Safety is being compromised by motorists heading north on Goswell Road lunging into prohibited U-turns, swinging with menace over Fann Street’s busiest crossing point.

For reasons I can only guess at, wind speeds at this corner nudge 50km/h, and images of hapless pedestrians being blown into the path of raging traffic are never far from the imagination.

Safety is further compromised by motorists heading north on Goswell Road lunging into prohibited U-turns, swinging with menace over Fann Street’s busiest crossing point.

Fingering taxi drivers is cruel sport, but they are unquestionably the chief culprits.

A group of miffed residents has taken to the estate’s website about this. Stories of residents risking their lives trying to cross Fann Street are possibly an exaggeration… but only just.

In two separate 30-minute slots, I counted 26 and 29 U-turns, including three by City of London Corporation vehicles and one by a non-emergency police car.

And these unhappy residents are joined by their Barbican neighbours, who are livid that drivers seeking to avoid U-turn detection by the roadside cameras on Goswell Road swoop into the underground car park slip road alongside Blake Tower to perform a three-point turn.

news london
Nigel (holding the A) during the Save Golden Lane campaign

This manoeuvre is not prohibited, but nevertheless dangerous, as many terrified Barbican residents will testify. I’ve been told that the U-turn danger spot is the result of traffic diverted by Crossrail building work at Farringdon.

I’m told also that the City Corporation has not received a single complaint from Golden Lane residents and that we “are good at complaining to each other, but not to City officers”. This came from one of our Common Councillors.

The City Corporation doesn’t make it easy to complain. Once you’ve navigated to the relevant page on its website, you are asked first whether your complaint is a actually a complaint.

Anything the City Corporation considers “frivolous or vexatious” is rejected.

Then, assuming you tick all the boxes, the instructions outline a three-stage process for complaining, the first of which amounts to: “don’t call us, call whoever it is you want to complain about.”

I decided to run a test. Early last month I sent written questions to the City Corporation asking how many fines have been issued for the Fann Street/Goswell Road junction in the past 12 months, and where the revenue collected is spent. I didn’t get an answer, so contacted complaints@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Two days later I got a message advising me to submit my questions under the Freedom of Information Act, which I have now done. Watch this space.

The trouble with complaining is that you run the risk of sounding paranoid, or slightly unhinged, which is probably why many residents don’t bother.

Some, thankfully, do. One of them is a close neighbour in Basterfield House. His name is Nigel.

One of Nigel’s biggest problems is that he is too clever for his own good. He is a retired architect and building surveyor, so when he fires off an angry email to an unsuspecting City Corporation officer about the finer points of the listed building management guidelines, he knows what he’s talking about.

The effect can be intimidating and whenever I start reading one of Nigel’s sizzling complaints (he always copies me in) I picture him sat red-faced in front of a computer screen dripping with a noxious slurry of spit, bile and venom.

His letters all start with an attempt at politeness in the ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ mould.

Unfortunately, Nigel’s courteous opening line somehow can’t disguise the contempt and hostility that is to follow, which quickly mutates into barbed sarcasm along the lines of: “It pains me to bring to your attention the matter I first brought to your attention three months ago.”

It’s hard to say whether Nigel’s dogged attacks have any effect. It might just be coincidence, but after several months of Nigel’s rolling vitriol on the poor quality of the concrete repairs currently in progress on the estate, residents were told that the City Corporation were conducting a detailed investigation. That sounds like a home win for Nigel to me.

For the benefit of his health, I urge Nigel to chill. He assures me that he does, at long, lazy lunches in upmarket restaurants with his son. My concern is half-hearted. I want him to keep ranting.

My parting words with him are always the same: “See you later, Nigel. Stay angry. Carry on complaining.”

 

In this article