Local residents may have heard about schemes Sutton Council are introducing across the borough to improve cycling and pedestrian access, including some road closures. The Government has allocated funding to Transport for London who in turn have allocated money to Councils based on the bids that they submitted to TfL. As opposition councillors we were disappointed that we were not asked about what we were going to have put into wards where residents and other stakeholder groups could have been consulted.
At the recent Strategy and Resources meeting of Sutton Council on 6 July where this was debated, we expressed our concern about the lack of prior consultation and the potential for disastrous outcomes that were not thought through properly. What we as the opposition group were being asked to do was either support or oppose everything at once and not schemes individually.
This was not what we would have ideally wanted but it was what was put in front of us by the Liberal Democrat administration who run the borough, so we agreed to support the intended schemes on the condition that each one would be backed up with a clear statement of objectives, benefits and likely impact along with a rapid review mechanism to deal with any problems that may arise when the schemes start in September, including closing the scheme if it proved to have a detrimental impact. Councillor Garratt ensured that an amended recommendation to this effect was agreed by the committee.
This is not something that Sutton Liberal Democrats have ever mentioned when they claim that we 'unanimously supported' the schemes at the Strategy and Resources Committee, or that we now apparently oppose the majority of the schemes. Both of these statements are just not true and do not represent the full picture.
After ward councillors have now seen the details of the schemes happening in their area, we are opposed to the York Road closure, the Browning Avenue road closure and the cycling lanes which have been inserted under Worcester Park railway bridge.
We also have severe concerns about the road closure planned for both Langley Park Road and the Mill Lane bridge closure leading into Butter Hill. This is by not by any stretch of the imagination, a 'majority' of the schemes.
We oppose the York Road closure because in our view this will only serve to increase journey times, traffic levels and pollution elsewhere, namely along Mulgrave Road. Mulgrave Road becoming a rat run we believe is the complete opposite of what the scheme wants to achieve so we can not offer it our support.
The closing of Browning Avenue, combined with the implementation of increased space for cyclists and pedestrians under the only road out of the borough into Kingston will ensure Central Road will continue to be one of London's worst polluted roads and gridlock an area which can ill afford to suffer from more traffic buildup. We have already seen that the cycling lanes underneath the railway bridge are already causing problems in Central Road.
The other schemes across the borough, on the whole, we support, as long as they achieve the intended results and we are keen to monitor them when they start. But, in the event they are not working in the 6 month trial period, the Council administration must be able to consider whether they are either changed or removed, as per the amendment that Cllr Garratt inserted.
You can listen to the meeting here, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV3bFc3ub84&t=5780s&fbclid=IwAR1TUC1wn7dSdszAStINVLxcwE2U9kE_aAwMQrNUJrSTT_8M7jkGXY1ZjnQ where the relevant item is discussed and debated from 51:45 through to 1:36:20, and Cllrs Crowley, Garratt and Hicks made comments for our opposition group.