One of the most ludicrous pedestrian oversights in London may soon be fixed.
If you've ever tried to reach the small park at the centre of Parliament Square you'll have searched in vain for a crossing. Not a zebra, pelican or puffin in site. Not even a strategic island half-way across. You have to dash across up to five lanes of traffic to reach the park. In some countries, you'd be fined for jaywalking.
It's not as if Parliament Square is a featureless roundabout. The area contains numerous statues, including Churchill and Mandella, as well as a well-tended lawn and flower beds. It also offers some of the best vantage points for snapping the Houses of Parliament.
Then, of course, there's the protest camp. London legend Brian Haw pitched his tent opposite parliament 10 years ago. His supporters are still there, although Haw is currently absent for medical reasons.
Westminster Council are finally planning to install a crossing, from the corner between Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. But they also want Haw & Co. to shift. According to Council Leader Colin Barrow:
"For too long this camp has dominated the square which should be available for all. We of course, support the right to protest and will continue to do so, but the camping out for years on end has turned the area into an eyesore. I think they have made their point and now is the time to reclaim the square for all Londoners and their visitors once and for all."
Eyesore? It's a small campsite on the edge of a five-lane roundabout. That's like recoiling at a pimple on the Elephant Man's face.
Purely as an exercise in speculation, the logic appears to be:
- Obtain High Court ruling to force the protest camp off the grass (owned by the GLA) and on to the pavement (owned by Westminster Council). Tick.
- Install a crossing so people can get to the island site.
- Island site's pavements can finally be used by visitors.
- Protest camp is blocking this suddenly useable pavement, so Haw & Co. can now be served a removal order for obstructing a public highway.