Chiswick’s Lib Dem councillors have carried out a survey among residents of Southfield ward, asking people what they think of the traffic changes to Fisher’s Lane. They’ve found an overwhelming majority against the changes, which were introduced in July. But people don’t want to go back to the status quo ante either. Most people surveyed would prefer Fisher’s Lane to be one-way in one direction and Turnham Green Terrace to be one-way in the other, to make both roads safer and less congested.
LB Ealing, which has jurisdiction over the road underneath the railway bridge on Fisher’s Lane and northwards from South Parade, closed Fisher’s Lane to all vehicular traffic except buses in the summer to make it part of a safe cycle route from Acton to Chiswick, but cars and vans continue to use the road, making it more even dangerous for cyclists than it was before. Local people have criticised inadequate signage and the lack of enforcement for the failure.
The closure of Turnham Green Terrace by LB Hounslow at the same time has increased traffic along South Parade and Bath Rd, as anyone wishing to drive from Bedford Park to the High Rd must now drive west to join Acton Lane or east to join Goldhawk Rd.
Image above: Cllr Malcolm at a virtual council meeting. Top of the page – Cllr Malcolm beside the railway bridge at Fisher’s Lane
Cllr Gary Malcolm, who is a data analyst by profession, sent out a number of questions by email to everyone on the councillors’ database. They have sent out a regular newsletter by email for years and now have several thousand people on the list. Cllr Malcolm told The Chiswick Calendar their emails aren’t overly political, more informative in nature, and a high percentage of local residents read them, so he considers the survey to be representative and unbiased, as far as it was possible to make it so.
Of the 100 or so residential roads within Southfield ward, he had responses from people living in 88, which shows a good spread of local residents. What the survey did not do was to capture the views of drivers and cyclists who routinely used the route and just pass through the area.
The councillors received 1,014 completed surveys. After removing duplications and answers from those living outside Southfield, they analysed 809 replies. There are about 10,300 people of voting age who live in Southfield ward, but Cllr Malcolm says the response has been much greater than is usual for Council Controlled Parking Zone surveys.
One major criticism of the scheme was the lack of consultation.
‘There were 512 respondents who left verbal comments … showing that they had a lot of viewpoints that would have been advantageous to have been captured by Ealing Council if they had conducted a consultation before the scheme was designed.’
Images above: Charts showing the spread of responses from residents in Southfield ward and the strength of feeling against the traffic changes introduced in July
Changes introduced in July have made things ‘worse’
- Seventy-four percent of respondents said they were against the changes to Fishers Lane. (Ten percent were in favour of the changes. Seventeen percent were willing to hear alternatives or alterations.)
- Sixty-eight percent said they have seen things getting worse since the changes were made (this included people who were overall in favour of the changes as well as those against).
- Eighty-nine percent would have liked Ealing Council to have consulted them before making the changes.
- Eighty-two percent of respondents felt that the signage is inadequate.
- Thirteen percent of people say they have been encouraged to cycle or walk more often.
- Sixty-seven percent want to see enforcement cameras to be present and clear for drivers.
- Eighty percent respondents want to see a review of the scheme take place as soon as possible or within the next few weeks
- Of four alternatives given, respondents were only interested in the option where Fishers Lane and Turnham Green Terrace were opened up as one-way streets: Fishers Lane southbound and Turnham Green Terrace northbound.
The four options presented as possible alternatives were:
- Making Fisher’s Lane one-way, south bound only, and Turnham Green Terrace one-way north bound only – Fifty seven percent in favour
- Open up Fisher’s Lane again but keep Turnham Green Terrace closed – Fifteen percent in favour
- Open up Turnham Green Terrace but keep Fisher’s Lane closed – Twenty two percent in favour
- Only close off Turnham Green Terrace and Fisher’s Lane to vehicles at the weekend – Sixteen percent in favour
Images above: Railway bridge at Fisher’s Lane and traffic sign on approach from the south
The closure ‘discriminates against less mobile residents’
Among the responses were several from disabled and less mobile people, who feel that the increase in traffic along South Parade has effectively imprisoned them in their homes.
“I am disabled and can only drive. I moved to Chiswick two years ago because of the high street and the ability to drive and park where I needed to. Last week I couldn’t even turn right at the end of Esmond Road onto South Parade due to the traffic and struggled to sit in traffic with my pain levels so I just returned home.”
“I have shielded for 5 months and now the councils have taken advantage of that and now pretty much stopped me from having the little life that I had. Ignoring Covid, I am now more isolated and distanced from the world because of ignorance and in my opinion prejudice, lack of understanding of disabled people’s needs.”
Images above: Fisher’s Lane from the north and traffic sign on approach at South Parade
What should happen now?
Southfield’s three Lib Dem councillors are now calling for the council to terminate the Fisher’s Lane closure to traffic until a full review is held “which must take into account possible alternatives to the scheme and the viewpoints of those who have given feedback in our survey”.
They want Ealing Council to review the two recent traffic accidents reported on Acton Lane and Fisher’s Lane, to determine whether the introduction of the Fisher’s Lane scheme may have led to an increased risk of an accident for cyclists, walkers or those driving at these locations.
They want Ealing Council to review the signage, in conjunction with Hounslow Council, “as many motorists and other users are not always aware of the changes”.
If Ealing Council does not terminate the scheme, then the Southfield Ward Councillors will look to organise and hold a digital Southfield Ward Forum meeting to discuss the survey results with residents, inviting Transport officers from both Ealing and Hounslow Councils to take part. The survey showed that forty nine percent of respondents would like to attend a virtual public meeting to discuss this topic with a council officer.
Ealing council “embarrassed” says Cllr Malcolm
The leader of Ealing Council, Cllr Julian Bell, survived a vote of no confidence in September by just one vote. It was brought by fellow Labour councillors over the implementation of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in the borough. The council won a second crucial vote at an extraordinary meeting on 20 October.
Cllr Bell said then: ““We know that people have strong views both for and against. What we promise is that their views are being heard.” He promised that each scheme would be re-evaluated once it had been in place for six months.
The closure of Fisher’s Lane is not part of the LTN changes, as it was implemented to introduce a cycle route, but Cllr Malcolm believes the council is open to the decision being reviewed, sooner rather than later, because of the overwhelming opposition.
“The council was a bit embarrassed and are now rowing back a bit, while continuing to support LTNs. They are now willing to have more of an open dialogue”.
“It’s crazy to say this scheme is going ahead whether you like it or not and we will just review it in six months’ time”.
He thinks Ealing and Hounslow did not work together over the introduction of these traffic changes and clearly they needed to. He hopes now they will.
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