“Flawed” consultation prompts calls for a fresh start
The Council has been accused of a series of failings over its consultation about proposals to close some Stoke Newington roads.
They failed to notify traders on the north side of Church Street of the consultation despite projections that the scheme will generate considerable extra traffic on the road (something they now say they're rectifying).
St Mary’s Primary School, which will also be impacted by the extra traffic, also wasn’t notified and William Patten Primary School, which the Council claims were on the distribution list, say they didn’t receive a copy.
Local resident Jenna Fansa, who runs the StokeyParents website, is part of a pressure group calling for the Council to scrap the consultation and start again with a fairer, more transparent approach.
She added: “Not to have consulted traders whose livelihoods are centred on Church Street or to notify a primary school whose playground will receive more emissions if the proposals go ahead is either an appalling oversight or a deliberate attempt to get the proposals through with minimal objections.
“The consultation document that went through people’s doors was so lacking in information about the likely impacts the closures would bring that residents can hardly make an informed decision.
“Crucial information about likely impacts on traffic on Church Street was added in the second week of January and hidden in a separate FAQ document online rather than being part of the main consultation document. So many residents will have responded without even knowing the anticipated impacts.
"We want a suitable solution to stop the traffic problems on Walford Road but businesses and residents in streets which are likely to be impacted must be properly consulted."
The Council also admitted an error which told residents who received the document through the door that just one response could be submitted per household, while those responding online have been told it’s in fact one response per adult per household.
Around 200 people attended a public meeting at St Paul’ Church on Monday night to hear a presentation about the proposals and for officers and councillors to answer questions.
But Cllr Susan Fajana Thomas shouted down some attendees who live in Shackelwell Ward (within the consultation area) and refused them permission to ask questions stating only residents of Clissold or Stoke Newington Ward could speak.
Jenna added: “Here was a real opportunity for the Council to engage with its community in a sincere and democratic way – it was upsetting to say the least to see residents denied the right to speak, given the Council officers in the room could so easily have answered their questions.”
Among the options being considered by Hackney Council are closing Nevill Road between Osterley Road & Walford Road or Barbauld Road at its junction with Albion Road to stop residential streets being used as a rat-run. The Council anticipates up to a further 5% increase in traffic eastbound and a 7% increase in traffic westbound on Stoke Newington Church Street. That could mean over 500 extra cars a day. Critics say that would cause an unacceptable increase in pollution and congestion outside at least two local primary schools and some fear the likely increase in traffic would be even higher.
The Council refuted allegations their consultation document’s questions were badly worded and misleading and denied claims the document itself lacked sufficient information (citing a 'live', constantly updated Frequently Asked Questions PDF residents can access online) and said they’d mitigated against the impact of consulting during the Christmas period by choosing a longer consultation time of six weeks.
Kate Hart, of Hackney Council’s Streetscene team said: “At this stage we are proposing to continue with the consultation and will deliver the consultation packs to the north side of Stoke Newington Church Street and also discuss the proposals further with William Patten School.”