To receive a petition and receive a presentation (as detailed below).
Indicative timing: 60 minutes
The Chair of the Committee introduced this item, and explained that a range of speakers had been invited to speak on this matter, as detailed below. The Area Renewal Programme Manager, Sally Blomfield, delivered a presentation on the Heart of Hackbridge project. The presentation covered the objectives and outcomes of the scheme, the road safety audit process and findings and the results of post-implementation surveys with residents.
Conor Moloney, Chair of the Heart of Hackbridge delivery board and Head of Sustainable Places at BioRegional addressed the Committee. He noted the success of the project and thanked all involved, and reported that the GLA are pleased with the outcome of this locally led project. He presented some very recent photographs highlighting the positive changes to the area, including the very recent improvements to the pocket park at the gateway to the Wandle Valley Regional Park.
Helena Barrowclough, a resident of Hackbridge, member of the Heart of Hackbridge delivery board and Chair of the Hackbridge and Beddington Corner Neighbourhood Development Group also addressed the meeting. She noted her delight with the scheme and the positive impact it has had on the area, and highlighted the need to continue with new schemes such as the Farmers’ Market, to ensure the area builds on the improvements and continues to thrive.
In response to questions, Sally Blomfield advised that a cycling forum was involved in the consultation and did not wish to have a segregated cycle lane. She advised that evidence showed that there was a direct correlation between reduced road width and traffic speed. The Cycling Forum representatives acknowledged that it would be difficult to achieve all the scheme’s objectives within the space and therefore, on balance, if traffic speed could be reduced cyclists would be happy to cycle with the traffic. However, they requested that a contra flow scheme be implemented along Elm Road which was subsequently agreed to as part of the Project.
Conor Moloney advised that BioRegional had worked closely with local businesses advising on a range of energy saving measures.
Sally Blomfield added that local traders were involved in the consultation, and had asked for free stop and shop parking to increase passing trade.
Tracey Collins addressed the meeting. She formally presented the petition, the prayer for which had been circulated within the agenda. She reiterated the points made that whilst the area has been much improved, all people, including the vulnerable, must feel safe to go about their daily lives, which they do not feel at the moment.
Michael Parsons, a local resident and Vice-Chair of Sutton Vision addressed the meeting. He agreed that the area is much improved and footfall has increased, but unfortunately it is not accessible for people with disabilities. He advised that the Access Group, of which Sutton Vision was part, closed before the consultation on this scheme commenced, and asked Councillors to support its reinstatement. Michael Parsons explained that he met the designers of the scheme at the outset who quoted from the “Manual for Streets” which is designed to meet national standards but which, in his view, fails to meet the needs of people with disabilities, particularly those with visual impairments. Michael Parsons stated that people with visual impairments have been excluded from the Hackbridge area due to safety concerns. He also described the difficulties he had faced in accessing consultation documents and information relating to the scheme in an appropriate format.
Councillor Jean Crossby asked Michael Parsons for his view on how the scheme could have better taken into account people with disabilities and he urged that a range of voluntary and community groups representing people with disabilities should be consulted at an early stage in order to have a reference from people with disabilities from the outset.
With regard to comments made about the design of the scheme not meeting the needs of people with disabilities, Councillor Jayne McCoy asked if the project board were aware that accessibility requirements were not being met. Helen Barrowclough responded that the project board relied on the architects in this regard and the Accessibility Audit which had been prepared by the consultants to review this issue. Councillor Jean Crossby expressed disappointment that the GLA had not sent a representative to this meeting to answer questions about the scheme, in particular the installation of courtesy crossings.
Councillor Neil Garratt pointed out that it was not only the GLA that supported courtesy crossings, but also officers and Councillors in Sutton. He also questioned why the final safety audit was not shared with lead members until 2 months after it was submitted. Sally Blomfield explained the safety audit process, that the Safety Audit was a technical report and that the auditing procedures were not completed until May, in time for circulation to the Delivery Board prior to their meeting at the end of May.
Councillor Hanna Zuchowska addressed the Committee. She welcomed the improvements made as well as the decision to reinstate pedestrian crossings, as it was clear they were a cause of concern for residents. She highlighted that the scheme was community led which was very positive but that vulnerable residents felt excluded from the area, which was not. She described her aim for Sutton to be at the forefront of ensuring accessibility for all.
Councillor Jill Whitehead explained her involvement in the scheme had been around the Highways aspect. She noted the scheme was experimental and one that the GLA was keen to promote. Those involved had followed best practice but it was clear that future projects must involve representatives from disability groups at the earliest stage. She noted, however, that the scheme had followed all due process and adhered to legal requirements, but that those legal requirements did not go far enough in meeting the needs of people with disabilities. She confirmed that changes recommended in the Road Safety Audit will be implemented.
Councillor Jayne McCoy asked if the GLA supports the recommendations arising from the Road Safety Audit and Eleanor Purser confirmed that they are cautious about the reinstatement of crossings as they are advocates of innovative approaches to achieving slower and safer streets and are supportive of the scheme. They have asked to be consulted on any proposed amendments as a key funder. She outlined the funding for the scheme and noted there is a contingency in place which should cover the additional works.
Councillor Tony Shields expressed frustration that the residents’ views were not taken into account at an early stage, and courtesy crossings were installed despite concerns raised.
Councillor Jayne McCoy thanked everyone for attending and for sharing their views. In summary she advised that all involved in the project followed due process, and there was nothing to be gained in blaming any partner involved in the project. She detailed the key lessons learned from the project and advised that the council would be seeking to raise the issue of the failure of national standards to meet the needs of people with disabilities at a regional and national level. She asked that Michael Parsons and Tracey Collins be involved in the implementation discussions on the works arising from the Road Safety Audit recommendations.