A South London council has U-turned on low-traffic neighbourhood plans after locals said the “doomed” trial had divided families and put lives at risk. 

More than 150 residents from several roads protested Kingston Council’s plans to install a bus gate on Thornhill Road on Thursday.

But Thornhill Road residents plagued by drivers fighting on their doorsteps said the bus gate is the only solution to tackle rat-running traffic moved onto their road after the closure of Tolworth Road for the scheme. 

They also raised fears for schoolkids’ safety after claiming more than 4,000 cars go down their road every day on average.

The council voted to scrap the bollard on Tolworth Road and the bus gate at Thursday’s Surbiton neighbourhood committee.

Locals said they wanted a low-traffic neighbourhood but blasted the council’s handling of the scheme for making problems worse. 

They said the authority had only partly implemented the scheme by closing Tolworth Road using a bollard without mitigations, displacing traffic onto Thornhill Road.

Residents of nearby roads including Ellerton Road, Malvern Road and Cotterill Road said this traffic would be moved to their doorstep if the bus gate was installed.

Thornhill Road resident Chris Benham said the council’s experiment with residents’ lives had failed by only installing the bollard so far.

He said: “The fact is a bus gate will prevent large volumes of non-local traffic passing through the neighbourhood.

“These vehicles will not decide to weave through other residential roads, that’s simply illogical. People in a rush will not want to navigate narrow roads, single file with speed bumps – they’ll follow the main roads.” 

Neighbour Liz Mitchell said three people had been rushed to A&E in the past three months and vehicles had been damaged due to the traffic on Thornhill Road.

She said speeding is particularly bad when kids are walking home from school.

But Alexandra Ross from Red Lion Road said: “We feel the present option… pits one road against another and creates a domino effect.

"Close one road and the knock-on pushes traffic onto another. Traffic doesn’t stop with the bus gates.”

Parent governor Stephan John raised safety concerns on behalf of Tolworth School.

He said: “All the actions which have happened up to now and the actions which you have recommended in your report… only put our children and our families in more danger and that cannot be right for a council to make those sorts of decisions.”

Ellerton Road resident Matthew added: “It is morally and politically wrong to sacrifice the wellbeing of residents and the social cohesion of the community for a doomed trial.

"Look at the root cause of the problem and join us in finding a solution that works for all.”

Councillors said it was very difficult to fix the problem for everyone. 

Lib Dem councillor Ian Manders said the roads aren’t designed for the amount of traffic and the bollard had been installed partly due to councillors’ competing ward interests.

He said: “Everyone here is trying to find the best solution that they can for this and whatever comes out of the decision tonight is done with the best of intentions and for the best reasons.”

The committee voted to scrap the bollard and bus gate.

Left turns from Fullers Way North onto Tolworth Road will be banned at peak hours instead, while measures to help Thornhill Road will be brought forward.

The committee will consider the future of the Tolworth low-traffic neighbourhood before the scheme’s 18-month trial ends in June 2023.