Wednesday, January 22, 2014
A Political row over 10 yards
We have been keeping an eye on the Clayhall Avenue U-turn saga for some time now. We, Barkingside 21, get a lot of feedback on this issue mostly from people complaining about the congestion, safety issues and U-Turns (both legal and illegal), in Clayhall Avenue in between the width restriction and Woodford Avenue. This goes way back before the CCTV camera was installed there and started fining drivers for legal U-Turns in March 2011. Something that the council had to back-track on.
Since then officers have been asked by Area Committee 4 to examine extending the Traffic Management Order so that U-Turns are also banned in the gap just before the width restriction, but they could not make this decision on their own because this part of Clayhall Avenue is split between Areas 3 and 4. Area 3 were asked for their view and duly agreed to the proposal.
Then we had a petition from Hill Farm residents opposing the proposed ban extension and a post on the Roding councillors site dealing with the issue followed by a report in the Ilford Recorder.
In the meantime it was revealed that Transport for London had agreed to look into the possibility of providing a roundabout at the Clayhall Avenue/ Woodford Avenue junction. However, we all know how long these things take – it has taken several years to get signalisation and pedestrian crossings at Charlie Brown’s roundabout back onto the agenda and before that there was a lengthy campaign before the issue was buried.
And so it came to pass that Area 2 was consulted on this issue yesterday evening at their committee meeting and I decided to go along and listen to what they had to say. Now, at a council meeting I attended back in 2002 (Cllrs Bond and O’Shea were there) I was told in no uncertain terms by (then Cllr) Morris Hickey “a consultation is not a mandate”. And if I read the officer’s report correctly (paras 4.8 and 4.9) Areas 3 & 4 can proceed with this proposal provided they follow the correct protocol, no matter what Area 2 say or decide. However, Cllr Bond did say that “if Areas 3 & 4 make the wrong [sic!] decision there are still ways that it can be challenged”.
In the end they decided to oppose the proposal by 7 votes to 4 with Cllr O’Shea voting with the 6 Liberal Democrats. I won’t bore you with the arguments put forward by Cllrs Deakins and Bond - they are documented quite well on their website linked to above.
What I want to draw attention to here is that the most critical and insightful comment of the evening was (it seemed) completely ignored by everybody except me, and came ironically from the one councillor who abstained on the vote – Cllr Turbefield.
What he pointed out, but not quite in this way, was this: if the U-Turn ban is extended up to the width restriction it does not prevent U-Turns the other side of the width restriction - a matter of about 10 yards. So all the talk of inconvenience, long detours and rat running traffic through Clayhall is nonsense.
The U-Turns will just carry on 10 yards up the road.
How much council time, effort and tax£s has all this activity cost?