Published: 8 December, 2016
CENTRAL London is coming to a standstill. Every other street appears to be the victim of road works.
Blocked traffic and tailbacks are making life a misery for drivers. The social costs must be enormous with late deliveries of goods and higher black cab and Uber fares. It is believed there is no other European capital where traffic moves so slowly.
This is not a sudden new phenomenon. Signs galore have been appearing for sometime.
In what seemed most of November, Camden Road, the main artery linking Camden Town to Holloway Road, traffic was condemned to a nightmarish slow crawl caused by road works outside Camden School for Girls. Traffic was backed up to Camden Town – it took nearly 30 minutes for cars to travel the few hundred yards past the road works.
These particular works were of a small nature and any self-respecting administration would have repaired the faulty road within a few days but work lingered on. Any other European capital would have not allowed a major red route to, effectively, come to a halt for at least three weeks.
This week road works closed off Park Village East, a major link to Hampstead Road. The signposts suggested Thames Water had closed the road though residents suspected HS2 was using the water company as cover for their own plans for the area.
Who is responsible?
Ostensibly, Transport for London. Their planners may have very good reasons for this sudden epidemic of road works though it is hard to accept there is a rational basis for it. But whatever the explanation people are being kept in the dark about it. It is this which makes the public feel powerless, and in the grip of decision-making by what is becoming known as the “elite”.
Thus the traffic crisis, in a sense, reflects a wider malaise of society.
Louise Casey – the author of the government’s new immigration review – came to Camden around a decade ago talking up the now dis-credited and defunct Anti Social Behaviour Orders (Asbo). She was for many years the face of Tony Blair’s attempt to tackle “yob culture” and was dubbed the Asbo tsar. We did not think much of her then and we do not think much of her now.
She was, however, knighted this year and it appears the new Dame Louise is stoking controversy once again, this time criticising Muslims and calling for immigrants to swear “an oath of integration with British values and society”.
It seems Dame Louise is the go-to official for whatever hot button social issue a government wants to whip-up.