The London neighbourhood with rat-running traffic problems where ‘exhausted’ locals need a ‘real solution’

By Staff

Plans to add zebra crossings, trees and benches to roads plagued by rat-running traffic in South London have been scrapped over a lack of support from residents. People living in Tolworth have demanded Kingston Council instead put in place ‘real solutions’ to tackle rat-running in their neighbourhood.

It comes after the council consulted earlier this year on proposals to improve safety and encourage walking and cycling in the area. These included introducing double yellow lines at all junctions which do not have them to prevent unsafe parking, along with adding new benches and trees. Two new zebra crossings were also proposed in Thornhill Road, along with another in Douglas Road and a fourth in Tolworth Road.

But the council’s Surbiton neighbourhood committee agreed to scrap the proposals on March 13 due to a lack of support shown by respondents to the consultation. The committee instead approved minor measures to improve the area, including raised crossings at the junctions of Thornhill Road and Hook Road and Douglas Road and Thornhill Road. The approved plans also involve adding four speed indicator devices to encourage drivers to comply with the area’s 20mph speed limit and markings asking them to slow down, with the locations to be decided in due course.

READ MORE: Surbiton neighbours plagued by road rage drivers slam zebra crossings plan as failing to solve problems

It follows U-turns from the council on previous schemes to tackle traffic in the area. The committee voted in September to scrap an experimental ban on drivers turning left from Fullers Way North into Tolworth Road at peak hours. The measure had replaced the trial road closure of Tolworth Road to vehicles at the junction with Fullers Way North which was introduced in September 2021 and scrapped after it was found to have displaced vehicles onto surrounding roads.

Frustrated residents slammed the council’s response to the issues on March 13. Liz Mitchell described the latest measures as “underwhelming” and argued they would not tackle rat-running in the area. She said: “Two-and-a-half years later we’re still here and we’re still dealing with unhealthy streets, with pollution, with unsociable behaviour, with speeding cars, with coaches and trucks coming down our road.”

She added: “How are we going to get healthy streets when you won’t do anything to attack the root cause of the problem, which is through traffic?”

Kathryn Yates also expressed disappointment at the latest measures and said neighbours are “exhausted” after fighting for “real solutions” to the issue. She added: “What I would like to see is some real measures that make a difference to our lives and to other residents around so it doesn’t become an exhausting process where we feel really that our voices are not being heard, our opinions are not valued and that we really need a proper solution.”

Younes Hamade, the council’s principal engineer, said tackling rat-running in the area is “very difficult” as all roads need to be considered together. Mr Hamade said the “biggest problem” facing the area is traffic coming from the A3 and the council is working with Transport for London (TfL) to address this. He added the latest measures are not aimed at solving the rat-running issue but reducing speeding.

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