Greg Hands fighting Fulham’s Harwood Terrace ‘traffic disaster’ after ‘whirlwind of public anger’

By Tom Holmes
December 8 2019, 22.55

The closure of Harwood Terrace in Fulham has become the focal point of incumbent Greg Hands’ parliamentary campaign.

The Conservative has held the seat since it was established in 2010, and has consistently attacked the Labour run council’s decision to close the street.

Mr Hands this week went one step further, writing a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging him to step in.

Mr Hands wrote: “The closure of Harwood Terrace is causing severe disruption to the road network in Fulham, the performance of which has already seriously deteriorated as a result of the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.

“Despite the extensive representations made by the overwhelming majority of local residents and I, Hammersmith and Fulham Council has so far refused to end the closure of Harwood Terrace.

“I would therefore be grateful for any comment on if your department could intervene.”

The decision was taken on October 21 to close part of the road for six months as a trial to monitor the effect on traffic.

That decision was a result of complaints from locals about ‘rat-running’ – when motorists cut through side streets to avoid traffic.

The council has been Labour controlled since 2014, and as of 2018, 35 of the 46 councillors are Labour councillors.

Mr Hands said: “This is an absolute traffic disaster caused by the Labour-run council.

“It is totally unacceptable that local residents are now facing delays of up to one hour, and in many cases even longer, just to leave or return to their homes.”

He also claimed that the decision was made against the views of the people of Fulham.

A consultation was held in February, and Mr Hands said the council emailed him acknowledging 58% of respondents opposed the closure.

He added that more than 1,700 constituents had contacted him to complain about the issue.

He said: “Now is not the right time to be implementing piecemeal experimental traffic orders without the broad support of the local residents and proper traffic studies.

“There has been a whirlwind of public anger against the decision.”

Hammersmith and Fulham council has said it would only make the decision permanent if residents supported it after the trial.

A council spokesperson said: “Residents in Harwood Terrace asked us for help. They were fed-up with their small street being used as a rat run, with almost 400 cars an hour speeding past.

“In addition, a number of local cyclists have been knocked down where Edith Row and Waterford Road join King’s Road.

“This is unacceptable. Our new trial scheme aims to make life more bearable for local residents and cyclists.

“We will continue to monitor the results and make a final decision on the scheme in the future.”

This is the second incident of Mr Hands clashing with the council over traffic this year.

On April 10, Hammersmith Bridge was closed for major structural repairs, a process Mr Hands has said he wants accelerated.

He has accused the council and Transport for London of making slow progress on repairing it and describing it as an unprecedented situation, with no completion date for the works yet available.

However, some have accused Mr Hands of politicising a small issue and residents on Harwood Terrace argue that despite his consistent tweets and pictures on Harwood Terrace, their MP refused to speak to them.

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