Friday, 14 December 2007

Richards Place and Council hypocrisy

The Council has always spoken with a forked tongue when it comes to transport. It claims to want to promote walking and cycling, while it simultaneously pursues policies which promote increased car ownership and use. These are contradictory goals and the second is all too often achieved at the expense of the first.

A particularly glaring and tangible symbol of Council hypocrisy can be found on Richards Place, by the Rose and Crown pub on Hoe Street.

The Green Charter proudly proclaims

We will make the street environment more accessible to all, in particular by providing dropped kerbs to meet the special needs of people with disabilities.

And the Council’s Transport and Pollution Focus Group’s Action Plan asserts a bullet point commitment

To encourage and facilitate walking; to improve facilities and provide safe environments for pedestrians

To reclaim the streets for people

On Richards Place the Council installed a dropped kerb for the benefit of wheelchair users. Excellent! And a useful facility, thoughtfully located alongside the side gate to sheltered accommodation containing elderly people. It put a yellow line there to deter motorists from obstructing it.

It has now moved the ‘no waiting at any time’ lining closer to Hoe Street and extended the footway parking exemption to include the dropped kerb. In other words, it puts accommodating the parking of cars before accommodating the needs of wheelchair users and others with a mobility disability.

(Almost all the parked cars on Richards Place are not residential but associated with a local business which uses this street as a longterm overflow facility for storing vehicles which it has no space for on its premises. If this Council was remotely serious about putting pedestrians first it would get rid of the pavement parking and extend the 'no waiting' restriction. But of course converting pavements into a permanent car park for unused vehicles is entirely consistent with this Council's transport strategy.)