Council “grossly misled” public over likely impact of road closures
Opponents of a proposed road closure scheme in Stoke Newington say Hackney Council has “grossly misled” the public over the likely traffic impact for Church Street.
Though the Council claimed the proposals would increase traffic on Church Street by up to 564 vehicles per day, statistics released at the end of their consultation reveal more than 5,700 vehicles per day currently use the cut-though they’re seeking to close.
Sally Newsom, a member of the Cleaner Air for William Patten Primary School action group, said: “It stands to reason that half the vehicles currently using Walford, Beatty and Brighton Roads could be displaced to Church Street. We've spoken to a traffic expert who claims that could be over 2,000 extra vehicles per day (almost 1,300 during school hours) – in claiming it would be considerably less than that, in my view, the Council has grossly mislead residents.
“Church Street is home to two primary schools, one of which already has pollution levels deemed illegal by EU law – so much so that the Council is considering advising the school close a section of the playground. To knowingly increase traffic and pollution is, in my view, legally dubious and morally unacceptable.”
The revelation follows a request from local website StokeyParents for the Council to release its traffic counts and assumptions about where the traffic would go. When working out the likely displacement figures, the Council seems to have removed 50 per cent of the traffic in their calculations, describing it as “local.”
Jenna Fansa, who has been campaigning against the closures and scrutinising the Council’s claims, added: “If it’s local traffic it still exists and has to end up somewhere – it’s a reasonable assumption that half the traffic going east-west (and vice versa) which is prevented from using Beatty, Walford, Brighton and Barbauld Road as a cut through will end up using Church Street - even if some of it is locals going home.
“At best the Council’s workings seem like a gross error and at worse it would seem the figures have been engineered to make the impact seem considerably lower.
“Parents, residents and traders on Church Street have been denied a true picture of the very real impact these road closures could have on their lives, which makes a mockery of the entire consultation.
"It looks likely the Council has also made serious errors when calculating the knock-on effects for traffic on other streets."
A spokesperson for Hackney Council failed to address the specific queries put to them over their data analysis. They added: “We are going to do further analysis on both the traffic and air quality impacts, including addressing issues raised by residents campaigning against the scheme. We will also continue our detailed monitoring of air pollution by William Patten School and the potential impacts there.”
The Council received 2,200 responses to the consultation and say residents expressed strong feelings both for and against the schemes. The spokesperson said it would take “some time” to analyse the results and make a final decision.
Opposition groups are urging the Council to scrap the proposals now, given the "flawed consultation" and the fact that members of the public didn't have enough information to make an informed decision.
Jenna added: "We are very concerned that the Council is now stalling its decision-making until after the local elections this May."