Revealed: Levenshulme councillors secretly blocked a more ambitious active neighbourhood trial.

Demonstration of the traffic calmed area highways and residents suggested, but councillors blocked.

Information obtained by Streets for People from a Freedom of Information request shows that Levenshulme councillors blocked additional filters on Manor Road and Dunstable Street, despite them being recommended for addition by Manchester City Council’s (MCC) Highways service.

The trial of filters in Levenshulme, which began in January 2021, included 14 filters, some 9 less than had been previously consulted on, despite those proposals receiving overwhelming public support.

The Highways service, which is in charge of the active neighbourhood scheme, had received many requests from residents for some of the untrialled filters to be readded.

Low traffic neighbourhood trials are supposed to be flexible, with measures added or removed according to monitoring or feedback. Residents supported the readdition of filters on Marley Road, Crayfield Road, Delamere road, Longden Road and Manor Road as the trial progressed.

Highways rejected additional filtering on some of these roads, on the
basis of previous feedback. For Marley and Crayfield, it was suggested Broom Lane would need ‘additional measures’. These measures appear to have never been outlined or considered again. Highways also agreed all current filters should stay, due to them all receiving positive feedback from residents.

However, MCC Highways DID recommend two additional filtersManor Road and Dunstable Street, following feedback and monitoring. The Freedom of Information request reveals that this was however rejected by councillors (otherwise known as ‘members’):

“Following on from the requests for more filters as part of a trial, Highways Service re-visited the filters (the 9 previously omitted) and identified two locations that could be re-introduced as part of a Phase 2 trial in Levenshulme. A second filter on Manor Road and one on Dunstable Street.

However, local members [councillors] did not feel that at this stage of the scheme Highways Service should implement additional interventions.”

– FOI/6322 Manchester City Council Highways Department

This is highly disappointing, because adding those filters in would have created joined-up, safe walking and cycling routes, which are necessary to reduce car use and pollution.

As can be seen in the map below, the additional Manor Road filter (the one to the west) would have created a huge area of safe streets, creating safe walking and cycling routes from Greenbank Park/Playing fields through to the Inspire Centre and the A6.

Current plan/Plan councillors blocked.

Instead, rat-running traffic was allowed to continue using Manor Road, with side roads such as Audley Road taking extra traffic. Councillors knowingly subjected these residents to rat-running traffic, and led residents to believe it was highways, not the councillors themselves, who were responsible for this decision.

The council are now proposing replacing the eastern filter with the western filter, with a slightly tweaked position east of Rushmere Avenue. However, this will only create rat-running problems for the
East part of Manor Road. As new traffic calming measures are added to Matthews lane, motorists will learn Manor Road is now a rat run with nothing to slow cars down, leading to the return of the “drag strip” between the two parks, where people have been able to cross and walk safely during the trial.

The Freedom of Information response shows that both filters could have been trialled together, but councillors blocked this without informing residents.

The blocking of the Dunstable Street filter is also a mystery. This would not only have created a much more pleasant environment for the residents of that road, but also created a safe walking route between the Levenshulme Health Centre and the A6, via the Derby Grove/Carrill Grove East back walkway.

There is a small pedestrian cut-through route shown in green between the two filters.

The councillors must let us know why they lacked ambition for a more connected scheme and allowed residents to be subjected to increased rat-running traffic

Throughout the scheme, we have been told by our councillors that the reason for delays and lack of ambition has been Highways. This information shows that not to be the case – they themselves have reduced the scope and ambition of the scheme, and never discussed this
with residents.

We have written to councillors asking for an urgent meeting to clarify what has gone on here, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated about the situation as it develops.

If you want to ask councillors why these filters weren’t trialled, and aren’t in the final plans, come along to the next online consultation event on Thursday 20th January at 6:30pm, email levyburnageproject@manchester.gov.uk for a link.

To see the full FOI of the 3-month review, including consultation results, click below. Support has only grown as the trial has went forward, and we are demanding an answer from councillors on why they are blocking measures to make us safer against the suggestion of residents and highways.

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Extra info

See below for a full quick sketch of two comparisons, the first being the current filter setup compared to the current final proposal, and the second being the suggestion from residents and highways that councillors blocked. See how much more green (filtered streets) there is on residents plans?

Current plan/New council plan

Drag right to see current plan, and left to see new council plan with no new filters (that changes very little)

New council plan/ Plan councillors blocked

See how the addition of one Manor road filter turns the whole area into a no through traffic zone like the one to the west.