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Architects of chaos: Camden Council engineer gridlock at St Pancras Station as vehicles take up to 40 minutes to clear Midland Road

18 Feb 2019

 

Anybody who has had to use St Pancras Station, either to work around, or travel to and from, could not possibly avoid noticing that in the past it could take as long as 10 minutes to exit Midland Road onto either Euston Road or Judd Street.

 

However, ever since the closure of Judd Street by Camden Council, on the grounds of pollution, among other reasons, it is now taking up to approximately 40 (yes ypu read that correctly) minutes to exit Midland Road.

 

After hearing literally dozens of complaints from taxi drivers, PHV drivers, taxi passengers as well as local residents, to name but a few, I decided to see for myself how bad Midland Road had become, since i never go down there knowing that it can be the equivalent of entering through the gates of hell.....and my gosh, i was not to be disappointed.

 

I attempted to enter and exit Midland Road on Sunday February 17, at approximately 5.30pm. I joined Midland Road at the Junction with Goodsway, where the queue of traffic ended. I then waited, and waited, and waited, in fact by the time i had reached the traffic lights to turn left onto Euston Road, i had waited 37 minutes and 42 seconds.

 

This of course is completely unacceptable at every single level, there is no excuse for anybody to be able to travel almost as quickly from Calais to St Pancras (56 minutes on the fastest train) as it takes to get out of Midland Road, where the taxi rank is at St Pancras.

 

Camden council chiefs were warned by local residents and businesses in the area that pollution and congestion would increase dramatically in the surrounding areas, and emergency vehicles may be compromised because of the Judd Street closure, and they were absolutely correct.

 

Back in July 2018, ovet  60 residents were at a public meeting at the Lumen Church in Tavistock Place, called by the Bloomsbury Residents Action Group.

 

Many concerns were raised, among those highlighted other than pollution amd congestion, was what was seen as a lack of meaningful consultation by the council, and a fear of being unfairly branded as anti-cyclist.


Despite all of this, Council leader Georgia Gould approved the Judd Street changes, to the disbelief of both the taxi and PHV industry, and to the complete discontent of local residents.

  

Camden council launched their proposal on 15 March 2016 saying: "In June 2015, Camden Council implemented a number of changes on Pancras Rd between Royal College Street and Midland Road in order to improve road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The changes included providing 2m wide ‘stepped’ cycle lanes for northbound and southbound cyclists and introducing better crossings for pedestrians.

In March 2013 the Mayor of London launched his vision for cycling in London.   A major element of the vision is the proposed new Central London Cycle Grid – a network of cycle routes through Central London and the city, making it more attractive to people who don’t cycle and safer for the increasing numbers who do. As part of the Cycle Grid, the Council would like to extend the recent improvements on Pancras Road south into Midland Road until Euston Road, providing a safe and continuous protected cycle route. In partnership with Transport for London, we are also consulting on proposals to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians crossing the busy Euston Road junction, including cyclists connecting with the proposed North-South Cycle Superhighway on Judd Street." 

  

The Camden Council consultation offered several options, and in true Camden Council style they opted for the most insane option, one which showed no regard for the local residents, for businesses, for those entering and leaving two of the busiest mainline stations in Europe. They did however show regard for the cycling lobby, as per usual. 

  

Now it's quite usual that the moment you contest a road scheme in London these days you will be branded anti-cycling, anti-this, anti-that or anti-the other, so as to stifle a perfectly reasonable argument, whilst the council or lobby in question recieve plaudits and validation from their acolytes. 

  

However what needs to be recognised that even if somebody is "anti-whatever" it doesn't necessarily make that individual or group wrong. 

  

Just because any given council, Camden in  this instance have decided to latch onto a particular edict which has filtered down from the Mayors office, it doesn't make their inception of that edict correct. Incompetence and bad planning are no respecter of social nor professional boundaries. 

  

Ultimately every single person who I have personally interacted with surrounding this particular closure have said everything from "complete incompetence, to something completely unprintable, not one single individual who I have spoken to pertaining to this has given it the thumbs-up. 

  

This now creates an interesting situation because pollution and congestion figures are going to go through the roof in the area, this begs the question, are TfL and Camden Council now going to villify taxi drivers (given the fact that Camden council see the taxi industry as only one step removed from Satan himself, it would be no surprise) as well as the general motorist because of the inevitable rise in pollution and congestion, and therefore close down ieven more roads so as to shift the problem sideways. 

  

There now needs to be a clear rethink as to how consultations are done, with no single issue taking precedent over another. There also needs to be full accountability for monumental errors such as the Judd St closure.  

  

Pandering to one given lobby or agenda is crippling London at such a rate of knots never seen before, it's hard to believe that it could get much worse without eventually stifling Londons economy. 

  

The Mayors mantra that he wants 80% of all journeys to be made by cycle, foot or public transport is all well and good, but councils using this as an excuse to engineer gridlock across London is most certainly not the answer. 

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