- Councillors failed to explain why they blocked two filters requested by residents and MCC Highways that would’ve provided a mile of safe filtered streets off of Manor Road
- They claimed residents should feedback if they want current filter to remain, despite this not being an option in the consultation form
- They claimed other streets must be dealt with first, but streets in question already due to receive extensive measures whilst Manor Road remains unfixed
- They refused to state they’ll keep what little protection Manor Road already has, meaning the space between two parks will return to a dangerous “racetrack”
What happened at the meeting?
Levenshulme councillors still refused to take responsibility for ignoring residents’ feedback and Manchester City Council Highways Service recommendations for a second filter on Manor Road.
Councillors Basat Shiekh, Dzidra Noor, and Zahid Hussain attended our Manor Road Community Get Together event on a chilly and blustery Sunday 30th January to answer residents’ questions about moving the Manor Road filter, and provide much-needed clarity about the proposals for this area.
Why did councillors block the second filter?
Information from a freedom of information request to MCC Highways Department found that:
“local members did not feel that at this stage of the scheme Highways Service should implement additional interventions”
Councillors (referred to as ‘members’ in the FOI) were quick to deny this, with Cllr Noor saying they’ve “never said no”, and Cllr Shiekh claiming they’ve “never rejected anything”, we are expected to believe this despite the extra filters not happening, and an FoI response signed off by the executive member for transport Tracey Rawlins confirming this was the decision of the councillors.
Whilst Highways and Councillors continue to pass the buck on lack of ambition, it is residents who are left with more dangerous streets and no answers. Why were the proposals for an additional filter on Manor Road blocked? What are the councillors going to do next? The councillors again failed to answer these questions.
Cllr Shiekh defended the Cllrs decision (despite it supposedly not being their decision), claiming that “We will not support any additional filters if there is no support for the boundary roads”. Three years into the Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood scheme, we would have expected the councillor to be more familiar with how filtered streets work, and the next phase of plans, but in absence of this we have provided an explanation below:
We have always supported improvements for all streets including boundary roads (as can be seen in our petition), and in fact the two main boundary roads near the Manor Road filter (Matthews Lane and Broom Lane), are receiving extensive pedestrian/traffic calming measures and pedestrian crossings in Phase 2 of the scheme. So now that boundary roads are getting extra support, it must be time for that filter Basat?
Filtering side streets creates a network of protected active travel routes, which means those who may have previously driven their journeys may walk or cycle instead. And fewer journeys taken by car = fewer cars on the roads = better conditions on boundary roads too. They have been proven to be more effective than traffic calming measures alone.
The councillors said residents should “feedback to the consultation” to get a second filter on Manor Road, seemingly unaware that they were receiving feedback in public at that very moment. They also failed to acknowledge that there was still no option to feedback on this filter in the consultation form, meaning many residents would not have been aware they had a say on this area of the scheme.
Why filtering is needed.
Cllr Shiekh continued: “We commit to a safe Levenshulme, if that means it’s filters then it’s filters, if it’s not filters, it’s speed bumps, if it’s speed calming measures then it’s that.” But residents here want filtered streets. This was clear from previous consultations, and this was clear from what the community had to say to the councillors at the event, succintly summed up by one resident:
“Be our voice in these matters and speak up for residents who think that the blockage [filtering] of this street works.”– Local resident
A second filter on Manor Road would create over a mile of streets protected from through traffic, an extensive network of safe streets for walking and cycling, and a community space joining the two parks. No amount of traffic calming or speed bumps will ever achieve that. This plan can easily be achieved with many of the spare wooden planters that are now being replaced by more permanent infrastructure in final plans. When challenged to name another intervention that would add as much value as this one filter, the councillors had no response.
The current situation with just one filter doesn’t achieve this: the filter’s current location creates a strip of road residents have described as like a “racetrack”, where they have had to “scoop dead cats up off the road”. The section of Manor Road between the current filter and the junction with Mount Road acts as a ‘no man’s land’ being claimed by dangerous drivers. With a second filter, it could be reclaimed as a space for community and active travel, just like we showed on Sunday.
And the new proposed location for the Manor Road filter won’t achieve this either. In fact, the proposed new filter location will reopen 6 residential streets to rat-running traffic, and fill the area between the parks with vehicles.
In short, the current situation is good, but not perfect, councillors rejected the perfect solution, and are now taking away what good was left for these residents.
We must keep the pressure on the council.
There was one exchange we felt summed up the councillor’s approach to this area, where Cllr Sheikh stated that if more funding became available down the line, maybe a filter could be added between the parks on Manor Road, to which an exasperated resident exclaimed:
“It’s already there!”
This was met with exasperated laughter from other residents, as it became clear Councillors seem unable to support the positive change this filter has made even when it’s staring them in the face.
This was after residents spent time socialising, having hot drinks, whilst bulb-planting in the planters and litter-picking the street. There was also a chance to try out the different options for cycling around manchester, including the bee bikes and Cargoroo cargocycles, two more avenues by which we hope councillors in Levenshulme (and Burnage) could encourage more active travel.
The consultation period might be over now, but we won’t stop fighting until active travel is a possible safe option for all Levenshulme and Burnage residents, even if councillors refuse to.
You can help by writing to the councillors and voicing your support for a second Manor Road filter and more active travel improvements across the area, including inclusion in both the Bee bike and Cargoroo trial zones.
After all, they told us that the scheme “doesn’t end here”, so it’s up to us all to keep up the pressure and hold them to their word.
Streets for people have leafleted every house multiple times, held public engagement events, spoke up publicly in support of these vital measures at every turn, and yet it is a challenge to find a single public statement of support by ANY councillor in this supposed final consultation phase. It is simply not good enough.
We thank Councillor Sheikh for being willing to have a go at riding in the wheelbarrow of the Cargoroo cargobike, and hope he enjoyed the experience, but for once we’d like for Councillors to lead the way on this project, rather than residents doing all the hard work for them!