Dulwich has spoken – it’s a ‘no’ to the road closures

See below a mail circulated by the Dulwich Alliance, which we are a member of, drawing attention to the feedback submitted to Southwark’s Streetspace sites  – which suggest that over 70% of respondents to date oppose the current road closures in Dulwich, or 76% if just looking at the Dulwich Village measures.

The latest news from Southwark on permits is a statement from the Cabinet Officer for Transport, as follows: ‘Allowing local residents permits to access camera controlled traffic restrictions would not support our commitment to reducing shorter car journeys.  However, we are actively working on a solution to support Blue Badge holders and other vulnerable residents, whose overall needs will also be given additional consideration as part of the imminent review of the Dulwich Village LTN measures.

While we are pleased Southwark are looking into a solution for Blue Badge holders – though in our view this should have been addressed ‘up front’ rather than after the restrictions were installed – we are very concerned by their new thinking as regards permits more generally.  The ‘Our Healthy Streets’ phase 3 consultation last year – the results of which have never been published, but which were used to justify the emergency Coronavirus measures (closure of the junction and restrictions) – clearly allowed for residents permits.  There was no mention of a ‘commitment to reduce shorter car journeys’, rather the rationale for the scheme as presented by Southwark was to mitigate ’through traffic’.   Furthermore, the restrictions cannot discriminate between ’short’ and ‘long’ journeys.

Southwark are due to announce shortly a review process of some sort.  We will let you know as soon as we hear, and continue to push for the interests of our streets, namely a permit scheme, to allow residents to access to and from their homes, and an alternative to the 24/7 closure of the Village junction, to reduce traffic displacement.

Dulwich has spoken. It’s a ‘no’ to the road closures. Analysis of Southwark Council’s Streetspace feedback sites, inviting residents to comment on the Streetspace road measures since they were introduced in June 2020, suggests that 71% of respondents who expressed a view are opposed to the current road closures in Dulwich Village and East Dulwich – a far cry from the ‘vocal minority’ cited by proponents of the scheme. More than 3 out of 4 (76%) indicated they are against the closures in Dulwich Village, including the 24/7 junction closure, while 62% are against the 24/7 closures in East Dulwich.

 A report produced by the steering group of the Dulwich Alliance – an area-wide alliance that includes residents, traders, businesses, health centres and campaign groups – has analysed Southwark Council’s six-month public feedback. It shows that more than 1,900 people have responded and, despite being asked questions designed to avoid negative responses, more than 95% left detailed comments. These include many troubling testimonies of people suffering personal difficulty and hardship, as well as more supportive testimony. Although the Council and proponents of the road closures have suggested that opposition to them would drop off over time as they ‘bed in’, the report shows that opposition has remained consistently high throughout the six months that the measures have been rolled out.

The evidence is clear and compelling. The measures are not supported by the community and need to be modified or removed. This is a badly planned scheme, imposed without any consultation, that clearly isn’t working.  The Alliance strongly supports Southwark’s stated aims of reducing pollution and encouraging active modes of travel such as walking and cycling.  However, this scheme discriminates against vulnerable people who depend on their cars for mobility. It shifts traffic and pollution on to surrounding streets where children also live and go to school, it is damaging the viability of our local shops and businesses, and it is causing tremendous anger and social division, pitting neighbour against neighbour.

 This is entirely the Council’s fault and it needs to act on these findings, not ignore them or run yet another consultation just because it doesn’t like these results. The Dulwich Alliance proposes ending the current 24/7 road closures – which none of the Emergency Services support – and implementing instead an area-wide, camera-controlled permit scheme in Dulwich that allows fair and reasonable access.

This would be a sensible solution to the mess Southwark has created, which we believe the majority of people in Dulwich would be prepared to get behind. It’s time to bring to an end the divisions in our community which these ill-thought-out measures have caused, and for Southwark to do the right thing for its elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents, and for the families who live on surrounding roads.

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