Dulwich Alliance Response to Southwark Council 8 Dec 2021

Below is the very detailed response by Dulwich Alliance to to the report “Determination of Objections – Dulwich Streetspace Review” dated 8 December, produced by Dale Foden, Head of Highways, Southwark Council

14 December 2021

The Dulwich Alliance, a group representing thousands of residents and hundreds of shops, businesses and health centres in the Dulwich Streetspace area, contests the assertions and conclusions contained in this report and in the recommendations made by Dale Foden, Head of Highways, in his “response to the main themes” in Appendix A.

Concerns raised in good faith by the Dulwich Alliance and many of its members have not been given serious attention and many objections have been completely ignored.

We call on Cllr. Catherine Rose, Cabinet member for Transport, Parks and Sport, to reject the findings of this report, defer the decision to enact the permanent traffic orders (PTOs) and respond properly to the many valid objections submitted.  The failure of Southwark councillors and officers to engage honestly with people who live and work in the Dulwich area, continuing instead in blind pursuit of a traffic scheme that is so patently socially unjust, is unacceptable, as is the Council’s failure to act on the views of those it represents.

We itemise below our detailed objections to Mr Foden’s responses to what he describes as the “main themes’ of the 1,660 objections received. In summary, Mr Foden fails to address the extent to which the Streetspace measures

  • discriminate against elderly, frail and disabled residents, particularly those who depend on their cars for mobility;
  • disadvantage community health and social care providers, especially community nurses, professional carers, family carers, first responders, hospital transport, and GPs attending housebound patients;
  • displace traffic, congestion and pollution on to neighbouring residential roads, such as Croxted Road, East Dulwich Grove, Lordship Lane, Dulwich Common and many others, on which people live and work, and children go to school;
  • damage business livelihoods, jobs and the local economy;
  • divide our community physically and socially;
  • discard the results of the Council’s own public consultation; and
  • distort and wilfully misinterpret objections made in good faith.

We urge Cllr. Catherine Rose to think long and hard before accepting Mr Foden’s recommendations. The Dulwich Alliance and its members will not be forgiving if the traffic orders are made permanent based on such spurious, dismissive and disrespectful responses.

 

  1. General objections to Mr Foden’s recommendations in his report
  • Point 26

As mentioned below, raw data has not been shared as promised; nor the methodology used to compare and contrast different baselines (is the baseline accurate when compared to other sources? on what basis have percentage adjustments been made?); nor the way the Council has compared average times with peak times, or weekdays with weekends; nor how the Council has separated out correlation and causality; nor whether or how different types of count (ATC, Vivacity and manual) have been compared; nor why some major boundary roads, like Dulwich Common,  have not been included. Without this level of detail and analysis, it is impossible for Mr Foden to assert that “the evidence shows that the Dulwich Streetspace measures are achieving their objectives”.

  • Point 35

Given that some roads in the scheme now have increased levels of traffic, we do not accept that the scheme is consistent with M2 Action 1 “Reduce noise pollution”. Nor do we accept that the scheme does anything to achieve M2 Action 2 (evidence is required), or M2 Action 3 (evidence is required). With regard to M3 Action 4 (“Deliver infrastructure to support active travel”), this may be true of some roads, but definitely not of those roads that are now so congested at certain times of day that people are cycling on the pavements, bringing cyclists in conflict with pedestrians. No evidence has been provided that the number of cars owned in Dulwich has reduced as a result of the recommendations (M4 Action 7), nor that the Streetspace measures have resulted in the kerbside being used more efficiently, or in less polluting vehicles being promoted (M4 Action 8). It is not clear, even based on Southwark’s own statistics that show traffic increasing on some streets and decreasing on others, that M4 Action 9 is being achieved; and it is clear that streets closures are not just time-restricted, but also closed 24/7 (M5 Action 11).

  • Point 39

Very little has been done to promote safe walking. Because there is no baseline data, it is impossible to know whether pedestrian numbers have increased at the junctions that are now closed. As the EqIA shows, many elderly and disabled people feel less safe on pavements now because of the conflict with cyclists (see comment on point 35, above).

  • Point 40

The assertion that “there is a risk” that the measures may cause displacement to roads on the periphery of the proposed area is bizarre, given that Southwark’s own figures already show increases on some roads, and Dulwich Common has not been monitored at all. Given that we know displacement is happening, it would clearly be foolhardy to press ahead with permanent traffic orders, especially as this may “trigger the need for…additional funding” which remains unspecified.

  • Points 43 and 44

The measures do not “strongly support” the Council’s Climate Change Strategy ambitions, as Dulwich already had a high percentage of people making short journeys by foot and by bicycle before the measures went in, and no reliable survey has been conducted to see whether this has increased or decreased. (For example, do we know whether journeys now cycled were previously made by car, or were the journeys walked, or made by public transport?) The ambition around public transport is seriously flawed, as the measures have increased bus journey times, making public transport less attractive.

  • Point 45

While we are delighted that the Council’s emerging climate policy has at its heart a “just and inclusive transition”, the current Streetspace measures go entirely against that ambition, as vehicle access is prohibitively circuitous and time-consuming for those elderly, frail and disabled residents who are car-dependent and/or who rely on home care visits, as the EqIA shows. Similarly, it cannot be said that the Council is delivering a safer and more equitable highway network when the Streetspace measures have a) greatly increased congestion and pollution on less affluent roads, and b) compromised the resilience of the network by closing one of the major east-west routes through Dulwich (the Dulwich Village/Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction).

  • Point 46

That data (both the consultation results, and the meetings with protected groups) shows the exact opposite. Those with protected characteristics report a negative effect on their daily lives.

  • Point 47

It is not enough for officers to be “cognisant” of groups with protected characteristics: the Council must take action to ensure they are not disadvantaged. If it does not, the balance of benefit to harm that the Council proposes may equate to benefit for those who are fit and active outweighing harm for those who are disabled or who have mobility problems.

  • Point 49

There has been no analysis of socio-economic equalities. In addition, there is no evidence at all that feedback provided by shops and businesses on loss of trade could be offset by increased cycle traffic and pedestrian footfall: this is pure conjecture.

  • Point 52

Increased levels of pollution on “isolated sections of some roads” will cause severe health impacts for the residents there, particularly children. The vague promises of monitoring, investigations, analysis and potential mitigation are simply unacceptable when considering the severe and life-threatening implications of raised pollution levels on young lungs.

  • Point 59

It would be extremely unwise for the Council to go ahead with a scheme rejected by a large majority of respondents to the public consultation (two out of three people within all three LTNs who responded opted to return the roads to their original state). As Cllr Rose has often pointed out, both during and after the various consultations, the “lived experience” of those living and working in Dulwich is key to any Council decision.

  • Point 60

It is not reasonable to say that the informal consultation responses showed a shift from car use to walking and cycling. As the consultation report itself said, “This question poses a perhaps unreasonable challenge to respondents – to compare their current behaviour with that pre-pandemic…We should not expect the results to be as accurate or verifiable as those from actual road monitoring.” Respondents reporting that car use is more difficult does not equate to modal shift.

 

2. Detailed objections to Mr Foden’s responses to “main themes” in Appendix A

  • Access for Emergency Services

Many objections highlighted the inability of health and social care services to gain access through 015_Calton Avenue (“the Dulwich Village/Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction”) – not only blue light ambulances, fire services and police vehicles, but also first responders, hospital transport for cancer patients, GPs, community health services, care providers, SEND vehicles and other exemptions on what the London Ambulance Service refers to as a “white list”. Mr Foden makes no mention of these objections. The LAS has raised the importance of these vital community services having access through this junction and through other 24/7 closure junctions on many occasions with Southwark Council, but the Council has not responded to their requests. Mr Foden also fails to mention, let alone provide any reasons, for not responding to these objections by residents and residents’ associations and other representative groups, such as the Dulwich Alliance.

Mr Foden also fails to mention that the LAS asked for an additional soft closure on Elsie Road to allow for quicker access to the area, especially Goose Green School and Tintagel Crescent.

  • Increased motor vehicle journey times relating to 015_Calton Avenue, 016_Champion Hill, 017_East Dulwich, 018_Melbourne Grove South, 019_ bus, taxi & cycle gates

Mr Foden states that the proposed reduction of hours of restriction “aims to protect vulnerable road users at key times” and that these “will help to reduce any increased journey times, particularly for those most car reliant.” It is not correct to apply this statement to 015_Calton Avenue or 018_Melbourne Grove South, as timed restrictions do not apply. This response therefore fails to address the objections made, and the continued 24/7 closure of these junctions means that car-reliant, vulnerable road users will not benefit from any reduction in increased journey times, and will continue to be discriminated against.

Mr Foden states that the junction layout as set out in 015_Calton Avenue “reduces the number of junction arms and motor vehicles, therefore optimising the junction and improving journey times for all traffic”. This is not correct. Motor vehicles in Calton Avenue and Court Lane are unable to access other arms of this junction, so it does not improve journey times for them.

The point about only 6% (a “small minority”) of the roads in Dulwich being affected is specious. The roads that have been closed, 24/7 or with timed restrictions, are precisely those that link different parts of Dulwich together, and so are heavily relied upon by the emergency services, medical professionals, and those travelling to local hospitals and health centres.

The point about “working closely with Transport for London and neighbouring boroughs to improve bus journey times, and public transport access across key corridors to ensure public transport remains a viable and attractive mode of travel in the area” is also disingenuous. As councillors have said many times, in public and in writing, the Council has no power over TfL or local train companies, so this assertion is meaningless: indeed, while the Streetspace measures have been in place, there have been cuts to both local bus routes and local train services, and increased journey times on the major bus routes on which so many of our vulnerable residents depend.

Even if TfL could be persuaded, despite its precarious financial position, to make badly needed public transport improvements East/West through Dulwich Village, the current scheme – by closing the Dulwich Village/Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction to all but emergency vehicles – has made this impossible. This “key corridor” has been lost, making access through the junction available only to those who are fit and able.

  • Discrimination against the elderly, disabled, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic and women and pregnancy/maternity

Mr Foden states that a number of mitigation measures to assist individuals within those protected groups who are car reliant and who have been disadvantaged by the experimental Dulwich Streetspace orders have been included in the decision on these measures, but only lists a selection of mitigations that apply to TMOs that have timed restrictions. It is therefore incorrect and misleading to include this statement as applying to 015_Calton Avenue and 018_Melbourne Grove South, as the list of mitigations do not address the challenges and difficulties people with these protected characteristics face in being prevented from travelling through these junctions. Maintaining the 24/7 closure of these junctions continues to discriminate against car-reliant elderly, disabled and pregnancy/maternity groups in the community and fails to respond to the findings and recommendations contained in the Council’s Equality Impact Assessment (Appendix C), thereby being in contravention of The Equality Act 2010.

The mitigations do not include any consideration for Lambeth Blue Badge holders, even though one side of Croxted Road – currently experiencing high levels of congestion because of displaced traffic – is in Lambeth.

The document makes a series of statements about modes of transport used by “protected characteristic groups in London, and inferably in Southwark.” The statistics contained in these statements have no validity in relation to the Dulwich area and merely highlight the fact that Southwark Highways Division has done no analysis of actual modes of transport used by these groups in Dulwich or their particular needs. For example, many car-dependent elderly, disabled and pregnant residents have to make regular visits to their GPs, health centres or hospital outpatient departments. But no attempt has been made to map the journeys these groups with protected characteristics actually make, where the health services these groups need to attend are located, or the consequences of road closures and restrictions on their ability to do so. Many actual examples of impacts these groups are suffering as a consequence of this failure by Southwark Highways to carry out due diligence on these impacts were provided in the objections to the TMOs but are being ignored or dismissed.

It is not acceptable to say that “officers recognise there are individuals among the elderly who are dependent on cars because of their protected characteristic” if Mr Foden knows that the mitigations proposed in the TMOs are insufficient; nor is it acceptable to state that they will “continue to monitor and engage how effective the mitigations have been” whilst recognising that approval of the TMOs will make it impossible to make mitigations at these 24/7 junctions once the TMOs are implemented.

  • Exemption scheme not being inclusive enough (e.g. for elderly) 

Again, Mr Foden rejects this objection for all TMOs but refers to some limited exemptions that only apply to those TMOs with timed restrictions. It is inaccurate and misleading to suggest that these exemptions apply to the Dulwich Village/Calton Avenue/Court Lane junction and Melbourne Grove South.

  • Adverse impact on main roads (increase in traffic, congestion and pollution)

The report refers to unpublished data to support its contention that there has been an overall reduction in traffic in the Dulwich area, and refers to June 2021 data that is still unpublished, which Southwark Council admits contained errors. The June 2021 Traffic Analysis Report also contained serious omissions, including a failure to include Dulwich Common, a Dulwich LTN boundary road that has received a large amount of displacement traffic.

It is unacceptable to dismiss objections to increases in traffic, pollution and congestion, while at the same time admitting that certain roads, notably Croxted Road, the South Circular and East Dulwich Grove, are suffering adverse impacts from the Streetspace measures, particularly as these residential roads already had unacceptably high levels of congestion and pollution prior to the experimental street measures being introduced and are roads on which thousands of children attend schools and nurseries, and on which thousands of people attend health centres. Simply stating that unspecified options to improve traffic flow will be considered at some unspecified time in the future while at the same time recommending that the traffic measures, known to cause negative impacts, be made permanent is inadequate.

Surely, the whole point of having experimental traffic measures is to identify and rectify problems at or before the end of the experiment, rather than making the orders permanent while admitting, as Cllr. Rose has publicly stated, that you “haven’t got it all right”?

  • The  Dulwich Streetspace consultation process was flawed

Mr Foden’s response that the Council has followed the same practices and approaches with this consultation as with previous consultations (and that the Council has, in effect, done its best), does not answer the objections that the questions were biased and leading, that no attempt was made to ensure the consultation was representative of the population, that there was no mechanism for validating responses, and that no attempt was made for participants to evaluate “trade-offs” in the scheme. There was clearly no attempt at all to conduct a consultation to British Polling Council standards or the Gunning Principles, the legal principles applicable to public consultation in the UK.

It is bizarre that Mr Foden works so hard to defend the validity and integrity of this hugely expensive and time-consuming consultation while at the same time dismissing its results (two-thirds of those who responded in all three LTNs wanted the roads to return to their original state).

  • The decision is undemocratic

Residents of Dulwich took part in Southwark Council’s public consultation in good faith. It was reasonable to expect that a survey of residents’ opinions and experiences would be listened to and inform the decision taken by the Council (otherwise what would be the point of a public consultation if its results were to be ignored?). When the experimental measures were introduced in June 2020 without consultation, Cllr Richard Livingstone indicated that residents would have the opportunity to make objections within the first six months and that the measures, notably the closure of the Dulwich Village junction, could be removed if that was what was wanted. Since then, despite a large majority of people living and working in Dulwich voting for the measures to be removed and for a better designed and fairer scheme to be drawn up in consultation with the public, the Council has carried on with the scheme regardless. This is despite the fact that, as the Council states, it obtained the biggest response it has ever received to a consultation. The Council says that it has also considered the results of the EqIA and monitoring data. However, elderly, disabled, BAME and pregnancy/maternity groups all requested the measures be returned to their original state by a two-thirds or more majority. A council that takes a decision that ignores the will of the people who elected it is, by definition, undemocratic.

  • The scheme is unequal and has an adverse impact on less affluent areas and local schools

Mr Foden fails to give a reason why this objection should be rejected by Cllr. Rose, other than suggesting that the location of these measures has the “potential to create a network of attractive, convenient and safe active travel routes to local destinations such as schools” and that “further work is underway to investigate connecting these with boundary roads”. This is meaningless. The reality is that traffic has been substantially reduced on a number of relatively affluent roads that do not contain schools (such as Calton Avenue and Court Lane), but has increased on many so-called “boundary roads” that do contain schools: East Dulwich Grove, for example, has no fewer than four schools, a nursery and a health centre. Traffic and pollution at school times in particular has increased substantially, making it less safe to walk or cycle to school or work. There is no plan for making East Dulwich Grove, or any of the other boundary roads, an “attractive, convenient and safe active travel route” and to suggest that there is “further work” to be done, knowing that there is no plan, is disingenuous and objectionable.

  • Decision illegal under the Road Traffic Act 2004

As Southwark points out in its Movement Plan, “As the Highway authority, we also have an obligation under the Traffic Management Act (TMA) 2004 to ensure road networks are managed effectively to support our communities and their movement, improve safety, minimise congestion and disruption to all traffic, including pedestrians and vulnerable road users.” This obligation has not been superseded by the link to Government guidance quoted in Mr Foden’s response, which “does not replace the original network management duty guidance published in November 2004, but provides additional advice.”

  • Scheme has a negative impact on local businesses

It is not correct, as Cllrs. Catherine Rose and Jason Ochere know well from meetings held with the Dulwich Village Association (representing shops and businesses in Dulwich Village), and with independent shops in East Dulwich, that “there is no evidence to suggest that the Dulwich Streetspace measures have had a negative economic impact on local businesses” at the location of 014_Calton Avenue and 017_East Dulwich. As local businesses at both meetings with the Council and in several sets of objections have made clear, the measures have caused destination shoppers, accounting for around 50% or more of trade, to shop elsewhere and sales have reduced by as much as 80% as a direct consequence of the measures.

Mr Foden asserts that an improvement in the number of people walking and cycling (which is claimed to be as a consequence of the traffic measures rather than Covid 19, working from home, or any other factors, such as the weather) “supports the local economy”. The Council has done no research in the Dulwich area to support this assertion and local retailers say there is no evidence to support it. Mr Foden refers to a number of government financial support schemes relating to Covid that Southwark Council has distributed on behalf of the government. These have no bearing on the negative economic impact the Streetspace measures have had on local businesses, which are many times worse than the impact of Covid.

  • Safety concerns regarding speeding, absence of natural surveillance from traffic (impact on women), driver confusion

Mr Foden states that there has been minimal change in vehicle speed across the Dulwich area. While this may or may not be accurate – no evidence is provided – he knows that the concerns expressed relate to increased speeds on those roads that have been emptied of traffic. This has reduced safety for people walking and cycling. Southwark Council has published no data on accidents or safety incidents or any safety assessment of the proposed permanent measures.

Mr Foden claims that data showing increases in cycling and pedestrians mean there is “natural surveillance” on Dulwich streets and, by implication, that concerns about the safety of women on streets is only imagined or perceived. However, these are very real concerns. The absence of vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians on certain streets, such as Court Lane, particularly after dark, means that there is not the level of surveillance that there used to be when there was traffic on these roads. It is not acceptable to dismiss this concern nor to kick the issue down the road by suggesting that improvements such as “lighting, CCTV and sight lines” can be “looked at” at some unspecified time in the future.

Mr Foden describes the Council’s failure to provide adequate “advance warning signs to notify drivers of the Dulwich Streetspace measures” as “driver confusion”, a classic example of victim-blaming. The Council has known for over a year that the signage has been inadequate but has done nothing to improve it. This can only be related to the £6 million  collected between February and October 2021 from fines.

  • Safety concerns about children going to school relating to 016_Champion Hill

The Council states that a review of accident data since the measures were introduced does not show an increase in collision statistics. If the council’s yardstick for assessing safety is zero children knocked down, then it suggests that the only basis on which it would accept that there is a safety issue is if such an eventuality occurred. This is clearly an unsatisfactory approach to child safety and a safety audit should be carried out before any decision is taken.

  • Monitoring data is flawed or misrepresented

Mr Foden states that monitoring data has undergone extensive scrutiny and review to ensure accuracy and that the methodology used in data collection has been published. However, no evidence is provided of either raw data or methodology (particularly baseline adjustments), in spite of Cllr Kieron Williams committing the Council on 19 July to providing both to assist “trust and faith” in the data. (He said at a public meeting with residents, “Clearly there are questions about methodology and just about people being able to be clear what methodology we’re using – is it accurate, is it transparent. So we’ve done some work to present that, but we absolutely take away there’s more to do to make sure everyone’s clear on the numbers – where they’ve come from – so that you can have trust and faith in them.”) September 2021 data has just been published (13 December) but still fails to include raw data or the methodology that has been used, so it is still impossible to know how these figures have been reached. Until this raw data and methodology is published, this objection remains valid.

With regard to air quality, the Council repeatedly states that it has been “monitoring” air quality when its “monitoring” is based purely on modelling derived from traffic data. Leaving aside serious questions about the accuracy and long-term viability of such an approach to measuring air quality, the Council cannot ignore the vital importance of ensuring that this traffic data is accurately, comprehensively and transparently collected and collated.

Further, a proper evaluation of traffic levels on major roads should clearly have identified serious concerns about the impact of additional pollution. However, despite reporting increases in traffic on several displacement roads, notably East Dulwich Grove, Mr Foden fails to address serious questions about increased levels of pollution. This particularly applies to pollution spikes at peak travel times when children walk and cycle to school.  The Council’s methodology fails to pose, still less consider, these questions. Why?

Omitting Dulwich Common from all the traffic analysis reports is also not explained. This is a key boundary road to the Dulwich LTNs and has received substantial volumes of displaced traffic, as anyone living east of Dulwich Village junction trying to visit West Dulwich will confirm. It has a monitoring point on it, and is heavily residential (there are a number of BAME, elderly and disabled people living on this road), yet no account has been taken of the impact these schemes have had. The points about congestion and pollution made by two Dulwich Common residents in the deputation to Cabinet on 7 December 2021 were just shrugged off.

For the above reasons, it is impossible to understand how Southwark’s EqIA can state, as it does on p32 of Appendix C, “For both scenarios [pre-and post-scheme], the air quality objectives are met throughout the scheme area” with the exception of just two places (a small section of Lordship Lane and the area around Herne Hill station).

The Dulwich Alliance