Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Last Night's Chipping Barnet Residents Forum

Last night's Chipping Barnet Residents forum was one of the better attended for some time. One topic took up a large part of the forum and it related to the proposed introduction of three crossings in Russell Lane. For some reason Barnet Council want to install three crossing through the green central part of Russell Lane but based on the opposition last night there appears to be no support. What seemed to upset residents most of all was the complete lack of consultation on the matter. One attendee told the forum that he had only received notification just before coming out to the forum with a closing date next week. The owner of the fish and chip shop on Russell Lane had some detailed plans. The Chair, Cllr Kate Salinger asked where he had found the plans. "They were given to me by my Councillor", the newly elected Cllr Andreas Ioannidis. Nice to see he is off to a quick start. He told the meeting that he had carried out a survey and 87% of residents questioned were opposed to proposals.

What seemed to perplex most people was that this proposal seems to have been fast tracked without community support yet other schemes where there is both support and evidence of accidents have been ignored. A lady, who spoke at the Forum last year and asked for a crossing to be installed on Brunswick Park Road after her daughter was knocked down, voiced her concern that her request had been completely ignored whilst this one was being pushed through with undue haste.

Cllr Kate Salinger asserted her authority and requested that the consultation be extended to 20 July, that more people should be consulted, that no decision should be taken before the next Environment Sub Committee in October and that the consultation details should be put on the councils consultation website (if people can actually find it).

A request for another crossing was noted and it then came on to Mr Reasonable's questions. One question asking when the Council was going to discuss One Barnet with residents was censored - no surprise there. My first question asked if the pavement along East Barnet Road could be jet washed. London is spending billions smartening up the place for the Olympics so why can't East Barnet Road have a bit of a wash and brush up. I will see if it actually happens. My second question related to Church Farm Pool. The Council responded that they have no plans to make this pool more accessible to the disabled and less able. Use Finchley or Copthall was the response. Sadly it is my view that the Council are simply letting Church Farm  pool fall into such a poor state of repair that they can then close it down. The long awaited leisure strategy could influence what happens to the pool but it has become a One Barnet project and kicked into the long grass. Cllr Brian Salinger said I was being unfair and that earlier this year Councillors had had an interesting discussion about what is actually defined as leisure. I reminded him that I have been asking about the progress of the leisure strategy for the last three years and to be told they are discussing what leisure is now does not fill me with confidence that it will ever be produced. I also reminded Cllr  B Salinger that it might help if the council actually involved the residents in some of these discussions. It simply illustrates the arrogance of the council that resident's views aren't necessary.

The last question related to parking on the pavement in a narrow cul de sac. What came out during the discussion that there is a list of roads in Barnet where parking wardens are supposed to turn a blind eye to parking on the pavement. However, the highways manager who is now responsible for parking said that this was not the way to go about things so watch out if you park on a pavement. 

Overall a most unsatisfactory meeting made slightly more bearable by the able Chairmanship of Cllr Kate Salinger.


  1. The parking manager will find out about people power if she tries to overturn a decade of non-enforcement. This is done (not done) in certain roads which are narrow and where if residents parked entirely on the road a fire engine would not be able to get through but the effect on wheelchairs and prams has not been given sufficient weight. Puller, Calvert and Sebright roads are the most well known examples in High Barnet. The recycling lorry collected a car that was parked near a junction because it didn't have enough space to get round. I usually walk down the middle of Sebright as I can see the traffic coming.

    It was only at the Sept 11 meeting that Sellwood Drive presented a petition about pavement parking and it is not now being ticketed for.

    If a road is too narrow I see 2 possible solutions. Remove both pavements and make the space a shared one and have frequent breaks in the line of sight for the motorist to naturally slow him/her down and when shared space is introduced have someone at the top of the road for a few weeks to give out explanatory leaflets to motorists and advertise the changes in the paper.

    Make the road wider by compulsorily purchasing sections of front garden (they are already quite narrow in the above roads) although personally I prefer the gardens to be kept.

    Another possible solution is for the council to buy up any spare land and create car parks to get the cars out of the road.

  2. There is actually a London wide prohibition against parking on the pavement, although this has long been ignored if you are a councillor breaking the law: