Why is Boris rushing Cycle Enfield - is he afraid of George Osborne?
On Monday November 9th, Enfield Council issued the following press release:
'Majority back Cycle Enfield plans'
Plans for a pedestrian and cycle-friendly transformation of Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill have received a major boost after they won the backing of local people.
The plans for Palmers Green, which are being funded through the Mayor of London's £30 million Mini Holland fund, will see the town centre improved with wider pavements, more trees, bike lanes, landscaping, and more car parking. There will be extra parking spaces serving the shopping area and there will also be major improvements to the Winchmore Hill area with a safe, separated cycle track running from Palmers Green to Enfield Town allowing people to make local journeys by bike instead of car.
Despite campaigners against the plans claiming they were "deeply unpopular" and would benefit only "1 per cent" of the population, the number of people who said they were in favour of Enfield Council's Cycle Enfield plans outnumbered those opposing them by two to one new research has shown.
In all, 60 per cent of the 1,646 people consulted said they supported the plans, while just 40 percent were opposed to them
Enfield Council's Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Daniel Anderson, said: "The silent majority have spoken – and shown they actually like our plans, despite a vocal campaign which has been spreading disinformation about what the proposals would actually mean for Palmers Green.
"The funding we have received from the Mayor of London gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform our town centres, boost business, revolutionise our transport links and transform our borough into one which meets the needs of residents, businesses and people travelling through it.
"We've always said we'd listen to people who got involved in the consultation and we have, and now residents recognise that this scheme is going to improve their quality of life and bring dramatic improvements to this part of the borough.
"Most people recognise that our Cycle Enfield scheme for Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill is good for residents, good for business, good for health and good for the borough and I am delighted that the people who took part in the consultation were so positive about the project."
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: "It is very gratifying that the people of Enfield have spoken to back these plans to benefit the entire town. If this scheme did only benefit cyclists, it would not have been so widely supported. "People in Palmers Green, the vast majority of them non-cyclists, understand that it will transform a traffic-dominated town centre into more attractive place for everyone: a place where people want to be, whether or not they are on a bike."
The Mayor's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, said: "This is now the third Mini-Holland scheme, after those in Waltham Forest and Kingston, to be backed by a clear majority of local people in a consultation. These schemes are popular. One of the lessons of this process, I think, is that those who make the most noise aren't always the most representative. "We and the council are listening to residents and businesses who have concerns, and we've always said we'll make changes to get the details right. But both we – and our opponents – must also listen to the majority who say these plans are a good thing, and want them to happen."
The Palmers Green proposals will be submitted to Transport for London for approval, and, if obtained, work will start in the Spring of 2016.
Yesterday's announcement was accompanied by a PR stunt, involving Andrew Gilligan, Boris Johnson's cycle czar, Cllr Daniel Anderson, who is heading up the scheme and Chris Boardman.
So why the rush to 'announce' this result?
What has Chris Boardman got to do with our patch of North London?
Does this not confirm that this cycle is ALL about cyclists and SOD everyone else?
60% consulted? Anyone in the world could complete the consultation, surely it is the people who live in the area whose views count?
Is this the Puppet Master (with minders) pulling the puppet's strings?
HERE ARE QUESTIONS THAT ENFIELD COUNCIL, BORIS JOHNSON AND ANDREW GILLIGAN MUST ANSWER THE PEOPLE OF WINCHMORE HILL AND PALMERS GREEN
1. Why the premature release of the consultation results?
The results of this consultation were not due to be released until November 30th, at the Enfield West Partnership Board. Is there any reason why they have been released early, for example to push the project forward ahead of George Osborne's proposed cull of non essential spending projects?
2. Was designing a consultation process that was open to abuse deliberate or incompetence?
A thousand people are reported to have completed the online questionnaire in support of the project. To complete the online questionnaire it wasn't necessary to provide a name, a contact email or even a postcode to indicate where you live, to participate in the consultation. So many people who completed the consultation in favour of the scheme are actually local?
The answer is probably not a lot. Enfield Cycling campaign gave people suggested answers to complete.(http://enfieldcc.co.uk) This questionnaire required no local knowledge and could be complete by anyone, anywhere in the world.
3. Can Enfield Council tell us how many of the people who completed this questionnaire have ever visited Green Lanes?
Enfield Council has no way of providing a full analysis of the consultation respondents, since no names were asked for. Is it safe to build such a major infrastructure project on such a flimsy response, where there is no way of validating how many of these answers were submitted by local people?
4. Where is the consideration of all the other responses that Cllr Daniel Anderson promised would be considered?
Cllr Daniel Anderson wrote in an email on September 15th "As I have said on previous occasions, and will continue to repeat ad nauseam, ALL comments, questions, queries and concerns are being fed into the consultation process and WILL be fully considered" Here is a link to the email, in which councillors were cc-ed.
- so why aren't they reflected in this decision announced on Monday? Why is no weight given to the numerous emails, letters, postcards, public meetings from genuine local people who feel that the ramifications of this scheme will be detrimental to the local area? Is this really the "Silent Majority telling Enfield Council that they support the scheme?
5. So how come all the views from local people that Cllr Anderson said would be included haven't formed any part of this so-called consultation result?
How can Enfield Council ignore the responses from all the local community groups representing residents and businesses in the local area?
The Enfield Society
Enfield Transport User Group
Federation of Enfield Residents & Allied Associations
Green Lanes Business Association
Grange Park Residents Association
The Over 50s Forum
Winchmore Hill Residents Association
Winchmore Hill Broadway Traders Association
6. Why weren't people who live on Green Lanes and in close proximity given a paper consultation form to complete?
When Enfield Council undertakes changes to controlled parking schemes (CPZ), other other fairly minor highways projects households in the vicinity received direct written notification of the proposals. Why wasn't this done with the Cycle Enfield proposals which have far more severe implications for residents?
7. Why were some of the most contentious aspects of the scheme not spelled out to local residents in the online and paper versions of the questionnaire?
For example, that all the parking on the west side of Winchmore Hill Broadway, the eastern side of Green Lanes in Palmers Green, between Hazelwood Lane and Lodge Drive is to be removed; the much used bus stop near the Intimate Theatre is to disappear? Is it possible that you didn't want to tell people about these facts because you know they would be unpopular? Just more reasons for questionning the validity of this consultation.
8. How does this decision fit with the new strategy of listening to the borough's business leaders?
At a recent meeting at the Dugdale Centre with local business leaders, Enfield Council's Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration & Business Development, Cllr Alan Sitkin said that the Council is sorry that it hasn't listened to businesses in the past, but proposes to do so in the future. How does this announcement, when is overwhelmingly rejected by Enfield businesses, fit with this new open and supportive strategy?
9. Where are the key pieces of research which are essential to the decision making process?
Enfield Council has promised that there will be an economic risk assessment, an equalities evaluation and an environmental impact assessment for the Green Lanes cycle route. These have not been done. Surely these should form an integral part of the planning and decision making processes? Is it not premature to say that the construction will begin in Spring 2016?
10. What compensation will be provided to business owners should their businesses be effected because their customers can't reach them?
Whatever Mr Gilligan et al say, the plans presented in the Green Lanes consultation will impact on our local economy. The scheme will make it harder for customers/clients to visit businesses; to park in close proximity - essential for people with limited mobility, those making a quick stop to buy something, people carrying something heavy and for businesses to receive deliveries. The retort that many businesses overestimate how many of their customers actually arrive by car can/van can easily be checked - you find out how they arrived when they are paying at the till. Cyclists are not big spenders (ask our cycle shop owner) They have a high propensity to shop online, as 90% plus of London cyclists are male and work in professional jobs. Not rocket science. It really doesn't seem as if they much care.
11. What compensation will be provided to home owners, whose properties may be devalued because there is no longer parking outside their homes?
As Enfield Council didn't bother to send these residents a consultation form, it doesn't seem that they care a jot. Whilst new applications for paving over drives are rarely granted these days, a member of the Cycle Enfield team has indicated that this policy may be reversed for people 'blighted' by the scheme.
12. What shred of evidence is there that putting a cycle highway along a heavily congested A road encourage more people to cycle?
Should the cycle lane scheme go ahead as outlined, Green Lanes will become even more congested, with angry drivers and potentially more risks. Furthermore the surrounding roads (which these theoretical cyclists would also have to negotiate unless they are going to have to wheel their bikes to Green Lanes) are actually going to become rat runs, making them more dangerous to cyclists, pedestrians and the residents who live on them. Is this scheme actually going to get more people in the local area cycling?
13. Andrew Gilligan stated in a recent public meeting in Enfield that if the project didn't work out, the cycle lanes could always be taken out again.
Who is going to pay to remedy this vanity project if it were to go wrong? At this largely acrimonious meeting, (in which AG spent a fair amount of his time playing with his phone, despite being on the stage), Andrew Gilligan made this flippant remark.
14. Shouldn't the Council learn from other 'experiments' such as in Lambeth, which has had predictably chaotic results?
Many of the problems which the majority of local people believe will be created by the proposed scheme have been encountered when Lambeth Council cose to close off a road to encourage more cyclists and pedestrians. Read what happened next in Crunch day looms over traffic 'experiment'
15. Have any of the 'decision making team' ever run a small business?
Many of our "leaders" (elected and unelected) state that one of the reasons why the High Street is dying is because the goods and services offered by the shops are not that which is wanted by shoppers. This is a lazy insult from people who have never run a small business all. The facts are however that successive governments have failed to help small shop keepers and businesses and it's their policies that have almost destroyed them, namely:
· Business rates increases;
· Landlords asking unrealistic rents;
· Difficult for customers to park and parking charges;
· Bus and cycle lanes;
· Red tape for small businesses getting out of control
16. Do any of them live in areas which are going to be affected by the scheme?
A resounding no. If they lived on Cecil Road in Enfield would they want to have an extra 10,500 vehicles a day past their home? Would they like to have the weekly shopping trips to Sainsbury's on Green Lanes made more difficult because they have to make a big detour? Would they like it if they weren't able to park anywhere near their favourite takeaway on a cold, dark winter's night?
17. Why isn't there a Plan B which Andrew Gilligan told local business leaders that he would recommend to Enfield Council?
Andrew Gilligan has gone on to deny that he ever said this, when he came up to Green Lanes in December 2014. There were numerous witnesses. Is this a man with a reputation for telling the truth?
18. How can a scheme be allowed that is designed to make the road safer for a tiny percentage of people but more dangerous for the majority of local residents?
From the removal of central crossings and bus stops in the places where TfL put them because they were most convenient for people; to the insane design of the bus boarders, this social engineering project is creating risks, especially for the young and old. If (God forbid) there is an accident arising from passengers having to board and alight from buses across a cycle lane, would Enfield Council, the GLA or TfL be responsible, due to poor design?
19. Is this scheme a suitable candidate for George Osborne to cull?
Why is Enfield Council even contemplating this ridiculously expensive cycle scheme, which will primarily serve a tiny minority of people, when the vast majority of people have absolutely no inclination to get on a bike? Enfield has a higher percentage of people aged over 65 years than London as a whole 15.6% compared to 13.7% for London and has seen a 25% increase in the 90+ age group. We have an ageing population why is this being ignored, as well as the needs of families and other groups to move around their neighbourhood without becoming second class citizens.
20. Is this a scheme for everyone, which we have been promised by Cllr Daniel Anderson?
To quote from the article written by David Williams (Safety Writer of The Year) (mentioned above):
"Motorists are mothers, workers, midwives, van delivery drivers and carers, taxi and bus drivers, all performing vital trips for which bicycles, buses and trains simply aren't always suited"
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that this announcement on Monday November 9th was a cynical attempt by Andrew Gilligan to close down discussion of the Green Lanes Cycle Enfield scheme and to push it forward, to reduce the risk of the scheme being culled in the forthcoming budget cuts, which are due to impact most heavily on transport and local government projects. Agree/Disagree?
Furthermore, the PR charm campaign being mounted by Andrew Gilligan in the Evening Standard and other media is a disgrace and an insult to the people of the local area. It also reflects badly on Cllr Anderson and senior officers for allowing the Council to become embroiled in this project which they know to be deeply unpopular. The "Silent Majority" have NOT voted in favour of this scheme. Agree/Disagree?
The consultation process was seriously flawed therefore it is deeply cynical to try to use these results to suggest that the majority of people in the local area "have spoken" and are in favour of the proposals. It is this abuse that gives politics a bad name. This misrepresentation of the facts about the scheme has been endorsed by someone who could become a future prime minister, who wants to push through his vanity project before he leaves office next year. Agree/Disagree?
Whatever spin Andrew Gilligan overwhelming evidence (which both City Hall and Enfield Council are fully aware of) that this scheme as outlined is massively unpopular with the people whose views should count - local residents. Agree/Disagree?
Last week the Tory oppostion group, led by Grange Cllr Terry Neville announced that they were withdrawing support for the Cycle Enfield proposals because of the scale of public opposition. Cllr Neville will call for an urgent review of the consultation results and for all other communcations to be taken into consideration, as promised by the project leader, Cllr Daniel Anderson
David Burrowes MP, will be announcing a public referendum shortly and has issued the following statement.
"The Council's consultation along Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill has led to less than 1000 people supporting the plans. It is not a mandate for giving a green light to spending over £30 million of taxpayers money on this scheme. Rather than rush approval the Council should be carefully considering the responses. I am sending out my referendum this month which will provide a greater opportunity for the public to have their say. Enfield Council and the Mayor should wait for all the results to be in on the Cycle Enfield consultations and my referendum, and meetings of the Partnership Boards, before making a decision. Otherwise it looks like the Council made up its mind up whatever the public say."
Enfeild Council must STOP LOOK LISTEN to the people who really count
Perhaps Cllr Anderson would like to comment?
Is this a scheme for everyone or just for cyclists. 20 questions for Enfield Council after their cycnical PR stunt!