An initial hearing of the legal challenge by several groups over road closures in London took place in the High Court on the 12th of February as part of the judicial review process. According to a report on social media, the hearing by Justice Tim Kerr gave permission for the Lambeth, Hounslow and one of the two Hackney cases to proceed. The other Hackney case was dismissed as out of time (there are strict limits on the time allowed for filing judicial reviews). A case filed by the group OneEaling was withdrawn because the council filed new Experimental Traffic Orders to replace older ones. This is what that group had to say about this:
“Ealing Council shamefully side steps High Court hearing but contributes towards our legal costs.
The decision has been reached NOT to attend court today. We were left with little choice as Ealing Council sought to side step the proceedings by replacing the old ETOs with new ETOs. On Wednesday, Ealing wrote to our judge advising that the hearing should not go ahead because they had made new ETOs that day, meaning the old ETOs that we challenged would cease to be in operation as of 17th February. This would mean us battling in court over ETOs due to expire in 5 days after the preliminary hearing.
This was truly a blatant attempt to sidestep the court case and being held to account for the clear deficiencies in the original ETOs. They claimed that new ETOs were needed because there were ‘substantial changes’ to the original ETOs, specifically, adding of ANPR cameras and allowing Blue Badge holders access to their own LTNs. These changes clearly did not need new ETOs, as they had already swapped out bollards for cameras in some of the LTNs with no amendments to the existing ETOs.
We took legal advice and it was clear that going to court today faced with this new situation was pointless.
Ealing continued their disgraceful shirking of responsibilities right up until yesterday by telling the court that we needed to request a hearing for our costs and they would respond at a later date. In the end, having pushed Ealing, we demanded that our legal costs were met and they agreed to cover a substantial amount in the region of our legal costs incurred to date.
To be clear, whilst not the day in court we wanted we see, this as an acknowledgement they got the ETOs wrong. One only had to look at the new ETOs to see all the changes they have made (whilst not enough) stem from issues we have raised.
The decision to vacate the hearing today was not taken lightly. We are as disappointed as you are to be denied the chance to have the evidence heard and Ealing held to account. However, just so we are clear, this is NOT the end of the road for the legal process.
We appreciate that whilst securing our legal costs is a positive step, this does not get us to where we want to be with the removal of all LTNs. Hence we are reviewing the new ETOs with a view to what further action should be taken. We are already mobilised with a great legal team in place and believe that there are still significant issues with the schemes. They are still unsafe, discriminatory and do not achieve their objectives”.
Note that Rook Irwin Sweeney LLP were the solicitors instructed on the Lambeth and Hackney cases – see https://rookirwinsweeney.co.uk/rook-irwin-sweeney-llp-instructed-in-challenge-to-low-traffic-neighbourhoods/
A cycle lane scheme for Haverstock Hill appears to have been halted but it is unclear whether it has been abandoned or simply being reconsidered.
There is wider opposition to LTN schemes in Camden and a legal fund has been created to oppose them.
See Camden legal fund: https://gofund.me/ba5156b1 for more details.
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