The Seven Dials road improvement project drew a good crowd to its public meeting in St Luke’s Church last Monday, where the planners presented the results of the consultation and their response to it.
It took place a few days after the project had been discussed at a full Council meeting, a debate triggered by a petition of over 1300 signatures, organised by the Dials North West Community Association, objecting to any scheme that increased traffic through residential streets.
The 661 consultation responses give a very different picture of local opinion, with views running two to one in favour of the scheme in all areas around the Dials. (We’ll post a link to the details when they go on line.) However, the idea of making the Vernon Terrace arm one-way got a big thumbs down, and the option of making Bath Street two-way was also rejected, though by a much closer margin.
Both these ideas have been been dropped as a result, and a number of other adjustments, including wider pavements, have also been made. In response to concerns about rat-running, Cllr Davey promised to monitor traffic levels in residential streets before and after any changes are made.
That did little to mollify a number of opponents of the scheme, who heckled throughout. The most indignant of them started off by complaining about the planner’s diction and became steadily more incensed as the meeting went on. A comment from a woman representing a cyclists’ group provoked an outburst of ‘Green left propaganda!’, and when Council Leader Jason Kitcat voiced some thoughts about the bigger transport picture, the angry man stormed out with an epithet not often uttered in church.
Party political undercurrents were noticeable too. Perhaps surprisingly, the Conservatives have given the scheme a lot of support, but Labour’s bitter resentment of the Greens has put the Preston Park Labour Party on the minority side of local opinion. Next stop: the Transport Committee meeting on 15 January.