Hackney Council forced into embarrassing climb down over London Fields traffic plan

Cllr Feryal Dermici

Cllr Feryal Dermici - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has been forced into an embarrassing climb down after public pressure forced it to concede to a consultation, before ploughing ahead with a trial to close off 16 roads in London Fields.

The area had been set for pending lock down with a trial penned in for January in a project dubbed by the council as “one of the largest and most progressive of its kind in London”, which it claimed would deal with rat-running and ‘high volumes of non-local motor traffic using the residential streets’.

However many residents were up in arms about the plans, and a public meeting to discuss the proposals had to be called off two weeks ago after 120 people could not squeeze into the tiny room it was scheduled to be held in.

Some residents who believe there is no traffic problem and claim the council is trying to solve a “non-existent problem” have now conducted their own traffic survey, published online last week, which they claim is at odds with figures stated by the council.

While council officials have quoted figures of between 4,600 and 8,000 vehicles travelling along Middleton Road daily, residents calculated the figure could be closer to 3,200.

Today the council announced it would hold a full public consultation in January “due to very strong feeling on both sides and the high levels of public interest”.

The council has still refused to disclose the results of a survey completed in April, which it claimed showed the necessity for the road closures.

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Four weeks ago the Gazette asked the council for a copy of the survey completed in April to “accurately quantify current traffic volumes and patterns”.

But a spokesman for the council said it was “so far in a format that’s only meaningful to transport bods” and that they were “working on a version for the general public”.

Two weeks ago the data was still not available, apparently because use of an external company was “complicating the issue”.

This week the council refused to answer whether the data had been used as a basis for the proposed road closures, and why - if that was the case - the results had still not come back from the external company collating them.

The Gazette was told the council would not “release the information to press before residents” at the public meeting coming up on Monday.

A request to speak with Cllr Feryal Dermici, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and sustainability, was also declined.

In a statement on the council’s website, Cllr Dermici stated: “The consultation will contain both closed (Yes/No) style questions and opportunities to give fuller responses.

“The data will be independently analysed by a market research organisation, to ensure that residents can have full confidence in the integrity of the analysis.”

A public meeting will be held at at Hackney Town Hall Assembly Rooms in Mare Street on Monday at 7pm.