At the Inquiry, Roy Dunn, Deputy Borough Engineer and Surveyor, said that Fortis Green was an essential route for traffic and traffic flow was high. The average carriageway was about 30 feet wide at the eastern end but at the 'Clissold Arms' it narrowed suddenly to 19 feet. It was this narrow section which it was sought to improve.
The Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association had protested in 1968. As a result the plan was reconsidered, but no alternative route parallel to the North Circular Road had been found. It was now proposed that the scheme should go ahead, but be limited to the narrow stretch beyond the 'Clissold Arms' public house.
The trees on the north side would be preserved by routing the footpath behind them. Objectors considered that the real congestion problem was at each end of Fortis Green,in(] that bus bays would solve the problem. The Council claimed that the road was so narrow that one parked car stopped the traffic flow in one direction.
L,ocal householders objected to the footpath being put behind the trees. It was claimed that this would preserve the trees, but in doing so it would trap the householders and prevent them from getting their cars out on to the road. The trees were old and large, with some trunks up to a yard in diameter, so they would completely block the view of the road from any emerging car. At present cars leaving a house to join the traffic flow, moved slowly across the pavement width until the driver was able to see the traffic, and only then turned into the road. If the carriageway came right up to the trees, a driver would have to push his car blindly into the oncoming traffic. Accidents would be inevitable
The objectors continued that the suggested road 'improvement' would suck traffic into the area. Indeed the reason why the Council was asking for a 14 foot verge was so that the proposed three-lane road could be turned into a four-lane one in the future.
Fortis Green was one of the few remaining tree-lined North London roads and the trees should be preserved. Trees should not be sacrificed for cars. The objectors then finished with a ringing call to make Fortis Green the turning point in the fight against 'the ever-increasing four-wheel invaders.'
In July 1971 the Minister decided not to confirm the Order to requisition the land for road widening and this strip of Fortis Green, with its overarching trees, was saved for the present. This Fortis Green Protest was part of a much wider protest about the building of an orbital road from Westway, through Camden Town, Hampstead, to Greenwich abd back to Westway in Paddington.
LINK to the Westway Story.in;-
The Growth of St Marylebone & Paddington, by Jack Whitehead, pp. 181-2
The Growth of Camden Town, by Jack Whitehead, pp.126-129