Southwark Council refuse to listen to residents on Dulwich, Peckham traffic schemes despite Liberal Democrat appeals

Pleas to give residents a voice on Dulwich low-traffic schemes were refused on Wednesday after the Liberal Democrats exhausted all options to ensure concerns were addressed. 

The Southwark Liberal Democrats escalated matters due to improper consultation on the Dulwich scheme. But, the rejection from council bosses mirrored the authority’s denial of a similar request regarding the re-opening of Rye Lane.

Liberal Democrat councillors support a transition to sustainable transport and see low-traffic schemes as one way of achieving this change. However, they believe it must be done with local support and residents’ consent.

The group used formal Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) procedures to ‘call-in’ the Labour decision to keep vehicular restrictions in Dulwich and cited insufficient community consultation as the reason behind this move.

This came after large numbers of residents expressed dissatisfaction with how the scheme had been enacted and with the inadequate levels of engagement from Southwark Council.

Official consultation responses revealed that the majority of respondents did not want traffic measures on the road they live on.

The council’s ‘call-in’ system would have resulted in an official inspection of Southwark Labour’s decision and would have given the community a chance to scrutinise its policy.

The call-in was rejected on appeal and the proposed Dulwich traffic scheme will now be carried out by the Labour adminsitration. 

Council officers similarly rejected the Liberal Democrat group ‘call-in’ of the re-opening of Peckham’s Rye Lane to buses, which they requested due to the authority’s unsuitable consultation with residents on that decision.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Victor Chamberlain, who is vice-chair of OSC and raised his concerns at the committee’s meeting on Wednesday evening, said:

“Southwark Council are denying residents a voice and the opportunity to hold to account Labour’s approach to low traffic neighbourhoods. There has been a seriously inconsistent approach across Southwark to traffic schemes, with mixed levels of consultation from Rye Lane to Dulwich to Great Suffolk Street in Borough. The only common theme has been Labour’s steamrolling of public opinion. Low-traffic schemes are part of our transition to a more sustainable borough, but the council must work with and take communities with them. It’s time they stopped ruling by decree.”

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