The Camden New Journal published the below letter from me on TfL’s defeat in the High Court regarding CS11.
I note that this was only possible because residents were backed all the way by Camden Conservatives and Conservative-run Westminster Council, while Labour-run Camden were nowhere and actively sniped at Conservatives for standing up for Hampstead residents.
Last week’s judgment by the High Court that CS11 is unlawful is a major win for residents and a vindication of those that have pointed out the flaws in the plan for years.
The scheme is expected to inundate local streets with traffic by making the A41 narrower just at its worst bottleneck: Swiss Cottage gyratory. Westminster City Council made these concerns clear in November 2015, and yet TfL has proceeded with the plans without responding fully to them despite having three years to do so.
In a previous judgment, the court found that CS11 would indeed result in significant rat-running, leading to more congestion and danger on local roads and potentially worse air quality locally.
TfL’s defence was that the Mayor of London has what TfL called the ‘whip hand’ over local councils: that concerns or objections raised by local councils were immaterial and that they could do what they wanted to force through the Mayor’s vision.
If this jars with your concept of local democracy, you’re not alone. It’s even more baffling that Camden Council chose to do nothing to represent local residents or require the Mayor of London to consider all the evidence. Residents had to bring their own legal challenge to Sadiq Khan’s dogmatic and dictatorial approach.
When Camden’s Conservative councillors raised their concern that Camden was shirking its responsibilities, the Labour Cabinet member confirmed he would not be supporting the judicial review. This is despite it being clear that TfL’s claim to be able to assume councils would always do what it demanded would, if vindicated or tolerated, forever limit Camden’s powers on this and other matters.
I am indebted to local residents and to Conservative-run Westminster City Council for bringing the challenge. I am also grateful to Camden Conservative councillor for Frognal & Fitzjohns, Andrew Parkinson, who as a barrister represented local residents pro bono.
But the question remains: why it’s left to local residents, Conservative-run councils, and Camden’s Conservative councillors to stand up for the local area? Why was Camden’s Labour administration missing in action, and how can residents trust it to stand up for them when it refuses to ever say ‘No’ to the Mayor of London on issues affecting our borough?