Bromley Labour will shun an invitation to sign a cross-party letter calling on London Mayor Sadiq Khan to personally axe road closures causing havoc across Crystal Palace, after accusing their Tory rivals of attempting a “political manoeuvre” with the move.
Bromley Council deputy leader Peter Fortune invited Labour counterparts and Crystal Palace ward members Angela Wilkins and Marina Ahmad to sign the letter to Mr Khan in a bid to have roads near the Crystal Palace triangle re-opened to vehicle traffic, at a meeting earlier this month.
Closed as part of the city-wide Low Traffic Neighbourhood initiatives, the measures are aimed at driving down vehicle use while encouraging cycling and walking.
Catch up Peter! We told the council on Thursday that @LabourMarina and I can’t sign this because it is misdirected. We are advised that the Mayor of London doesn’t have the power to remove the road blocks, so letter to him won’t help our residents one iota. https://t.co/FLtkc9vorr
— Cllr Angela Wilkins (@angelawilkins1) October 17, 2020
Implemented on three roads across the boundary line by Croydon Council and without consultation with Bromley residents, the measures have instead been accused of resulting in a back-up of traffic for miles around the congested Crystal Palace Triangle.
In his letter, Cllr Fortune, who is also running as the Conservative London Assembly candidate for Bexley and Bromley, appeals to Labour Mayor Mr Khan to use his “power and influence” to have the roadblocks removed.
However, Cllr Wilkins, the leader of Bromley Labour, rejected the offer after it was made at last week’s full meeting of council.
“We completely agree with the Bromley Leader that the impact of this LTN on Bromley’s residential roads is unacceptable, and that something has to be done as a matter of urgency,” she said.
“However, writing to Sadiq Khan is barking up the wrong tree as the Mayor of London does not have the power to force Croydon to remove the road blocks.
“This letter therefore seems more like a political manoeuvre than a serious attempt to help local residents.
She said the party had instead appealed to Labour’s MP for Lewisham West and Penge, Ellie Reeves, to write to transport secretary Grant Shapps urging action on the matter.
“These LTNs are a government policy, and Grant Shapps is the man responsible for introducing them,” she said.
Cllr Wilkins added that “just about everyone supports the principles of reducing traffic on residential roads to make them safer and cleaner” and urged a “cross-borough solution” working alongside Labour council Croydon.
“The next step should be for the two councils to get around a virtual table and see whether there are any options for changing the LTN to create one that will work for all residents,” she said.
“If there are no workable options, we would support the scheme being removed entirely.”
Following Labour’s response, Cllr Fortune said the lack of cross-party support could prolong the issue.
“The residents of Crystal Palace have been suffering for three months due to this ill-conceived scheme which has been foisted upon them by Labour councillors in Croydon,” he said.
Life is currently intolerable in Crystal Palace due to Croydon Council’s roadblocks. Last night I asked the Leader of #Bromley Council, Colin Smith, if he and the Labour ward members would co-sign a letter to Sadiq Khan to have them removed. Things must change and change now. pic.twitter.com/gSmkvddQc4
— Peter Fortune (@PeterTFortune) October 13, 2020
“The Mayor has the power, as Chairman of Transport for London, to order this.
“We had hoped that by delivering a cross-party letter to the Mayor he would do the right thing and remove the roadblocks. It is a shame that the Labour ward councillors for Crystal Palace are continuing to put their party loyalties above their residents’ well-being.”
It’s the latest chapter regarding the controversial measures – which have drawn praise from some residents for pushing greener transport options, although their implementation has also been slated over a lack of public consultation.
Council leader Colin Smith in August signalled the authority would pursue legal avenues to have the road blocks removed.
He told last week’s full meeting of council that legal options to remove the planters should be “known within days”, although Cllr Wilkins highlighted it was “unclear” whether this would constitute an injunction, judicial review or other options.
Croydon Council last week revealed it would consult on alternative measures, including replacing the controversial planters with cameras, next month.