Why were 68% of residents ignored when requesting access for taxis?
With the installation of the Wapping bus-gate imminent, we spoke to Tower Hamlets Council asking them a number of questions surrounding the controversial traffic scheme.
We asked if there had been any impact assessment done for people relying on carers, disabled car users as well as patients and the elderly who use taxis in the area, including taxicard users during the bus-gate’s operational periods.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council responded by saying that an equality impact assessment had been completed as part of the consultation analysis.
We then asked if any impact assessment had been done in relation to shops and businesses in the area, especially given that many shops in the Wapping loop rely on passing traffic for trade.
The council stated that the bus-gate was being introduced following requests from residents and businesses in the local area, adding that the impact on those businesses was considered as part of the consultation analysis.
We then moved on to the taxi industry, asking a number of questions including if representatives at Tower Hamlets Council spoke to any taxi organisations about this proposed change, and why 68% of residents within the consultation area who requested that taxis be allowed to drive through the bus-gate were seemingly ignored. We also asked what legal advice the council had taken regarding the exclusion of taxis from driving through the bus-gate.
The spokesperson replied by saying: "The consultation was widely publicised and the council considered all responses submitted. It would have been open to any organisations representing taxi drivers to contribute to the consultation had they so wished.
"Consultations are intended to inform the decision making process but the results do not bind policymakers to adopt a certain approach. A number of factors were considered in this case, including the responses received, and a decision was ultimately taken not to exempt taxis."
They added that no specific legal advice had been taken regarding taxis being excluded from using the bus gate, however legal oversight was a built in part of the council’s ordinary decision making process.
We then revealed to the council that written and video evidence was available indicating that some local residents believed the results of the consultation had been ignored in an effort to push through their own agenda.
Tower Hamlets Council responded by saying that they were confident that the introduction of the proposed bus gate would improve the lives of residents in Wapping, reducing the negative impact of inconsiderate drivers who use local streets as a rat run at peak times.
When faced with the question about concerns over the reliability of the 100 bus route due to the possible backflow of traffic in East Smithfield and The Highway which could be caused by the bus gate, the council responded by saying: "This is a hypothetical concern and it would be unhelpful to speculate on it.
"We have made it clear that the bus gate will be introduced on a 18 month trial basis with any issues arising addressed as they come up."
Finally, we asked the council if they will be putting a bus gate in Cable Street, to which they responded that there were no plans to introduce a bus gate in that road.
Image Source: Google Streetview