RMT Ranks and Highways Update – August 2018

The experimental traffic order (ETO) is due to expire in the Autumn. City of London (COL) cabinet members will then vote as to whether the scheme should be permanently introduced.
The ETO has been blighted by roadworks since its inception, it is therefore hard to see how the COL will be able to interpret any positives at all from the scheme. We are closely monitoring the situation in the background and there are many local businesses who are championing our cause, particularly The Ned.
One statistic the COL may want to consider is that taxis are responsible for the same number of serious accidents since the ETO as they were in the previous eight years before we were banned: ZERO.
RMT are clear and unequivocal that the only acceptable outcome at Bank Junction is full access for ALL taxis licensed in London. Access for taxis should equal the access that buses enjoy when using Bank Junction.
We feel the trade need to wait for the outcome of the vote in October. We need to keep our powder dry at this stage. However, we should keep in mind that if discussions fail to provide a satisfactory outcome then the trade may well have to unite and use different measures in order to safeguard our jobs.

The inspector’s report has been published after the Public Inquiry in which RMT gave evidence. His recommendations are that the scheme should be reversed to westbound only traffic but keeping the uni-directional cycle lanes. Whilst we supported a return to two-way traffic we feel this is a pragmatic compromise. We are however concerned that Camden’s sudden haste to push through other nearby schemes maybe an indication that they intend to ignore the Inspector’s findings. We shall await the Cabinet’s decision in September – so again we need to keep our powder dry.

For those that are unaware, we are to lose access to Judd St from the bottom at Lansdowne Terrace and will have no access from Euston Road. Also, there will be no through route at Bloomsbury Square and no left turn from Vernon Place into Southampton Row. RMT have fought these restrictions by offering different options and have even submitted a deputation against these closures. However, Camden have ignored our requests along with concerns from local residents. We will continue to work with the local community and continue to fight these schemes.
In fact, last week we attended a meeting at The Lumen Church regarding this scheme where all stakeholders were invited. RMT would particularly like to thank the Bloomsbury Residents Action Group (BRAG) for all their hard work and their involvement in the opposition to schemes within Bloomsbury that are detrimental to so many.

To sum up Camden’s planning on these schemes:
Camden claim traffic displaced from Tavistock Place will use Grays Inn Road & Euston Road. Traffic displaced from Judd Street will use Grays Inn Road & Euston Rd. Construction traffic for HS2 will use Grays Inn Road & Euston Road, apparently disregarding the fact that Euston Road is to lose a lane for HS2 works.
Traffic displaced from Vernon Place will use Guildford Street. Traffic displaced from Lansdowne Terrace will use Guildford Street. Construction traffic for the demolition and building works on buildings that back the hospital will use Guildford St.

At last some common sense. Westminster have won an injunction against TFL to stop them starting CSH11 works. Westminster are seeking a judicial review against CSH11, so fingers crossed.
A big thanks goes out to STOPCSH11, a group of local residents who have been totally disregarded by TFL.

RMT is pushing for early inclusion in the planning of these schemes. At the moment only the well ensconced cycling lobbies have this privilege. The trade is years behind these lobbies and whilst we may respect their depth of involvement, we look to achieve their level of influence as equal partners.
The blame for the complete mess that we are having to deal with on the streets can squarely be put at TFL’s door. They have allowed certain companies to ride roughshod through regulations meaning an increase of over 50k vehicles on London’s roads, whilst a different department down the hall cuts road space. Reducing road space on an already congested road whilst increasing vehicle numbers is not a transport strategy. As an old wise owl in the cab trade recently tweeted ‘this is engineered Munchausen’s and they intend to exclude you’.
We are continually told by TFL how we are part of London’s fabric and of our importance whilst they intentionally plan us out of London’s new road schemes. Lip service is not a substitute for accompanying action.
With TFL’s actions it is no wonder we are held in such disdain by local authorities like Camden. We are currently analysing the Mayors Transport Strategy to understand why local councils and cycling lobby groups are hiding behind it, pushing through schemes to the detriment of local residents, local businesses and working people. We will continue the fight.
I leave you with this thought;
Taxis are the extended arm of the public transport network. Providing sustainable transport to interconnect journeys, especially for those carrying freight or requiring wheelchair accessibility. Picking up the slack for those who are unable to complete their journey by walking or cycling.

Ray Alleeson, Ranks and Highways Officer


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