Details here of even more road closures. They do keep sneaking them in under the radar …
I might be mistaken but I notice there is nothing here for Forest Hill as in SE23 or the Forest Hill Ward. Our Councillors and ward assemblies have over the years talked about practical changes to make the ward a greener/cleaner area for cyclists/pedestrians/kids/residents. There have been various working groups on various roads but I see nothing here about our area, perhaps our Councillors are still in lockdown.
None of our councillors are the Deputy Mayor.
It’s not the easiest site to navigate. Deliberately piecemeal I imagine. And the suggestions on the map are pretty random and mine asking for school crossings have disappeared.
Our ward boundaries are badly drawn. A bit like the Irish border - the result of a bunch of Puckoon type characters all tugging on the same pencil in different directions over a map? Probably not so innocent.
Part of Forest Hill ward is SE26 and therefore Sydenham for everything other than political purposes The works at Wells Park Road are to the pavement on the park side and therefore Sydenham ward. The ward boundary runs down the middle of Wells Park Road but both sides are SE26.
The Silverdale/Bishopthorpe Road closures will impact Dacres Road and FH School.
The Wells Park Road bits make sense as essentially put up bollards so people can’t drive to the park and park on the pavement which makes it difficult to walk past. Now both sides of the pavement car free and everyone can fit on the pavements. Will fully support such measures. Road fully open for traffic, but it is a bus route anyway.
Also for those less able who may need to drive to the park there are other roads to park on by entrances to the park but makes sense to keep Wells Park Road clear as it also leads on up to Sydenhamhill woods. Hence pavement likely busier. Will certainly be heading there looking for shade in the coming days.
But just decanting cars from one street to another is not a good outcome for streets like Longton Avenue. Tanks on the pavement is just as much of a hazard for the visually impaired as cars. I really think a lot of these problems would be solved by sensible use of ticketing on all pavement parked cars (not just here) and some short stay on road zoning (1-2 hours?) in suitable areas, plus some blue badge spaces for the long term disabled.
But what really to gets me is lack of consultation and joined up thinking. I read now they’re going to close streets with schools during drop off time. Where I live we have Kelvin Grove on upper Kirkdale and Eliot Bank on Thorpewood. But by closing those two roads you drive all the traffic onto Dartmouth Road, where you have Holy Trinity. I believe they need organized drop off zones at the schools themselves - like in the US. We who live on the affected streets ought at least to get consulted. Not just a fait accompli which we don’t even know about if we don’t use Commonplace.
With social distancing being eased, 3 months after lockdown started, surely this has missed the mark by now?
I must admit, I never really understood the approach here - if this was an emergency response to Covid-19, changes should have been made immediately and without consultation, but in a time-bounded fashion pending review in say 3 months after installation. If it is something different to that (which I think it is), there should have been an honest and proper scheme of proposals and consultation - something more akin to the planning system rather than a thrown up website with little structure or verification as to who is commenting and why, as well as limited reach to some demographics (not everyone has a computer, or is able to use one).
In the mean time, as pointed out by James D Evans, we have Key Recommendations from the Mayor of London’s 2018 air quality audit program being ignored, affecting air quality for our local children:
And then we have Aldi running their shop from diesel generators 400m away from Heseltine School, still waiting for a decision on planning permission which was filled almost exactly 5 months ago back in February and should have been decided by now. At least with 5 objections, the planning application will have to be considered by the Planning Committee Chair for review by the committee even under the proposed new rules.
Superb post, @ForestHull
All credit to James D Evans for keeping an eye on these things and tweeting the relevant Councillors (who appear to be ignoring him with just a generic reply from @LewishamCouncil).
Note I’m not opposing well considered and researched changes to streets to make them better for pedestrians or cyclists where needed, it’s just the method and priorities here seem fairly underhanded, to be polite.
Are you referring to Lewisham Deputy Mayor Chris Best who lives/lived on Bishopsthorpe Road according to this council record.
But that’s one of the roads having modal filters fitted. I’m sure with a complete and thorough consultation process, this can only be a mere co-incidence!
You appear to contradict yourself here and then here
Ha, yes! The sarcasm of my second statement that you quote is sometimes lost on the Internet
Some other residents of Bishopsthorpe Road (from the conversation on se26.life):
I think it is great that Councillors live within the ward, they are more inclined to improve the local environment and if it just happens that the road where they live is resurfaced or traffic filters applied then at least some people are happy and Lewisham money is spent locally.
They use the local facilities and meet their constituents more regularly just by walking down the street. In many peoples’s minds, it is probably a small price to pay for having more informed local Councillors who on balance will do a better job for their constituents.
There may be objectivity benefits to Councillors living outside FH ward but on balance it is probably negative as it means that un-elected local Labour Party luminaries have more sway than where Councillors see things for themselves.
I think it’s good Councillors live locally too, but there is a conflict here which I think looks suspiciously ugly.
When the commonplace ‘Covid-19’ website was first rolled out, someone commented (on this forum) how the lack of due process and open nature of the website could lead to it benefitting well organised streets or being easily ‘gamed’.
I think it now appears that Bishopsthorpe is a very well organised road and stands to benefit from this scheme, perhaps disproportionately given the prior reports of air quality issues 1km down the road at Bell Green and Heseltine Primary School are apparently being overlooked.
I will be daring enough to suggest that if more (any?) residents from Bishopsthorpe sent their children to Heseltine, the Majors air quality audit would have been looked at and action taken already. Similarly I imagine the diesel generators at Aldi would not have been allowed to run for so long.
I think that where a development directly affects a Councillor’s own property, then that Councillor should recuse themselves from the decision making process. Same for roads as for Planning. They would do so at Planning Committees, but we don’t know how these decisions on roads are being made or who is informing or making the decisions. That can’t be right.
Obviously residents’ associations are going to push for plans that benefit their own properties, but that shouldn’t be the case with Councillors. I’m not saying it has or hasn’t been. I don’t know. But it doesn’t look good and constituents deserve transparency.
I am not advocating that Councillors vote on something where there is a potential conflict of interest but we are all affected by where we live. It may be that our Councillors say to their neighbours there is not much I can do but if you write/click to the council and organise yourself in groups then you can work the system (some might say this is gaming but it is the new democracy).
There is always conflict in our perceptions such as Mais House, some might say really important that we put in as much social housing as possible others might say what about where we live, extra traffic, parking, height of buildings damaging skyline. There will always be winners and losers but we should learn from those who win rather than be jealous of their achievements.
Mais House is a very good example here. It has also used a commonplace website to aid consultation and gather feedback, but unlike the ‘Covid-19’ streetscape changes, Mais House has ended up in the planning process. This gives a set time for the proposed plans to be scrutinised by the public and objections, support or comments made. Depending on the level of public interest, the planning process will then either move to a decision with a letter detailing the reasons, or go to the Planning Committee for further scrutiny with a chance of further public representation. The Planning Committee will likely be guided by a brief prepared by the Planning Officer overseeing the case and made publically available. Committee members will recuse themselves if there is a potential for conflict of interest e.g. living locally to the development. There is also the chance for a case to be ‘called in’ should interest or conditions exceed the level of the local council on conflict national policy. Most of this happens in public and on public record according to a well defined process.
This is far from the process being used to justify the ‘Covid-19’ street changes which are pressing ahead without such scrutiny, suspiciously to the benefit of Councillors own properties. At the same time, the London Major’s recommendations made two years previously are still not implemented.
I think it’s heading more towards corruption personally.
Can we get back to the old democracy somehow?
The one where people were treated fairly regardless of which road they lived on?
Forgive me for labouring the point, but the overarching problem here is zero-sum policymaking.
If the council could come up with more constructive policy ideas that helped everyone, residents wouldn’t be forced to compete with each other in a system that creates winners only by creating losers.
Nothing democratic about it. There may have always been some who knew how to play the system, but the Council’s use of Commonplace as the sole means of consultation is discriminatory as it excludes some people. Lewisham is supposed to be inclusive.
The Assemblies are subject to an Equal Opportunites Assessment that asks:
- SCOPE AND FOCUS OF THE EQUALITY IMPACT ASSESSMENT
The key questions this Equality Impact Assessment has to address are:
•Could the service affect some groups in the community differently?
•Will the service promote equality of opportunity?
•What are the potential equality issues and factors that will impact upon the service?
•Is the service indirectly discriminating any equalities categories?
There isn’t an equivalent requirement for Commonplace. And yes, I have asked.
The Assemblies are by no means perfect. It’s sometimes a real struggle to get people to attend the FH Assembly. Not so much the Sydenham one, maybe because Sydenham has an accessible town centre venue, which Forest Hill lacks. But Assemblies are never the sole means of consultation. In this case, Commonplace is and it’s an “after the event” retrospective type of consultation. The stable door is well and truly open, the horse has legged it and it will take a lot to calm it down and make it see sense again now.
There are very strict rules about lobbying of and by Councillors (for financial gain or otherwise) and they shouldn’t be seen to be favouring one group of constituents above another. @SophieDavis has always been scrupulously careful about this in relation to Mais House and I’m sure in other matters also.
Lewisham’s Code of Conduct may be downloaded here:
The Code of Conduct makes clear that the perception of impariality is important:
5.9 Occasions may arise where a matter under consideration would, or would be
likely to, affect the wellbeing of the member, their family, friend or close
associate(s) more than it would affect those in the local area generally, but
which is not required to be included in the Register of Members’ Interests (for
example, a decision in relation to a school closure, where a member has a
child at the school). In such matters, members must comply with paragraph 5
in its entirety as if the interest were a registerable one.
5.10 Decisions in relation to the declaration of interests are for the member’s
personal judgement. However members must consider not only whether they
have an actual interest in a matter under discussion but should at all times
seek to avoid the impression being created that their judgement of the public
interest is or is likely to be impaired by their personal interests.
5.11 The provisions of this paragraph 5 apply not only to meetings but to
circumstances where a member makes a decision alone.
As I said before, I’m not aware that relevant Councillors have or haven’t been impartial over the road closures. But that’s rather the point. The process should be transparently impartial.