Friday, July 21, 2017

Highways and Byways – The Road to Hell

Many of you will have noticed that there are highways works going on in Clayhall Avenue and Forest Road. In days of yore these highways works would have been the subject of a report to Area Committees (or before that the Highways Committee) and would have been published with the agenda papers and available for public inspection and scrutiny in libraries and on the council website.

This is no longer the case. Such works are now dealt with under “delegated authority” by officers in consultation with ward members. There is a paper consultation with “frontages” but it is not open to the general public (who may be users of these roads) to comment, and the rationale and reasoning for such changes, which would have been in a report, are also unavailable to you and me, the council tax-payers.

The first we get to know about it is when the works start, or when the lines are drawn in the road. In fact it was only this week that I learned from a B21 member who lives on Forest Road that there are also to be kerb build outs and more road humps along the section between the roundabout and Fairlop Station.

And today I hear from an ex-councillor about road humps in Tomswood Hill. From a public notice referring to plans that can be viewed at Lynton House, neither of which are available on the council website. Remember that this is a council who want us to interact with them via their website in order to save money …

This is just not acceptable; it is neither transparent nor accountable. Contrast with the public TfL consultations on Charlie Brown’s and Redbridge Roundabouts.

We have written to the council (29 June) recommending that all schemes (not just Highways) due for delegated authority decisions are published in full on the council website complete with rationale and reasons. One may wonder why the opposition in absentia have not already done this?

We have explained that we are getting a great deal of negative feedback on these schemes and that we are no longer in a position to publish details on this blog explaining why the changes are necessary.

The reply from the Head of Engineering is thus:

This is something I am currently looking into with my teams, I will be discussing with Cllrs Athwal/Howard on how we can take this forward and I will keep you informed of progress.

So far this is all we have to go on … click on image to enlarge






5 comments:

  1. Area Committees were removed under the guise of cost savings, when in reality it gave the Labour administration an excuse to prevent public scrutiny / public accountability of their plans, and to govern by committee, behind closed doors, well away from public view.

    From unwanted additional parking schemes, collision inducing road works to unwanted expansion of high rise housing have all been put forward / implemented, without the trouble of having to face the public and their valid concerns.

    Anyone who knows the history of the Forest Road speed humps are well aware that residents did not want them, and the damage they have caused is considerable, finally on 23rd May 2012 they were earmarked for removal.

    However, the Council are still accepting the “inducements” of up to 20% professional fees to implement these schemes, under the guise of “road safety”, so kerb build outs, bollards, chicanes, speed humps, raised entry treatments and new / incorrectly positioned traffic islands and carriageway width reduction continues apace.

    It would appear that the Council have given no regard to motorcyclists, despite The Institute for Highways Engineers & TfL Guidance.

    http://www.motorcycleguidelines.org.uk/the-guidelines/3-0-road-design-traffic-engineering/3-4-road-design/

    http://content.tfl.gov.uk/tfl-urban-motorcycle-design-handbook.pdf

    The laws of unintended consequences have continued, with more accidents / collisions / fatalities when motorists strike obstacles placed in the highway, through to TfL funding speed humps across London, and especially around primary schools, with the result of primary school children now showing an increase in asthma and other respiratory problems.

    Council and highways officers are fully aware of residents continued concerns / objections, but council officer cries of “we will lose the [TfL] funding” continue to allow these schemes to be implemented.

    Still, not to worry, tractor production is up this year, more turnips anyone..?

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  2. I say, you are having a laugh eh? –

    Just about every news report mentions somewhere along the line the subject of pollution. By slowing the traffic even further, your concept for “road safety measures in Forest Road between Fullwell Cross roundabout and the entrance to Fairlop Country Park” will have dire consequences, adding to the pollution by idling cars and the prospective accidents of cars pulling over to avoid the newly installed “kerb build-outs” plus total inconsideration to car owners with the installation of “speed cushions” – Many car suspensions, brakes and various other premature wear and tear and damage to cars is further emphasized by these abominations.

    It is all very noble employing people to draw up these road mazes but myself and many others consider Council’s money be better spent on more serviceable facilities within the Borough.

    Forest Road has become a rat-run for the enormous road carriers which should go through the major road, Woodford Avenue, which runs parallel and often Fairlop Station bridge has fallen victim to oversized panetchnicons because of its height restrictions but not enough information is proffered to these HGV drivers except one, often overlooked sign, which is on show just off the Fairlop Roundabout..

    The residents on Forest Road are greatly affected by the extent of traffic already using the street, often waiting ages to exit their own homes and I suggest a couple of more zebra crossings be installed, holding up some traffic and would be more advantageous rather than the “kerb build-outs” as Forest Road is not, for these extensions, wide enough.

    While on the subject of zebra crossings, whoever decided to put one under the Fairlop Station Bridge has no concept of safety at all. On a bright day, it is often not noticed going through from the light to the shade and unless one is knowledgeable on its existence, pedestrians cannot be 100% noticed, let alone see the crossing itself. To have designed the crossing either before or after the bridge would have made much more sense from a safety point of view.

    Fairlop roundabout is already the second most polluted area in the vicinity, according to a report some while ago from its five road branches, and I reiterate, your proposal to add to this mega-problem is, don’t you think, irresponsible, to say the least.

    Bus-stops I cannot argue with, the idea of buses is acceptable, as it will serve the area by adding less car usage and that is, I presume, more advantageous, although I’ve never seen a full bus to date – isn’t it much more serviceable to use a smaller designed vehicle, more often? Something on the lines of a “Jitney” which is practical well used in Philadelphia and New Jersey, US – they are more economical in gas, therefore less polluting and that is one area where I personally consider the public’s money should be used for drivers and smaller vehicles not in the carbuncles of road lumps.

    You say you are consulting the Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance Services and transport for London – I would be surprised if they are in agreement with the plans for Forest Road’s prospective hold-ups with bumps, pregnant pavements and could, in the most extreme cases, be the cause of endangerment to life through built up traffic rather than to educate pedestrians on how to use “the code of the road.”

    One poor chap recently became “paralyzed” when his bus went over a speed bump – it was in the news…! (Just thought I would mention that)



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  3. Once more we are indebted to the eloquence, expertise and inside knowledge of B21 for shining a bright light into the murky depths of our Council’s behaviour. You never cease to surprise me B21.

    In the current lunatic race to make our local roads as dangerous as possible, I think the entire issue can be summarised in four words. My mantra, as always in cases like this, is ‘look for the money’.

    Because it is quite clear to anyone with the slightest smidgeon of intelligence that none of these new road ‘improvements’ is remotely necessary – indeed some of them are downright suicidal – there can be only one reason for their installation: someone, somewhere is making large amounts of hard cash from these crazy schemes. Either that or the responsible officials are just plain stupid. Take your pick (no road building reference intended).

    If this were not the case I would hope that quite a few people in authority would have had the intelligence to drown these noxious babies at birth.

    The most necessary improvement to road safety in the area has never, to my knowledge, been mooted and if it were to be, the cry would probably go up ‘we can’t afford it!’. Let’s have traffic lights at all the entrances to Fullwell Cross roundabout.

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  4. I am informed that the local authority submit a "Funding Bid" to Transport For London,(TfL) which has been designed by local Council highways officers, sometimes possibly based on questionable data, who may or may not have an eye on the possible 20% "professional fees" incorporated in any given submitted funding bid to TfL.

    A simple Freedom of Information request (FOI) will reveal the amount TfL have spent with a given local council on "schemes" in any given financial year.

    A possible 20% "Professional Fees" of yearly funding bids, is a significant amount of money to any Council....

    One thing is guaranteed, that any given scheme will cost a significant amount of tax-payers money, and will be designed to make driving on the boroughs roads as inconvenient and as uncomfortable as possible to encourage drivers to leave their cars at home, and use public transport.

    http://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/buses-branded-with-their-own-route-colours-going-down-well-in-barkingside-1-5114659

    These "schemes" are funded by Transport For London (TfL). The upkeep and maintenance of any given highways scheme are the responsibility of the local authority and an ongoing additional cost to the local authorities highways budget.

    Has anyone noticed the amount of traffic islands / lamp columns flattened and requiring replacement across the borough?

    If any given scheme has problems, or continues to be damaged by collisions, or affects local residential properties adversely, the remedial costs are borne by the local authority, and the local council tax-payer.

    However, cash strapped councils have no funds to remove or remedy any problems that may arise after TfL have funded a given council designed scheme, so the local residents will have to endure any problems, sometimes for many years, until council officers can devise another scheme, that complies with the latest TfL traffic policies, to apply for further funding, to remedy the problems that the former installed scheme created.

    It may take a number of years for any additional Tfl funding to be granted, and priorities may change, one thing that remains constant is that those who agree, design, implement, monitor and record the success or otherwise on any given scheme will still be paid.

    Follow the money..?

    It is self evident that whatever happens, Council Highways Officers and Officers in Transport For London (TfL) will always be paid, and we, the road using public, will have to endure the results...

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  5. I have been dismayed at the narrowing of the road in CLayhall Avenue for some time, with these "kerb build out". As the markings appear to continue to spread like a rash up Clayhall Avenue, we have discussed as neighbours why such works are being done. Is there some hidden agenda behind this? The council seem to by-pass transparency completely. Except when it suits.

    What a complete waste of money, to reduce the width of a public carriageway, narrow junctions and increase the width of footpaths, when there seems to be more and more traffic on our roads. It is complete lunacy.

    I cannot see that this will make our roads safer. In fact I believe our roads are becoming more dangerous. We are constantly told how council budgets are being cut and yet the money is found for such unnecessary projects as kerb build outs. Yet when some of my neighbours and I asked for a speed hump outside our homes, due to the speed at which some vehicles travel down our road, we were told humps could not be done. The number of times we have nearly been hit by other vehicles as we try to reverse off our driveways is increasing. Where is the safety in that situation?

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