Councillor Poole presented a petition on behalf of the residents of Compton Avenue and Hydes Place requesting that Compton Avenue become access only and for speed restrictions to be installed to prevent it being used as a rat run.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE
Councillor Alice Perry moved a motion under Rule 22(k) of the Constitution to suspend Rule 19.2 (l) and for the rest of Rule19.2 be suspended in so far as is necessary to restrict questions to those asked in advance of the meeting.
Councillor O’Halloran seconded.
The motion was put to vote and
Question (a) from Kiat Phua to Councillor Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport:
Many parents are alarmed by the traffic accident outside Archway Children's Centre, Vorley Road on 28 Jan 2016. A speeding car spun 360 degrees and hit barriers outside the nursery entrance as it headed out to Junction Road. I understand the one-way traffic system on Vorley Road will be reversed from 2016/17. Could the Council make Vorley Road safer by banning left turns from Junction Road as part of the traffic reversal; and look into separating Vorley Road from MacDonald Road as part of the longer-term plan for more affordable housing in the area?
I was shocked to hear about the accident that took place outside the Children’s Centre on Vorley Road. The council takes the safety of all road users seriously. Speeding is unacceptable and will be controlled. We will arrange for speed surveys to be undertaken on Vorley Road to assess vehicle speeds.
The transformation of the Archway Gyratory will of course see the bus stands currently located opposite the Children’s Centre on Vorley Road moved to on-street locations, which will allow the Council to deliver new much needed affordable homes for local people right here in the heart of the Archway town centre.
The relocation of the bus stands and the significant reduction in the number of buses on Vorley Road should help I think to improve safety on Vorley Road, in particular directly outside the Children’s Centre where buses currently pull out of the bus stand.
Whilst banning the left turn is not in the initial road scheme, I am certainly open to the idea of doing so, but after we’ve understood how the traffic actually behaves. There are some difficulties that would be created if we did ban the left turn, in particular for Bredgar Road, where Hargrave Park School is located. I therefore want to make sure that banning the left turn, which is entirely within the powers of the Council, would be fully justified, before consulting on a proposal to introduce such a change. We don’t have a crystal ball so we will monitor traffic flows closely with TfL and review how the scheme is working up to and including 6 months. It’s at that point when we will look at whether to ban the left turn from Junction Road.
I hope that ultimately the changes to traffic and public space and the removal of the bus stand from Vorley Road will indeed lead to a safer and better environment on Vorley Road for communities and children
I am really not convinced by your response. There is already a high level of pollution and modelling has already been done. We are really concerned about this. I saw your comments to Kiat about traffic flow, but we know young children are susceptible to lung damage. We are right on the pavement, which itself is very narrow and buses will pass almost in front of the building. There will be a huge increase in the number of cars and in pollution. Something like 1,200 families use the centre. We would really like to know why you are not interceding on our behalf with TfL? We don’t understand why it has not been considered more closely. We’ve provided lots of information and no-one seems to be picking it up.
Thank you for your supplementary question. Very early on in the consultation, which closed in January, we made very strong and clear representations about the gyratory and banned right turn and we made the representation publically. We said that banning the right turn would lead to increased levels of traffic on Vorley Road and asked TfL to consider the children’s centre, but that consultation has closed and the decision has been made. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a the same time as arguing for a scheme to go ahead to improve the area, we have been arguing the case for residents and children. We are concerned about safety, that’s why we made the strong representations we did and it was not just me, your local councillors also made representations and the representations are ongoing. We have indicated that we are minded to consider banning the left turn, but we don’t have a crystal ball and need to look at it once the scheme is in place. We will monitor it and bring about changes as necessary; that’s our commitment.
Question (b) from Claudine Fry to Councillor Claudia Webbe, Executive Member for Environment and Transport:
What are you doing to ensure that the 600+ families who regularly use the highly-regarded Archway Children’s Centre are not exposed to high levels of pollution and danger as a result of the gyratory changes which will reroute heavy traffic along the narrow street the centre is located on?
Thank you for your question about air quality. The council is committed to improving air quality in the borough. We recognise that air pollution is a major cause of serious and long-term health issues and the council has a very clear policy and approach to reduce pollution. This is not just a challenge for Archway, as the whole borough has been declared as an area where air quality needs to be improved, such are the level of concentrations.
The reality of how we do that is by reducing the number of older diesel buses that travel through Islington. Diesel buses and coaches are responsible for 40 per cent of the nitrogen dioxide emissions in the borough. Whilst the council has made its own fleet of vehicles one of the greenest in the country, TfL has been slow in taking old diesel buses off the roads and replacing them with cleaner hybrid vehicles. That’s why I’ve been campaigning for the current Mayor to make all the buses operating from the Holloway bus garage hybrid by this year. Sadly, the current Mayor has managed to progress only one quarter of the target required. It will be down to the next Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, to deliver the change that we need.
In terms of the planned changes for Archway, and more specifically Vorley Road on which the Archway Children’s Centre is located, the new changes to the gyratory will take a significant number of buses off Vorley Road.
Removing the bus stand from directly opposite the Archway Children’s Centre should also help in reducing pollution. This will also help in reducing the risk of accidents, with fewer buses pulling out of the stand and into Vorley Road directly outside the Children’s Centre.
In addition, TfL has agreed that buses will switch off their engines when parked at the relocated bus stands, meaning pollution drops further, and we will monitor this to ensure that this happens.
We will monitor the impacts of the highway changes and we are working with the local community to monitor local air quality by putting air quality monitoring measures in place. These measurements will be repeated after the introduction of the highway changes.
We should also remember that the council’s 20mph speed limit policy will ensure that vehicles travel at a reduced speed; making roads in the local area safer for all, and helping also to reduce emissions.
We should also take note of the council’s other policies to improve air quality, such as the diesel surcharge on resident parking permits; the ‘car-free’ planning policy for new developments and making sure new developments are air quality neutral or better; and the anti-engine-idling policy and enforcement.
I can assure you that this council does take tackling air quality seriously and we are working to reduce pollution. We know there is more to be done and are working hard to reduce emissions.
I’m one of the hundreds of parents who use the Archway Centre and I find your answer totally unsatisfactory. These changes will turn a quiet road into a major highway. It’s simply re-routing the gyratory through a small road that is not suitable; it contains a children’s centre and a housing estate. We don’t need to wait for tests. You can see the levels of traffic and know what will be going up Vorley Road. What will you do to address pollution levels that are already illegal and will only get higher?
I’ve outlined what the Council is doing. We can’t simply just address Vorley Road; air pollution is a problem for the whole of Islington. We are taking it seriously; we don’t believe that a clean diesel has been made yet, we don’t believe that Euro6 is good enough. We’ve taken very serious action to address air pollution in terms of our policies. With regard to Vorley Road I think that your point is about the banned right turn. Air pollution is a London and Islington wide problem and what we are doing is coming up with a series of measures. We haven’t just started; we’ve taken air pollution seriously for a long time. We responded to the consultation and made strong arguments against the banned right turn. Our response is on record. It’s not true to say that all traffic will end up on Vorley Road. We need to monitor what actually happens to traffic and work with the community to manage it. We want to work with you and will continue to do so.