Chiswick’s traffic woes make national papers

Image above: Sunday Express article about Staveley Rd; Sunday Telegraph article about Chiswick’s traffic measures, Sunday 11 October 2020

Chiswick has been described as being ‘like Belfast in the Troubles’ and Grove Park and Strand on the Green ‘a ghetto’ in the past week as political hyperbole has replaced intelligent debate over the traffic measures introduced by Hounslow and Ealing councils over the summer.

A young man on a bike was injured on Saturday, hit by a car on Fisher’s Lane. The man, who has not been named, was treated by an ambulance crew at the scene and then taken to hospital. The road underneath the railway bridge is supposed to be closed to all vehicular traffic except for buses. There are signposts at both ends saying it’s closed. Our reporter Matt Smith still filmed four cars driving through in the space of five minutes on Monday.

Meanwhile Chiswick’s traffic changes were featured in two national papers over the weekend.

Sunday Telegraph – Chiswick a ‘cash cow’

The Sunday Telegraph has picked up on the fact that LB Hounslow has issued more than 4,000 fines on Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace since both roads were closed to through traffic in June. We reported on the story last week. The data, acquired by Cllr John Todd, shows that LB Hounslow has issued a total of 4,024 Penalty Traffic Notices in Devonshire Rd and Turnham Green Terrace between June and the end of September.

The total face value of these tickets at £130 per ticket is £523,120, but most drivers who have opted to pay their fine have paid up within the discount period, paying £65 rather than the full amount. As of Wednesday 30 September 2020, 1,487 drivers had paid the PCN issued to them, netting the council £99,125.

‘Grant Shapps’ green roads revolution used by councils as “cash cow” ‘declared the newspaper.

Unclear as to whether they’re more cross with the Conservative minister for initiating a ‘green revolution’ or the councils for acting on it, the Telegraph continues:

‘Low traffic neighbourhoods have been implemented across London boroughs with Government grants but have proven hugely divisive’.

‘Hugely divisive’ may be something of an understatement in Chiswick.

Images above: Murals of King William III, aka William of Orange and Republican hunger striker Bobby Sands transposed from their rightful home in Belfast to Turnham Green Terrace

Chiswick ‘like Belfast in the Troubles’

Cllr Joanna Biddolph wrote that one resident (who remained un-named) had likened Chiswick to ‘Belfast during the Troubles’ since the introduction of new traffic measures this summer. The comment was immediately seized upon by Chiswick people from Northern Ireland as deeply distasteful.

Alan McBride tweeted: ‘As someone who grew up in Belfast during the troubles and now lives in Chiswick – I find that comment offensive’.

Someone who tweets as Marcus Darcus wrote: ‘Friends murdered, house bombed, stabbed for having the cheek to walk in a sectarian enclave, avoiding certain bus routes due to sectarianism, listening to bombs going off whilst sitting in Latin class (admittedly bloody Friday 1970’s), yep, Chiswick, a photocopy of 1980’s Belfast’.

This from John Dale:

The idea that the measures being introduced in Grove Park and Strand on the Green would turn it into a ‘ghetto’, according to Cllr Biddolph, (bloody expensive for a ghetto) was also roundly condemned as inappropriate, since ‘ghetto’ conjures up images of poverty, violence and discrimination, and to those whose families were killed in the Holocaust, worse, as traps for rounding up the Nazis’ victims en route to concentration camps.

My dictionary gives two meanings: ‘a part of a city, especially a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups’ and ‘put in or restrict to an isolated or segregated area or group’.

Let’s assume she meant the more anodyne definition. It describes the complete opposite of what is planned – it’s designed to stop commuters driving into it; it does nothing to stop the inhabitants getting out. Still, I suspect many a Chsiwick teenager, desperate to down play their middle-classness, will be rejoicing that they are now considered ‘ghetto’.

Irish writer Polly Devlin, who lives in Bedford Park, sounded off on social media:

“For heaven’s sake can you please stop this whining apocalyptic stuff because you are being asked to stop using your cars so much. It would befit you better to get out of you polluting comfort  zone and walk and take public transport like most of of us. I’m sick and tired of these squealing adolescent noises coming from you lot.”

Images above: Cherry blossom on Staveley Rd

The flowers that bloom in the spring

The Sunday Express also had an article about Chiswick. It started thus:

‘A cherry blossom treat beloved of the the Queen Mother and the Queen has been blocked off to cars. Both mother and daughter would insist royal chauffeurs detour down the cherry-lined street as they travelled from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace in springtime’.

Does anyone have any actual proof of that? I have heard, from different sources, that it was the Queen Mother, Princess Alice or Queen Mary (never the current Queen) who liked to come and see the cherry blossom in Staveley Rd. I may even have perpetuated the idea, as it’s rather nice, but I’ve never been able to ascertain that the story is any more than a pleasing urban myth.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love it to to be true, but as Gilbert and Sullivan might have said: ‘the flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la, have nothing to do with the case’. For a start the Queen Mum’s been dead for nearly 20 years, so she’s hardly going to miss it. But more to the point, a diagonal barrier across the road would not stop her, or anyone else driving along it to appreciate the beauty of the blossom. They’d just have to drive in a figure of eight, is all, rather than in one end and out the other.

‘The Queen Mother died in 2002 aged 101 and Chiswick was included in the funeral car route from Westminster Abbey to Windsor’ says the Sunday Express wistfully. Yes. That’s because Chiswick is on a direct route between the M4 and central London, not so that she could have one last look at the flowers. That’s why we have so much bloody traffic.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: New bollards being installed on Turnham Green Terrace

See also: Motorists still ignoring Fisher’s Lane closure

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