Thorpewood Avenue School Half Street

It seems that the council have been secretly planning a school street for the top half of Thorpewood Avenue and have now come clean to surrounding residents.

The plan is to close the top half (Radlet to Kirkdale) to vehicle traffic during school hours. They will also reduce the direction of traffic on the top to Eastbound only. It is not clear whether this is permanent or just for the closure hours.

Lewisham have a policy of not having different traffic measures on the same road. It seems strange they have broken this.

The usual reasons are given including COVID social distancing. I am sure many will ask if this is another scheme for the rich and Labour members using a crisis to get something and not spreading the benefit evenly.

The main question I would ask though is why is Holy Trinity excluded?
Holy Trinity is a primary school at the bottom of Thorpewood which takes the less well off in our area (30% compared to 10% on free school meals at Eliot Bank) with a high proportion of BAME students. Do these kids not matter/deserve better air quality? Eliot Bank is currently able to social distance their kids with two large entrances and a large site while Holy Trinity is more constrained by their cramped site which although taking less kids is proportionately a lot smaller.

I think surrounding residents need to be consulted not just asked to comment. Putting a border on the avenue will just shift the problem. Radlet, Featherstone and Derby Hill Crescent are likely to suffer most. The bottom half of Thorpewood is busy already.

I am totally in favour of school streets with better air quality for children and residents but this should not be just for the upper half while making it worse for others, it should be for all.

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Well I’m a neighbour who will be directly affected by this and I havent been consulted, so how have they “come clean” to surrounding residents? @cllrLeoGibbons formed a working group with Thorpewood Avenue residents from the FH Assembly coordinating group a couple of years ago. I only found out about it once it was ongoing. I’m not aware that any consensus was reached and Leo promised that there would be a full consultation with neighbours before any decision was taken.

I’ve repeatedly warned that closing Thorpewood will be really dangerous for Kirkdale’s Kelvin Grove and Dartmouth Road’s Holy Trinity schools and for anyone (children and adults alike) crossing upper Kirkdale - that includes children attending Eliot Bank. But of course not from the posh side.

Why are Lewisham and a handful of residents allowed to put other people’s children in harm’s way like this?

Holy Trinity is on Dartmouth Road, which is a A road. They can’t close off A and B roads in this way.

Upper Kirkdale is a C road from its junction with Dartmouth Road all the way up the hill (the section that was called Sydenham Hill Road till the LCC started playing sillies, in much the same was as LBL is now). So they can close upper Kirkdale. Not that I want them to any more than I wanted them to close Thorpewood. It’s bonkers, dangerous and divisive.

Holy Trinity has a postal address of Dartmouth Road. The main entrance is on Thorpewood Avenue.

The section of Thorpewood Avenue outside Holy Trinity has school markings for about 50 metres. A danger kids crossing followed by yellow Zig Zags for no parking followed by yellow lines for school Coach parking. There are other temporary markings on the pavement of 1 metre apart yellow lines.

Up until recently the Thorpewood entrance was the only one used (from what I saw) but since COVID the back gate from the playground on to Dartmouth has been used for social distancing. Most of the drop offs, cars idling happens on Thorpewood and all visitors arrive via Thorpewood. If COVID ever ends, I would expect most kids to go back to entering via the main gate.

I would expect Lewisham considers Holy Trinity being on both but primarily Thorpewood Avenue. I don’t think Thorpewood has got a letter so it could be closed for the benefit of the students. I woudn’t be surprised if Lewisham and our councillors don’t know that the main entrance is on Thorpewood. There were some posters on the railings outside the main entrance for some clean air group but it doesn’t sound like they are fighting their corner.

So where do you draw the boundary line for streets deemed worthy of being closed to traffic?

Some people would be happy if their street or part of the street were closed, knowing full well it’s going to make life more difficult for others but as long as their child and their street is protected “I’m all right Jack”. Please don’t misunderstand me, of course I’m not saying you feel that way, but sadly a vocal and influential few clearly do or they wouldn’t be content with increasing danger to children on Kirkdale. My point is there are very few places where there is a clear line that can be drawn and Thorpewood Avenue is not one of them.

Schools need to set up marshalling and drop off points in the same way that they do in the USA.

I read it as meaning just for the closure hours. I think that’s pretty clear from the context, although I agree it’s not 100% unambiguous.

Where are you seeing all this? Have you all been sent a document? If it’s online, please can you post a link? Does it say when they’re proposing to start? As I say, I’m a close neighbour and will be directly affected and I’ve not been sent anything.

I think it is a difficult question and not easy to answer. Thorpewood has been chosen and so for now to keep on topic I will stick with that issue. It has two schools with equal traffic problems.

I find it strange that one set of school children are being favoured over another set of school children. You can say the same about the residents of the upper half compared to the lower half but probably the primary aim here should be to treat the children equally and fairly with better air quality for all not making it better for one half at the expense of the other half.

I don’t see how the pupils at Holy Trinity would be any less better off than those at Eliot Bank on account of being on Dartmouth road, a much busier road and bus route that’s traffic generates more pollution due to its nature/purpose.

I guess one of the reasons for this is that there has been an outcry about double parking, obstruction, congestion and anti-social behaviour by parents dropping children off at and picking them up from Eliot Bank. I think I remember being told that there weren’t the same problems at Holy Trinity.

Mary, we had a council letter through our door about this. Happy to scan it and send it to you if you PM me your email address.

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I’ve sent you a PM. Thanks so much Robin. Very kind of you.

Evening all,

  1. Secret planning? A potential School Street has been openly discussed for Eliot Bank for about two years.

  2. Why no consultation? Well. Covid-19 happened and central government changed the law allowing 18-month emergency transport orders to cover interventions like school streets, LTNs, model filters, pavement widening etc etc. We’ve been round this before.

  3. Why is Holy Trinity ‘excluded’? My ideal would have been for the ANPR cameras to be placed at the junction of Dartmouth Rd and Thorpewood Avenue, but this would have meant another set of cameras needing to be placed on Derby Hill to prevent parents just simply driving around the cameras (via Derby Hill) and parking outside both schools. It was deemed more viable to turn upper Thorpewood Avenue into a School Street - after all, ANPR cameras are not cheap, and the overwhelming majority of complaints we have received have been regarding congestion outside Eliot Bank school.

I do not think a School Street on Thorpewood Avenue will be a danger to any pedestrians on Kirkdale and nor do our officers.

Leo

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As you know, I am in the Coordinators Group for the FH Assembly. I missed a meeting, because my mother was ill. At the next meeting your Thorpewood Ave working group was mentioned. You promised faithfully that nothing would happen without a full consultation in the neighbourhood- including Kirkdale. I was told also that there was no consensus in the working group as to what was wanted - some wanted residents only parking, some a school street, there was no agreement on the sort of hours when a CPZ would operate.

What studies/evidence have you collated? Who were the officers who reached this conclusion and who in the neighbourhood did they consult?

Have you personally been to Kirkdale during a normal morning school run? Have you personally seen the cross traffic between the flow to Eliot Bank in one direction and Kelvin Grove in the other?

I hope so Leo and I really hope no child is hurt on your watch as a result of this ill conceived decision.

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Leo, in response to your points

  1. I think there is a difference between discussion and being given a plan created in secret to comment on. No consultation, just we are putting this in in 5 weeks.

I would agree with Mary that all discussions in the past were about the whole of Thorpewood Avenue becoming a school street/CPZ/something else which ended without consensus.

  1. I think you seem to have answered my comment from earlier with this response
  1. It seems that you can spend loads of money to get air quality for some but not the less well off but then I read it further.

This seems to say you are doing this because the residents have complained about congestion.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that but be honest when you contact the other affected residents and don’t say " The primary objective of this programmed is therefore to help pupils and parents to socially distance at the school gates and to create a safer environment for travel to school on foot and by bicycle, be implementing a short closure at school drop off and pick up times.

I think if your primary objective is social distancing then Holy Trinity has a greater need but if your main objective is to keep the people who have complained happy then the upper half project makes more sense but be honest.

Are you going to allow any limited consultation on this with other residents who are directly affected?
You are dividing a road, do the residents of the lower half of Thorpewood get any say?
Do residents of Radlet and Featherstone where a lot of drop offs will now occur get any say?
Do the children and parents of Holy Trinity get a proper explanation rather than we have spent all the money on Eliot Bank kids?

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There are many inaccuracies in the the previous posts about the past history of Thorpewood Ave parking issues. I have been involved from the beginning with the consultation on a possible CPZ. The results of this consultation was that the bottom of Thorpewood Ave voted for the CPZ but the top of the road voted for no restrictions. In the Consultation report it was noted that there was a significant problem with all day & Forest Hill Pools parking that should be further investigated. Leo Gibbons knocked on a few doors when he was elected as a councillor asking for any issues he could help with & parking was the main concern of residents at the bottom end of Thorpewood. It then was discussed at the Forest Hill Assemblies. A working group was formed which was chaired by Leo Gibbins & at that time was mostly attended by members of households from the lower part of Thorpewood Ave. The residents from the upper part joined at later meetings. The parking issues at the bottom are as bad & certainly more complicated as they is are all day parkers, residences cars from other roads, Holy Trinity school car parkers (teachers & parents) & Forest Hill leisure centre parking who often block driveways. The congestion at Holy Trinity school is as bad & dangerous as at the top at Eliot Bank school. I have seen double & even triple parking by parents collecting children. Do Lewisham really think that Eliot Bank parents will not use cars to drop their children off all that will happen is that this will happen on Kirkdale or at the bottom of Thorpewood Ave & surrounding roads. Children walking to both Eliot Bank & Holy Trinity Schools will encounter more pollution from cars, how does this improve things for children or residents. I invested a lot of time & effort to help improve safety for all using Thorpewood Ave & especially school children & residents & feel Leo Gibbon & others in the council have just look after the needs of a few who have shouted the loudest. Holy Trinity school children are as entitled to protection from pollution & safety as Eliot Bank children & all residents on Thorpewood Ave should have been consulted about something that will have a major impact on their everyday life. Members of Lewisham Council always told the working group that any changes would have to take account of views of residents of surrounding roads Covid or no Covid.

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Holy Trinity is a single form entry school while Eliot Bank is far larger as a three form entry school. That means far more children try and squeeze through the gates each day and far more vehicles arrive outside its gates every day.

To portray this as Holy Trinity School vs Eliot Bank School is a bad faith reading of the proposals and our motivations for the them, in particular as I’ve explained why we believed cameras on Dartmouth/Thorpewood were not suitable.

The goal of School Streets is to improve air quality around schools and other problems caused by congestion AND to encourage active travel and help social distancing.

Not to be pithy but better air quality for some is better than no better air quality for anyone. The accusation that healthy neighbourhood interventions are solely for the benefit of the well off is misplaced in general, but in this circumstance it certainly is. I’ve outlined above why the cameras are being placed where they are.

I will try and respond in full to points that people post on here later on. But in the mean time, think of this implementation period as a trial (as that’s what it is) with a consultation ongoing during the trial period.

Despite this being a trial which will assess feedback from residents, we have the same complaints I often hear again and again on this forum. There seems to be an attitude on here that we operate in some sort of direct democracy, in which the council makes all its decision by consultation (decisions to be made by and for the certain demographics that respond to LA consultations in the most part).

But we vote for elected representatives via the Mayor and councillors, who act on their manifesto commitments and judgement. We judge this approach to implanting School Streets as the correct way forward.

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I do share some worries that parents at Eliot Bank will simply drive up to Radlet Avenue and congest the lower part of Thorpewood Avenue. I expressed this to officers but they said funds could not stretched for the 3 or 4 sets of cameras to lock off Derby Hill and the whole of Thorpewood Avenue.

I will go back to our Sustainable Transport lead and mention that residents have expressed concerns that the intervention might just knock the congestion further down the hill. But what I would also say is give it time, and see how it goes. If things aren’t working we can always try and amend the scheme.

I will also be speaking to the leadership of both schools to ask them what they’re doing to encourage their parents to walk and cycle their kids to school during Covid-19.

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Personally I don’t think this sort of comment is particularly appropriate to direct at a single councillor. As Leo said:

Does anyone question why so many people need to drive their kids to school? How big are the catchment areas for these schools? Surely they can’t be more than a mile radius? And yes I appreciate that not everyone can walk but it does sound bad if people are triple parking.

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Our local Councillors do have to be held account for their decisions. Leo took the lead on this. It was Leo’s working group. Leo promised - I emphasise promised face to face - that nothing would happen without the neighbourhood being consulted. Then, as there was no consensus, the whole thing seemed to have fizzled out.

Our Councillors may have been elected, but there is no viable opposition in Lewisham at the moment. They have no mandate to do this. But then around the same time, so were told at a Coordinators’ meeting that the Council’s so called Local Democracy Review was reporting to the Labour Group.

No one in this area needs to drive their children to school, unless that child has mobility issues or there are other extraordinary circumstances. The school must have a school travel plan. I’ll ask them for a copy. I would hope it has some requirement that they have some sanctions on parents that do make unnecessary motorised journeys to school. Shifting the parking chaos onto Kirkdale and other neighbouring streets doesn’t help anyone except those in the closed off streets.

Our Council must have real problems if they have to set about dividing communities in this way.

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