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Covid cash crisis delaying Tower Hamlets’ Council’s ‘Liveable Streets’ road closure programme

PUBLISHED: 16:03 29 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:46 30 July 2020

Traffic ban in Roman Road... one of 17 planned on Tower Hamlets mayor's check list. Picture: LBTH

Traffic ban in Roman Road... one of 17 planned on Tower Hamlets mayor's check list. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

The cash crisis caused by coronavirus could delay some of the 17 traffic schemes across the East End planned by Tower Hamlets Council which is costing £17million from public coffers.

Protesters sign petition objecting to traffic ban down the Roman Road. Picture: Mike BrookeProtesters sign petition objecting to traffic ban down the Roman Road. Picture: Mike Brooke

The hitch comes in the face of a 2,000-name petition now being sent to the town hall objecting to the controversial Roman Road scheme which aims to push traffic from a wide swathe of Bow back onto the A11 Bow Road.

The moves could backfire and put a red light on the ambitious “Liveable Streets” programme already started in some areas.

The authority is facing a £25m black hole caused by the pandemic emergency while cash from TfL has been held up.

“Now there’s uncertainty over finance,” cabinet member Dan Tomlinson told the council’s scrutiny committee. “Delays to schemes across the borough have been caused by Covid.

Cllr Dan Tomlinson... Cllr Dan Tomlinson... "I'm in Roman Road to hear both sides." Picture: Mike Brooke

“Transport for London agreed £2.2m towards the schemes which is now on hold. Our ability to get TfL funding is now limited.

“All funding to local authorities to implement plans has been paused. We don’t know how long for. Our own budget is becoming more stretched.”

The Roman Road scheme was already being pushed through before public consultations end today (July 29), with barriers blocking the Skew Bridge in Old Ford Road over the Hertford Union canal which were put up when the Covid emergency began.

That’s led to Old Ford traffic on the B118 being squeezed back into Roman Road itself, councillors head.

Skew Bridge on B118 Old Ford Road is closed after campaign by cyclists... but it's throwing traffic back onto Roman Road. Picture: Mike BrookeSkew Bridge on B118 Old Ford Road is closed after campaign by cyclists... but it's throwing traffic back onto Roman Road. Picture: Mike Brooke

“The objective of these schemes is to move traffic out of residential areas onto main roads,” Cllr Tomlinson explained.

“Skew Bridge was to aid social distancing, but there is more traffic on Roman Road as a result. We’re thinking about mitigating measures or whether the Skew Bridge closure has to be removed to make sure there’s not significant extra traffic” (in Roman Road).

Priorities for funding the 17 schemes may change with the authority having to reduce its ambition in some areas, councillors heard. TfL, the main paymaster, was not coming back with funding any time soon.

Cllr Marc Francis who represents Bow West said: “The Roman Road scheme is controversial with its ‘bus gate’ proposal. There’s now a petition that’s come back and an online petition approaching 2,000 signatures.”

Cllr Dan Tomlinson face to face with Roman Road traffic ban protesters. Picture: Mike BrookeCllr Dan Tomlinson face to face with Roman Road traffic ban protesters. Picture: Mike Brooke

The scheme is costing the cash-strapped authority around £1m, the scrutiny meeting was told. Its aim was to get drivers using Bow Road instead which was described as “much wider” and more suitable, although not taking into account the A11 now reduced to single lane traffic because of wider pavements and new cycle lanes installed in the past three years.


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