"We didn’t receive anything about the changes". Oval Residents Unaware of 'Low Traffic' Scheme
Along with others OneOval has spoken with, Evelyn, who lives just a stones throw from the Oval cricket ground, was not consulted about the Oval Triangle low traffic neighbourhood (LTN): "we didn’t receive anything about the changes. I just saw the boards being put up with black bags over and I wondered for some days what that was, and then they removed the black bags over the boards and I was informed by my neighbours that there was a letter provided to the Fentiman and Dorset Roads that they were building in the road closures...no letters were here at all and I have friends who live on the Richbourne and on Meadow Road and they didn’t receive no letters neither...the Richbourne side of the flats, I know they didn’t receive any letters, I have friends in that block, and on Meadow Road they didn’t receive any.”
The emergency powers used for the Oval Triangle low traffic neighbourhood mean valuable community insight, which could have been used to sharpen implementation of the scheme, has been lost. Evelyn has practical suggestions for alternatives to the current arrangement: "if they felt that traffic was impacting people on the road, perhaps close one or two roads, for example [leave] Claylands Road open because it has businesses on there, not one, two, three, quite a few, and you have the shops on the road, and perhaps close the Fentiman Road because the Fentiman Road has no shops or businesses at all and then leave Dorset Road because it has quite a few complexes and blocks and private housing and shops. So just alternate between the roads - entry, entry, no entry, entry - rather than closing all off and having to make us all come of one exit, one entrance."
Reduced access for emergency services is a real anxiety for Evelyn, her family and the wider community. She is heavily pregnant, lives with mobility issues, and both she and her mother were hospitalised with Covid-19. A recent fire near their home has made her all too aware of the multiple access issues thrown up by the LTN: "recently, we had a big fire, here, and we had to stop ourselves coming home at the time because the road was blocked by fire brigades and we literally waited two and a half hours to come home. So, they didn’t think of fire safety, they didn’t think of health...some people here have children with disabilities, and getting around on the buses that are provided by the council to get to school, how about those? How about those who can’t even get out at all, and order food in, or delivery for food? Some of those things are going to be impacted." The potential threat from reduced access is all too real: "if there’s a big block fire and you’ve got ambulance, police and fire brigade, how are they meant to get through? All that wasn’t strategised properly."
And reduced access means Evelyn feels more isolated: "I feel like I’m limited now, I don’t want to go out, even if it is just for a little drive to go to the shops, I don’t want to do it because I think of the time I’m going to sit out, and drive and sit in traffic". Her reliance on driving stems entirely from health issues; she drives out of necessity, not because she necessarily wants to : "I’m pregnant, I get claustrophobic, I feel sick in my car and I also don’t open the window as much because of the pollution outside and not knowing whether this Covid is airborne or not. So, I just don’t go out anywhere". Her mobility issues mean short car journeys were essential to her household routine: "I have issues with my arms and my back, so I wouldn’t be able to, say, walk up to the top of Claylands Road and carry local produce I use my car on a day-to-day basis".
Lack of communication or consultation, poorly integrated and co-ordinated design and lack of mitigation measures for those in less living with health issues all combine to means that unfrotunately, for Evelyn and her family, the Oval LTN as it currently stands means less freedom - not more.
This is the second in an ongoing series of interviews with local residents affected by the Oval Triangle LTN. Want to share your story? Get in touch at our website: https://www.oneoval.co.uk