False start for Olympic fast lane in Finchley Road
POLITICIANS and residents have urged the government to rethink plans for VIP lanes on Camden s roads for officials and athletes during the 2012 Olympics. Ministers have put forward a scheme which will allow participants in the Games to speed along specia
POLITICIANS and residents have urged the government to rethink plans for VIP lanes on Camden's roads for officials and athletes during the 2012 Olympics.
Ministers have put forward a scheme which will allow participants in the Games to speed along special sections of London's roads - with £5,000 fines for anyone else who ventures into them.
The affected roads in Camden will include Finchley Road, Avenue Road and Adelaide Road, sparking people in the area to claim it will cause traffic chaos.
The scheme will run for the 16 days of the Games, from July 27, and the 12 days of the Paralympics, which end on September 9 - and possibly the time in between.
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Camden Council deputy leader Cllr Andrew Marshall said: "The point of concern is really how long lanes are going to be blocked off to people and what impact that is going to have on traffic.
"During the two weeks of the Olympics itself I think people will be quite generous and forgiving but there is talk about having these lanes for three months, which seems pretty unnecessary.
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"There is already a high volume of traffic on roads like the Finchley Road and we anticipate construction work will still be under way on the new Swiss Cottage academy at that time.
"This just doesn't sound terribly sensible and I really hope we can get a sensible scheme instead."
The scheme, including the list of roads affected, was released last Thursday. Residents and local bodies now have just 14 weeks to make their representations.
London Mayor Boris Johnson is backing the scheme but Conservative Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden Brian Coleman has called on his boss to have a re-think.
"It is a complete outrage that my constituents and other Londoners will have their lives made a misery on choked roads because large sections of the road network are cordoned-off to allow Olympic plutocrats to waft around," Mr Coleman said.
"These are a complete affront to Londoners and we should have said no to the very idea of them when they were first suggested to us, and kept on saying no until they got the message."
Finchley Road resident Farida Lalani, 61, agreed, saying: "I'm not happy at all about this. I drive a car and it would restrict us. My freedom to move would be affected."
Other roads in the area likely to be affected include Prince Albert Road, the A41 at the junction of Hendon Way and the North Circular, Euston Road and several of its side streets.
The lanes are likely to operate from the early hours to midnight and be monitored by CCTV. Olympic organisers say the scheme will improve the roads affected, as they will be revamped for the Games.
Mr Johnson said: "The network will only apply temporarily to a limited number of roads, in certain parts of London. And alongside it will sit a hugely improved public transport network.
"This will mean that everyone can share in the carnival atmosphere and travel around London quickly and efficiently by public transport."
Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the new network would be "vital for transporting the Games family and keeping our country moving during the Games."
The cons ultation will run from December 11 to March 19. To take part, go to www.dft.gov.uk/