Despite a desperate need to ensure that his coiffure was up to his normal high standards last night Moley put duty before vanity and watched the Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on Monday 25th October 2021.
You too can watch the archive version of the video stream here and, if you have been complaining about the Liveable Streets programme you should watch it.
Anyway despite Moley’s total lack of enthusiasm at the prospect of watching any council meeting he was pleasantly surprised by what he saw.
To the extent that he watched the whole thing.
The reason why anyone interested in Liveable Streets should give this meeting a watch is because that it was the main subject to be discussed.
As ever this is not a formal record of the meeting, just a sketch to give the essence of it.
Moley tuned in just as Cllr Val Whitehead (Bow West, Labour) was speaking and it was interesting to hear her raise the issue of the council’s ability to deliver the project. This would come up repeatedly.
Gabriela Salva Macallan (St Peter’s, Labour) was very good and must be one of the best speakers in the Labour group. OK, not a high bar but you get the idea.
First thing she brought up was the press release that was only sent out an hour before the meeting started. (Mole found his in the junk mail folder later. Usual meaningless PR waffle. Left it in junk mail.)
- She asked where residents should go for information?
- What does the term ‘pause’ actually mean?
- After a number of months there was still no timeline on the website. Why was this?
The Mayor made the point that any changes meant more consultations which could delay things further.
He also said that Transport for London (TfL) bus route modelling takes seven to nine months to complete and this is too long.
Cllr Pappu (Blackwall & Cubitt Town, Labour), who did a very good job of chairing the meeting, remarked that the fact that some of the schemes were incomplete because of the pause was causing some new issues.
He said that the changes were causing TfL some concern relating to bus journey times.
Cllr Marc Francis (Bow East, Labour) started his contribution by saying that the way Liveable Streets was being discussed was much better than it had been for quite a long time.
He raised the issue of how Liveable Streets issues had caused such division across the borough which he found worrying.
Interesting to hear Marc F saying that the Project Centre consultants (who were tasked with running Liveable Streets) were filtering what residents said and what councillors heard to some extent.
The issue of Project Centre came up several times.
Marc F also talked about the problems with consultation responses, especially the difference between paper responses and online responses.
He gave the example of a multi-generational family with five adults responding to the survey.
If one person completed a paper consultation response that would count as one point of view.
But if the five adults in the same household each completed the response online that would count as five views.
He said that consultations had to account for multi generational households and how this was going to be dealt with. “There is no point in sticking our heads in the sand and saying people are broadly going along with it – we don’t want excuses for division.”
How Do We Rebuild Trust?
Chair Cllr Pappu asked the most important question of the evening “How do we rebuild trust with the community.”
Marc F was visibly irritated (or maybe he always look like that?) at the failures of the consultation and said that he wanted to get proper feedback from business owners and managers themselves on the high street [Roman Road] and that problems needed to be looked at ‘in the round’.
Regarding Skew Bridge Marc F said that while it was a dangerous place for cyclists [including himself on occasion], it was not possible to persuade people that completely closing it off to cars was the best way to go.
We need to talk about the C word
Class. Oh no! Gabriella S confronted the problem with the C Word straight on by simply saying that we needed to talk about it and the fears about gentrification and that often Liveable Streets had become a polarised class-based issue.
“We can’t individualise this, it is how we approach this as a council that has polarised people”, said Cllr G. “We need to talk about class and gentrification, this should simply be a green transition.”
Which is what we all need, right?
There is lots more good stuff for you to listen to on the archive version of the video stream here.
Can’t be arsed to watch it? That’s fine, but please don’t be offended when people who can be arsed to keep themselves informed get a little ticked off with you, OK?
This especially applies to those who complain all the time but rarely have any constructive solutions.
You can find other related documentation on the web stream archive in the Resources tab or on the web page for this meeting here.
In conclusion it was really good to see a different approach to the issue of Liveable Streets with intelligent people engaging in intelligent debate.
Who knows, it might catch on?
Interesting to hear multiple criticisms of Project Centre coming up.
Makes you wonder how they were chosen during the tender process don’t it?
There was a tender process wasn’t there? No? Ooh, that’s interesting. We need that paperwork. So Moley has just submitted a Freedom of Information request to the council (reference 32135685) for the tender documents.
Modelling traffic came up several times at the meeting and, if interested, you might try the TfL Traffic Modelling Guidelines which is a light 583 page introduction to the way TfL model what happens on our roads. Fascinating stuff for the technically minded.
Question. Who did the traffic modelling for Liveable Streets? And is it done only for a section at a time or for the whole borough? ‘Cos we all know that shutting a road in one ward will have knock on effects elsewhere. It’s very complex stuff but very necessary.
Hearing the various issues that are still casting shadows over the Liveable Streets scheme Moley could not help but wonder how the project management of this was being done? I mean, it is being done, right? Or do people just change stuff and wait for others to find out? If you know please let us know.
Ouch. Thanks to the inept f**kwits who have been meddling with Liveable Streets for some time but have now been shifted sideways to counting the bourbons in the biscuit barrel for meetings as opposed to chairing them, trust in the current Labour administration is lower than rock bottom. Wherever that might be.
The problem councillors now have is that even if they came up with the best proposals for Liveable Streets in Tower Hamlets that had ever been conceived that would be acknowledged as such with global awards for great planning and community liasion nobody would believe them.
Looking at the documentation for Liveable Streets it seems that the Liveable Streets pause is not really a pause but another make do and mend approach to problems. Some of Liveable Streets is continuing, some of it is paused, some of it is…er… we have no idea. Does anyone?
We have no idea if there was a communications plan for the Liveable Streets project. Doesn’t look like there was. Suffice to say that if the council moves forward without a coherent plan to communicate (also known as ‘talking to’) residents in a genuine, open and truthful manner it might as well not bother. Seriously. Suck up the damage, bin the whole thing and move on. That so much time, effort and money has been directed on this while the children of the borough still live in poverty is just not right.
Thanks to Gabriella S for bringing up the issue that has made Liveable Streets so divisive. Class. It does seem at times that Liveable Streets has ordinary people on one side and middle-class university-educated cyclists on the other.
Maybe because it has?
As Marc F also said this divisiveness could be very bad news for the borough if it escalates.
If it does a proper investigation of the way the various cycling pressure groups and so-called charities operate need to be undertaken as this stinks of unelected unidentified people trying to hijack the democratic process.
Wapping Bus Gate
On November 13 2019 myself and Cllr Andrew Wood spent an interesting hour or two watching what happened on the first day that the Wapping Bus Gate was operating.
To the surprise of nobody ever it was chaos. But then this is complicated stuff.
A major issue with the Wapping Bus Gate and others in the borough is that somehow nobody considered the issue that local residents should have exemptions, especially those who have Blue Badges.
From comments made at Overview & Scrutiny last night it would seem that two years later there is not a common approach to bus gate exemptions in the borough.
Broken Brake Lights
Someone (who we will not name) suggested that maybe bus gate exemptions could be based on local resident’s post codes? Two years on and this is a suggestion?
Say what? This is really basic stuff. Any professional project manager looking at this would regard the local residents bus gate exemption issue as a broken brake light for the entire Liveable Streets project.
By ‘broken brake light’ we mean the rule of thumb that if you see a car being driven at night with broken brake lights it is a very good indication that the driver is probably uninsured as well as a few other things because they pay no attention to the fundamentals of driving safely.
If the simple stuff for Liveable Streets is still not nailed down after two years or more then it is a distinct possibility that it will never be delivered.
That is a project management issue.
The political issue is that if the current Labour administration is not capable of delivering Liveable Streets what chance has it of delivering new homes or safer streets?
We all know the answer to that.
The East End Enquirer is free to read. If you could find your way to donating some cash to keep Moley’s investigations going that would be very good indeed ‘cos he needs a new desk chair!