Patrica Richardson has lived on Manor Lane Terrace since 1979. Patricia, who is in her mid 70s, was born and brought up in Leahurst Road and went to Manor Lane primary, as it then was. Her maternal grandparents lived on Fernbrook Road. Her husband, Peter, who has disabilities, is on the coordinators committee for the Local Assemblies and was also on the Lewisham “Transport Committee”, which morphed into “Healthier Neighbourhoods”. They have both been very active members of the community, fighting to save libraries in the area since 1999, and have been committee members for the Lee Forum since it began.
In February 2020 Patricia sent an email to Lewisham’s mayor, Damien Egan. They never received a response – possibly as all such feedback was to be directed to “commonplace”, a platform wholly unsuitable for broad feedback. In their letter, they foresaw nearly all of the problems that are only now, 14 weeks into a trial, being acknowledged. We are grateful that Mayor Egan is now more personally involved and seems to be listening in a way that our campaigning councillors have not. Patricia gave us permission to publish her letter in full, below.
Dear Mayor Egan,
These questions need answering for the benefit of local residents of Lewisham and local democracy.
TFL constant advertising quote: EVERY JOURNEY MATTERS! Really? Well, read on to find out how our journeys will be comprised by TFL plans, eagerly seized upon by the local council and paid for with public money.
There is no doubt that the project has been poorly managed from the start by council officers and councillors. Calling the project “Healthier Neighbourhoods”, with no reference in the title to roads, road closures, parking, traffic movement was misleading to say the least.
Councillors promote the scheme rather than represent fairly the differing views of residents, or listen to the difficulties caused to residents.
Information released at Local Assemblies, to Assembly Co-ordinators or the HN Working Party (my husband is a co-ordinator and working party member) proved to be contradictory and unclear and changed regularly. (Please look at the first plan for Road Closures and ask how the second current plan came into being. Whose influence was at work here? We were not included. Why have other residents now been penalised and discriminated against?)
The so-called consultation: Firstly the mail-drop was not comprehensive in Lee Green Ward, in spite of denials by officialdom. Secondly it was on-line, therefore excluding certain residents. Thirdly residents put in their views, so it was virtually a free-for –all. One of our residents has scrutinised the returns noting that fewer than 200 wanted road closures, but nearly 900 residents signed the petition late last year asking for a re-think, as they were aghast at the impact the first list of proposals would have had.
We needed a proper consultation that is clear and accurate with recorded information on the trial design, taking note of problems that would be caused.
Adjacent Wards: Grove Park, Blackheath, Lewisham Central wards and the RBG will all be affected, either by being cut off for access, passing through to other parts of the borough and finding other routes. They were excluded.
Borough wide access: Council services, facilities and other facilities, the hospital, doctors, dentists, vets,adult education, libraries, sports facilities, pools, churches, church meeting halls, schools, cafes, restaurants, railway stations, shops, the industrial estate …… how do we get there? The under 40 year old (whose name I have) to whom I (aged 74) addressed my question – How do I get from Manor Lane Terrace to Brockley Rise Adult Education Centre with my equipment and my neighbour? His advice was to join traffic on the Lee High Road, drive to Lewisham, left into Rennell Street, round the back of the precinct into Lewisham High Street and down to the Ladywell turn off. He also said “Well, that is just you.” I replied that was why I was asking the question. It means more time on the road, increased use of petrol, adding to the road congestion – Fine! That is until further street cut-offs occur in other areas of the borough, as is planned. Alternatively I could go east on the Lee High Road, cross over and into traffic, and get to the south circular, to go through Catford etc etc. When I asked about the extra traffic forced on to these roads I was told that the “models” showed as the journey becomes more congested fewer cars will use that route. So where will it go? There was NO answer!
And I foolishly thought Lewisham council wanted us to use its services, especially those contributing to well-being in old age. Ditto Mayor of London’s policy!
The Town Hall for meetings, participating in democracy and consultations will require 2 buses.
Returning means night time journeys and then walking, possibly risky, at night. Or, driving on the new routes will take longer, therefore more pollution.
Lee Green Assembly Priority: At the meeting on 30/10/2020 those at the meeting voted in favour of the priority of the Assembly to be the vulnerable. It is some of those vulnerable who will be affected by the proposals. The mantra is to walk or cycle and this is presented by officers and councillors, mostly under 40 (pace Cllr Mallory.) No mention was made of accomplishing either in bad weather or through dark nights. An investigation is needed into problems created for those, elderly, infirm, physically disadvantaged who need car transport and not a roundabout route.
No Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out.
Was it not Neil Kinnock who warned “Do not be old or sick in Tory Britain.” Will that now apply to Labour Lewisham?
The under 40s need to refer back to Shakespeare’s “Seven Ages of Man” it comes to all of us eventually, and its problems.
Emergency vehicles: Fire, Police, Ambulance … all sometimes in a great hurry, especially ambulances attending an emergency, and then getting the patient back to hospital. Please explain CLEARLY what is the extra time needed to unlock then re-lock modal filters on the outward journey, then back to the hospital with an emergency patient. Such delays could affect all levels of society.
Disparity: This varies each time new proposals surface.
Why have the original road closures been abandoned in favour of others? Whose influence was at work here? Why are residents who live north of Kellerton Road, including Northbrook, MLT, Murillo, Rembrandt, Abernethy, Lochaber, Old Road being penalised for problems they do not experience? We will have only one way out of the ward to anywhere and using the Lee High Road will cause delays on that route. We will have no direct access to either Lee or Hither Green stations. There is no transport to Hither Green, except on Manor Park, and no way of getting back at night (safety, security?) It will be difficult to pick up elderly or infirm visitors or those with luggage. What about those who wish to pick up family members, coming home at night?
3 electric car chargers at the south end of Kellerton? Great, much needed, but inaccessible and cut off if you live on the other side of the barriers due in ML and MP, or the Hither Green area. No worries, you can drive on to Burnt Ash, turn left, turn left at the junction, head to Lewisham and turn left to reach Kellerton. You return home then go back for your car and back to the Lee High Road to get home.
Residential roads: Has anyone in officialdom considered that the South Circular, Burnt Ash and the Lee High Road are also residential? Do these residents not require equal consideration, freedom from pollution, noise and congestion? The division of the ward, cutting up the community and denying essential direct access is reprehensible and discriminatory to say the least. Causing greater difficulties for the elderly and/or infirm to lead as normal a life as possible is appalling.
Street furniture: Clearly such changes will require maximum publicity at all levels, in advance, in order not to magnify any confusion. It will also require street furniture at every road junction entering the ward from any main road advising of the road closures. Timed closures for local schools will require notification on street furniture. Residents on those roads will have their own views.
However, why has it not been considered to have either camera ID for residents of the zone to allow them through filters. Alternatively if pop-up barriers are being allowed near schools why can theynot be used for the other filters at certain times of day? We in Manor Lane Terrace, and much of our area in the north of the ward, have little traffic most of the day, so why do we need 24/7 blockages?
A question raised at the Hither Green located assembly meeting recently concerned what would be done if one of the 3 major routes (south circular, Lee High Road or Burnt Ash Road) were to be blocked at any time. At the moment Brownhill Road has gas works for 6 months. We were told by the officer in charge that should this be the case roads in the closure zone would be opened. How will you notify drivers and residents of this, and is that the case?
Trial time: Everyone has been told it will be 6 months. Read the small print, paras 7,8,9 and you will note, quote – “The time scale for changes will be dependent on availability of staff and financial resource and while we will seek to implement these as soon as possible, it may not happen immediately after the trial. The trial can remain in place for up to 18 months.” Ever been had? We have been warned.
Patricia M. Richardson (Mrs.)
Cc Janet Daby MP