Road markings dubbed ‘vandalism’ of historic Camden roads burnt off a week after being painted

A contractor burning off the paint in the Vale of Health. Picture: Keith Hammond

A contractor burning off the paint in the Vale of Health. Picture: Keith Hammond - Credit: Archant

Giant white 20mph road markings on some of Camden’s most scenic roads have been removed – just a week after they were painted.

The paint had barely dried before Camden Council contractors were sent out to burn off the markings – following a deluge of complaints from residents and councillors.

The markings were painted onto roads in conservation areas, including the picturesque Vale of Health in Hampstead Heath and the Georgian Grove Terrace in Dartmouth Park, after the controversial speed limit was brought in last week.

Food critic and broadcaster Giles Coren, of Kentish Town, said he was “delighted” the markings had now been removed but that “whoever was responsible should be hanged by the neck or sold into prostitution”.

“It was mind-boggling. [In Grove Terrace] there’s no way anyone can get up to 20mph,” the 44-year-old said.

“I’m not the type to phone up the council to say ‘this is an outrage’ but I don’t understand it.”

In a Tweet to nearly 150,000 followers, he posted: “What have they done to this beautiful Georgian terrace when nobody drives fast here anyway?”

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The cost of making Camden a 20mph borough totals £300,000, but the council was unable to put a number on how much it has spent on painting and burning off markings.

It was also unable to say how many have been removed or are scheduled for removal.

A council spokesman said it is taking “the common sense approach” to removing markings and that they were initially painted in conservation areas “instead of having big red signs” in order to comply with guidance from the Department for Transport.

Cllr Chris Knight, who represents Hampstead Town, said: “It was a waste of money and is quite simply an act of vandalism.

“I’m happy they have seen some sense.

“We get to have the problem of producing conservation area statements [for the council’s cabinet] and then who is the biggest vandal of the lot but Camden Council?”

Cllr Knight said the controversial markings have brought criticism of the borough-wide speed limit “to a head”.

“The 20mph scheme is good in some respects but the simple fact is that vehicles will be in the area for longer, will have high revs and will add to pollution”, he said.

Cllr Knight said there were still a few markings left in some areas where they are not necessary, including outside Burgh House in New End Square.