Transport chiefs in bid to ‘take control’ of roads
TRANSPORT chiefs are plotting a coup to seize control of the major roads running through Islington from Transport for London (TfL).
Islington Council wants to “cut out the middle man” and take responsibility for main arteries such as Holloway Road, Pentonville Road and Camden Road.
But opponents have warned the move could see a plague of speed bumps spread along vital roadways.
At a full council meeting at Islington Town Hall last night (Thursday) environment chief Councillor Greg Foxsmith proposed plans to use a nine-day-old law (the Sustainable Communities Act) – which helps devolve government powers to local authorities – to call for the transfer of the principal highways network to Islington’s control.
Speaking yesterday, Cllr Foxsmith said: “It’s an exciting proposal. We’ve been thinking about not having control over our own roads and it’s frustrating when things are done out of our control.
“The government gives money to TfL who spend it on the boroughs.
“Why not cut out the middle man and give the money direct to local authorities who can then determine for themselves where it should be spent?”
Cllr Foxsmith cited a list of charges against TfL as the reason why Islington should control its own roads, including:
• TfL’s failure to progress plans to remove gyratories at Archway, Finsbury Park, King’s Cross, Old Street and Nag’s Head.
• TfL’s decision to award gyratory removal funding to neighbouring borough’s at the expense of Islington.
• TfL’s failure to ensure safety at critical locations, including the junction of Fieldway Crescent, Madras Place and Holloway Road, where community campaigner Lisa Pontecorvo was killed last month.
Cllr Foxsmith said: “We’re confident we can responsibly manage the major roads better than TfL. We’d probably use our own staff rather than TfL bigwigs. We can’t just wait patiently for TfL to do in their own time what needs to be done.”
Islington South MP Emily Thornberry said: “[The council] have better things to do than spend their time posturing. They should be getting on with their jobs because they are not doing what they are supposed to be doing very well. They should get their priorities right.”
Labour deputy leader Councillor Paul Smith warned that the Lib Dems had not thought the plan through.
He said: “They don’t understand what the act actually says. The public is supposed to decide what the priorities are, not the council. It’s not clear if the act would allow funds to be transferred. It’s between the devil and the deep blue sea, neither Islington nor TfL have a particularly good record. I don’t think anybody would have confidence in Islington running major roads because they will put speed bumps up and down them – with potholes in between.
“It’s hard to take seriously people who don’t take care of their own roads.”
A TfL spokeswoman said: “TfL operates and maintains the Red Route network so the busiest thoroughfares in the capital can be managed on a coherent London-wide basis, taking local interests into account wherever practical.
“Without a city-wide overview on these roads traffic flow would be disjointed and traffic management inconsistent.
“This system was brought in by central government in 1992 for exactly these reasons and TfL, as London’s strategic transport authority remains best placed to serve the needs of all the capital’s road users in managing these routes which are so vital to keeping London moving.”