The Independent London Newspaper
26th April 2019

‘The council’s naked streets policy has stripped us of our customers’

    Sir Jonathan Miller labels removal of bus stops ‘mad’ and calls for rethink on traffic masterplan

    OPERA director Sir Jonathan Miller has called for the reinstatement of a “key” bus stop outside Inverness Street market after traders say its removal has cast doubt over the future of their businesses.
    The bus stop – a known crime and drugs hot spot – was removed from Camden High Street last month as part of the “naked high street” traffic masterplan, designed to improve road safety.
    But traders say its loss has cut business in half in a matter of weeks as elderly customers struggle to carry shopping along the busy high street.
    Now Sir Jonathan, a celebrated opera and theatre director, sculptor, satirist, author and neuropsychologist, is throwing his support behind his local market.
    He is calling for the creation of a “lay-in” where buses can pull over without clogging up the high street.
    “I think the plans are mad,” he said. “The loss of the bus stop means people now have a long walk uphill from Marks & Spencer where they used to be dropped off and only have to walk 30 yards.
    “I’m not saying the single lane should go – what it needs is a lay-in which allows the buses to pull over and stop and still leaves the single lane clear.”
    Dean Cole, who has had a market stall in Inverness Street for more than 30 years, said the move has “killed” his business.
    He said: “My sales have halved. We just don’t see our local customers anymore, especially the older ones.
    “I can understand the thinking behind the changes but they just don’t think about how it will affect local people.
    “I don’t know what the future is for us now – if it carries on like this it could destroy us.”
    Market traders are the latest to criticise the traffic masterplan after cab drivers claimed it has led to extra congestion.
    But the naked street has won support from residents who say it has improved the appearance of the area and road ­safety.
    A Camden spokeswoman said: “The footway around the old bus stop in High Street North is the most heavily
    congested in the street. At busy times there was severe crowding around the bus stop, which created safety issues and obstructed pedestrians.
    “Widening the pavement was not an option as it would disrupt traffic flow.
    “The bus stop was also prone to crime and drug-related activity which was often obscured from CCTV cameras by the bus shelter.
    “Unfortunately the bus stop could not be moved elsewhere on High Street North because of the same overcrowding issues.
    “The nearest bus stop will now be only 95 metres away on High Street South.
    “Although the alternative bus stop is only a short distance away, the council recognises it will cause an inconvenience to some bus passengers.”
    The spokeswoman added that 72 per cent of residents who responded to consultation on the high street supported the bus stop’s removal.
    JOSIE HINTON

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