Staveley Rd protest ‘not acceptable’ says council

The Cabinet Member for Transport on Hounslow Council, Cllr Hanif Khan, has described the protests by residents of Park Rd in Grove Park against the installation of a road barrier as part of a new traffic scheme as “illegal activities” and “not acceptable.”

The council is installing a number of new traffic measures throughout the area of Chiswick south of the A4 to try and stop Grove Park and Strand on the Green being used as a rat run by commuters trying to shave a couple of minutes off their journey time.

Traffic surveys have shown that 70% traffic through the residential area just drives straight through. Staveley Rd is a residential street which has high volumes of traffic and drivers also routinely speed down it.

The council’s solution is to put in a diagonal barrier which would make it impossible to drive the whole length of the road. Instead motorists will be forced to turn off it into Park Rd. They hope that by forcing drivers to take a detour the route will cease to be a shortcut, obviating the reason for commuters to use it as a cut through.

On Monday 14 September Park Rd residents occupied the street corners at the junction and the traffic island in the middle of Staveley Rd. A team from Hounslow Highways decided not to try and carry out the work and went on to their next job, after talking to the protesters. The local residents have kept up a token presence every day since.

Hounslow Highways returned on Tuesday 22 September, this time with several police officers present. Again they left without the work being done.

Protesters “do not represent the whole community”

Cllr Khan said:

“We are installing a barrier at Staveley Road / Park Road junction in Chiswick as an experimental trial to prevent motorists using it as a rat-run and make the road safer for walking and cycling. Currently, road traffic and average speeds on the road are excessive, with many residents concerned for their safety. On 14 September our Highways team was prevented from starting works on the road by a group of residents, and we have learned this morning our team was once again prevented from starting work.

“It is not acceptable for a small number of people to prevent the Council from starting this trial simply because they don’t like the idea of it. This group does not represent the whole community.  We know that many residents in the area are fully supportive of the trial taking place and want to experience it in situ so that they can feed back and be part of the decision-making process on whether or not it becomes permanent. In addition, their actions so far have wasted resource and public money by preventing our team from doing their job.

“We strongly encourage those engaged in these illegal activities to step back, follow the law, consider the views of the wider community and give their valued opinion through the consultation process that will run alongside the trial.  It is only by trialling different approaches that we can understand what works and what doesn’t. We will not be deterred from implementing this experimental scheme as a means of finding the most appropriate way of dealing with the issue of excessive levels of traffic on Staveley Road.”

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

It is unclear what law he thinks the protesters are breaking. There were at maximum about 30 people there, mainly middle aged and older, one in a disabled motorised scooter, occupying the island and the street corners, talking to the police and Hounslow Highways workers. The police did not attempt to move them forcibly.

The Chiswick Calendar has received correspondence from a resident of Staveley Rd saying Staveley Rd residents agree with what the council is doing because they are fed up with their street being a dangerous rat run.

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

“Nothing could be further from the truth”

The protesters deny that they are doing anything illegal. “Nothing could be further from the truth” said a member of the Park Rd residents group, who does not want to be named.

“The police complimented the residents present on their peaceful and socially distanced behaviour” he said.

“The police observed that it was not illegal to stand or walk across Pedestrian Refuge Island. There was no breach of the peace or obstruction and no one was either threatened with arrest or arrested”.

They say the council’s stance is “provacative” and “bullying”.

Their case is as follows:
The design of the junction is fatally flawed and dangerous because it removes Pedestrian Refuge Islands. The council undertook a flawed Road Safety Audit and is placing lives at risk. It has not consulted with residents, nor has it checked the plan with the RNIB or Accessibility groups.

They say although the council is using an Experimental Traffic Order procedure, which has to be reversible, it actually has no intention of it being reversible. They also say they understand a class action against the “inappropriate” use of Experimental Traffic Orders is being considered in other boroughs.

Images above: Protesters in Staveley Rd; photographs Andrea Carnevali

They are demanding a meeting with the council to discuss the plans before they are implemented, saying that they are concerned about cyclists but are not as concerned about the safety of pedestrians.

Staveley Rd has proved to be dangerous for cyclists. The correpondent who wrote to The Chiswick Calendar told us that he has answered the door to a cyclist “dripping in blood” on more than one occasion when they’ve been knocked off by a car.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Park Rd residents prevent Hounslow Highways from installing road barrier

See also: Protests in Staveley Rd as workmen return to install barrier