When Hounslow Highway workers turned up today to take out the central traffic island in Staveley Rd at the junction with Park Rd and install a barrier as part of LB Hounslow’s new traffic restrictions, the local residents were ready for them.
Protesting is difficult while observing social distancing, but they opted for six on each corner and a small group in the middle of the road – a maximum of 24. That was enough for the electrician and labourers employed to start installing the Grove Park ‘liveable neighbourhood’ to give it up as a bad job and go on to their next engagement.
“We all see the problem of rat-running”, said Cllr Sam Hearn, whose own house is on Park Rd, “but these things have been foisted on us with no consultation”.
A spokesman for the Park Rd neighbours group, who preferred not to be named, told The Chiswick Calendar they had been “overlooked” by the council and that the ‘have your say’ survey on the council’s website was biased against opposition, as he says it allowed people to agree with comments but not to oppose them.
The ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ plan is aimed at stopping commuters following their sat navs’ instructions and zig-zagging through a residential neighbourhood to avoid Hogarth roundabout, in order to shave a couple of minutes off their journey time. Traffic surveys have shown that over 70% of traffic entering Hartington Road from the A316 by Chiswick Bridge is driving straight through the area. Sutton Court Road has over 8,000 vehicles per day.
Part of the proposed ‘liveable neighbourhood’ scheme for Grove Park is to build a diagonal barrier across Staveley Rd to prevent people speeding down it and using it as a cut through. Some local residents are in favour of the scheme, but others are not. The barrier would allow people living in Staveley Rd to access their properties, but would force traffic from the east to turn south, the opposite direction from their planned cut through. Westbound drivers would be forced to head north, effectively stopping commuters using the road as a rat run by making their journey longer.
“Pitting neighbour against neighbour”
This scheme is tantamount to bullying the Park Rd residents group spokesman told me.
“It’s pitting neighbour against neighbour and friend against friend”.
Conservative councillors support those who are against the introduction of the barrier. Cllr Hearn told The Chiswick Calendar he was there in a supporting role rather than as an organiser. He told us he informed the Hounslow Highways superviser that the safety audit for the job was incomplete.
Cllr Hearn initially welcomed the liveable neighbourhoods proposals generally, which include the introduction of ‘school streets’ at Chiswick School and Grove Park Primary School, and making Hartington Rd from Chiswick Bridge to Kew Bridge into a no through route.
No consideration of pedestrians
The spokesman for the Park Rd neighbours group told us that taking out the traffic island in the middle of Staveley Rd and the give way signs at the junctions with Park Rd north and south would make the junction dangerous for pedestrians. If there had been a proper road safety audit done, this would have taken the interests of pedestrians into consideration.
He was also highly sceptical that that the changes would be temporary.
“People don’t trust the council. The flyover at Hogarth roundabout was temporary and that was introduced 30 years ago.
“TfL is bust and local authorities’ finances will be even more constrained in the future so the chances of this being reversed are zero”.
After quick consultations with their HQ by phone, and coffee with one of the local residents, the Hounslow Highways team were on their way. 1-0 to the protesters.
What the Park Rd residents group would like to see happen next is for LB Hounslow to enter into a consultation with residents.
“They need to listen to us” their spokesman said.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Radical plans for south Chiswick