Residents locked out of road plan meeting: councillor forced to speak with crowd in street

The crowd which turned up for the meeting in London Fields. Photo Molly Zerowski

The crowd which turned up for the meeting in London Fields. Photo Molly Zerowski - Credit: Archant

A public meeting to discuss proposals to shut off 16 roads in London Fields to through traffic had to be called off, after scores of residents turned up and could not squeeze into the tiny room it was scheduled to be held in.

Last week the Gazette reported how the area is set for pending lock down, with a trial in January of Hackney Council’s plans to close off the 16 roads in the area without holding a full consultation.

Residents are divided on the proposals, with some supporting the plans signing a petition calling for ‘greener streets’, while others who are against the proposals have set up a counter-petition.

A London Fields ward meeting last Thursday night was cancelled when about 120 residents turned up and could not fit into the room for 30. The attendees then spilled onto the streets, where Cllr Emma Plouviez addressed the angry crowd.

Dozens of residents shouted ‘yes’ and clapped as she told them: “My understanding from this would be that the ward wants a full public consultation on these proposals before a trial. If that is the case then I think we have a choice of either having a very large public meeting if we can find somewhere big enough or pulling and going for a full consultation first.

“As one of your three councillors on the ward it is my job to represent the force of feeling here tonight, which is that you would rather have a full public consultation before the implementation of this scheme.”

But when the Gazette approached the council this week, a spokeswoman could not confirm a consultation would take place.

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She said: “There will be another meeting arranged, and we’ll be making sure we hold it in a bigger space so everyone can get in. Cllr Plouviez said that there will definitely be another public meeting and/or a consultation – she doesn’t say there will be a consultation.”

The council has dubbed the project ‘one of the largest and most progressive of its kind in London’ and says it will deal with rat-running and ‘high volumes of non-local motor traffic using the residential streets’, thus reducing pollution.

A copy of the traffic survey completed in April has yet to be shared by the council with The Gazette, and some residents claim the council is trying to solve a non-existent problem.

Planters will block off traffic in streets between Richmond Road in the north and Scriven Road in the south, and Lansdowne Drive in the east and Haggerston Road in the west.

Resident Molly Zerowski said: “The majority of the crowd, certainly the audible part of it, were opposed to a trial without prior consultation, though the impression was most weren’t against the trial itself.

“There were people pro-trial there, but they seemed taken aback by the size and vociferous opposition.”

Mike Hood who lives in Malvern Road and started the counter petition against the plans, which has been signed by 808 people, is concerned they put residents at ‘unnecessary risk’.

He said: Emergency services will be forced to know and find exactly the correct route to an incident - because of the nature of the proposals, no alternative routes exist.

“Minutes can make the difference between a room being gutted and an entire house being gutted.

“Equally so in the case of serious medical emergency or a crime.”

The petition for the plans which has 671 supporters states: “At the end of the day we all want streets where children can play out without fear of danger and pollution, where there are more flowers and trees, and where everyone from school children to pensioners can walk, scoot, and cycle in comfort and safety.”