When Cllr Alexander undertook her walkabout with BC readers and representatives of the Brockley Cross Action Group and Broc Soc, we discussed the issue and she later vowed to pursue it, to see whether any action could be taken.
Yesterday, Cllr Alexander told us:
"I asked officers to look at the work that had taken place in Hackney and to give me some idea of whether we could take this forward in Lewisham. The result is a report which will be going to Mayor and Cabinet next Wednesday.
"I guess you might find it somewhat disappointing that we haven't as yet identified resources to do the work in Brockley, but I think the report does give a clear statement of intent about the fact that we recognise that some stretches of railing are probably redundant and once a safety assessment is completed, we would like to remove appropriate sections. We will be piloting such a scheme in Ladywell in the next year and I will keep pressing officers about finding the resources do something similar in Brockley."
The report nicely sums up what we've been rambling on about for some time - namely the pointless, counter-productive nature of many railings scattered about London:
The report concludes that Lewisham should avoid using railings except in rare cases where there is a clear, demonstrable need:
"There will be a general presumption against the use of pedestrian guard railing on Lewisham’s roads. Only where it is necessary to avoid trip hazards or there is no reasonable alternative safety solution should it be considered. In those cases, the length of guard railing used should be the minimum necessary.
"As part of the process of de-cluttering the streets, existing lengths of guard railing will be reviewed as opportunities arise. Some guard railing does have a part to play in improving the safety of our road network and a blanket removal of it could be counter-productive. However, it is clear that significant reduction of guard railing can be possible, without impacting on safety."
It also recommends the removal of railings in Ladywell and Brockley, subject to appropriate safety reviews. Conducting a saftety review in every case is obviously extremely important. Brockley Central has no wish to increase the prospects of us, our family or anyone else getting hurt or killed:
Hackney and it is intended to draw on both of these sources."
And not only does removing railings have the potential to improve safety and the appearance of our streets, it could also lead to cost significant cost savings in the longer term:
So while it would have been nice to see action being taken in Brockley immediately, it's great that Ladywell is first on the list and that Brockley is close behind. It's great also that there is now a clear policy from the Council that they will consider the negative impact on the public realm whenever railings are considered and that they have a clear preference for railing-free streets. It's a small but important step toward making Lewisham a more civilised, people-friendly part of London.
Thanks to Cllr Alexander for taking up this cause and for keeping us posted on progress.
Now, about those dog-poo stencils...