The fate of the Wapping Bus Gate lies little more than two weeks away, with the Executive Mayor’s decision due on September 28. The St Katharine and Wapping Ward Panel has been working hard to support the residents of Wapping in their overwhelming wish for the bus gate to stay. And we have used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover key facts that crucially undermine claims in the council’s consultation document to justify removing the bus gate.
Tower Hamlets Council said in its consultation on removing the bus gate there had been a significant number of objections to the Liveable Streets programme from residents and businesses as well as from 1,600 taxi-card holders. The council has now acknowledged the bus gate was a completely separate initiative from the Liveable Streets programme and long pre-dated it and that any claims about complaints over the bus gate were wrong.
1. FOI – CONSULTATION CLAIMS:
REQUEST: We asked in our Freedom of Information request for the number of complaints about the Wapping bus gate.
COUNCIL RESPONSE: “For Wapping there have not been any objections in any year to the scheme."
REQUEST: How many complaints have been received from taxi-card holders over the bus gate.
RESPONSE: “There is no data for taxi card holders in Wapping adversely affected by the scheme."
2. FOI REQUEST TO TRANSPORT FOR LONDON (TFL) OVER ITS FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION TO THE WAPPING BUS GATE AND BENEFITS DERIVED FROM IT FOR THE 100 & D3 BUS ROUTES:
REQUEST: The specific percentage of overall funding provided by TfL for the Wapping bus gate
RESPONSE: "The scheme was delivered by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and TfL provided a fixed £40k contribution under the Bus Priority programme in 2019/20."
REQUEST: Any reasons that TfL felt a bus gate in Wapping High Street would be beneficial to its operations
RESPONSE: Please see the below extract from correspondence with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. This was part of an End of Year Review Borough Audit in August 2020 that states the reasons the bus gate would be beneficial to bus passengers as well as local residents: “Introduction of a bus gate to enable continued operation of the 100 route when through traffic was restricted through the Wapping area. Traffic flow throughout the day reduced by more than half and reliability of the D3 and 100 has been protected as a result of the reduced traffic movement. Reduction in traffic volume and associated noise at peak times when traffic rat runs through Wapping to avoid congestion on The Highway. Maintenance of 100 bus route through the traffic restriction and improved reliability for D3 and 100 services. 6 month review showed traffic flow throughout the day has reduced by more than 40% and reliability of the D3 and 100 has been protected as a result of the reduced traffic movement.”
3. CONFIRMATION FROM LBTH THAT THE WBG IS NOT PART OF LIVEABLE STREETS AND SHOULD BE TREATED APART
RESPONSE from LBTH Director of Public Realm – Dan Jones
“I can confirm that the Wapping Bus Gate report is on the Forward Plan to be considered as a separate item to the Liveable Street report.”
4. REQUEST FOR A MEETING WITH MAYOR RAHMAN, LBTH CHIEF EXECUTIVE WILL TUCKLEY & MR JONES
RESPONSE from Mr Jones dated September 5: "I will be in touch shortly about the request for a meeting with local Councillors and Ward Panel Members.”
Ward Panel members have achieved these illuminating responses under FOI, which in the case of item 1 was only obtained after reporting LBTH to the Information Commissioner’s Office for failing to respond to the FOI request within the statutory 20 working days.
Thanks also to our local Cllrs Abdal Ullah & Amy Lee and London Assembly Member for East London, Unmesh Desai, for their continuing lobbying within the Council for the retention of the WBG.
If you wish to make any representations to the Council in the light of the above disclosures, please contact:
Mayor Lutfur Rahman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Will Tuckley: email@example.com
St Katharine's and Wapping Ward Panel 12/09/2022