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‘Incomprehensibly dreadful scheme’

Statement by Chiswick Conservative councillors

‘Incomprehensibly dreadful scheme’ 9 September 2019

The Cabinet of Hounslow Council passed the decision to proceed to the detailed planning of Cycleway 9 last week.

The controversial plan gives Chiswick High Rd a bi-directional cycle track along the south side, as part of a route from Brentford to Olympia. Reactions were predictably polarised. Chiswick councillors have pronounced it a ‘terrible outcome’. Cllr Joanna Biddolph and Cllr Patrick Barr were among those who spoke at the Cabinet meeting against the cycleway, which they still call Cycle Superhighway 9, though the name was changed by Transport for London some months ago.

‘This is a terrible outcome – though it was no surprise. Several cabinet members had declared long in advance that they were in favour of CS9 so we knew the meeting-with-presentations was nothing more than a PR stunt. With planted questions designed to show the pro-CS9 lobby in the best possible light, and random, rambling points thrown at us to try to show us up, plus a stop watch geared to cutting us off but letting the pro-CS9 team go on and on, this was democracy at its worst. Partisan, pre-judged, puerile. It’s life in Labour Hounslow.

‘Presenting a petition signed by 5,452 people proved to be meaningless in a Labour world. Local residents’ opinions do not count. Instead, Labour councillors tried to make the petition seem invalid having been fed a line implying people outside Chiswick were deliberately targeted. The majority of signatures were collected from weekly street stalls on Chiswick High Road and leaflets put through Chiswick doors; the leaflets gave the option to sign online. This contrasted starkly with TfL’s consultation which actively sought opinion from far beyond London. Tonight’s proceedings were noted for their reliance on dirty tricks. Homefields councillor and deputy Conservative group leader, Patrick Barr said, “Not a single Chiswick resident or councillor voted on this scheme. The decision was made by councillors who do not know Chiswick. We, who represent Chiswick residents, were ignored. This means residents were ignored and despite a petition of 5,452 people opposed to CS9 and a passionate and informed representation to the Cabinet meeting.

“Labour has let down Chiswick, big time. The Chiswick councillors’ petition was one of the biggest ever presented. It was treated as if it counted for nothing, as if residents don’t count. Despite the decision, my fellow councillors and I will continue to fight for the people we represent.”

Turnham Green councillor and Conservative group leader Joanna Biddolph said, “We will continue to support residents and do all we can to ensure CS9 does not have the disastrous impact on the High Road, and our lifestyles, we fear. Several residents have contacted me asking if we would consider a judicial review. Over the next couple of days, I will be talking to lawyers to find out the implications and sounding out residents on the practicalities including costs. If anyone is interested in contributing, please get in touch. [joanna.biddolph@hounslow.gov.uk and 07976 7903446]

“Patrick and I would like to thank everyone who supported us last night in the council chamber and who put up such a spirited, well-informed and cogent fight locally including on social media and by signing the petition. Roula Konzotis and Stephen Donnelly’s presentations to Hounslow’s cabinet were profoundly professional, well-informed and well-researched.  Their impressive factual presentations were notable for their absence of fiction so loved by the other side.  They brilliantly represented residents, including traders whose businesses will face terrible risks from this incomprehensibly dreadful scheme.  Their presentations drew loud, warm, grateful applause and rightly so”.

Photograph by Anna Kunst