Stand off on Willesden street as pavement war intensifies with Brent Council
14:14 09 September 2016
A contentious meeting held on a Willesden Green street corner ended in a stalemate as residents, council officers and councillors failed to agree on proposed tarmac pavements.
Brent councillors and officers stood with dozens of residents of Chandos Road as they demanded their footway be paved with slabs in the same manner as the “magestic” repairs done on neighbouring Riffle Road last year.
Work was due to start on paving the street with asphalt two weeks ago, the first in a move to tarmac the entire borough, but furious residents demanded a re-think.
Arguments went back and forth over concerns that impermeable tarmac would cause flooding and subsidence of homes and the aesthetic look of asphalt would spoil the look of the quiet, leafy Victorian road.
Chris Whyte, head of public realm at Brent Council, told the crowd: “Brent’s not been able to keep pace with the deterioration of pavements. Tarmac is cheaper and more resilient. We know if we lay asphalt and not slabs, we make a five percent saving. Any street going forward will receive the same treatment.The council has got an obligation to the whole borough.”
Tony Kennedy, head of transportation services, said asphalt was now “the default material” which might be used in conservation areas. He added: “A more sustainable planned approach is required. We’re looking at bring pavements up to standard where we can maintain them in a more economic manner and see how we can make the money stretch further and reduce people tripping.”
One resident said: “It’s a downgrade not an upgrade. You have been putting down lots of slabs. Why don’t you sing from the same hymn sheets and unite yourselves. Riffle Road is brand new, Cranhurst Road is brand new and now you come to tarmac this?
Simon Campbell, who raised issues of flooding, said: “Tarmac is not some magic material that’s maintenance free, it’s used as a quick fix.”
While a neighbour added: “You’ve stirred up a hornet’s nest, you have no idea.”
Cllr Eleanor Southwood, cabinet member for the environment, who was accompanied by Dudden Hill councillors Cllr Janice Long and Cllr Krupesh Hirani, said: “We have a flood risk strategy in place. Our policy isn’t to do something that will increase the risk of flooding but we can double check the advice.”
She added: “The expense of recycling paving slabs is greater over time. My priority is to make areas as safe as they can be. We have faced financial hardship and we have to make our money go as far as we can.”