Judge criticises council and TfL for failing to settle cycle superhighway dispute outside court
CS11 work on overhaul of roads around Swiss Cottage is temporarily halted
Friday, 27th July 2018
Transport for London’s planned revamp of Swiss Cottage
A SENIOR judge has blasted Westminster City Council and Transport for London for failing to settle a “bizarre” cycle superhighway dispute outside of court.
Mr Justice Holgate criticised the two authorities for bringing what described as a “politically driven” case to the High Court yesterday (Thursday).
The council applied for an injunction after TfL announced it was pressing ahead with the first phase of building “CS11” superhighway in Swiss Cottage – despite not having the city council’s approval for the rest of the cycle safety measures around Regent’s Park.
The court heard there had been complete breakdown of relations between the two public bodies since Oxford Street pedestrianisation was scrapped.
Mr Justice Holgate told legal teams he was “exas- perated” with the “antag- onistic” dispute, adding: “I’ve never seen anything quite like this”.
He added: “Why can’t people just get on with it? There is a solution for everything. Why has all this got to be done in an antagonistic way? It should be possible to sort this out. It seems bizarre… Why is the court being involved?”
He said that the public “expects a level of co- operation” between two public authorities. The court heard the dispute will be costing £56,000 a week because of delays in a works schedule that was due to start in Swiss Cot- tage this week.
CS11 is a cycle super- highway from the West End to Swiss Cottage. A long-running row about closing gates to traffic around Regent’s Park has delayed the project.
The council had argued that it has not been able to assess the impact of dis- placed traffic from the works and residents have not been able to respond.
TfL told the court that these “modelling” works could have been done as the works progressed and its barrister Tim Straker QC questioned why West-
minster had stopped working with TfL on the project earlier this year. He told the court: “We perceive that this is politically driven.”
The council backed out of its flagship Oxford Street plan with the May- or of London, who is in charge of TfL, one week before the council elections in May. Residents’ groups had come out against the plan and single-issue candidates were standing in key wards. A war of words has erupted between Sadiq Khan and the council since the col- lapse of the project.
Mr Straker said the decision had changed traffic “modelling” re- search for the CS11 scheme, particular around Portland Place.
Mr Holgate granted the injunction which means no works will be able to take place until full evidence is heard during a one-day judicial review hearing in the same court on September 6.
Residents including St John’s Wood Society chairman Clive Beecham and Hampstead campaigner Jessica Learmond Criqui attended. “We are obviously very pleased,” said Ms Criqui after the hearing.
She added that TfL had barely spoken to anyone about its plans for two years and it needed to be more open with residents.