20 mph

Oxford has announced it is plannning to introduce Brtain’s first city-wide 20mph speed limit next year on all residential streets. Oxford is small city. Fitting considering the Cowley car factory history dominating the non academic side of the economy for so many years.

Ubiquitous 20mph in residential streets is exactly what we’re working towards in Southwark. East Dulwich latest 20mph zone is being worked on now centred around Friern Road.

I recently visited Portsmouth which I udnerstood to have implimented such 20mph zoning but spotted little evidence. Shame.

The next step will be considering implementing 20mph zones even where no speed humps and bumps have been built. Even doing this has just with 20mph signs has been shown to reduce average and extreme speeds.

Watch this space…

St.Pancras station RIBA award

I recently experienced the new St.Pancras station while travelling to Paris on business. A couple of weeks later I needed to travel via the new Thamesink station at St.Pancras as I was home from a work meeting in Leeds far later than planned and hadn’t brought bicycle lights. Yesterday I read St.Pancras had been given a RIBA London Award. My experiences are that it looks good and as a shopping mall it should win an award. But as a station it’s a failure. It delays passengers from arriving at the station to departing by train. This is the whole purpose of a station. I used to be a regular passenger travelling to and from Leicester University. It was always a faded station but it had soul. It is now bang up to date and superficially attractive but the customer requirements have been subsumed.

At the other end of the Eurostar journey Gard du Nord has not descended into shopping mall vernacular. It is a real station with the buzz of that purpose. Brussells midi is a horrible edifice. The St.Pancras architects have recreated that atmosphere in central London.

Sadly such awards for trash architecture reflect a loss of purpose for architects. The human scale has been lost. People are now merely consumers to be paraded past shops to generate revenue.

So how will the new London Bridge Station fair – will it be a glorified shopping mall or a station that helps passengers quickly arrive and depart by train? The architects have abondoned the current ramps and replaced them with numerous escalators and changes of level. It wont feel a smooth transition for arriving or departing.

Southwark drink driving

Drink driving is up in Southwark by 14%. This compares to London-wde figures where charges for a positive breath test have gone down by 10%. How very disappointing and life threatening.

Several years ago the Traffic Police service in south London was decimated.  Perhaps this is one of the results. All the research shows that Traffic Police patrols are one of the two most effective means to reduce average traffic speeds to the speed limit – the other being average speed cameras.

East Dulwich parking survey

The three local East Dulwich Liberal Democrat councillors had a big turnout of helpers on Sunday to personally call on home and deliver a parking survey to residents near to East Dulwich railway station and around Lordship Lane.

Over the last three years cllr Richard Thomas, Jonathan Mitchell and myself have had many people complaining how hard it is to park on their street. Hence the survey.

In several weeks time we should have the survey results.

Watch this space….

Council budgets

This week the council executive of eight Lib Dem and two Tory executive councillors finalised budget recommendations for the next three years.  Considerable debate has taken place and several months of hard work by council officers and coalition councillors to reach this point.

The council leader Cllr Nick Stanton has done an exemplary job in keeping all the coalition councillors informed and involved.

It’s worth reminding ourselves that 70% of council revenues are provided by central government. That the Labour government has decided to use 2004 population figures and not more recent figures. As the population is dramatically rising in London and South East, 2004 population fugures results in less money for Southwark but benefits Labour heartlands up the M1. Councils with signifcant deprivation (Southwark is the 20th most deprived council in UK) are getting real term cuts from the Labour government for the next three years as opposed to councils such as Rotherham (the 50th most deprived) which is seeing dramatic real terms increased.

Considerable savings will be made by centralising many council offices into a new office on Tooley street. God knows where we’d be if this wasn’t already in progress.

Social care is being consulted on to stop providing care for those with moderate needs. Community Warden services will have fewer wardens and manager. Meals on wheels where Southwark is the cheapest in London will see price increases. Livesey childrens museum will close. A review of all three historic town halls will take place. Some council funded events will see cuts or no more funding. A whole host of other cuts will be made.

No one likes or wants cuts. Considering the dreadful hand of cards dealt by the government I think the residents of Southwark have had the best possible result.

Railway Bridge – Red Post Hill

Tuesday 15 January the Dulwich Community Council Planning Committee met to decide, amongst other things, a Listed Building Consent to demolish the grade 2 listed bridge outside North Dulwich railway station on Red Post Hill. Weirdly the item was submitted as a late item with less than five clear days notice. Network Rail have known they’ve required permission since 2004.

I asked whether we could hear the justification for this demolition and judge whether Network Rails stated necessity justified this apparent vandalism. The Southwark Council legal officer stated we were not allowed to consider whether the demolition was justified in our minds. What a silly law. The logical extension is that no listed building is safe. 

It was clear that all the Conservative councillors were minded to allow the demolition. We discussed the details of the replacement and how alike Network Rail plan to return the bridge to its former glory. Sadly Network Rail only offered very limited and few architectural features will be recreated in the replacement bridge.

The application to demolish this part of our architectural heritage was approved. The voting was four Conservatives for the Listed Building Consent and myself against. Democracy in action.

What next. 26 weeks of Red Post Hill being closed to through motor vehicles so that bridge no one wants strengthened for 7.5 tonnes t o44 tonnes can take place.


176 bus route

Transport for London has asked for feedback regarding renewing the 176 bus route contract.

If you have any thoughts tell me.

The feedback the East Dulwich Liberal Democrat Councillors Jonathan Mitchell, Richard Thomas and myself have given so far is that it has to be one of the slowest bus routes around. Those sections where it runs in parallel to other bus routes such as the no.68 the 176 appears pedestrian and very slow. The other issue is that all the 176 bus stops need to have the Countdown system so passengers know how long they’ll have to wait.

What do you think?