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Meeting hears 'call to action' over cycle-superhighway CS-11 with demonstration planned

PUBLISHED: 17:25 28 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:25 28 September 2016

A map of the the Regent's Park area of the proposed CS-11

A map of the the Regent's Park area of the proposed CS-11

Archant

Anger over the proposed cycle-superhighway CS-11 has fuelled calls for Hampstead to become an independent parish council, granting the area planning powers separate from Camden.

A packed public last night heard a “call to action” for residents not to “roll over” and accept the CS-11 scheme, but to “hold TfL’s feet to the fire and not let them squirm out of it.”

The call comes as 400 angry residents have signed a petition calling for Hampstead to become a parish council, which would grant the area some planning powers independent of Camden Council.

Organiser Jessica Learmond-Criqui used the meeting at former church St Stephen’s to launch a crowd-funding drive to raise £150,000 for a “war chest” to pay for a judicial review if CS-11 is given final approval by City Hall next month.

Around eighty per cent of people at the meeting said they opposed the scheme which aims to connect Swiss Cottage to Portland Place in the West End by narrowing key roads, ripping out the gyratory and partially closing four Regent’s Park gates to vehicles.

The meeting heard that both Camden and Westminster Council have the power to veto the scheme because the local authorities own some of the roads where CS-11 is proposed to run by TfL – which owns the gyratory.

Campaigner Daniel Poser said that while Camden Council has expressed support for the scheme “in principle”, it has in fact raised many of the same concerns with TfL as residents.

He said: “Camden do not have to contribute an inch of their roads until they have satisfied their concerns.

“We are going to have to shout louder and longer if we want to be heard.”

And Mr Poser claimed that TfL’s “stakeholder” meetings on the scheme were a pointless exercise designed to show “flex” while not listening to residents’ concerns in any meaningful way.

He said: “A consultation is not a referendum and TfL is partly shielded from scrutiny because it answers only to the Mayor.”

Businessman Clive Beecham said it is a “scandal” that TfL has flatly refused to factor the construction of HS2 into their modelling for the scheme, which was the brainchild of former mayor Boris Johnson.

Mr Beecham, who said he drives every day, conceded that perhaps he should change his behaviour and find alternative methods of getting around, but maintained the CS-11 scheme was “a sledgehammer to crack a nut” and would bring gridlock to the area around Finchley Road.

Former policeman Daniel Howard, who started a petition against CS-11 which gathered around 4,500 signatures, said that TfL ignored HS2 in their modelling because it was “an inconvenient truth”.

He said: “We will not let them get away with it…TfL should be stripped of the right to manage the highways in London… We need a responsible highway authority.”

The meeting heard that the combined effects of HS2 – Europe’s biggest infrastructure scheme, set to last around two decades – and CS-11 would “strangle the area on all sides (with) pollution-causing construction projects”.

And Mr Howard warned that emergency vehicle response times would rise as a result of CS-11, putting lives at risk.

But several people spoke passionately in favour of the scheme, with one man urging the audience: “Let’s get rid of the tin god. Since I’ve seen (the car) as an addiction and been able to do without it, life has been much better.”

And a mother in the audience said she was worried for the health of her children because of pollution in London. She said: “I think a lot of people’s concerns are about their ability to drive around rather than because of increased pollution caused by CS-11.”

But other cyclists said they were opposed to the scheme because they thought it was too drastic, and that some of the pavement should be given over to cycle lanes rather than scrapping several lanes of traffic at once.

Stephen Williams, of Netherhall Neighbourhood Association, warned that Arkwright Road would become “a major congestion area to be avoided at all costs” and that the area was “the school capital of Europe, known to everyone except TfL, apparently.”

Ms Learmond-Criqui urged the audience to write to Camden Council’s chief on planning, Phil Jones.

She said: “Phil Jones is the key. If he decides to oppose the scheme, it will fail.”

A protest has been organised by campaigners against the scheme to take place outside Hampstead Theatre next Saturday October 8 at 11am, with a decision expected from City Hall the following week.

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