Brent Council defended the implementation of its ‘healthy neighbourhoods’ scheme, despite suggestions they are causing “great concern and anguish” to many residents.
The programme, which includes several road closures across the borough, aims to encourage people to consider travelling by foot, bike or scooter as opposed to driving.
However, it has come under fire from many of those who rely on these roads, while the decision to put the new measures in place without a full consultation has also been criticised.
Speaking at a full council meeting last week, former Brent councillor Joel Davidson, representing the Brondesbury Park Residents’ Association, called on the schemes to be dropped immediately and urged councillors to work with the public.
“This ill-conceived scheme with no thought behind it will be imposed on streets, with the impact to be assessed later – what a shoddy way to run a council,” he said.
“We do feel we can have pedestrians, cyclists and cars on the same roads, but it requires joined-up thinking and dialogue.
“These unnecessary schemes are causing great concern and anguish to the residents of Brent – it’s extraordinary they have ever seen the light of day.”
As well as criticising the process, he believes the schemes themselves will not be a success.
He said it was “beyond farcical” to suggest they will not increase traffic and pollution and claimed they discriminate against those who rely on driving, such as those with mobility issues and tradespeople.
However, Charlie Fernandes, of Brent Cycling Campaign, said it was vital the borough makes adjustments to improve the environment and residents’ health, including through low-traffic neighbourhoods.
He pointed out that Brent has some of the highest levels of pollution and obesity in the country and that promoting active travel is a key way to address this.
“Everyone should be able to get around safely and participate in their local community as vibrantly as anyone else,” he said.
“Restricting rat runs creates quieter, healthier, more pleasant neighbourhoods.”
And he defended the use of real-life trials, noting that they are more effective than consultations and are constantly subject to adjustments.
Cllr Shama Tatler, who is responsible for regeneration, property and planning at Brent Council, agreed that it was important to remember these are “not permanent interventions”.
She said the council would implement the successful elements into future public realm improvements and, if they are deemed a failure, “will go back to the drawing board and try again”.
But she stressed the need face an environmental crisis head-on, even if it will “not be quick, nor convenient, nor pain-free”.
“This is an opportunity to make a tangible difference to reduce the negative impact,” she said,
“These are part of a range of measures designed to encourage people out of their cars and onto more environmentally-friendly modes of travel.”