Village Residents Protest Against Road Plans

Proposals attract local opposition

Residents protesting against plans to tackle traffic "rat-running" in parts of Wimbledon Village attended a crowded council meeting to hear the issues discussed.

Thirty residents were at Merton council's Street Management Advisory Committee (SMAC), which debated gated road closures and introducing one-way streets and banned turns in the Belvedere roads area and in Woodside.

The aim of the proposals is to reduce traffic levels and speeds on residential roads - much of which is so-called "rat-running", and they follow a number of meetings with residents' groups.

But the SMAC rejected plans for a consultation of the proposals, put forward by Councillor Andrew Judge, Cabinet Member for Environmental Sustainability and Regeneration, after Village and Hillside Councillors described them as "draconian", "lacking consultation" and "ill-thought through".

Thirteen residents' associations spoke at the meeting, a majority of which spoke against road closures.

In September 2009, the Council gathered traffic data in virtually every road within the area bounded by Wimbledon Hill Road, High Street, Parkside, Somerset Road, St Mary’s Road, Arthur Road, Home Park Road Strathearn Road and Alexandra Road. 

The weekly traffic count for Belvedere Grove, which is designed and built as a residential road rather than a distributer road, was 41,185 vehicles. Similarly that of Belvedere Avenue was 29,295 vehicles; Alan Road was 30,848 vehicles and Burghley Road was 29,126. In addition, the average speed in Burghley Road was 40.2 mph in a northwestbound direction and 35.7 mph in a southeastbound direction (the speed limit is 30mph).

Councillor Judge said that when he become Cabinet member in 2010, plans proposed by the previous Conservative administration would "not have addressed adequately the problem of through traffic in residential streets. In many cases they had also been rejected by residents the roads for which they were intended".

He said the latest proposals sought to reduce through-traffic volumes within the Burghley, Belvedere and Woodside areas, whilst leaving a "reasonable" choice of routes available for residents and visitors to the area.

He added: "I have no doubt that there is a large number of residents living in the wider area, who fear that the proposed changes would be for the worst, including many who do not want to face any alteration in their daily driving journeys. On the other hand, a minority are facing huge volumes of rat running traffic on a daily basis. The challenge for councillors is to strike a balance between the two groups."

But Village ward councillor, Samantha George said: "We've had a huge majority of residents represent to us their opposition to the plans. Councillor Judge has not thought through the impact of where the traffic would go to under these proposals. We only know where it couldn't go."

Hillside ward councillor, David Simpson added: "The proposals currently made by the Cabinet Member are draconian and serve the few not the many".

They also attacked the proposed three-week consultation period. It was claimed that only 14 people had been consulted and that Ward Councillors, Transport for London, emergency services and local schools weren't included.

Following the SMAC's rejection of consultation over the proposals, Councillor Judge said he would be discussing the issue further with councillors.

Councillor George added: "We've asked to meet with Cllr Judge before he makes his decision."

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June 21, 2011