Submission in respect of the Dulwich Streetspace review and meeting with Helen Hayes

For your information, our submission to Southwark in relation to the ongoing Dulwich Streetspace review consultation is at the bottom of this post.

The consultation is ongoing and has been extended to 18 July – you can access it via https://consultations.southwark.gov.uk/environment-leisure/dulwich-review/; if you have not yet submitted a response, please don’t forget to do so

Also see below, a note of a meeting we recently had with Helen Hayes, our local MP, along with Burbage Road and Turney Road residents’ associations, for your information.

Note of meeting with Helen Hayes, MP, on 25 June 2021

The Chairs and other representatives of Dulwich Village, Burbage Road and Turney Road Residents Associations (RAs) met with Helen Hayes, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, on 25 June 2021. The topic of the discussion was the road closures/ restrictions in Dulwich. Helen gave us a full hour of her time, which was greatly appreciated.


Our aim was to make sure Helen was aware of the issues arising, and to understand Helen’s views about the substance of what has been done. We also wished to ask Helen to intercede to make sure that Southwark act properly, in conducting the consultation and in responding to it.

We confirmed to Helen that there is strong local support for the aims of the schemes (reducing traffic, improving air quality and enabling safe walking and cycling), however we believe Southwark Council is incorrect to say that this implies support for the current road closures and restrictions; in our view this has never been evidenced by the Council.

We highlighted some specific points and views that we wanted to raise with Helen:
– the road measures have been extremely divisive and harmful to community cohesion
– they were imposed without proper consultation under Covid emergency legislation, supported by now discredited claims about ‘traffic evaporation’, closed roads helping businesses, and increased traffic in Dulwich Village over recent years
– the current consultation approach is deeply flawed, and according to an independent expert ‘the council will not be able to draw any valid conclusions from it’ (see https://dulwichalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Dulwich-Review-Technical-Evaluation-June-2021.pdfhttps://dulwichalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Dulwich-Review-Technical-Evaluation-June-2021.pdf)
– Southwark has not published traffic and pollution count data as promised
– the measures have created huge traffic displacement onto surrounding roads with large numbers of schools as well as residences, as well as life-threatening delays to the Emergency Services
– our roads now have no spare capacity, causing massive traffic jams every time there is an issue such as road works or a burst water main
– the delay in permits for Blue Badge holders created significant hardship, as has the lack of any permits for residents who have impaired mobility and need to use their cars, but are ineligible for Blue Badges
– our local ward councillors do not appear to be responding to the expressed wishes of their constituents in our RAs, a clear majority of whom do not want the junction to remain closed. This has now been clearly evidenced by the results of recent resident surveys by the RAs
– Southwark Council are no more helpful, do not reply to correspondence and show no sign of developing their approach on how best to meet their stated aims in response to evidence and feedback.

Given this, we asked Helen Hayes, our MP, to be accountable to us, as her constituents, in ensuring that Southwark Council follow an informed, rigorous and transparent consultation process, clearly evidencing the rationale and support for their final decisions.

Helen made the following points:
– she stated that she is a representative not a decision maker on these measures, and as such has a duty to respond to the diverse views expressed by her constituents.  Some constituents support the current measures, some oppose them and some wanted to see the current measures go much further. Helen is committed to representing this full range of views to the council.
– her information on local views comes from contact with constituents, she is not being briefed by any campaigning groups or the local councillors
– she has been in constant dialogue with Southwark Council about the issues that have been raised with her, such as those faced by Blue Badge holders, since the start of the process
– she emphasised the importance of taking rapid, meaningful actions to respond to the Climate Emergency and she believed road measures are a part of this.

With regard to the specifics of the closures and restrictions in Dulwich, she said she thought a solution to the issue of displacement traffic has to be found and she has been meeting regularly with officers and councillors from both Lambeth and Southwark as well as TfL to call for a range of solutions to be explored. The formal pre-election period for the Mayor and London Assembly elections had meant that TfL officers had unfortunately been unable to meet with Helen or councillors for some time, but meetings have now resumed.

When asked whether  she had advocated re-opening the junction as the most obvious solution to the issue of displacement traffic Helen stated that ‘we need to be making really big changes on the way we move around and we needed to be reducing car use’, and that ‘the debate we are having about the measures is about whether the consequences of making some of those big changes are creating intolerable impacts for some people, and that’s what the consultation is designed to flush out’.

Helen did not comment on whether in her view the junction closure had succeeded in its the stated aims or how exactly its closure contributed to action to tackle the Climate Emergency.

We asked about the monitoring data which Southwark has promised, and had at the time of the meeting not been published. Helen agreed that the data was important and noted that Southwark were arranging two public meetings just to look at the data.  Helen felt that residents’ input should be qualitative, around perceptions of the scheme. She noted that the Council needed data to inform their decisions, but that residents did not necessarily need the data to respond to questions about how the measures were affecting their daily lives.

We concluded by reinforcing that we expected Helen as our MP to take a leadership role in ensuring Southwark Council act appropriately in reaching their final decisions.

In the course of the discussion Helen mentioned the toxicity of the discussion on social media, on both sides, which we agreed with. She said that she was not engaging with the issue on social media.

Helen agreed to meet again with the RAs in future.

Following the meeting we put a number of questions to Helen, as and when we receive a response we will circulate.  The questions were as follows:

1) you have stated that you are acting as a representative not a decision maker in regards to the traffic measures in Dulwich. We would like to understand your involvement in the design of the current consultation, and if you think that the consultation is well designed and likely to give Southwark a fair view of what residents think of the closures

2) you said to us that the current consultation is to determine whether the measures are creating ‘intolerable impacts for some people’. It would be helpful if you could further define ‘intolerable impacts’, and also if you could let us know to what extent you consider that a purpose of the consultation is also to understand whether the measures have achieved their stated aims

3) you have stated that the Climate Emergency is a driving reason for these measures. Please can you let us know how in your view these measures support action to tackle the Climate Emergency and what evidence you think should be collected to prove or disprove this thesis

Submission in respect of the Dulwich Streetspace review