Published: @JeremyCorbyn’s Strong Letter to Leon Daniels @TfL re Archway Gyratory Fears @IslingtonBC

9th February 2016

Dear Leon Daniels,

Re: Ongoing consultations for the Archway Gyratory improvement scheme

I believe that you are well aware that, although this scheme is broadly supported, there remain a number of details that concern the many thoughtful people who live locally and know the area well. There is a view that, despite many months of consultations, TfL have failed to listen and give due regard to these concerns. Sadly the recent briefing note will I suspect do little to alter this view.

Right turn out of St. John’s Way

Most recently residents of Whitehall Park and Hazellville Road (not previously consulted) have suggested that additional vehicles will use the side roads to get to Hornsey Lane. The number of vehicles is relatively low and a local traffic management scheme could be considered by the Council if problems materialise.

More worrying however is the fact that north-bound vehicles (including the 210 and 41 buses, whose journeys will be extended and which are not as yet listed for change to cleaner technology) will turn right from Junction Road into Vorley Road, a narrow street with restricted pavements where the Archway Early Years Centre and planned new housing are located. TfL have attended meetings and well know that parents are concerned for the physical safety of children as well as the quality of the air they breathe.

There has been little mention of blue light vehicles, particularly travelling from St. John’s Way to the Whittington Hospital. Are they really expected to pass at high speeds into the narrow Vorley Road and past the Early Years Centre?

Residents have been told that the right turn out of St. John’s Way is not feasible because there is limited space and it would necessitate an additional phase of the lights, so leading to the build-up on traffic on the Archway Road, although detailed figures and modelling have not been shared. Residents request that a road layout be installed that would enable the reintroduction of the right turn should future conditions allow. It is extremely unfortunate that at present TfL appear to be unwilling to consider this, or to share the data on which this decision is based.

No left turn from Junction Road into Vorley Road

This would reduce the volume of traffic passing the Early Years Centre and I plan to take this up with the Council.

Positioning of the bus stands and possible extension of routes

It has been pointed out that TfL’s current proposals make the arrangements for interchanges between the Tube, the increasingly busy Upper Holloway Overground Station and the various bus routes even more difficult than they are at present.

Better Archway Forum and others have suggested that the number of (empty) U-turning buses on the Archway Road could be reduced if two alternative turning points were implemented. These arrangements would both improve public transport interchanges and reduce car usage and parking around the hospital.

The Whittington would in principle be willing to allow buses from the south to set down and turn in the forecourt at Magdala Avenue. This would improve access to the hospital for those experiencing difficulty with the walk up Highgate Hill. (I gather that TfL have now discussed this proposal with the hospital, and should consider diverting, not extending, route 41 as well as route 390.)

Buses from the north (the W5 and 143) could turn right from Holloway Road into St. John’s Grove, set down for Upper Holloway Station and stand outside the church. This too has apparently been considered by TfL and rejected on cost rather than feasibility grounds. TfL argue that additional buses would be required to maintain frequencies, but surely this also applies to routes where empty buses are U-turning on the Archway Road. (It has also been pointed out that a stand at Upper Holloway would shorten journeys to the Holloway Bus Garage operated by Metroline.)

TfL claim that traffic “will run as smoothly as possible” while six bus routes do their U-turns and Archway Road traffic is stopped in both directions. It seems illogical that TfL find this acceptable but not the delay that would be caused by the right-turn out of St. John’s Way.

Pedestrians crossing the Archway Road

Whilst I understand TfL’s reasons for closing subways across London, there is concern locally that sole reliance on a surface level crossing could lead to accidents, particularly involving students from St. Aloysius College at the end of the school day. Further consideration of these arrangements is needed.

Conclusion

The current consultation does not allow (re)consideration of these details, many of which have been raised on numerous occasions. I repeat however that local people (the majority of whom support the scheme in principle) do not feel that TfL have shared their data or listened to their reasoned concerns. There is a lack of trust for a scheme that should enjoy widespread support in the area.

It is not too late to review these matters and I and my colleague Catherine West would be happy to attend an early meeting with you and a representative group of residents who have worked on these issues for many years. I’d be most grateful if your office could contact my diary secretary Janet Chapman (janet.chapman@parliament.uk) about the arrangements.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Corbyn

Press Release “Steamrolling through Archway”

1st Feb 2016

More than 1,000 Islington and Haringey residents have signed petitions calling on Transport for London to re-think its controversial plan for the Archway gyratory.

TfL’s works are due to start today, February 1st, continuing until summer 2017. A public protest is planned in Archway for Saturday, February 6th .

The protests focus on two aspects of the plan: the relocation of bus stands to the bottom of Archway Road, and the banning of the right turn from St John’s Way to Highgate Hill and Archway Road.

Residents and parents are alarmed that TfL is pressing ahead with construction despite concerns expressed at public consultations and meetings. The proposals will mean:

  • Routing up to 120 additional vehicles an hour through Vorley Road , just inches from Archway Children’s Centre, increasing already dangerous levels of pollution and the risk of accidents.
  • 50 buses an hour U-turning on Archway Road , halting A1 traffic in both directions.
  • Narrowing the bottom of Archway Road to a single lane to accommodate new bus stands replacing those currently on Vorley Road.
  • Traffic dispersed by the banned right turn from St John’s Way will have to use local residential streets to go north. This will include Vorley Road south of the gyratory and the Whitehall Park network of roads to the north.

Protesters fear the plans will lead to greatly increased pollution, especially around the children’s centre and Whitehall Park conservation area; increased congestion around the Archway area and displaced vehicles being forced to use quiet residential streets as rat-runs.

In a letter to residents dated 11 January 2016, TfL asked for comments on the bus routes serving the Archway area, but stated that ‘decisions on the layout of the roads and the location of bus stops and stands have already been taken as part of the earlier consultation on the road layout’. (In January 2014)

“I am surprised that TfL considers the 2014 consultation closed when there are so many unresolved issues. We have been in dialogue with TfL and Islington Council for more than a year now, because we know the scheme can be better. Space constraint, performance and safety standards are not insurmountable problems and we have a dedicated team of architects and traffic planners proposing alternatives,”

says #n19air campaigner Kiat Phua.

“It is a complex project with repercussions for residents and roads users, so we are asking TfL to come back and address stakeholders’ concerns.”

Other residents say they have been continuously challenging these earlier consultations but their arguments have fallen on deaf ears. They are also angry that road works are starting three weeks before the bus consultation is concluded.

“What TfL disingenuously calls ‘consultation’ has barely been lip-service; every suggestion has been dismissed out of hand or later misrepresented. There is fury at such blatant disregard of serious concerns,”

Jenny Thompson, local resident.

TfL claims it will ‘make the town centre a more pleasant accessible and safe environment for all road users’. That’s exactly the problem, say people who live in the area – local residents, including the area’s young children, are being sidelined – in favour of road users.

A coalition of local community groups, businesses, schools and residents have put forward alternative solutions to TfL, but say that they have been rebuffed. They also claim that Islington Council has failed adequately to represent their concerns, and even exacerbated the problem by allowing a left turn into Vorley Road on top of the traffic from St John’s Way.

“Islington Council said in Aug 2015 that traffic past the nursery won’t increase as a result of changes to the gyratory. We strongly disagree and have yet to see convincing evidence to support this. Additionally, five months later and outside of the public consultation, they have added another stream of traffic from Junction Road. Even if traffic on Vorley Road doesn’t increase – which is inconceivable – this creates a dangerous intersection outside a nursery,”

says Ginny Hendricks, of Archway Children’s Centre Parents & Carers Forum.

Whitehall Park and Highgate residents, Jess Sofer and Anna Squires, say:

“Many of us welcomed improvements to Archway when the concept was presented back in 2014. What we’re getting is one giant leap backwards as it’s been taken out of the hands of the community groups who drove it.”