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Colemanb2
Cllr Brian Coleman of Barnet is now a member of the London Assembly representing Barnet and Camden. Here he explains how removing road humps has saved lives and won votes.

There
are very few occasions when as a Local Politician you can claim to have changed
National Policy. In my long and not particularly distinguished career I can
claim one footnote in the annals of Local Government, a change of attitude
towards traffic calming specifically the now hated “humps”.

When
Barnet Council reverted to Conservative control in 2002 we implemented a
manifesto commitment to begin resurfacing all our Borough roads and catching up
on the long years of road maintenance neglect. At the same time we were
committed to “reviewing” so called traffic calming which meant that
as a road was resurfaced all humps, platforms, tables, chicanes, curb extensions,
cushions and other pointless obstacles were removed and then we consulted about
putting them back. To avoid any legal challenges we introduced an excellent
system of a four part “electoral college “ , one vote  for the Ward
Councillors , one for the residents , one for the Emergency services and one (
and the casting vote if needed) for the Cabinet Member for the Environment. On
this basis humps were never put back as the Emergency Services always objected
to them and surprisingly residents often sick of the noise vibration and
pollution agreed with Councillors that having begged for them a few years ago
they now were desperate to get them out.

The
Emergency services were particularly robust with the London Ambulance Service stating
that 500 lives in London
were lost each year due to delays in Ambulances by traffic calming and the
Borough Fire Commander in Islington complaining that Islington Council’s
installation of humps on A roads was a serious risk to life and limb. Dozens of
Met Police cars at any one time are off the road with damage caused by humps.

As
with anyone who challenges the Orthodoxy of Politically Correct opinion the
combined forces of the entrenched interest groups lead by the Institute of Highways
Engineers and Transport for London descended on my head with Ken
Livingstone even accusing me of wanting to kill children. However attempts by
TfL (or Taliban for London
as they are known by many) to withhold over £1 million in grants owed to Barnet
failed following robust legal advise.

When the
level of deaths and serious injuries on Barnet’s roads fell by one of the
largest percentages in London our critics began to shut up and by last year Ken
Livingstone was admitting that road humps were of no benefit and Ken Clarke said
allowing humps was the worst decision he ever took whilst a Minister in the
1980s .

The
Political
landscape has changed, although many of those previously wanting humps
have
now jumped on the 20 mph blanket zone bandwagon ( pointless ,
unenforceable and
silly in my view) most Local Authorities have now stopped installing
humps and
several have followed Barnet’s lead. If further justification was
needed of our policy, it is immensely popular among the “silent
majority” who never normally bother communicating with Politicians.
Rather
like the brave Conservative Councillors of Swindon who propose to
remove all
speed cameras, local popularity beckons for any Politician who proposes
common sense.

18 comments for: Don’t get the hump

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