While Enfield Council continues to analyse more than 700 consultation responses and work on developing a revised scheme, the plans for a low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in the Fox Lane area are likely to be the dominant topic of discussion at next week's Annual General Meeting of the Fox Lane and District Residents' Association (FLDRA). At the meeting, on Thursday 20th February, the FLDRA Committee will be proposing that the Association adopt a formal position calling for a revised plan which, while incorporating traffic calming, would keep as many roads "open" as possible.
Until now, the FLDRA has avoided adopting an agreed position on the LTN proposals, which reflects the absence of consensus not only within the wider membership, but also between members of the FLDRA committee, some of whom support the idea of excluding through traffic, while others are opposed.
The text of the proposed FLDRA position on the LTN was published in a newsletter distributed to members this week (see below). The newsletter also includes a brief report on a meeting with deputy council leader Ian Barnes and Richard Eason, the council officer who heads up work on quieter neighbourhood schemes. As well as a representative from FLDRA, the meeting was attended by Paul Mandel, who, following the meeting he arranged in January, has set up a "Fox Lane Area Traffic Working Group", and David Bird, the traffic engineer who gave a presentation at the January meeting outlining possible alternative options.
One of the options suggested by David Bird and reportedly regarded as a possible solution by Paul Mandel's Traffic Working Group involves using automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR), with cameras placed at strategic points mid-way along streets in the area. Only cars registered as belonging to the scheme would be able to drive the full length of the street without incurring a fine. Residents would thus be able to drive freely throughout the area, as now, whereas visitors would be able to access all addresses but would would be constrained in their arrival and departure routes. This solution would prevent outsiders cutting through the area without lengthening driving routes in and out of the area for residents. However, it would not reduce overall traffic in the area to the same degree as using physical barriers - one of the objectives of LTNs is to make it slightly less convenient to drive and thus encourage residents to switch to walking for shorter journeys.
The FLDRA newsletter confirms that the council have definitively abandoned their original "Starbucks" plan for the LTN, which would have allowed vehicles to enter and leave the area via Fox Lane only - which end of Fox Lane depending on where in the area they were driving to or from. But the council are playing their cards very close to their chests and not giving away clues about what alternatives they are working on.
Fox Lane LTN Group's "Green Flyer" proposes many more entry points than the original "Starbucks" plan proposed by the council. Opponents of the LTN circulated a "Red Flyer"
The "Green Flyer" alternative being promoted by the Fox Lane LTN Group (not to be confused with the Fox Lane Area Traffic Working Group, which evolved from the earlier "Red Flyer" group!) would provide many more entry and exit points than the "Starbucks" plan. Might the council be considering this option or something similar? Hopefully, we won't have to wait too much longer to find out. Residents of other areas plagued by through traffic are growing impatient for a solution for their streets.
Fox Lane Low Traffic Neighbourhoods - FLDRA Position
The committee proposes the following position
FLDRA rejects Enfield Council's initial Fox Lane LTN proposal (as shown in the exhibition in November 2019 )
FLDRA continues to support a 20mph limit supported by appropriate traffic calming measures within the Fox Lane area.
FLDRA is keen to explore alternative schemes that achieve a safer environment and that take account of the area as a whole, not just certain roads with heavy traffic, with the aim of keeping as many roads open as possible. To this effect FLDRA is engaging with various groups in the neighbourhood and welcomes views from members.
Source: FLDRA printed newsletter, February 2020
Fox Lane Low Traffic Neighbourhood — FLDRA in joint meeting with Enfield Council on 27th Jan 2020
John Phillips of FLDRA, Paul Mandel and David Bird of the Fox Lane Area Traffic Working Group (FLATWG formed out of the 'red flyer' group) met Cllr. Ian Barnes and council officer Richard Eason.
We will place a fuller account on our website, but the main points include:
The Council's original plan - the Starbucks plan - is now abandoned. Among other problems, it had too few entry points and could create a feeling of insularity.
The Council recognises that any proposal has to have the backing of most residents in order to succeed.
Over 700 responses to the "Starbucks plan", plus views from about 15 groups, are being considered by the Council in order to devise a new, more acceptable scheme.
Various options were discussed in an open conversation. But no decisions were made.
Any plan for our area will form a basis for other, though different, schemes across the borough.
A new proposal will be published followed by a trial and further consultation.
I presume the fldra committee mean 'open' to motor vehicles? Which means 'much less than open' to walkers, cyclists and people using mobility devices. Our street feels most 'open' when part of it is restricted to through traffic as a playstreet and families can cycle safely, people can cross without fear of speeding lorries and people using mobility devices don't have to take their life in their hands to get from one side of the road to other.
700 responses is a very large pile, shows a high level of interest, and doubtless diverse views. As a subset of that council response it’s going to be hard for FLDRA to position a truly representative members response (nor why, given the advanced stage of council consultation); but as someone who left when its member-centricity was seen to be compromised when becoming one part of the previous SOGL / local Tory / FERRA anti Mini Holland campaign I have no say. Let's hope that type of non-civic approach is history under fresh leadership.
I do see HMG announced yesterday that “dozens of Mini Hollands” are to be introduced across the UK “as part of the programme to create low-traffic neighbourhoods to encourage walking and cycling”.
On local ideas being floated, on the basis rat-runners are being assumed to pay for the not-insignificant ANPR infrastructure and ongoing running costs, what happens when it proves successful and they all depart? Who pays then? And if it’s not going to be successful, why is it being floated at all?
I am afraid David Bird's idea of a registration scheme to drive down Fox Lane without being fined really doesn't work. This amounts to a private road. Should we all have private roads? The residents of Fox Lane and the adjacent roads are all free to use the road on which I live, because we pay for roads collectively.
What would be the legal position of such a scheme? Would the Council have any legal basis for fining the citizens of Enfield for driving on the roads that they own?
The ANPR scheme is very unlikely to be introduced (purely on a cost basis) but low traffic neighbourhoods will be rolled out in the Borough making it safer, less-polluted, quieter and greener for residents , easier for cyclists, walkers and people using mobility aids and less easy for rat runners.