Controversial low traffic schemes in Greenwich to remain in place after lengthy debate

By Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter

A proposal to immediately review the low traffic schemes which have drawn outrage – as well as praise – across Greenwich has been dumped, with councillors instead suggesting the measures would stay in a bid to overhaul the transport habits of residents in the borough.

In a lengthy full meeting of Greenwich council which stretched for nearly four hours, the Conservatives’ proposal to review traffic schemes was almost last on the agenda – but it still drew plenty of passionate debate.

The motion, which called on the authority to review all traffic measures implemented since March on which there was no prior consultation, was moved by the opposition spokesman for transport, Matt Clare.

While noting the Tory opposition “are very much in favour of safer and more sustainable travel”, he added “regrettably and undeniably some of the recent schemes have been met with significant opposition from the residents we’re here to serve”.

He cited air pollution, local traffic, and the negative impact on local businesses “who are already struggling” as key issues.

“Most of us will agree London will have to undergo significant modal shift towards walking and cycling and public transport…a bold and radical approach is very attractive on many fronts. But if it’s not executed very well then unfortunately we won’t be able to achieve the longer term goal.”

He said implementing more schemes at the same time throughout the borough had led to many of the issues and said a “more phased and more consultative approach” could lead to better schemes.

Aidan Smith, the Labour member for Greenwich West, where much of the vehicle traffic has headed after the measures were installed in the east of the borough, said a “fundamental issue” was that “Greenwich has a traffic problem” with traffic increasing in the borough by 19 per cent over the last decade.

He said the measures came against a backdrop of an “obesity crisis, climate emergency, (and) poor air quality”.

The road closures and other measures were not “knee jerk reactions” he added, saying many of them had been consulted on and talked about for the last few years.

“We know it’s not easy and requires people to change their patterns of living so we need to allow sufficient time to assess the schemes and help people find alternative routes,” he said, backing the schemes remaining in place.

He said the measures would “ideally allow people to leave cars at home for short journeys so people walk and cycle more precisely to free up space for people who need to drive like disabled people and work people who have itinerant jobs”.

Pictured top: Traffic in Maze Hill


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