Open letter to Kensington and Chelsea

 

Dear Cllrs Campbell and Thalassites,

We are writing to express our extreme disappointment at the sudden pronouncement by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to oppose the Wood Lane to Notting Hill cycle safety scheme at The Kensington Society public meeting.  

Despite inviting views and encouraging people to respond to TfL’s consultation, announcing your opposition before the public consultation had concluded has fatally undermined the process, running roughshod over the thousands of people who responded to it in good faith.

The TfL consultation was the official method of gauging the opinion of your residents, and your decision to scupper its results goes against Cllr Thalassites own comments on the need for the consultation to run its full course: “It’s in our interests to consult widely and produce popular policies, so I was happy to commit to six-week consultations.”

According to your statement, you received in the order of 450 emails from residents opposing the scheme. But, the Mayor of London has since told the London Assembly that over 5,000 responses were received overall by TfL through the widely-publicised and legally-mandated consultation.  

We do not yet know what support was expressed for the scheme, but by disregarding the formal consultation, you are in opposition of your started aim of listening to your residents.

In doing so, you have amplified the concerns of a tiny, but loud minority of residents, overriding the purpose of the consultation - to identify any resident and stakeholder concerns and address them. You have allowed the opinion of a few to prevent thousands of people living, working and visiting Kensington and Chelsea from having their say.

As TfL’s documentation accompanying the consultation shows, many of the objections being raised against the scheme were not supported by evidence. This is something that you must surely have been aware of and satisfied by before giving your assent for the scheme to go to public consultation. (LCC’s own responses to the majority of objections raised are summarised here, addressing the tree removal, the impact on businesses and journey times.)

We urge you to reflect on the fact that this cycle safety scheme would have brought many benefits for you residents, including reducing road danger on a stretch of your streets that have seen 275 collisions in the last three years. There isn’t an alternative scheme that would address this issue - especially if you plan is to route it on back streets.

The residents in your borough who supported and wanted the scheme have been side lined by your decision – this open letter to yourselves from the Better Streets for Kensington and Chelsea demonstrates that the opposition was by no means universal. Your responsibility to these residents has been completely abdicated by your decision to oppose this scheme - without assessing the views of thousands of respondents to the official consultation - on the basis of weak evidence and a small minority of residents raising concerns. 

We urge you to consider the health and well-being of your residents – particularly the poorest and most vulnerable who the evidence shows are most likely to suffer from road collisions – and to review your decision, rather than scuttle a safety scheme that will save lives and prevent serious injuries, while opening up massive opportunities for healthier, greener active travel in your borough.  

We stand ready to work collaboratively on improving road conditions and reducing road danger in Kensington and Chelsea.  

Yours sincerely,

London Cycling Campaign