LARGEST EVER SPEED SURVEY IN SUTTON SOUTH NOW UNDERWAY

The largest scale survey of traffic speed and direction ever undertaken in Sutton South Ward is now underway.

Wires linked to computer boxes, like this instalation in Devonshire Road, have been set up at 15 different locations in the Ward, with cameras at six locations. The equipment measures the speed of a vehicle and its direction of movement.

The survey has developed from the petition relating to speeding that we presented to Sutton Council last July, signed by 77 residents of Cavendish Road. We successfully pressed for the survey to be extended from Cavendish Road to cover other local roads where speeding is a problem. The study will cover:

Cavendish Road

Christchurch Park

Cedar Road

Cumnor Road

Devonshire Road

Devonshire Avenue.

We will keep residents advised of the outcome.

BID TO OPEN SIDE ENTRANCE TO SUTTON STATION ENTERS NEW PHASE

The latest phase of our long-running campaign to open the side entrance to Sutton station has entered a new phase with the Council’s submission to Transport for London of a bid for funding under the TfL Major Projects scheme.

Sutton station is the 5th busiest in South London, and the 27th busiest in the whole of Greater London, with almost 6 million passenger movements every year. It is one of 18 stations in London identified by TfL as suffering significant congestion problems.

The main elements in the scheme would not only include opening the side entrance but extensive landscaping to improve the appearance of what would in effect be a new entrance from The Quadrant. The main elements include:

* Opening up the side entrance to the station to improve station access and egress, improve the streetscape and improve pedestrian access to the station
 * Public realm and footway improvements in The Quadrant and at the front of the station
 * Bus stop improvements at the front of the station to improve passenger experience
 * “De-cluttering” and harmonisation of street furniture and materials
* Junction and crossing improvements on walking routes to the station
 * Road safety improvements
 * Additional cycle parking and cycle lanes, and
  * Improved street lighting.

Benefits of the scheme will include reduced pedestrian journey times between the station and The Quadrant, the station car park and the Langley Park Road area, as well as reduced congestion within the station main entrance and at the barriers.

 
 
 
 

Opening the side entrance at Sutton Station would cater for the considerable demand for direct access to the station from the Quadrant House office block, which houses Reed Business Information (with approximately 2,000 employees, about one third of whom travel to work by train) and a number of other expanding companies, together with Tudor Court office block, which houses Synergy UK. The new entrance would also serve the large station car park (which Network Rail wish to expand), and the motorcycle and cycle parking areas, which generate considerable demand for access from that side of the station. There is also direct footpath access between The Quadrant and Langley Park Road and surrounding residential streets, well-used by rail passengers. These station users currently have to walk around the side to the front of the station on a convoluted route and negotiate busy footways, bus stops and the station entrance. Most of these passengers are likely to have season tickets, and opening up the side entrance would significantly reduce their journey times and congestion outside and in the entrance hall of the main station entrance.
The Council has been lobbying for the opening up of the side entrance since it was created over ten years ago with a retractable shutter. The entrance is opened up when rail replacement buses are used during engineering work, as the buses stop in The Quadrant. This demonstrates that it is possible to open up and allow passengers to use this entrance in principle. Southern support the opening in principle, subject to funding being available to provide the barriers etc. Network Rail also supports the scheme in principle and has assisted with initial business case work.
We will keep you advised of progress. 

 

DECISION ON KINGS LANE BRIDGE SAFETY PROPOSAL

We have consulted residents on our wish to see action to improve safety for pedestrians using the bridge. Given the difficulties with more radical proposals, the traffic engineers proposed building out the kerb on both sides at the intersection with Hillcroome Road. This would ensure that cars crossing from that end would start their journey across the bridge from a more central position. They would be more visible, earlier, to cars coming from the other end and to pedestrians on the bridge. The road has for some time been marked out to show where the kerb would be built out to. 

In addition, warning signs alerting drivers to the road narrowing and the presence of pedestrians will be upgraded and repositioned to make them more prominent.  

Reaction to the proposal has been generally positive but there is also support for limiting the build out to the left hand side of the road, as you face Kings Lane from Hillcroome Road. A safety study was commissioned and suggested that either option would improve the safety of the bridge.

We have decided to proceed with the reduced scheme, building out on just the left hand side. The improvement will be funded by Transport for London as a small, low-cost but helpful safety measure.

SUCCESSFUL PROGRESS ON PARKING AND TRAFFIC ISSUES

Blackbush Close

Following an important meeting with officers on 5 November, progress is now being made on a number of parking and traffic management schemes we have been progressing on behalf of residents.

BLACKBUSH CLOSE – residents approached us about the shortage of parking spaces on the Blackbush Close / Bonchurch Close estate. Following a meeting with residents last January, we agreed to pursue proposals to remove yellow lines on one side of a stretch of Blackbush Close to provide more parking spaces. This is now likely to go ahead in the New Year.

EASTLEIGH CLOSE – residents have been concerned at the difficulty of parking in their own cul-de-sac, as it is often parked up with the vehicles of people who do not live in the Close. The concerns of residents led to a major survey of views on parking across the whole of the west end of our Ward, in early 2012. The results indicate a desire for parking controls in Eastleigh Close but not elsewhere. It is proposed to hold a final consultation on a proposal to extend the Controlled Parking Zone from its current boundary at the east end of Camborne Road as far as the junction with Stanley Road, taking in Eastleigh Close.

LORRAINE COURT, CAMBORNE ROAD – some residents were concerned at the difficulty of exiting into Camborne Road if cars were parked close to and thus narrowing the entrance. We have obtained agreement for yellow lines to be put across the entrance.

We are also continuing to pursue action on the KINGS LAND BRIDGE safety improvements and speeding in CAVENDISH ROAD.

SOUTH SUTTON SPEEDING SURVEY AGREED

Richard and Heather have helped the residents of Cavendish Road to win another important battle in their bid to control speeding in their road.

And we have succeeded in extending the proposed speeding survey in Cavendish Road to cover a wider area of our south Sutton ward.

The petition on speeding in Cavendish Road, which Richard and Heather presented to Sutton Council on behalf of the residents in July, was discussed at the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee on 11 October.

In the discussion, Richard drew attention to a speeding survey conducted in the road in 2008 which showed that even then traffic was exceeding the speed limit, on average, by a factor of over 50%. But the same survey showed problems in other local roads.

The committee agreed to a survey of the area by traffic engineers, charged with finding out the facts and coming back to the committee by next February with costed proposals for dealing with the problem.

We persuaded the committee to extend the survey to a wider area. The roads to be surveyed now are:

Cavendish Road

Christchurch Park

Cedar Road

Cumnor Road

Devonshire Road

Devonshire Avenue

Egmont Road

The committee noted that any recommendations could cost money and decisions would be needed on priorities for spending.

Richard said “This is a good result. I am pleased we are going to undertake a full survey and get the traffic engineers to look at a range of solutions.”

Heather added “I am pleased we are going to look at a wider area. Residents in Cumnor Road and Christchurch Park have also complained to us as ward Councillors about the speed of traffic in their roads.”

The petition was signed by 77 residents of Cavendish Road calling for action on the speed of traffic in their road, where a number of blocks of sheltered housing for the elderly are situated. It was presented to Sutton Council at the request of the residents by Councillors Honour and Clifton on 16 July, and referred to the local committee.

The photo above shows the Cavendish Road residents at the meeting flanked by Richard on the left and Heather on the right.

LOCAL COMMITTEE DEBATES OUR RESPONSES TO THAMESLINK CONSULTATION

Presenting our Petition

Richard and Heather called for action by the South Sutton, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee to support our Thameslink campaign, when initiating a debate at the committee on 11 October.

We drew attention to the submission we had put in on behalf of local residents (go to the category of posts called “Thameslink Campaign” to see our submission) to the recent Department of Transport consultation. Councillor Mary Burstow drew attention to her submission.

We know that many of our residents, with our proximity to Sutton station being a reason to live in our Ward, commute into London every day to work. Richard and Heather themselves did this for many years. Some commute to north London and the proposal to terminate Sutton’s Capital Connect trains at Blackfriars will add more than ten minutes in each direction to their daily commute, almost two hours extra down time a week. Taken with the effect of cutting us off from international services at St. Pancras, and Luton airport, and the fact that our ability to attract businesses to Sutton has been greatly enhanced by our good transport links, this proposal has to be resisted.

The most recent stage in what will be a battle with further, continuing stages was the combined Thameslink franchise consultation on which responses were required  by mid-September.

Richard commented, in the discussion “The reputation of civil servants at the Department of Transport, following the West Coast Main Line fiasco, is not high, and having worked there during the time that I was chair of the Channel tunnel Safety Authority, I am not altogether surprised. We will need to be vigilant in watching and contributing to the further steps in this process.

I know that the way responses to consultation are analysed in the Department means that the volume of reaction is important. Councillor Honour and I put in our own response on behalf of our residents. Councillor Burstow did the same. ”

Richard made some suggestions to prepare ourselves for the further stages.

“First, I suggest that all those Councillors who put in submissions send them to the secretary so they can be included – along with his helpful note – with the papers for this meeting, so they are on the record to be used as necessary as an information quarry in further stages.

Second, we should consider, if it is appropriate at a later stage, passing a motion drawing attention to the difficulties this proposal causes for our residents, and send it to the Secretary of State, and seek a reply.

This is an important issue for our residents. On 23 August I presented a petition signed by over 5 000 residents, largely developed through Paul Burstow’s website, at the Department for Transport in Marsham Street, and the numbers wanting to sign shows how significant this is.”

NEW ACTION BY YOUR COUNCILLORS TO SAVE CROSS-LONDON TRAIN SERVICES

Richard, with Councillor Simon Wales, presents the Thameslink petition signed by Sutton South residents at the HQ of the Department for Transport

As so many Sutton South residents commute into London to work every day, and we value our direct connections to St. Pancras, the loss of our cross-London train services, if the Thameslink / Capital Connect services terminate at Blackfriars, will be a blow to local people.
On 23 August Richard joined Councillor Simon Wales, together with Liberal Democrat activists from neighbouring Boroughs, to present our petition to the Department for Transport at their Head Office in Marsham Street, Westminster. The petiton called on the Department to put a stop to these proposals.
 
September 15 is the deadline to comment on the Department for Transport’s consultation document making this proposal, following a decision by the DfT to extend the consultation period. The link to their consultation document is HERE. You can email comments to     Thameslink@dft.gsi.gov.uk
Below is our own submission.
 

Response to the Department for Transport Combined Thameslink Franchise Consultation

From Councillor Richard Clifton and Councillor Heather Honour, Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South, London Borough of Sutton

1. We are the elected Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South Ward, which is just south of Sutton railway station. Passengers leaving Sutton station to the south, by the side entrance (when it is open), pass into Sutton South Ward as they leave the station.

2. Our Ward is almost entirely residential and a significant number of our residents commute daily into central London for work. Many of these commuters use trains on the Thameslink Loop Line to travel to stations north of Blackfriars, including Farringdon and St. Pancras. Residents of the Ward also tell us they consider they benefit greatly from having a direct service to St. Pancras International, for Continental Europe, and Luton airport. 

3. For that reason we are concerned at the proposal, first set out in the London and South East Route Utilisation Strategy (July 2011), that all Sutton / Wimbledon Thameslink Loop Line trains will terminate at London Blackfriars from 2018.

4. Terminating Wimbledon Loop services at Blackfriars would result in our residents losing their cross-London service. This will penalise those of our residents who have made their residential, employment and educational location decisions on the basis of the existence of the cross-London Thameslink service. These residents, who chose to live in Sutton South on the basis of an existing pattern of transport connections, would lose a service that they have had for many years, and based their life around.

5. Any decision should take account of the impact of changes on the travel patterns of existing passengers, and of consequent requirements to change established travel patterns. It is because of the impact on our residents that we object to any proposal that would result in terminating Wimbledon loop trains at Blackfriars.

6. Not only would our residents lose a through service they have come to depend on, they would lose their connection with Eurostar and domestic long distance trains at St. Pancras International and Kings Cross. Instead they would have to change trains at Blackfriars, carrying possibly heavy luggage onto already crowded trains. This movement could be particularly difficult from the western bay platform when travelling north and to either bay platform when travelling south because of the platform lengths and the position of lifts and stairs at each end of the platforms. The recent Passenger Focus passenger survey found that having to change trains was a strong disincentive to train travel.

 

7. Sutton is identified in the London Plan as one of only four Metropolitan town centres in south London , with a large and growing population and employment base. It is a major business centre with many commuters and business travellers. It is therefore essential that Sutton, as a strategic south London destination, retains its connections to central and north London and beyond, and maintains its direct link to St. Pancras and the City.

 

8. We also believe that the attractiveness of Sutton to employers considering re-location away from expensive offices in central London would be affected. Sutton is a location from which one can travel to Brussels with just two train journeys, one taking 45 minutes and one two hours, and the journey to Paris is only fifteen minutes longer. We have been successful in attracting businesses to Sutton and this change would have a negative impact, particularly given the expected mushrooming of international train travel from St. Pancras over the next few years. These negative effects would impact on the residents of our Ward who want to work locally in Sutton.

9. We thus strongly object to any proposal that would result in terminating Wimbledon loop trains at Blackfriars from 2018.

10. We are aware that Sutton Council is submitting comments, and support those comments. However, we are making this submission to draw particular attention to the impact on our residents in Sutton South Ward.

RICHARD CLIFTON

HEATHER HONOUR

  Liberal Democrat Councillors for Sutton South, London Borough of Sutton

COUNCILLOR HEATHER HONOUR GETS FUNDING TO IMPROVE DANGEROUS ROAD

Mums with children in buggies,  walkers with dogs and pedestrians generally  have diced with death for years as they walked along Kings Lane Bridge, which lies at the end of Hillcroombe road and is a busy  thoroughfare leading  to Carshalton Road.

For years concerns have been raised about pedestrian, cyclist  and  driver safety on Kings Lane bridge which is only 3.6 m wide over the railway and only allows one line of traffic at a time.  Approaches to the bridge are at 90 degree bends and the bridge parapets are a combination of solid brick with rails on top which makes the sight lines very poor.

There have been 3 personal injuries at the junction between April 2008 and April 2011, and residents who use the park have reported numerous “bumps” as cars failed to negotiate the difficult twists and turns safely.

Heather Honour, Lib Dem Councillor for Sutton South, raised this in April at the Sutton South, Cheam and Belmont Local Committee,  Discussions followed with other councillors in Sutton South and the neighbouring ward, Carshalton Central, residents and with the council’s traffic engineers.

On July 5th Heather presented a proposal to the Local Committee drawn up by traffic engineers.  Building out the footways on both sides of the junction would slow and guide vehicles on a more visible line and provide a longer footway for pedestrians.  The warning signs will be upgraded and re positioned and be more prominent.  The cost of implementing the complete scheme is £16,000.  Other improvements, amounting to £500  will be made at the Carshalton end of the bridge.

Funding will be allocated  from the Local Implementation Plan.  The work should begin in November 2012.

Councillor Heather Honour said,

“ Someone said to me  that the road is so dangerous we should leave it as it is. I don’t think that is good enough for our residents who risk their lives every day as they walk or drive over Kings Lane Bridge.  Our traffic engineers have worked hard to find the best solution because no one wants the road closed  to traffic or made one way.  

It is great that funding can be found quickly and let’s hope that the work can be completed before we have snow and ice on the bridge”.

THREAT TO SUTTON’S COMMUTER SERVICES: RICHARD AND HEATHER SUPPORT ACTION

MANY RESIDENTS OF SUTTON SOUTH WARD COMMUTE INTO CENTRAL LONDON EVERY DAY TO WORK.

SERVICES WILL BE CUT AND JOURNEYS ON OTHER ROUTES MORE CROWDED UNLESS WE CAN STOP THE PROPOSALS TO AXE SERVICES TO FARRINGDON, St PANCRAS AND BEYOND.

After Richard made a stirring speech to Sutton Council about transport services on 16 July, Richard and Heather joined rail campaigners in Sutton for a day of action on 18 July in a bid to save our vital link to The City, St. Pancras, North London and stations to Luton.

Under current plans Thameslink Loop Line trains which link Sutton to St. Albans and Luton through central and north London will terminate at Blackfriars station from 2018.

But Richard, Heather and other campaigners – including our two LibDem MPs and the Leader of the Council Ruth Dombey – boarded trains on the morning of 18 July to travel to Blackfriars as part of our day of action.

Richard – who was interviewed on BBC Radio London that morning as part of the campaign – summarised our case in a speech he made to Sutton Council on 16 July. He said:

“We all know the importance to Sutton of maintaining a through rail service to north London.

I want to stress the importance of links to St Pancras International as St Pancras develops further as an international rail hub.

Over the next few years there will be a positive mushrooming of international rail travel from London. If the current plans of Deutschbahn and Eurostar come to fruition, by 2014 it will be possible, on arriving at St Pancras, to have a choice of services to travel from London to Amsterdam.

In addition to the current services to Brussels and Paris there will also be services from London to North Germany. This is a big market in terms of business travel. At present, each day, about 30 planes fly from London’s airports to destinations in north Germany, carrying about the same number of people as could be carried by just a few trains, using the Velaro D trains that are being built to provide rolling stock for these new services from London, by the train manufacturer Siemens at its Dusseldorf factory, which in fact I visited recently.

Aside from the potential importance of these international links to the residents of Sutton, there are international companies that have significant centres of their enterprises in Sutton – Sutton, a thriving London suburb, offering office space much cheaper than that found in the centre of London, less than half an hour by train from the centre, with a pleasant ambience and environment, and a location from which – importantly – you can reach the centre of Brussels in just two train journeys, one taking about 40 minutes and one about 2 hours. And the centre of Paris in just 15 minutes more. And soon – Amsterdam, north Germany.

Now, these are transport links that it is vital for Sutton to maintain, for the sake of our residents but also to maintain our attractiveness as a centre for business development. When I look at the data on economic activity that comes regularly to the new Housing, Economy and Business committee, some clear conclusions stand out. It is clear that Sutton is doing relatively well in terms of surviving the recession and maintaining one of the highest rates of economic activity on the part of its residents of any part of London. But we need to continue to attract new businesses.

The Tramlink extension is perhaps equally important, particularly in relation to the north Sutton site, which is an attractive site, and on which the Housing, Economy and Business committee now has a task group working on the planning brief. Our current plans include scope for a Tramlink stop at the site, something that will greatly enhance its appeal, and we see this development as an important part of our future growth strategy. 

So we must keep pressure on TfL to continue work on the feasibility of the Sutton Tramlink proposal, and make clear to the Department for Transport that changes that remove our linoks to north London and in particular to St Pancras, are not acceptable.

The Thameslink service is absolutely vital. Losing it would sever our only direct link to North London and would mean Sutton residents would need to take at least two trains to get to St Pancras. It is quite scandalous that, at a time when we should be improving public transport, there is a serious proposal to cut the link between North and South London.”

We need to act now as the Department for Transport is currently consulting on the new seven-year Thameslink franchise which will run from September next year and incorporate the Southern franchise from 2015.

Ironically, the cross-London Loop Line service which runs through Sutton, Carshalton and Hackbridge stations, was recently reopened at nights and weekends after being split for three and a half years by engineering work. It is all very well reopening it now, but Sutton’s residents need the line to stay open for good.

The new franchise will set service patterns for 2018 and beyond, so it is vital that we act now and do not become a Cinderella area for rail transport.

To view the DfT consultation document visit www.dft.gov.uk/consultations

To give your input into Sutton’s response, email alex.forrest@sutton.gov.uk

Richard and Heather will be submitting their own response.

More detail about the attitude the Council is taking, opposing this threat, is in a further post on this site “Train Links To North London Must Remain” (see archive July 2011).

Heather and Richard outside Sutton station

CAN WE IMPROVE SAFETY AT THE KINGS LANE BRIDGE ?

While we are concerned about safety at the Hillcroome Road / Kings Lane single track railway bridge, we have some concerns about proposals to change the layout of the Kings Lane bridge currently being put to our local committee by Sutton’s traffic engineers.

As your local Councillors, we have had discussions with traffic engineers about whether some simple steps could be taken to improve the safety of pedestrians and cars at the Kings Lane bridge adjacent to Hillcroome Road, at the far north east of Sutton South Ward.

The single lane road with no pavement means pedestrians have to walk in the road. Drivers have poor visibility as to whether a car is coming the other way and are frequently uncertain as to when to advance. The picture above illustrates the problem, as the lady with a buggy and a toddler hurries to get across the bridge while a car waits at the far side for her to get out of the way. 

Some major restructuring such as putting in a separate pedestrian bridge is unaffordable and would be disproportionate. We have considered whether more minor improvements would help, such as mirrors, steps to improve visibility, better or different signage, building out the pavement at the Hillcroome Road end to alter the alignment of vehicles as they approach, etc. The changes we championed to the layout of the road passing under the bridge at Grange Vale (reported in a post elsewhere on this site, “Action to improve safety at the Grange Vale bridge”, see archive for February 2012) have shown that it is possible to make improvements through some simple steps.

We are interested in the views of local people on what is feasible or useful and would like you to contact us if you have a view.

The proposal to change the layout at the Hillcroome Road end to “straighten up” cars approaching from that end is worth considering but would probably have little impact on the risk. We favour more public consultation on possible proposals,