Labour-run Greenwich Council has published plans to construct a new ‘Strategic Cycle Route’ from Eltham to Greenwich Park which intends to block off the roads which currently allow drivers to travel from one side of the Page Estate to the other under the A2 and railway line.
The plan (which is shown below) intends to block off both Birdbrook Road and Shawbrooke Road to stop vehicles from using them. As a result of these changes to reach anywhere in the area of Eltham Green (or that general direction) from north of the A2, residents will have to travel up to the Rochester Way, along to the Well Hall roundabout and then back down the south circular, a journey which is substantially longer and likely to be even more congested in the future.
Map of Strategic Cycle Route Plan
As you can see from the plan, the cycle route goes nowhere near Shawbrooke Road, but the Council justifies its decision to close off this road on the basis:
“We’ve also proposed to remove through-access on Shawbrooke Road under the A2, even though it is not directly on the cycle route. It is very likely that through-traffic between the A205/A20 and Rochester Way would be displaced here with a filter on Birdbrook Road / Eltham Green Road.”
So the Council’s planned changes are the reason for closing off Shawbrooke Road despite the fact it is not necessary currently but will be once they enforce their changes,
As a local Conservative Councillor (there are 9 of us out of 51) I am strongly opposed to these changes. Over the last year, as these changes have been introduced disabled residents have been in touch with me to say how they make it much harder for them to access shops and services that the rest of us take for granted. Businesses have explained to me how having to spend more time in traffic jams on congested roads costs them money and means that they have to charge customers more as they can do less jobs in a day. Where roads have been closed around Greenwich Park, the number of customers through the doors of those shops that have remained open has dropped a lot. Residents with families have explained that they cannot do the weekly shop on a bicycle. It seems to me that the changes proposed by the Labour Council are actively designed to reduce the standard of living of many local residents by making it harder for them to travel round the borough.
For those of you who are cyclists, I would add that this plan is simple vandalism, splitting this community where it does not have to. Less than three years ago, the Council invested in a ‘Cycle Quietway’ from Greenwich to Eltham. This involved introducing infrastructure at the base of the A2 which allows cyclists to make this trip without needing to close roads off. My fellow Councillor Charlie Davis and I were so concerned to make sure that this route worked we called a special Council meeting to discuss it where Greenwich Cyclists attended and agreed with us about an alternative route through Eltham Station. Alas, Charlie and I were ignored, but this seems to be a feature of the Council’s approach on this issue where reducing car journeys by 45% is an aim pursued without stopping to consider the consequences for residents.
You can see the Cycle Quietway map here, which makes quite clear that these road closures are totally unnecessary.
Conservative Councillors have tried to make the Council see reason and in September we asked for a proper consultation on all schemes. Despite the fact that every Labour Councillor (including those that represent the Page Estate) voted against our request, there has been a shift to allow residents to respond to plans before they are introduced and it is important you respond. Initial consultations were cynical attempts to manipulate residents by now allowing them to comment on the scheme which affected them, which you can see here with the questions on the proposed Horn Park LTN where residents were given no opportunity to directly oppose (or support) the closure of their roads.
However, following my fellow Eltham Councillor (and your London Assembly candidate) Cllr Charlie Davis pointing out how ridiculous this was at a Council meeting, can now comment on this scheme directly as long as you respond before Sunday 21 March.
I cannot promise you that Labour Councillors will not introduce this scheme even if residents vote against it, but I promise you we will continue to hold them to account at the Woolwich Town Hall (virtually or face to face).
To respond to the consultation either go to the Council’s website directly (https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/eltham-to-greenwich-park-strategic-cycle-route) and respond to the Eltham to Greenwich Park – Strategic Cycle Route consultation.
The sad truth is that Greenwich Labour Councillors and our Assembly Member are simply not standing up for local residents when it comes to opposing Council plans which are going to make your life harder.
There is an election in May and I hope you will find the time to support my fellow Eltham Councillor, the Conservative London Assembly Candidate Charlie Davis by voting for him. Labour in Greenwich have been in power for 50 years and have stopped listening to residents.