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Gillespie Road homeowners demand: ‘Close this road rage rat run’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 April 2017 | UPDATED: 07:22 13 April 2017

Paul Kirk, pictured centre in a blue shirt, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat run. Picture: Dieter Perry

Paul Kirk, pictured centre in a blue shirt, has led a campaign for Islington Council to close the Gillespie Road rat run. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

Furious homeowners have demanded Islington Council close off a Highbury rat run once and for all.

The narrow layout of Gillespie Road can cause gridlock at any time of the day at its Arsenal station end.

And the homeowners, sick of daily bouts of exhaust fumes – and witnessing brawls angry motorists brawling each other – have called for the road to be shut off.

It is used by motorists as a shortcut to Finsbury Park and east London, but campaigner Paul Kirk said: “This can’t go on.”

A four-minute video shot at the weekend, shows complete gridlock as two lanes of traffic are unable to pass each other.

Parents believe children are at risk from the amount of vehicles using Gillespie Road as a rat run. Pictured protesting are: Lyra Maresh, aged four, Abigail Henderson, six, Imogen Grace, six, Amir Baqir, five, and Mariam Baqir, three. Picture: Dieter PerryParents believe children are at risk from the amount of vehicles using Gillespie Road as a rat run. Pictured protesting are: Lyra Maresh, aged four, Abigail Henderson, six, Imogen Grace, six, Amir Baqir, five, and Mariam Baqir, three. Picture: Dieter Perry

One woman gets out of her car to remonstrate, while another screams: “You can fit a f****** lorry through there!” One vehicle blares its horn for a full 10 seconds.

And Mr Kirk said: “It’s a pretty awful situation. The fumes from the diesel engines are horrific. It’s unusual for my children to get to sleep before midnight, what with all the noise outside – as well as people screaming at each other. Sometimes it escalates into violence.

“I’ve seen motorbikes riding on the pavements. Cars are forced to reverse ridiculous distances to give way, and because the drivers are so angry, it means they reverse aggressively. So it’s not exactly safe for pedestrians, especially kids. It’s only a matter of time before someone is injured.

“It can happen at any time, not just rush hour, because it’s used as a through route. All the sat navs take them this way.”

Narrow Gillespie Road can cause huge backlogs of traffic at any time of the day, homeowners say. Picture: Dieter PerryNarrow Gillespie Road can cause huge backlogs of traffic at any time of the day, homeowners say. Picture: Dieter Perry

In December, Mr Kirk handed a 100-signature petition to the town hall calling for Islington to investigate traffic solutions.

But he feels the council is not taking it seriously: “We are banging our heads against the wall. They are apathetic. We have raised this issue multiple times. There was no meaningful response to the petition. They just swept it into the long grass.

“The ideal solution would be a series of road closures across the area so these residential streets can’t be used as a rat run. It would force the vehicles to use roads that are actually built for traffic – like Holloway Road and Seven Sisters Road.”

Islington Council said it plans width restrictions in Drayton Park to stop lorries. It has also held “constructive” talks with satnav firm TomTom to request the road is not used for directions.

Transport boss Cllr Claudia Webbe added: “We have had face-to-face discussions with residents in this small stretch of Gillespie Road and I understand their concerns around safety, noise, pollution and the unacceptable behaviour of a minority of drivers.

“As a result we have suggested a range of solutions aimed at reducing these issues, and held a public consultation on some of them late last year. A number have been put in place already and others are currently being worked up.

“We are determined to do what we can – and what is best for all residents – to mitigate the problems in this spot.”


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