Minister pressed on park traffic
as Councillors from three boroughs called on Lord Macintosh to reopen gate
At a meeting with Wandsworth, Kingston and Richmond councils last week, the minister was forced to concede that traffic within the park had fallen by less than 10 per cent.
Yet traffic levels on roads outside the park have soared since the closure was imposed last August. Roehampton Village has suffered most with an extra 250 vehicles an hour northbound during peak periods.
The worst tailbacks are on Roehampton Lane at the junction with Danebury Avenue.
Wandsworth's cabinet member for regeneration and transport Kathy Tracey said:
"Lord McIntosh gave us a fair hearing. He was aware that the closure had not produced any significant environmental benefits within the park and expressed surprise that the displaced traffic had not dispersed.
"He agreed he needed more information on the environmental impact of the closure before deciding whether to make it permanent. He also said he had called for fresh traffic counts on roads outside the park during May.
"The three boroughs were united in their message. The closure has not worked. It has led to increased congestion outside the park with no measurable environmental benefit inside.
"If the minister bases his decision on the evidence he will order the reopening of Robin Hood Gate and so ease the traffic misery for people living on the park's borders."
Lord McIntosh is expected to announce his decision at the end of August - one year after the trial started.
Royal Parks Agency bosses at the meeting also confirmed that Pen Ponds car park would reopen on April 30. Over the Easter Holiday there had been long queues at all the perimeter car parks.
The 20mph speed limit for drivers within the park will take effect on May 10.
The three councillors at the meeting were Tony Arbour (Richmond), Patricia Bamford (Kingston) and Kathy Tracey (Wandsworth).
April 27, 2004