View from the street: TfL needs to be transparent over CS11


- Credit: Archant

Last Thursday, Judge Holgate in the High Court slapped an injunction on TfL to stop works to the Swiss Cottage gyratory as part of CS11 without consent from the other relevant authorities.

Why? Because he said the balance of convenience lay with Westminster and the residents of Camden and Westminster.

He accepted that the damage caused by rat running and traffic displacement could not be compensated for in damages.

He set the full judicial review hearing for September 6.

As part of a group of residents involved in the injunction proceedings, I and others gave evidence to the court about the impact of rat running and traffic displacement in some parts of north west London.

The judge accepted our evidence.

The fact is that rat running and traffic displacement will also take place in West Hampstead, Fortune Green, Kilburn, Gospel Oak, Haverstock, Swiss Cottage, Camden Town and Kentish Town.

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From the start of the hearing, the judge took TfL to task and noted it did not produce the decision report of the deciding officer.

The judge accepted that Westminster asked repeatedly for relevant modelling information from TfL which it did not provide.

TfL was woefully unprepared for the question of whether it provided the requested modelling, which resulted in an embarrassing chaos for TfL and its QC – no wonder the judge ruled in favour of Westminster on that point.

In my view, TfL demonstrated a bizarre high-handedness in not providing this modelling.

I expect that Camden Council is in a similar position.

But Camden did not stand up for its residents as did Westminster for its.

Camden was “missing in action” – it did not appear at the hearing or make representations to support its residents. It abandoned them to their fate. Its latest air quality report missed poorer air quality from CS11 in residential areas.

I applaud Westminster’s actions, which stood up to TfL’s aggressive tactics. The judge observed that TfL’s own investment review board considered CS11 to have a poor business case – so why go ahead with this scheme at all?

There are many quietways for cyclists invested in by Camden and Westminster which run parallel to the Finchley Road and the Swiss Cottage gyratory which are designed to keep cyclists safe. Camden is investing in more as they see them as “easier to deliver”.

Win or lose on September 6, the injunction is a wake-up call for TfL, which was reminded that it is not a law onto itself and that its actions as a bully will not be tolerated.

TfL have to take a long, hard look at how it wields its huge powers, how it considers the impacts of its schemes on residents of the areas they cut through and how it evaluates the costs and benefits of these complex and disruptive works.

TfL has been called out by a senior judge and now needs to act like a responsible and transparent public body, not a bully boy developer.

It needs to clean its house.

I await the outcome of the full hearing on September 6, which Judge Holgate said has a “real prospect of success”.