Cabinet member called a ‘liar’ and told to resign
LB Hounslow’s Scrutiny Committee has demanded that the council look again at the decisions it has made on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.
After an acrimonious meeting last week in which Labour councillor Richard Eason called for the resignation of his Labour colleagues, Cllr Khan and Cllr Katherine Dunne and Chiswick Conservative Cllr Ron Mushiso accused Cllr Khan of lying, the Scrutiny committee has thrown the whole decision making process back to Cabinet to be discussed tonight (Tuesday 8 December).
LB Hounslow is due to start an interim review of the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes they introduced in the summer, on Wednesday 9 December. They commissioned a report by an independent urban planning consultancy, Steer, which the key decision making councillors: Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Hanif Khan, Cabinet Member for Communities Cllr Katherine Dunne and Cabinet Member for Highways, Cllr Guy Lambert will discuss with the council’s traffic management officers, along with the feedback from residents they’ve received as part of the public consultation.
The Scrutiny committee has demanded they throw the whole process open to ‘proper’ consultation. The report by the Scrutiny committee chairman Cllr. Khulique Malik says the decisions were made with inadequate consultation with either ward councillors or ‘stakeholders’.
‘Proper’ consultation needed
Cllr Malik calls for ‘adequate and proper consultation as part of the interim and final review’ of Streetspace phases 1 and 2 (which include Turnham Green Terrace, Deconshire Rd and south Chiswick schemes) and ‘comprehensive consultations’ on the next phase of Streetspace initiatives, (which would include Low Traffric Neighbourhoods in Bedford Park).
Two key decisions were made by the Cabinet members on 20 October: that they should approve the process for undertaking interim and final reviews on Streetspace schemes themselves, and that they should consider and approve, in principle, the proposed phase 3 Streetspace schemes (yet to be designed).
Both Labour Cllr Richard Eason and Chiswick’s Conservative Cllr John Todd ‘called in’ those decisions, saying that they were too big for a handful of Cabinet members to make by themselves, without proper consultation with ward councillors and residents.
Cllr Malik’s report found there had not had adequate consultation prior to the decision. ‘The Committee considered that ward councillors had not been consulted properly nor had stakeholders, people who are digitally excluded and people with protected characteristics’.
They found that there was ‘inadequate evidence’ on which to base the decision. The Committee believed modelling should have been done prior to the decision.
They found that the action was ‘not proportionate to the desired outcome’. Based on the evidence, the Committee found that in the design of phase 3, local need and impact should be considered.
They also found that potentially there is the basis for a challenge on the grounds of equalities or human rights. Based on the evidence they received, the Committee considered the equality impact assessment was ‘inadequate’.
Images above: Cllr Katherine Dunne; Cllr Guy Lambert; Cllr Hanif Khan
Cabinet must reconsider
They have asked Hounslow’s Cabinet to consider the following:
On carrying out the interim and final reviews of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, they should ensure ‘adequate and proper consultation’, including:
- use an organisation that is a member of the Market Research Society for the consultations;
- ensure that digitally excluded people and people with protected characteristics are enabled to participate fully in all the consultations;
- embrace the value of ‘Passing on the power’ and deepen the organisation’s approach to engagement by using different methods to engage the public;
- provide feedback or reports on the methods used to engage the public in these reviews.
These were all points raised by Cllr Joanna Biddolph at the Scrutiny committee meeting on 30 November.
On considering and approving, in principle, the proposed phase 3 Streetspace schemes, they should ensure comprehensive consultations on the overall policy and individual schemes by setting out the consultation approach as well as:
- appoint an independent organisation that is a member of the Market Research Society to lead the consultation to select the schemes;
- provide the evidence of the need or desire for the scheme and listen to local voices;
- ensure that ward councillors, as local community leaders, other local community leaders, and stakeholders are informed and engaged in the phase 3 development and roll-out;
- provide mechanisms for emergency rapid reviews of these schemes; and
- set out the learnings, including but not limited to the unintended consequences identified from previous implementations, and use these to inform phase 3 consultations and implementation.
- conduct traffic modelling of each LTN individually and collectively, to determine the possible impact on neighbouring areas as well as on the wider area, and publish the outcomes of the modelling before a decision is made;
- take into account the equalities and human rights impacts through a deep consideration of the impacts of each scheme, this should be actively sought, documented and monitored.
The Scrutiny Committee report has been added to the agenda for the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 8 December for its urgent consideration.
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