James Cracknell gauges local reaction to the proposed implementation of a £100,000 low-traffic neighbourhood in Bowes Park
The sudden decision to create a low-traffic neighbourhood in Bowes Park, without public consultation, has drawn a mixed reaction from local people.
Enfield Council is set to install a series of road barriers in the area immediately south of the North Circular after it was given £100,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT) to spend on the project – with an aim to promote zero-carbon travel options such as cycling. Motor traffic will be prevented from entering from the Haringey side of Bowes Park, meaning local drivers will need to use the North Circular to access their homes.
Residents were only told about these changes at the end of last month and some remain unaware, days before work is set to begin, but the council says it will lose the coronavirus-related funding if it doesn’t proceed before the end of September. During the six-month trial, locals will be given an opportunity to leave their feedback, but the lack of prior consultation has angered many residents, including those who would otherwise support measures to reduce rat-running.
Last week the Dispatch met ten Bowes Park households, picked at random, to gauge local opinion on what the council has described as ‘Bowes Quieter Neighbourhood’. Of these ten, five were against it, four were in favour, and one was undecided.
Warwick Road is one of the streets worst-affected by rat-running. Nonetheless, residents remain unconvinced by the latest low-traffic plans. Alan McEachren, a long-time resident of the road, said: “I want proper consultation and I want meetings – the council is very good at doing things without consultation. I am against this scheme until they do a consultation.”
Catherine Stock, also from Warwick Road, said: “It [the trial] is absolutely horrendous. It could add ten minutes in the morning and half-an-hour at lunchtime [to car journeys].
“I think it’s disgusting to not consult us – I would have been happy for them to close one of the roads but not both.”
Peareace Payneeandy, from York Road, is also upset. She lives with her grandmother and fears what may happen if there was an emergency – although the council insists all emergency vehicles can bypass the new barriers. Peareace said: “Adding half-an-hour to get all the way round is inconsiderate for people who are disabled or elderly. My grandmother recently had a stroke, if someone didn’t get here in time she wouldn’t be here.”
Sasha Haran, from Maidstone Road, believes the new barriers will add 40 minutes to car journeys. She added: “It feels like the council is doing it just to see if it fails, rather than having a well thought-out consultation process. They are spending money in haste. No-one denies rat-running is a problem but you need a better solution.”
Not all residents have such negative views of the low-traffic trial, however. Jonathan Weir, from Palmerston Road, said: “I think it’s brilliant. This road is really rubbish so if it slows down the traffic that would be great – it’ll be like living in a cul-de-sac.
“We drive but we also cycle, and I think for shorter journeys like going to Morrisons we might cycle in future. Although I can see why people are angry when there’s been no consultation.”
A Maidstone Road resident, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “We have got a terrible situation in Warwick Road with rat-running so anything that can be done to improve that is good and it is better than nothing.
“The scheme is not ideal but rat running has been a problem here for 25 years. This part of Enfield is neglected so my fear is that if we kick it back in their faces they will forget about it.”
This is a view echoed by campaign group Better Streets for Enfield, which describes the Bowes Park scheme as “imperfect” but warns “there is no other money in the pot” and insists there will be chances to shape the scheme as the trial progresses.
Broomfield Homeowners and Residents’ Association launched a petition against the low-traffic trial, which gained 1,600 signatures in two weeks. Stephen Dalziel, the group’s chair, said: “Residents will have access shut off from Bounds Green Road and will have to make car journeys via the North Circular. This means that all traffic returning to the area from the west will have to utilise the tricky turning into Warwick Road. If there are three cars or more, the right-hand lane of the North Circular becomes completely blocked.”
A council spokesperson said: “Every year one-in-20 deaths (5.4%) in Enfield can be attributed to air pollution. The council is doing everything in its power to tackle this issue.
“The £100,000 funding comes with the expected short timescale for implementation and so a consultation will run when the scheme has gone live and will allow amendments.”
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