London is slowly grinding to a halt, one weekend recently we saw the annual Trooping the Colour, slut walkers upstaging the weekly Socialist Worker’s Party protest and to cap, or should that be camp it all, one thousand cyclists discarded their kit to celebrate World Naked Bike Ride, well it did make a change from Lycra. Holland Park Avenue was in need of resurfacing so that was done to complement the extensive works in Piccadilly and Pall Mall.
[A]ccording to last year’s figures Boris employs over 193 at TfL with salaries in excess of £100,000, some of them engaged in keeping his promise in his election campaign to sort out London’s road works and traffic congestion. So is he just a figure-head adept at celebrity photo-opportunities, employing staff who are incapable? Just days after the nude cyclist “protest” weekend a major fire engulfed the upper stories of Marconi House in Aldwych, resulting in the closing of Waterloo Bridge, Strand and surrounding roads, with the inevitable traffic disruption. This incident started at eleven in the morning and London Fire Brigade was quick to notify everyone that it was a major incident that would take a long time to resolve.
The mandarins at TfL spent the rest of their day attending to policy, pensions, and pot plants and paper clips going home for a well earned rest at five; meanwhile LFB were still battling to control the fire.
At ten in the evening the scheduled closure of Blackfriars Underpass took place, presumably to replace the tunnel’s light bulbs. Now both east bound routes were closed, so while our boys from County Hall were at home sipping their chilled Chablis, London again was gridlocked.
In addition to incompetence at County Hall, a leading writer for our trade magazine has suggested that Boris’ ability to reduce congestion is being stymied by left wing councils. It is a powerful argument: For why would we pay these huge salaries to people who are seemingly incapable of delivering (their term) performance. He argues that this council’s intension is to embarrass Boris, a contradiction if there ever was one, into having to pay £300 million to Europe for failing to meet Air Quality Targets.
Why, if we are trying to improve air quality, are Piccadilly and St. James’s becoming 2-way, with proposals to extend 2-way flows to Tottenham Court Road; Gower Street; Baker Street and Gloucester Place? Why is Camden High Street reduced to one lane at Camden Lock with a knock on effect further south? A left turn at Tavistock Place and Marchmont Street had a dedicated traffic light for cyclists this was deemed to be too dangerous, now the left turn is prohibited resulting in traffic being rerouted via Euston Road. The rephrasing of traffic lights on Kentish Town Road have encouraged many to divert up Grafton Road resulting in a £5 million windfall in fines for contravening the timed road closure.
Now, stop me when you’ve had enough, but one last thing; a semi-permanent skip in High Holborn outside the Shaftsbury Theatre causes a tailback to Kingsway, Camden Council could easily have issued a licence for locating it in Grape Street a virtually unused road at the side of the theatre.