For the last half a decade, Vauxhall Labour has been campaigning for a better Vauxhall: a place where it is nice to live, where people will come work and boost our local economy, and where people will choose to eat out with their families or meet with their friends. For too long Vauxhall has been missing out as people travel to Vauxhall only to catch another bus, tube or train to another area. In the meantime, families living in Vauxhall have had to look out onto an ugly, noisy one-way gyratory – an antiquated system where cyclists continue to die and where pedestrians are forced to make several crossings across dangerous lanes of traffic in order to reach the public transport stations. Vauxhall can be better. Vauxhall will be better.
When I was first elected in 2010 existing Labour Councillors in Prince’s ward (Cllrs Mark Harrison and Stephen Morgan) had already been hammering TfL’s door down to make Vauxhall safer. When Jane Edbrooke and I were elected we joined the fight and made it clear that removal of the dangerous gyratory was the only option we wanted, not one of the 30-odd half-measure options put to us by TfL. It took us three years to get TfL to agree. And now we have an option which enables Vauxhall to be the better place it can be: removal of the gyratory to create a two-way system making it safer for cyclists and motorists alike, retention of a centralised bus stop station, shorter bus journeys, a safer and more pleasant environment for pedestrians, and a thriving town centre with shops and cafes at the heart of Vauxhall.
Removal of the gyratory is obvious. It’s unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians, it’s noisy, dirty and smelly – no one wants a six lane motorway with 1000s of cars and lorries speeding around all day long in their town centre. My parents-in-law think Vauxhall is great because it’s a great place to explore London from. If it wasn’t for my wife Jo and I, they would spend their visits to London eating out in Westminster: they would never have considered Vauxhall a place to spend their leisure time (and money), and Bonnington Square café, the Riverside or Coriander would not have had a look-in.
The proposed scheme is a huge improvement for pedestrians. Taking out the gyratory and putting two-way lanes means that cars travel at much slower speeds and in a more managed way. Six extra crossings tames the traffic and makes crossing Vauxhall whether you are from Wyvil and want to enjoy Vauxhall City Farm or Ashmole Estate to go to the River.
Thanks to suggestions from KOV we have been able to push TfL to close an extra lane of traffic on South Lambeth Road and reclaim it for wider pavements. There will be a new ‘interchange square’ without traffic linking bus stops, the tube and the overground station. Albert Embankment will be widened and planted for a much nicer public space.
The bus stops will remain together which was something that local Councillors and communities were concerned about in the early days. This has been achieved by TfL and most of the bus routes will have shorter journeys. TfL have helpfully put all the new proposed bus journeys online here so you can check what your regular route will look like.
The proposed scheme is better for cyclists, putting in segregated cycling lanes on South Lambeth road and Wandsworth Road, where at the moment there is huge conflict with pedestrians. It also adds cycling routes from and to CS5 from South Lambeth Road down Miles Street, and added to the slowed traffic and introduction of two-way working, Vauxhall will no longer be a death-trap for cyclists.
Of course there are many for whom it doesn’t go far enough or compromises on their specific issue or for their specific geography. I know some who would love to see cars removed entirely, or for their side of the gyratory to be closed at the expense of more lanes on the other sides.
But as a local Councillor representing the whole of Oval and Vauxhall, the need to balance out and accommodate as many needs as possible has to be my goal. And ultimately it is TfL’s scheme and they are the ones who are going to have to implement it and ensure that such significant changes to the inner ring road do not adversely impact on the wider London road network. No one wants gridlock.
I would urge all residents, employees and those who visit Vauxhall to go to the consultation and give their comments. There are further details here https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/roads/vauxhall-cross
I believe that the proposal which TfL is currently consulting on is a good scheme and has many benefits. Of course change is incremental: it happens over time and at different paces. My Labour colleagues and I will certainly be fighting for more improvements going forward as well as making sure that the implementation of this scheme is done in the right way and provides what is promised.
For now, getting this scheme approved and seeing some very positive things happening in Vauxhall is one I will be proud to fight for.