Road Closures go ahead despite opposition

Loughborough Junction Residents Association received an email this morning:

Dear Loughborough Residents Association
Following your email last week, I am now in a position to reply to your queries concerning the Loughborough Junction Public Space scheme. The statutory consultation ended on 31stOctober and the responses reveal that there is an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the proposed scheme:
•         78% support making Loughborough Road a more pedestrian and cycle friendly space;
•         69% support the six month experimental closure of Loughborough Road to through-traffic in the section outside Wyck Gardens
•         66% in favour of the experimental closures of Barrington road, Lilford Road, Gordon Grove, Calais Street and Padfield Road.
•         64% support in the future, the permanent closure of Loughborough Road to through traffic in the section outside Wyck Gardens and
•         60% support, in the future, the introduction of permanent measures to stop through traffic using Barrington Road, Lilford Road, Gordon Grove, Calais Street and Padfield Road.

I note that a petition against the proposed scheme was recently submitted to the council. I must, however, take into account that those who responded to the statutory consultation have had the benefit of, and the opportunity to, review the proposed scheme in detail before forming their opinions and responding.  I will nevertheless take into account any concerns about the proposals.

Should the scheme proceed, the road closures will initially be on a temporary basis. This  should give all parties the opportunity to evaluate the impact of the road closures and consider whether or how the proposed scheme needs to be adapted to overcome material concerns.

No decisions will be made until I have had an opportunity to discuss matters with officers, local councillors and community groups. I will of course share a copy of the consultation report as soon as it is available.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Jennifer Brathwaite
Cabinet Member for Environment

It should be noted that this information has not been communicated to all those who responded to the consultation and again shows the focus on the wishes of the Loughborough Junction Action Group rather than the wider area affected (remember that they were not even planning to consult Vassall Ward despite the number of closures in this ward).

The Loughborough Estate Tenants and Residents Assocation (LETRA) are against the proposals and have proposed this response:

Dear Councillor Brathwaite,
I would like to express my disappointment at the manner in which you have responded to us regarding the loughborough junction scheme.  The main element of your response that I wish to take issue with, is your blasé dismissal of the 700+ signatories to the petition opposing this scheme.

When you began your consultation, you made no attempt to directly inform anyone in the area that the consultation was taking place, or that it consisted of consultation forms placed beside a display board inside a community centre that is sadly underused. There was not even a public advertisement on the outside of the Loughborough Centre that it was there and indeed I met staff in the housing office in the other side of the same building who were not even aware that it was there. 

In that context, the residents who issued a newslettter to every door, put on a special consultation meeting and put up posters to advertise it, as well as gave residents the opportunity to register their views through a petition, should be commended for making the consultation meaningful rather than dismissed as uninformed or ignorant.  By signing the petition residents took part in the consultation process in a way which is every bit as valid as those residents who filled in your official consultation form.  Indeed I would go further as to assert that your consultation form positively discouraged rather than engaged residents’ participation in the consultation and I personally complained about this at the car free day event when the consultation was launched.

A 4-page form which starts with a question asking people to think of a number of words to describe the area, comes across more like a GCSE english exam, and is very alienating for anyone who struggles with literacy, form-filling or with written english.  I strongly suggested that a comment book should also be available alongside the forms for people who would like to make a more straightforward response to the proposals. This was never done. It is quite offensive, and bordering on discriminatory, that you would choose to only pay regard to those residents who used this daunting consultation form to register their views.

You fail to report how many residents actually filled out the forms and I think this would be vital information rather than the percentages which on their own are quite meaningless. LETRA also actively encouraged residents to email Lambeth directly or attend our meetings to voice their opinions. Have you made any attempt to collate the figures for those types of feedback? You are quoted in the South London Press Nov 14th describing the ‘full consultation’ that has taken place on these proposals. But it was in response to a litany of complaints voiced at our public meeting about the fundamentally flawed nature of the consultation, that your own officers suggested the consultation be suspended rather than extended again as residents had requested.

We understood that the suspension of the consultation was a recognition that it’s findings could not be viewed as conclusive and that Lambeth officers recognised the need to engage in a proper discussion with the community regardless of the ostensible outcome of this particular consultation.  They promised to “come back to LETRA with the results and more information about options to have a discussion about how to take things forward.  This could mean a fresh consultation, working with LETRA to make sure people on the estate have a say.”  Your response, however, gives no indication whatsoever that you understand how completely inadequate the consultation process has been. If you are using these statistics to advise officers and councillors who will make the final decisions then I believe you are entirely misleading them.

I can assure you that the response to the scheme has not been ‘overwhelmingly positive’ and it is unlikely that people will respond positively to your decision to disregard the petition against it either.  Rather than pressing ahead regardless with these flawed proposals I hope you will listen to all the views expressed by residents during the consultation period, and work with us to develop other options to improve the area.

Yours faithfully
Grace Lally, Secretary LETRA

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