Councillors write to Transport Secretary protesting Chiswick’s traffic changes

14 September, 2020 / by Matt Smith

Chiswick’s Conservative councillors have sent an open letter to the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to act swiftly to reverse the controversial new traffic measures put in place by Hounslow and Ealing councils over the summer.

Condemning ‘the absence of any proper consultation, traffic modelling or up-to-date evidence of vehicle volumes’, the councillors say that the measures are ‘a hammer blow to many small retailers trying to get back on their feet after lock-down restrictions were eased’ and are turning south Chiswick into ‘an unliveable neighbourhood’.

Speaking on behalf of the nine councillors who represent Chiswick on Hounslow Council, the group’s Transport spokesperson, Cllr Sam Hearn, said:

“There is unanimity across Hounslow Council and amongst Chiswick residents that we want to end the scourge of rat-running, curb excessive speeds and discourage unnecessary car journeys. These are laudable objectives but the complex and draconian measures being imposed under the guise of the Covid-19 emergency are having many perverse effects. Many of the changes are sadly making the lives of residents worse, not better”.

Cllr Hearn continued:

“Our attempts to engage constructively with Hounslow’s Labour administration and Transport for London have been largely rebuffed. There is surely no shame in admitting that you have got something wrong and that you need to pause while reconsidering? Hounslow Council are not prepared to do this. We are therefore left with no alternative but to call on the Minister to intervene and prevent further traffic chaos.”

Images above: Councillor Sam Hearn; traffic congestion down Turnham Green Terrace in a recent photograph by Hugh Johnson

Residents starting to get fines

A raft of temporary traffic measures were introduced by Hounslow Council earlier this year on Turnham Green Terrace and Devonshire Road, which LB Hounslow said were to meet with the Government’s guidelines for social distancing. Car parking spaces were removed so that pedestrians could walk in the road.

Through-journeys aren’t allowed on either road, but residents have complained that signs which say the roads are for ‘access only’ don’t explain what that means. Drivers may pick up or drop off bulk and heavy goods by parking in the loading bays, as long as they are gone within 20 minutes.

An Automatic Number Plate Recognition camera is issuing fines for those who breach the rules on Turnham Green Terrace, and a mobile CCTV van has been positioned on Devonshire Road.

Drivers have started to received fines for breaching the restrictions, and some have appealed the PCN notices, saying they either hadn’t noticed the signs or didn’t understand what they meant.

Ealing Council have also introduced traffic restrictions on Fisher’s Lane, stopping people from driving under the railway bridge. In August it was revealed that the council would not be enforcing the traffic measures on Fisher’s Lane due to ‘financial constraints’. The road was closed to all vehicular traffic, except buses, towards the end of July.

Locals ‘upset and frustrated’

Although there has been publicity in local media since the changes were first mooted, for some local residents, the first they knew about it was when they received a fine, they say. Several people who have contacted The Chiswick Calendar say either that the signage is unclear or that they were completely unaware of the changes before receiving their fine.

One Hammersmith resident, who received a fine after she drove down Turnham Green Terrace to drop off bags at a charity shop, said that it had been her intention to stop an unload bags, but because it was a Bank holiday, the shop was closed and so she drove straight through.

In an e-mail to the Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Transport, Hanif Khan, she said:

“As a long term user of the great facilities in Chiswick, but not a resident as I live up the road in Hammersmith & Fulham, I had heard rumours of the changes – but had not received any official notices – eg letters, consultation, council communications (not my Council)”.

“It has been a challenge to keep up with all the new restrictions and indeed spot the signage (very poor and not noticeable for regular users)”.

“Having received a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) for an alleged contravention on 31 August … I am rather upset and frustrated that the signage is not all clear. I am also concerned that, although I was using the route for permitted access, I still received a PCN. I sympathise with some of the shopkeepers who feel this may be affecting their trade”.

One shopkeeper, who also lives locally, told The Chiswick Calendar that although his van drivers are permitted to stop in Turnham Green Terrace, often there isn’t a space, so they have started parking in parking bays in Elliot Rd. They realise this is taking away a space from a would-be shopper, but don’t want the hassle of being fined and having to appeal it every time.

Another resident wrote on social media saying that “I have driven along Turnham Green Terrace for years and was completely unaware of the new rules. Other cars were driving along as normal just as before and I never saw any signs. Later, I checked on foot and did find them but when you are in a car on a familiar road your attention is on pedestrians and other vehicles”.

Another local resident, @RashadinLondon, said on Twitter “The signage is completely inappropriate and is placed in a position that IF noticed it will be too late to reverse and turn around without the risk of accidents”.

Petition to change the traffic restrictions

A petition about the closure of Turnham Green Terrace and Fishers Lane has received over 4,000 signatures. It claims that although the road closures may have been introduced with good intentions, alternative routes are now seeing increasing levels of pollution and congestion as a result of the changes.

The petition is available here:

change.org/p/hounslow-and-ealing-councils-petition-against-closure-fishers-lane-and-turnham-green-terrace-in-chiswick-to-cars

You can also make your opinions about the changes known to LB Hounslow at:

haveyoursay.hounslow.gov.uk/traffic-and-transport/streetspace-feedback/

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Work starting on temporary Cycleway 9

See also: Fishers Lane traffic measures ‘will not be enforced’ by Ealing Council