Major kerfuffles on the tweeter webs this weekend surrounding the increasingly contentious ‘Liveable Streets scheme in Bow. Tower Hamlets Labour Councillors turned up en masse to Skew Bridge in Bow to draw pictures on the tarmac in chalk.

“Anyone know somewhere nearby where we can get a cuppa afterwards? Val?”

Did we mention the location? Skew Bridge? In Bow? We did? OK, just checking.

Peak pomposity was reached when Cllr. Kevin Brady (Labour, St Peter’s) went into full Blackadder ‘roaring thesp’ mode and declaimed to the world that the Liveable Streets scheme was an example of “… how mature, responsible democracy works.” Seriously. He said that.

So you have to imagine this tweet…

 

Delivered in this manner…

Got that? Scene set let us continue.

Mature, responsible democracy

And did we mention this all took place on Skew… we did? Oops! What is it with this bridge? Roman viaduct?

Moley, not being overly familiar with Bow, was confused and thought that the whole chalking on a road along which cars can’t drive thing was 500m away at site of the Liveable Street Bow consultation site at Parnell Road junction with Old Ford Road.

Not Ske… Why Sk…? What is special about a bridge? This particular not particularly straight bridge?

Then Moley remembered. A few weeks back a kind resident (thanks @RichLlo56556309!) drew Mole’s attention to a curious exchange of tweetlets between his good self and Cllr. Val Whitehead (Labour, Bow West).

The issue at hand seemed to be that Rich had worked out from her Twitter profile photo that Cllr. Whitehead lived somewhere called Chisenhale Road in Bow – but she denied this as you can see. Why Mole wondered? Everybody has to live somewhere.

Here’s a composite of the tweetle exchange.

Cllr. Whitehead does not live in Chisenhale Road. She says so right here.

As you can see Rich pointed out to Cllr. Whitehead that he knew she lived in Chisenhale Road because she had previously declared this on her Register of Interests.

But for some odd reason Cllr. Whitehead had changed her Register of Interests on the LBTH website so that if you want to find out where she lives, say for a possible clash of interests or something maybe, you have to go to the Town Hall to find that out. Perfectly legitimate thing to do.

Like this.

Cllr. Whitehead Register of Interests 19th June 2020 – property in which she has a beneficial interest not shown on website.

(Not only legitimate but for some odd reason this hiding of property addresses is very popular with Tower Hamlets Labour Party councillors recently. Go and have a look yourselves.)

Thing is that Cllr. Whitehead was unaware that if some cheeky chappy (looking at you Rich!) need only Google “val whitehead register of interests” and up would pop a cached copy (kept in the Big Wide Memory of the World Wide Web) from July 2019.

Cllr. Whitehead Register of Interests 15th July 2019 showing beneficial interests in properties at Chisenhale Road and Museum House. (Redacted by EEE)

 

We have redacted the house number and post code ‘cos we nice.

But who cares where Cllr. Whitehead lives? Unless you are a member of the dreaded and catchily named Sicilian organised crime gang ‘Ndrangheta (Bow branch) intent on kidnapping a Labour councillor, natch.

Skew Bridge! It’s Skew Bridge!

And where on earth is Chisenhale Road?

Right next to the Skew Bridge, that’s where! Look, the council even published a map!

 

Which highlights how considerate so many of Cllr. Whitehead’s Labour Party colleagues were to come from all over the borough to draw chalk pictures on the road only 100m from her house.

All round to Val’s for tea and crumpets and lashings of hot toast and butter! Hurrah!

Air pollution reduced – to whose benefit?

Cllr. Whitehead seems quite keen on Skew Bridge being pedestrianised which is fine as long as, being an elected representative, you declare any potential clash of interest. She even wrote a letter along with some other councillors. Open letter: why Skew Bridge on Old Ford should be permanently closed to motor traffic  and here is an extract.

(Notice the two mentions of Skew Bridge being closed to traffic because of Covid-19. Interesting, huh?)

“By closing Skew Bridge to traffic, the council has taken a bold step to protect us from the risk of Covid-19. Shutting the bridge has also reduced commuter traffic on Old Ford Road to a tiny proportion of what it was pre-lockdown. Air pollution and road noise have been dramatically reduced.

Like other Covid-19 measures, closing Skew Bridge has shown us that a different world is possible after the pandemic is over. Commuter traffic from Essex and Kent has found other routes in and out of town, and more local people have discovered that cycling and walking around London are both possible and enjoyable.”

A different world is possible! Cue emotional Mole weeping.

Or not.

“A fantastic oasis for residents of Chisenhale Road”

Here is part of an email sent to us at the East End Enquirer.

” …it really annoyed me as I would think that a public figure should not be partisan to their immediate local area and should be subject to a high-level of disclosure and independence.

It took two seconds to find that Val has to disclose [REDACTED] Chisenhale Road as her main residence on the Tower Hamlets website (and another rental property on Old Ford Road), plus she has disclosed [REDACTED] Chisenhale Road on Companies House when she registered her company.

So I flagged the address being on the Tower Hamlets Website to her, but she hasn’t responded to that comment. I am astounded that a councillor would deny on a public platform that they have a house in an area, when the full address is publicly disclosed.

This particular road closure has created a fantastic oasis for residents of Chisenhale Road, so that they can have no road noise and can walk to the park via Old Ford Road within 100m from their doorsteps.”

Or as Cllr. Brady might roar in an indignant tweeteroony, this is how a “mature, responsible democracy works”.

By deliberately attempting to hide the fact that you live right next to a key part of the Liveable Streets Bow scheme.

Cllr. Whitehead was approached for comment but only this morning when we started writing this. As ever we will add her response when it is received.

EEE Comment

On a serious note why do we bother with this sort of stuff? It’s just trivia isn’t it?

No it’s not. Because it illuminates the lack of honesty which seems to be the norm in Tower Hamlets Labour Party. One councillor gets away with something then the rest think they might as well do the same.

That this is allowed to happen is due to the complete failure of any corporate governance from the CEO down. Does Will Tuckley get paid by the Labour Party? No. He gets paid by you to work for you.

This small, weary story sums up everything that is wrong with Tower Hamlets Labour Party and why our borough continues to be one of the most deprived in the entire UK.

Don’t believe us? Oh you ain’t seen nothing yet.

And it explains why so many residents are getting so very angry with Tower Hamlets council’s ‘Liveable Streets’ scheme.

Because nobody in their right mind would trust any of this bunch to tell the truth about anything. So why should Liveable Streets be any different?

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Terry Damiano

I also questioned the closure of Skew Bridge all it has done is move the traffics on to Roman Rd, making it a gridlock most of the time. Idling traffic more pollution affecting local businesses. I was Head of Tower Hamlets Housing for 25+ years, one of few senior officers that have always lived in the borough. Cllr Whitehead did not reply to my last email complaining about the scheme.

Tony mazza

It’s a shocking state of affairs emergency services are in gridlock pollution is up traffic is up and we are not even at full traffic capacity due to covid and they want to add the bus gate on top of all this it’s just plain lunacy ‍♂️

Susan Armstrong

Thank you
Unfortunately the council you once worked for doesn’t exist anymore I wish it did!

PrettyBadProgrammer

What do you think of Liveable Streets Bow? Good or bad?

I can’t make my mind up and don’t want to be influenced by three local councillors who live on the part of Roman which benefits from Liveable Streets Bow (Round 2) but seem to speak for “everyone” when providing messages of support? Literally cannot get Amina Ali to submit a Members’ Enquiry (or a response) about Livable Streets whereas Sirajul Islam used to MEs whenever I asked.

If these c(lown)cillors were serious, they would be asking for a bus gate at the junction Roman Road/Grove Road too. I suppose they rely on vehicles on some sort and require easy access to their property. But we require access too. I am pretty much considering running for Roman Road East in 2022 if TH Labour doesn’t change their act.

So far I can only think of one negative, my disabled father will be out of a job within a few years because of the impact the bus gate will have on his self-employed expenses since two east-west routes will disappear. (He drives a Prius coming to the end of its service, which has served London for nearly a decade but cannot afford to move onto an electric minicab.)

A benefit of the bus gate is that I can now justify a plethora of car journeys because the distance travelled will increase by 200%!

Gloria Thienel

Mayor Biggs and CEO Tuckley have stopped Members Enquiries. As a Councillor 2010 to 14 I thought they were an excellent way for residents to engage with their Councillor to find information.
Use FOI http://www.Whatdotheyknow.com to ask questions

C Richmond

Interesting stuff Mark.
The closure was never on the agenda when Joshua Peck was Councillor, but came up after the election of Val Whitehead.
The Council is also not commenting on recent the petition to re-open the bridge. Just ignoring and going ahead.
No data has been given on traffic hitting the other roads, specifically Grove Road, Roman Road, St Stephens Road and Tredegar road. No parks here, or big houses, just lots of pollution.

Did you also pick up that the Liveable Streets programme doesn’t mention plans of TFL to close the section of Grove Road that crosses Vicky Park:

https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/cycling/hackney-to-isle-of-dogs/results/cyclingandwalkingimprovementsbetweenhackneyandtheisleofdogsconsultationreport.pdf

You can see comments from one Hackney Councillor ‘Concern over lack of traffic displacement modelling and that local people feel the proposed closure of Grove Road going through the park will lead to more congestion and pollution on local roads in particular on Victoria Park Road, Cambridge Heath Road, Old Ford Road and Cadogan Terrace’. Looks like Tower Hamlets Councillors want to get in quick and close off their nice road before it becomes congested.

ManOnThe339

Regarding the Grove Road closure: The proposal was 7am to 7PM, NOT 24/7 as you imply. The report you quote states: “We will be continuing to work with Tower Hamlets on the design for reducing traffic on Grove Road and how it links with the Liveable Neighbourhood project in Bow. Another consultation, with more detailed plans for Grove Road, will be held next year.”

TfL seem to be leaning towards reducing the 7-7 hours to 7-10, 4-7. Although again they are waiting to see how the Liveable Streets Bow scheme goes first.

C Richmond

I’m not implying anything of the sort and I gave the link for anybody to go and check out for themselves. It is clear that any closure of the Grove Road through Vicky park will have an impact on Old Ford road, especially during rush hour. But the only rush I am seeing here is councillors trying to create A fantastic oasis for residents of Chisenhale Road.

I think you should be asking why does a public figure push for a scheme and not declare an interest and then even goes on to lie about this when asked a direct question by a resident.

If you have nothing to hide, just say things as they are. The silence from the councillor is because she has been caught out.

ManOnThe339

TfL state in the report CRichmond references that:
“We will be continuing to work with Tower Hamlets on the design for reducing traffic on Grove Road and how it links with the Liveable Neighbourhood project in Bow. Another consultation, with more detailed plans for Grove Road, will be held next year.”

CRICHMOND you imply the idea is to close Grove Road where it goes through the park 24/7. Just to be clear the original proposal was for it to be closed to vehicles 7am-7 pm (excluding buses/bikes and taxis). As I understand it they are considering making it just during the morning (7 am-10am) and evening (4pm-7pm) rush hours. But again they want to see how the LSB scheme beds in.

C Richmond

Exaclty.
A closure during during the morning (7 am-10am) and evening (4pm-7pm) rush hour would add to the thousands of vehicles already using the Skew Bridge.
But a permanent closure of the road shields if from all of this and pushes the traffis elsewhere.
I am not saying that more vehicles need to pass through the Skew Bridge, as we all want cleaner air, but a councillor has got to represent everybody not just her interests.