Wapping residents hit out at Tower Hamlets Council over taxi and resident exclusion from bus-gate

Angry Wapping residents have hit out at Tower Hamlets Council's proposal to put a bus-gate in the area.

It has been revealed that some residents have concerns that the consultation may be deeply flawed, with results being skewed or ignored by the council. 

One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Tower Hamlets Council is the exclusion of taxis from being able to use the bus-gate, as well as local residents and delivery drivers.

Paul Barton, a resident in Wapping for 20 years, wrote in to TaxiPoint on 28 July to express his concerns. He said: "A very large proportion of us residents support the free movement of black cabs and local residents vehicles through this bus gate, should it go ahead. "We suspect though, that, in true council tradition, we won’t be listened to and Tower Hamlets will block all vehicles except for buses. "This will be an utter disgrace should this happen. We consider Black Cabs to be an intrinsic part of the TfL network and I would recommend that your members seek legal opinion on this, should the bus gate go ahead and end up being exclusive to buses." Paul then went on to explain some of the pitfalls to both the elderly and disabled regarding the gate, saying: "We have a number of disabled and physically limited residents who rely on taxis as well as residents who work in the city, who also rely on the instant flagging down of a black cab. "Not only that, but it would also mean increased congestion on The Highway, as more taxis and vehicles that would normally use Wapping during the course of their business, would all be forced to remain on The Highway, which defeats the object of lowering congestion and pollution." However, Paul, wasn't the only person to go on record to vent their anger. We spoke to Gina Hayden, a Wapping resident of 11 years, who was equally unhappy about the situation. I asked Gina what impact the implementation of the bus-gate would have on her life. She said: "I've been a resident in Wapping for 11 years and the traffic has become significantly worse since the alteration of the traffic light phasing at Tower Bridge. Everybody sits in misery along the highway in the mornings and it's disgraceful.

"I have to travel around the Wapping loop to take my daughter to school near St Paul’s Cathederal, the roads in the area are only slightly more congested for an hour and a half each morning until around 9.30am. "Putting a bus gate in Wapping is like shooting a sparrow with a cannon. It seems as though Tower Hamlets Council is intent on killing everything in the whole area including the traffic, making the lives of people living in and around The Highway even more miserable as well as the residents of Wapping who need to get in and out of the area. "I have serious reservations because of the access needed by delivery vans, those who need to get to and from work and those on school runs. "It seems like this has been a decision which has been made by people who don't live in Wapping and don't care about what happens to what his residents." After examining the consultation, of the 2370 respondents the overall statistics broke down as follows: 

  • Local Residents 75%

  • Local Workers 12%

  • Business Owners 4%

  • Others 9%

Inside the consultation area the statistics differed with the following figures: 

  • Local Residents 96%

  • Local Workers 2%

  • Business owners 2%

  • Others 1%

According to the consultation, the overwhelming majority of the consultation was made up of local residents. Gina expressed major concern at the impact the gate would have on property prices, saying: "If I have to sell my apartment in Wapping, with the condition people won't be able to drive in and out of Wapping to their own property at certain times, it will reduce the value of my property. "It is an ill thought out, hare-brained scheme to fix a systemic problem that is caused by bigger factors than people using Wapping as a rat run. "Also if they wish to continue running the 100 bus through the bus gate, it has got to come along The Highway, which is going to be even more congested now. "How they think it can make the lives of residents better by making them get the bus on a route that is extremely busy and intermittent is beyond me. The bus is already packed in the morning so how they will fit any more Wapping residents on the bus is a mystery to me, it's madness." I asked Gina if she had seen the consultation results, to which she replied that she had. She said: "I filled out the form and said that they must be mad to even consider this. I proposed that by all means do it but do it for an hour but allow residents and taxis and delivery vehicles access.

"I have a friend who lives in Wapping High Street and suffers from muscular dystrophy, he is wheelchair-bound and has to take taxis everywhere." Again, after examining the consultation statistics, it showed that 75% of those who took part in the consultation wanted taxis to be able to travel the bus gate, whilst 68% who responded in the consultation area wanted taxis to have access. Gina finally added: "We have to be able to get on with our lives, I wrote in my feedback it could potentially work if you were to allow buses residence taxis and delivery vehicles access through the bus gate. "Blocking people out from the Wapping area and treating them as though they were animals is a very inhumane thing to do, but if you have to do it at least let the residents move freely. "We pay our taxes we pay our council tax and we pay an awful lot of money to live there, so now all of a sudden we are being disadvantaged despite all the money that we are paying to live there."

Image Source: Bill Harrison (Geograph) CC2.0

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