The report relating to the implementation of temporary measures to support safer walking and cycling in response to the Covid-10 pandemic was introduced to the Panel by the Head of Highways and Transport.
The Panel noted the report and welcomed measures to protect the safety of pedestrians, car users and cyclists on the roads. It was recognise that there was a need to respond the challenges in order to provide a safe environment for residents
The meeting noted questions and concerns expressed by Members, and responses to those by the Executive Director of Housing, Regeneration and Environment, the Head of Highways, and the Transport Policy and Development Manager.
The Chair of the Panel reminded the meeting that the consideration was a pre-decision scrutiny of the decision to be taken by the Executive Director of Housing, Regeneration and Environment.
1. Use of the common-place approach
Councillor John Muldoon asked about the why the Council opted for the common-place approach as a channel when developing the measures, and about its robustness of being able to capture and interpret data. In response the Officers advised the Panel that a secured procured contract with the provider meant that the approach had been tried and tested. It was compatible with the Council’s highways databases. Thus, it was sensible to use it as a platform to promote the urgency of the decision required to implement the temporary measures during the current crisis.
2. Inadequate Scrutiny of decision to be made
Whist appreciating the urgency of the decision required, Councillor Liam Curran stated that the fact remained that the time was insufficient to undertake effective scrutiny on the decision to be made. The majority of Members present at the meeting shared a similar view to that of Councillor Curran. Councillor Luke Sorba added that care should be taken not to set a precedent about lack of adequate consultation in contravention of the Council’s corporate strategy for public involvement in decision-making. Councillor Joan Millbank was however of a view that the decision to be made was urgent in the usual situation. Thus, she was satisfied with safeguards in place that the measures were temporary.
Councillor Sophie McGeevor, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport echoed the view expressed by Councillor Millbank, clarifying to the Panel that the aim was not to by-pass statutory consultation processes, but that it was important to expedite the decision in order to capture the emergency opportunity posed by the Covid-19 crisis.
In response to questions raised by some Members on the issue, the Chair, Councillor Bill Brown confirmed that it was possible for the Panel to convene in order to undertake post-scrutiny of the temporary measures. However there would be no adverse effect to the implementation timetable. Councillor Brown reiterated the decision to be made was a pre-scrutiny submission, and that he was confident that Officers would note comments and suggestions by Members for consideration.
In light a concern, the Officers gave an assurance to the Panel that the data and information in the report were drawn out from evidence and research. They confirmed that the relevant Cabinet Member was consulted, and that the delegation of the decision to be made by the Executive Director of Housing, Regeneration and Environment was in accordance with the Council’s Scheme of Delegation.
The Officers further submitted to the Panel that the Council would be required to implement various Traffic Orders as part of the measures under consideration. Thus, there be opportunities for statutory consultation and wider community engagement.
· Actions: Officers to report back on any revisions to work streams, including progress on implementation. Officers to explore texting options to ensure that members of the public who had signed up for information about the Council’s services receive update on progress.
3. School Streets
Councillor Mark Ingleby welcomed the proposals as an opportunity for cyclists and suggested that Transport for London (TfL) could contribute to the ‘Lewisham 21’ agenda by undertaking a review of the two lanes on the A21 corridors between Catford and Downham. Councillor Ingleby also suggested that Officers could explore top-tips for school streets that was recently published in a London cyclists’ magazine to further support the work.
· Actions: Officers to give consideration to the safety of children and other pedestrians when implementing school streets, particularly on busy roads. Officers to liaise with colleagues in the Education department about the selection of school corridor champions. Officers to raise issue about the key corridor on the A21 with TfL and provide an update to the Panel about design opportunities.
4. Data about traffic activities on Lewisham roads
Members stated that they were unconvinced about the accuracy of statistical data relating to speeding and dangerous driving incidents on local roads from their personal observation. It was the view of Members that perhaps the figures should have been assessed and presented in in per centages, so that an objective view about driving conditions on Lewisham roads could be made.
· Action: Officers to compare data produced by Tfl with those in the Council’s asset management plan to review measures when assessing the amount of money to be spent on curtailing speeding on Lewisham roads.
5. Selecting areas for implementing the measures
In highlighting safety concerns in the Forest Hill areas, Councillor Peter Bernards stated that he was of a view that the starting point for selecting areas to implement the proposed measures should be supported by data about the number of car accidents and cycling fatalities on local roads. Councillor Bernards expressed a disappointment that the prescribed approach had not been followed.
In response questions raised, the Officers clarified to the Panel that the review was not to make an assessment of all the roads, but to prioritise locations that were the busiest, of particularly history of road safety concerns, and those that were correlated with the strategic cycling network.
· Action: Officers to discuss specific location of safety concerns around the Forest Hill area with Councillor Peter Bernards.
6. Parking Bays
Councillor Bernards expressed a concern that the removal of parking bays in front of small shops could impact adversely on businesses, those with accessibility issues, cyclists, and at and around bus stops. Councillor Jacq Paschoud echoed similar concern to those of Councillor Bernards. Those Members who had questioned the lack of public consultation earlier on at the meeting also expressed the concerns, commenting that residents’ involvement was vital at the outset would have been useful because a high proportion of footways in Lewisham were not wide enough to safely accommodate social distancing practices.
In response to questions raised, the Officers advised the Panel that the Council was mindful of securing dedicated disabled bays in designated areas. The Officers informed the Panel that representations made on behalf of Lewisham Pedestrians about social distancing were taken on board. It was confirmed that the Council consulted with the emergency services throughout the development of the temporary measures.
With regard questions about the benefits of the measures, the Officers informed the Panel key workers would be able to get to work in time, there was opportunity to free up footways for pedestrians, capacity for cyclists and those using public transport would be enhanced, and social distancing at queues would be managed effectively. However, measures relating to key corridors were associated with road network pressure points which TfL was responsible for.
7. Erection of Telecommunications Poles
In response to questions raised, the Executive Director of Housing, Regeneration and Environment confirmed to the Panel that no decision would be made to erect telecommunication poles in Lewisham without adequate consultation and community engagement.
· Action: Officers to confirm community engagement arrangements on the erection of the poles with the Chair of the Panel.