Councillors turn down chance to review new bus route

The 456 bus pictured on the single-lane bridge in Farm Road, Winchmore Hill
The 456 bus pictured on the single-lane bridge in Farm Road, Winchmore Hill

Newly-launched 456 bus route angers residents who want to park outside their homes, reports Olivia Devereux-Evans and Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents and councillors have criticised a new bus route as “unsafe” – but a council committee turned down a chance to review it.

The decision to add Farm Road in Winchmore Hill to the route of the 456 bus service – which launched last month and connects Crews Hill with North Middlesex Hospital – was debated by scrutiny committee councillors last month, following concerns raised by residents and by Conservative councillors.

Residents were unhappy about the short length of a public consultation and said they felt inconvenienced by having buses run down Farm Road, which has a narrow single-lane bridge at its western end.

Councillors claimed that adding double yellow lines and removing on-street parking to reduce congestion in the road would harm elderly and disabled people, as well as families.

Conservative committee member Maria Alexandrou said residents’ worries included parking restrictions, the narrowness of the road, extra traffic, and noise from vibrations caused by the buses. Seven residents now have yellow lines outside their homes, so those that have cars have to park further away.

Cllr Alexandrou said: “Parking spaces are like gold dust. It will inconvenience the elderly residents, families with small children and those with disabilities most.”

Farm Road is also in close proximity to both Winchmore School and Highfield Primary School. At busy periods, there have been reports of buses mounting the pavement to reach the end of the road. Cllr Alexandrou cited safety concerns for children, referring to instances where buses and school children have been seen using the pavement at the same time.

Other councillors questioned the risk assessment and testing process which had been undertaken by Transport for London (TfL) ahead of the route’s implementation.

Responding to the concerns raised, cabinet member for environment Guney Dogan said Farm Road was picked as the preferred option for the bus route as it enabled TfL “to fill an existing gap in provision in a cost-effective way”.

“TfL considered a number of different route options avoiding Farm Road, including those proposed by residents, but concluded none offered the same benefits,” he added.

Cllr Dogan said the double yellow lines – added to create space for buses to pass – had been revised to cover the frontage of only seven homes in Farm Road, “none of which lack off-street parking”.

A single yellow line would be added near Highfield Primary School to deter commuter parking while allowing residents to park, he said.

After concerns were raised over the positions of bus stops in Farm Road, Labour committee member Achilleas Georgiou asked if alternatives such as hail-and-ride had been considered.

David Taylor, head of traffic and transportation at Enfield Council, said fixed bus stops were planned because TfL is “committed to providing services that are really accessible to all members of the community”.

Cllr Georgiou also raised concerns over the narrow bridge on Farm Road and asked if specific assessments had been carried out to gauge the risk of the bus route to children attending the schools.

David replied that a separate risk assessment looking at the schools had not been undertaken, but the scheme was assessed “within the context that it sits, including knowing there are schools there”.

“There is an element of engineering judgement we have used in designing the scheme to make sure it can work effectively and safely,” he added.

Labour councillor Hass Yusuf said he wasn’t in favour of changing the route and asked: “Isn’t it the case that whenever something is added to the road people will object?”

“It is disruption, having bus stops there – there is no doubt about it. But I think for the wider good of the whole of Enfield it is better.”

At the end of the debate, the two Conservative committee members voted to refer the decision back to the cabinet member for a review. Cllr Georgiou abstained, while the remaining five Labour members voted to allow the original decision to stand.