Deputy Leader column, 12 February 2021

Published Friday, 12th February 2021

Sutton Scene column from Councillor Manuel Abellan, Deputy Leader of the Council

As a Council, we are ambitious in how we communicate with our diverse communities and capture their opinions. Over recent months, there has been increased discussion across social media, media and across the Council about the impact of Covid-19, Safer Active Greener Streets (SAGS) and many other issues relating to public health and wellbeing. 

Last year, the Mayor and central government made resources available on a time limited basis to introduce traffic schemes on the basis of Experimental Traffic Orders. Despite the time restrictions the Council decided to take up this offer seeing an opportunity to solve some long standing traffic management issues; and as an opportunity to provide a non-car led recovery from COVID-19.

Last night at an additional Council meeting, Environment and Sustainable Transport Committee a report was presented recommending that all schemes be removed. We are hugely disappointed as some schemes like Butter Hill and Worcester Park were working well, but we believe that after considering the legal judgment, this is the prudent thing to do. 

We remain fully committed to reducing traffic and pollution on residential roads and the trials have helped us gather useful data and views from residents. That’s why the report is also recommending that the Council brings back a new process to consult with residents around improved schemes in Worcester Park and Butter Hill and to consult with schools and residents on school street schemes. No other schemes will be brought forward under this program. Any other Highways schemes will be dealt with via our normal LIP process. 

The Streetspace project focused on traffic reduction on residential areas. This will remain a top priority of any scheme. But we want to widen the scope of the new schemes to consider traffic calming measures, junction improvements, traffic signaling, public realm, greening and other interventions. The new process will free us from the restrictive conditions attached to the street space project and focus on the wider healthy streets approach. 

In Sutton, we have always prided ourselves on our consultation and engagement with the community and the new process will reflect these values.