At last week's Full Council Meeting John Hartley asked a question for our group:
Barnsbury suffers from some horrendous traffic. Many vehicles cut through totally inappropriate roads such as: Offord Road, Barnsbury Street, Theberton Street and Cloudesley Place. The junction at Roman Way and MacKenzie Road is far too busy for people on bikes to be safe. The whole Barnsbury area is desperately in need of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood and when the Council announced that this would be implemented in March 2021 we were delighted. But that just didn't happen. We look on the other Islington LTNs (in St Peters, Canonbury, Highbury, etc.) green with envy. Now we understand that our LTN will be preceded by an extensive Engagement and Design process, which was due to start "Autumn 2021". We are perfectly willing to "engage" and "design" along with the rest of the community but, please tell us: What will the process be? And, most important, when will start?
And Cllr. Rowena Champion responded:
Thank you very much John, thank you for your question and support for People Friendly Streets. I know that the work that the Barnsbury and St Mary’s neighbourhood group, of which I think you are part, have been very active trying to get information out and raising awareness of the programme and trying to encourage people to feed their views in, so thank you.
I agree there are significant cut through routes in the area. We did say we wanted to do this as part of the recovery form the Covid measures but unfortunately, with hindsight that was really just too ambitious. We’ve now introduced eight People Friendly Streets, neighbourhoods, which is 24% of the borough, but none of them as complex as the Barnsbury and St Mary’s area.
We do believe that the most appropriate approach is to talk to residents, businesses and others in the community to understand how people experience the streets and understand how we can best address traffic problems in the area. We'd hoped to start this by now but again a combination of Covid re-emergence and the amount of LTN and school street consultation work together with resource constraints meant that this was just not possible.
We are really passionate about this, and sometimes we are really over optimistic about how many hours there are in the day so I’m sorry about giving you hope when we haven’t been able to deliver. The good news is though, we will do it as part of the Liveable Neighbourhood programme. So not just with engagement about traffic measures but also about complementary changes such as greening, people-friendly pavement measures and other things that will make the area better and more accessible . So thank you very much for your question, John, and once again I apologise for raising hopes.
You will notice that, although Rowena does not answer our specific questions, she does reaffirm that the Council is passionate about sorting out the traffic problems in Barnsbury and that it will be done as part of a Liveable Neighbourhood roll-out. We know that there have been serious resource issues in the team of Council Officers over the last couple of years (don't forget that lots of other Councils were also vying for resources during Covid-related LTN roll-outs) and we also know that the Council has now recruited more people to work on the next phase.
In a recent meeting with the umbrella Low Traffic Islington group, Rowena told us that the Engagement and Design (E&D) process for Barnsbury will start after the May elections and, given how passionate she is, we expect it to be an early priority.
We are currently planning our campaign to support the Council and to encourage Barnsbury residents to participate in the E&D process, so we are still very keen to have answers to our questions: What is the E&D process? and, When will it start for the Barnsbury LTN? We will report any information as soon as we have it.
You can see Rowena responding to our question in the webcast of the meeting, starting at 0:45:30.