Hackney U-turns on London Fields road closures

Lonfieldstraffic: London Fields Hackney E8 260216 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Feryal Demirci Hackney cllr London 270215 © DavidAltheer@gmail.com
Flagging problems? Councillor Demirci

IN A HUMILIATING backdown, Hackney council today announced that it will consult residents about its proposal to close streets around London Fields.

It will hold a consultation next month January 2016.

The “traffic filtering schemethe council planners’ clunky title was devised partly to reduce through-traffic and to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety.

The council  had planned to start a trial of the road closures next year, consulting residents at the same time. But near riots or, in the words of the council, “very strong feeling on both sides”, erupted.

Cycling councillor Feryal Demirci says that to ensure confidence, the consultation data will be analysed by a market-research organisation.

Mayor Jules Pipe is irritated that his council has had to make another U-turn, so soon after the fiasco of its attempt to charge rough sleepers. He will want his officers to keep a close eye on future schemes with Demirci.

Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe 2012 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Mayor Pipe: watchingf councillors

Hamish Scott 081215

* Main pic: Worries have been expressed that Richmond Road, shown at the corner with Lansdowne Drive, will become a London Fields traffic jam. All pictures on this page © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com. All for sale for reproduction. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing.

* Backstory: London Fields scheme hits barrier; Hackney council takes on drivers; After the London Fields party; Little fires in the FieldsLondon Fields summer of love

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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3 thoughts on “Hackney U-turns on London Fields road closures

  1. I see both sides of this discussion. I am sure the majority of people were against the proposal because it stopped the three emergency services from acting promptly – getting to the caller’s location directly without a round trip in Hackney.

    I agree that Lansdowne Drive will be another Mare Street – drivers ignoring the 20mph limit.

    The only way I can see is a census of all residents in the area because not everybody is well enough and able to attend meetings.

  2. There is no conspiracy. This scheme was the Hackney cyclists’ ward request for London Fields before the 2014 elections. All three ward councillors pledged to support it if elected. See 

    Coincidentally, in early 2014 some residents who were worried about through-motor traffic asked Living Streets Hackney to assist them, and a coalition was built between Hackney London Cycling Campaign, Living Streets Hackney and local residents to campaign for a through-traffic reduction scheme in London Fields.
    Yes, we did push the council to keep its commitment to remove rat-running from the area. We were delighted to hear at the London Fields ward forum meeting in September 2014 that some funding was available from Transport for London and that a scheme was being developed, although details were not known. That meeting was fraught with difficulty: there were as many objectors as supporters of a filtering scheme.

    Over the next months, it is true, we chased the council to progress the scheme. We even met engineers to look at preliminary ideas that we felt did not go far enough. Other than insisting that “something must be done”, we had no input to the design of the scheme. The Hackney cyclists’ ward request was more detailed — they had a developed “vision” for the area.

    We had no input to the consultation process. Hackney council decided initially to go for an experimental traffic order and consultation at the same time. That is quite a standard way of consulting and we supported it.

    It is unfortunate that the merits and demerits of the scheme are being sidelined by issues of who was or was not responsible for the design.

    We all want to protect our streets and communities from excessive motor traffic, although we rarely agree on how to go about it, and what the effect will be on neighbouring streets.

    We believe engineers and transport planners who say motor traffic will fall overall when capacity is reduced. We contend that all residential streets in Hackney should eventually be filtered of through-motor traffic and we campaign for this robustly.

    The council promised to have a strategy of progressive area-wide traffic filtering in its 2014-2020 transport strategy.

    We hope the London Fields trial will go ahead so that we can test how filtering will work and whether it will benefit the neighbourhood.

    I do hope we can get past the anger and misunderstanding of how the scheme came about and focus on the details of the scheme for a positive outcome for the area.

    Brenda Puech
    Living Streets, Hackney

  3. It’s worth noting that there was a consultation of a sort. The snag was that it involved only four people, two of whom lived on Middleton Road, and two cycle activists.

    They met with Hackney council officers, in private, during two workshop sessions earlier this year and helped to shape the design of the scheme. This included which roads they saw as priority and had the biggest problems. Not surprisingly, they put their own streets as the highest priority.

    Once their scheme was accepted, they pushed for it to go straight to trial without further consultation.

    The people who had those initial meetings formed an activist group and went on to promote the scheme. One of the people you quote was one of those planning the scheme with the council back in February.

    They had their say – but wanted to prevent anyone else having a say at the design stage. Luckily, other residents found out about the scheme and were able to challenge it. So the council had plenty of time to “engage with the wider community”, something that the Fume Free Streets clique has been obstructing all this year.

    It sounds rather sleazy. A search of http://lovingdalston.co.uk did not turn up the name. I think my tweeter @LovingDalston had some exchanges with the person/s you think I quoted. I have removed the name from your comment until the person/s has had a chance to respond. It’s only fair. – Ed.

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