Campaigners have vowed to continue the fight to save New Malden’s “historic” Fountain roundabout after councillors approved its demolition to make way for European-styled cycle tracks.
The roundabout will make way for the next stage of the mini-Holland project
Councillors met at the Guildhall on Wednesday night to approve the development of four new mini-Holland schemes, including renovations outside Kingston station, Wheatfield Way, between Surbiton and Kingston, plus the removal of the Fountain roundabout.
But the meeting was gate-crashed by campaigners opposing the scheme, who criticised the public consultation and claimed councillors “don’t understand” the roundabout’s heritage.
While a fountain was built at the junction in 1894, it has been rebuilt numerous times since, most recently in 1982 with a fibreglass version.
Councillors voted seven to six in favour of removing the roundabout and installing a crossroads, with the other three schemes also approved.
Lynne Finnerty, of the New Malden Residents’ Association, said: “It’s disappointing. It’s the way they’ve interpreted the results.
“[They] are not against improving safety at that junction, the question was whether this particular scheme was the right one.”
New Malden councillors spoke out against the fountain’s removal, with Ken Smith saying the plans were “a waste of money” and Mary Clark calling for the project to be scrapped.
About 100 residents, bought together by the Malden Independent Community Organisation (MICO), also protested outside the Guildhall.
Its founder James Giles told this newspaper that the group would now be working towards having the decision called in.
But New Malden councillor Terry Paton, who is leading the mini-Holland project, also called Go Cycle by Kingston Council, criticised the campaigners.
Cllr Paton said: “I think it did distort people’s views, because people are being taught about the history of New Malden. It’s about the facts being out there.
“As much as it’s unpopular, for me it’s the safety aspect. We always knew it was going to be a difficult thing to do. I think in the past people have shied away from it.
“We want to encourage more people to cycle and walk by providing better and safer cycle links, footways and crossings throughout the borough.
“Nothing has been rushed through.”
Nearly 1,000 people told Kingston Council their view of the scheme. Of those, 48 per cent supported it and 46 per cent opposed it.
Kingston Council ran four consultations over summer into plans into the next stage of the Go Cycle project – the authority’s name for its various schemes funded by the central mini-Holland pot.
MICO has been campaigning against the roundabout’s removal
Funding was secured from City Hall and Transport for London (TfL) back in March 2014, with the council having applied for the money in December 2013.
The £33m project is designed to improve cycling facilities, road safety and public spaces across the borough.
Of the respondents to the Fountain roundabout consultation, 48 per cent of respondents to the supported the scheme, with 46 per cent against.
Tony Antonio, programme manager for mini-Holland, told the committee the Fountain needed to be removed as the roundabout “is one of the most dangerous junctions in the borough”.
Cyclist Ben Parker, 43, of Rodney Road, said: “I cycle 15 miles a day. It’s dangerous. TfL and What I think the proposals are trying to fundamentally do is make the roundabout safer.”
As part of the roundabout’s removal, councillors also suggested moving the fibreglass fountain to a public space, but no concrete plans have been drawn up.
Construction has already begun on some elements of the mini-Holland project, including a segregated cycle lane in Portsmouth Road.