The mother of Eilidh Cairns, the cyclist crushed to death under a lorry in Notting Hill Gate as she rode to work in 2009, has written to the leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) asking to be put in contact to a woman who “masqueraded” as her daughter’s aunt at a public meeting earlier this month regarding a cycleway through Holland Park.
At the meeting, where RBKCannounced it would not support for the Transport for London (TfL) led scheme, a woman claiming to be a family member, and who objected to the cycleway, said: “Had Eilidh been alive today, she would not have supported the scheme.”
Eilidh’s mother, Heather Cairns, has now written to Elizabeth Campbell, the Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, with a copy of the letter posted to Twitter by Dr Robert Davis, the chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum.
Mrs Cairns, a former leader of Alnwick District Council, wrote: “I am the mother of Eilidh Cairns.
“I too have been the Leader of the Council all be it small and rural. Nevertheless at all public meetings in Northumberland participants are required to give their name and postcode to give their comments authenticity and eligibility. Is this not the case in RBKC?
“Had this been the case you would know the name of the woman masquerading as the aunt of Eilidh Cairns and be able to put me in touch with her despite GDPR.
“The person in question reportedly left with the Labour MP, Emma Dent Coad. So someone knows who she is. My request to you is that you ask this person to contact me to explain her behaviour and apologise for having the effrontery to claim to know what my dead daughter would think – no-one can make that claim, she is no longer here to blow out the candles on her cake and make a wish.”
“Secondly,” she continued, “should it ever be the case that Eilidh’s ghost bike, sanctioned by then Mayor of London Boris Johnson, is required to be removed, please make sure that I am contacted before my property is touched in any way.”
Mrs Cairns suggested that the council “might consider funding the play The White Bike written by Tamara Von Wetheren and inspired by Eilidh’s memorial, which constantly reminds people to look out for others,” adding, “whenever I visit the ghost bike some of the residents come and chat, are kind and considerate. I thank them for this.”
She concluded: “Finally, please re-consider your decision. You may lose your position as Leader of the Council, as I did when I supported the controversial building of windfarms but I believed in the scheme and would not compromise. They were built.”
While RBKC said it had taken its decision to block the cycleway after receiving 450 emails expressing concern about the project, road.cc understands that TfL received around 5,000 responses to the consultation, and similar exercises on other schemes have shown overwhelming support for the proposals.
While the part of the originally planned route from Wood Lane to Shepherd’s Bush roundabout, which lies on TfL-controlled roads, is proceeding, the section from there through Holland Park to Notting Hill Gate is on RBKC roads. The council has said it wants to explore alternative routes using backstreets, but campaigners insist these are unsuitable for such a route.
Local supporters of the scheme have also written an open letter to the council asking why it decided to block the project before the consultation was closed, and why its lead member for transport actively campaigned against it.
The campaign group Better Streets for Kensington & Chelsea, made up of people who live, work or study in the borough, is asking for a meeting with the council and said: "We were hoping for safer and healthier streets. We were looking forward to crossing the roads more easily with our children and anyone being able to ride a bike. Now this idea seems to have been just a pipe dream."
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.