposals are still under discussion, especially in the Harrowby Street and Enford Street areas where we are concerned about safety around schools. We also have questions over how the Quietways interact with the Superhighways.
We were pleased by the agreement from Westminster that part of St Vincent Street, between the Primary School and Marylebone High Street, could be closed to traffic and a pedestrian crossing could be introduced on Aybrook Street, but these have yet to be implemented. Similarly there has been no movement on preventing Devonshire Place Mews being used as a rat-run. Deepening local authority budget cuts can be seen in the further deterioration of our roads and pavements and the persistent rubbish on our streets.
On a brighter note Councillor Heather Acton is reinforcing her action against motorists who sit with their engines idling. After a period when only advice has been given, drivers who refuse to switch off will now be fined and two dedicated enforcement officers have been appointed to target idling. Plans to designate Marylebone a Low Emissions Neighbourhood will help to identify additional measures to improve air quality and we must continue to resist any attempt to pedestrianise Oxford Street which involves moving polluting traffic into residential areas.
Once again my thanks go to my committee colleague Amanda Feeny for her support. It has been an especially busy period in Traffic and City Management and shows no sign of relenting but please continue to alert us to problems you face.