Cardiff traffic consultation flawed but council says it will press ahead with changes anyway
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Council bosses have admitted serious flaws with a public consultation on traffic-calming works in Canton but are pressing ahead with the changes anyway.
Lansdowne Road is a main route from the west of Cardiff to the city centre, cars often drive fast down the residential road. Parking is also a frequent problem outside Lansdowne Primary School.
Addressing these problems, Cardiff council is planning to install speed tables and bollards, and to upgrade a pedestrian crossing near the school. Work is due to start this week.
During a public consultation this spring, local residents complained the council was not properly listening to their concerns about the works. They suggested speed cameras should be installed, and said bollards would only remove residents’ parking spaces unnecessarily.
Now the council has admitted the consultation was flawed, sparking wider concerns about consultations to traffic changes elsewhere in the city.
The council is paying £250 to one resident who complained, recognising the time and trouble they took in complaining. Responding to the resident, a council boss apologised and admitted “great concern” about problems in the consultation.
Andrew Gregory, director of planning, transport and environment, said: “I am very disappointed by this lapse in performance on the part of the officers involved in drafting the consultation report, for which I sincerely apologise.
“The problems with the consultation report are of great concern to me and I have taken up the matter with the officers concerned, who have been reminded of their responsibilities with respect to the care and precision required when drafting documents of this nature in future.”
Despite the admitted flaws, the council is pressing ahead with the changes anyway and the works will run from Monday, August 2 until September 19.
Mr Gregory added: “These issues do not override the decision we have taken to proceed with the scheme based upon the plan originally consulted on.”
Residents in the area slammed the council for “disregarding the views” of people who live on the street and will be affected by the work. During meetings held with the council, they suggested alternative ways to solve traffic problems, which were dismissed by council staff.
Nick Morris, who lives on Lansdowne Road, said: “I find this to be a sad and worrying day for democracy in Cardiff when the council can openly disregard the views of residents.
“People in the area had concerns about the scheme, offered some alternative proposals that the council had not considered before, and were ready to support any scheme that would deal with the volume and speed of vehicles on the road.
“The council has admitted to some serious flaws in its consultation about the Lansdowne Road scheme, but has gone ahead with it anyway. This also raises questions about all other traffic schemes in the city and whether the council has ignored the questions by consultations there.”
The council said the work on Lansdowne Road is needed to make the area safer for schoolchildren, and parking on the pavement is illegal despite residents having done so for years.
A Cardiff council spokesperson said: “This scheme is being delivered as part of a package of measures to improve walking and cycling routes in the area. It’s designed to help schoolchildren travel safely to several local primary and secondary schools.
“The scheme involves upgrading and converting an existing signalled pedestrian crossing to a new tabled crossing which will include traffic-calming measures to slow vehicle speeds down.
“Local residents did raise concerns about the impact on lost resident parking on the street. For many years, people have been parking partly, and in some cases fully, on the pavement alongside the zigzag lines on the existing pedestrian crossing. Driving on the footway to park is illegal.
“A new tabled crossing will create a safer crossing environment and will stop vehicles being parked in this manner. In making the decision to proceed with the scheme, the council has had to weigh up the balance between the loss of resident parking and the improvements the scheme will make to schoolchildren’s safety.
“Other residents expressed concerns about the suggested traffic-calming measures saying they would prefer average-speed cameras to be installed instead. The council wrote to one local resident who objected to the scheme, to explain errors were made in the consultation report and that action had been taken to avoid similar errors being made in the future.
“All three local councillors that represent local residents in Canton have approved for the scheme to proceed.
“Following a recommendation from the Ombudsman to the council, one resident did receive £250 in compensation, due to the errors that were made in the consultation process.
“Work to install the scheme will begin on August 2 and is due to be completed by September 19. The council is committed to building the infrastructure to make active travel a credible alternative as we look to reduce air pollution and congestion in the city, and we will continue to consult local councillors and local residents on each scheme that is proposed.”
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