Croydon Decides on ANPR to Close LTN

The Cabinet of Croydon Council has approved Councillor Muhammad Ali’s decision to implement ANPR cameras in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood area to enforce a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This is despite all the evidence, opposition from local residents and a public consultation. This decision also affects residents in the adjacent borough of Bromley who may yet have some say in the matter (they previously threatened legal action).

The previous closure created horrendous traffic congestion and no doubt it will now come back. This is a completely undemocratic decision and the only option remaining is probably a legal challenge for which we believe there are good grounds.

Although there may be some exceptions made to the enforcement, these are public roads which should be available to everyone.

You can obtain the 450 page report to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee on the 23rd March on which the decision by Mr Ali was presumably based from here: https://tinyurl.com/a4j9ysn5

Roger Lawson

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Telegraph Summarises Surveys Against LTNs, and John Redwood’s Blog Article

The Daily Telegraph has published an analysis of the 10 consultations on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) that local councils have reported to date. Three quarters of the people consulted over LTNs and cycle lanes opposed them.

The councils reporting their survey results include Harrow (82% opposed) and Windsor + Maidenhead (89% opposed). One exception was Bromley though with 64% supporting but their schemes are very limited in scope.

The newspaper also reported that one in three councils have axed, modified or reduced their active travel schemes. They also quote Tony Devenish, Conservative London Assembly Members as saying: “My Government is at fault to some extent, because they gave councils the power not to publicly consult for up to 18 months. You can’t just do these things to people. There has been absolute outcry from the Great British public – and that’s why so many councils have had to U-turn”.

But some Councils such as Lewisham have avoided doing public consultations despite promising to do them, or they keep moving the goalposts by changing the nature of the road closures (for example by changing them to “School Streets” or by reissuing Traffic Orders to avoid legal challenges).

Comment: Such public surveys show that the general public (even those who don’t own a car but rely on public transport such as buses), are opposed to the obstruction of our roads. Roads are essential for the movement of people and goods.

In Praise of the Car

John Redwood, M.P., has spelled out the advantages of cars in a good article on his blog (see Reference 2 below). He says: “Acquiring your first vehicle is a major advance in your personal freedom. Yet today government, Councils and better off greens from the security of their homes in major cities lecture the rest of us on the wickedness of the car. The better off Green city dweller can rely more on the tube or mass transit and has the money for taxis when needed. The aim is to get people out of car ownership or to reduce their use of the car, and in the meantime to cow people into keeping quiet about their reliance on this flexible and most popular form of transport”.

He explains at length why cars are more practical and economic for most of the journeys which he takes. A number of good comments have been added. I hope Grant Shapps reads the article.

Reference 1: Telegraph Article: https://tinyurl.com/2d44vbcn

Reference 2: Redwood Article: https://tinyurl.com/cchhcurc

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Millions Collected in Fines from LTNs

The Times have reported that drivers have racked up £14 million in fines in London in just a few months by driving into Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). Cameras were introduced to stop people driving through “bus gates” or into these zones instead of using physical barriers as the latter prevent emergency vehicles from accessing the roads.

The penalty for driving through the cameras is £130 and many people have collected PCNs because they have not noticed the signs. An extreme example given by the Times is that of Ivan Izikowitz who collected 58 fines totalling £7,500 after temporarily leaving home to help his wife in Lewisham.

But there are many other examples reported to us of people collecting fines about which they are very angry. Roads which were previously opened and regularly used catch people out, particularly as satnav systems have often not been updated to take account of the closure.

The £14 million total was collected in just 10 London boroughs and Lewisham obtained more than any other borough. Lewisham and other boroughs are of course keen to extract more money from motorists to help with their budget problems, but there is no justification for this behaviour.

The road closures should be removed as the Covid pandemic does not justify them and they have many other negative consequences.

Times article: https://tinyurl.com/b8u2hyzb

London road closures: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/london-road-closures.htm

Lewisham campaign against closures: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm

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Dulwich LTN in Southwark Borough

One of our contacts has received the following from One Dulwich who are opposing the road closures in the area. It includes a link to a brilliant YouTube video showing the resulting traffic queues:

One Dulwich
Your Action Needed Dear all, Six key issues that need your urgent action this week:

1) Register for the May review If you haven’t already done so, please register for the May review of the current Dulwich LTNs. Our report on ‘Who closed Dulwich Village junction?’, which looks at an earlier review in 2019, raises serious concerns about the Council’s ability to run a public consultation. The process was poor, data was misrepresented, and there is evidence of bias and selective reporting. You can read our News report here. We hope the new review will be fair and transparent. When the Council finally publishes its plans, we’ll analyse the structure of the consultation – and any published data – and share our thoughts with you, in case this is useful before you fill in your response.

2) Where has all the traffic gone? A good visual summary of local traffic displacement can be seen here. Please watch and share.

3) Urgent: your written objections by 16 May Now is the time to make your formal written objections to the Streetspace ETOs on Burbage Road, Dulwich Village, Townley Road and Turney Road that came into force on 16 November. You might want to question the 24/7 closures that gave rise to them, or object to the length and/or timing of the restrictions, safety concerns, or the way these measures have displaced traffic. Please send your objections to traffic.orders@southwark.gov.uk quoting the reference TMO2021-EXP16_LSP Dulwich 2. As always, you can copy in the decision-maker catherine.rose@southwark.gov.uk, highways@southwark.gov.uk and, if you’d like to, onedulwich@gmail.com.

4) The Dulwich Society’s future policy We hear that the Dulwich Society – regularly consulted by the Council on all Dulwich issues – will hold a Special General Meeting on 28 June to discuss its policy on travel and environment. How will the Society position its response to the review in the light of this discussion? If you’re a Dulwich Society member (annual fee £10 per household), please put this date in your diary: more details from secretary@dulwichsociety.com.

5) Posters and leaflets We have teamed up with the Dulwich Alliance to produce leaflets (see www.dulwichalliance.org) and posters objecting to the current road closures. If you’d like to display a poster in your window, please contact dulwichalliance@gmail.com for more details.

6) Please contribute to the fighting fund As part of the Dulwich Alliance, One Dulwich is delighted to see that donations to the fighting fund to produce campaign leaflets and posters, and to progress legal advice, have now reached £12,000. Thank you! Please continue to spread the word. Contact us with queries, offers of help, or new information, via onedulwich@gmail.com. Best wishes and thanks again for your support,   The One Dulwich Team  SUPPORT ONE DULWICH 

Please support the One Dulwich campaign.

Roger Lawson

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Another London Borough Scraps LTNs

The London Borough of Harrow is to remove cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) after a formal review and public consultation.

LTNs in the Headstone South, Francis Road and Vaughan Road schemes were opposed by between 65% and 80% of respondents to public consultation. The Council also claimed they increased congestion, increased air pollution and delayed emergency services.

The decision to remove the schemes was taken at a Cabinet Meeting on the 29th April. This is what the Leader of Harrow Council Graham Henson said:

“It is clear from the statutory consultation undertaken over the past six months that there is little support for the cycle lanes and low traffic neighbourhoods implemented as part of the national initiative.

And so, the decision to remove these experimental schemes is the right one for Harrow – we will keep residents informed about when this will take place.

We have listened to and understand residents’ concerns about how the schemes were implemented. Going forward the council will do things differently – engaging with our residents to shape projects before they are implemented.

We have some difficult decisions ahead of us to make our streets safer for all road users and reach our Climate Emergency pledge to lower emissions in the borough and be carbon neutral by 2030 but we will approach this challenge together in partnership with our residents.”

The Council is still persisting with their plans for School Streets.

Harrow Council Announcement: https://www.harrow.gov.uk/news/article/10913/council-to-remove-cycle-lanes-and-low-traffic-neighbourhood-schemes

A good report by the Daily Telegraph on events in Harrow is here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/04/17/green-road-schemes-ripped-council-landmark-decision-following/

Comment: Harrow Council is Labour controlled but by a slim majority over the Conservatives. It is remarkable how quickly the above decision was taken and it seems clear that the public opposition to the schemes had a big impact on the views of Councillors. It is good that Councillors did pay attention to the views of their electorate unlike in other London boroughs where dogma has overridden common sense.

Roger Lawson

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Mayoral Race Hotting-Up

The campaigns to get elected as the next Mayor of London are getting more active. For those who are considering voting for Sadiq Khan, an article published in the Independent makes it look like an ominous choice for anyone who wants to drive in London.

The article said that he vows to press ahead with controversial plans to get Londoners out of their cars.  The current Mayor said to the Independent that we “need to make sure we don’t go from one health crisis of Covid, to another one – even worse – of air quality”. Of course this makes for good political banter but it is untrue that air pollution is a major health crisis. It is certainly worth improving what air pollution there is in London as it might tackle some health issues but it has been steadily improving for years and years in most areas. Londoners have been living longer which puts a lie to the claim of major health crisis. Air pollution has only been highlighted in some locations recently because of the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) which has made things worse, while sources of air pollution other than vehicles are ignored.

Sadiq Khan said this in the article: “Our roads should be limited to blue light services, to electricians, to plumbers, to commercial drivers, to taxis, to those that need to use our roads – delivery drivers and so forth – rather than individuals that could be walking, cycling and using public transport”. So it seems those who wish to drive their family to their friends or relatives elsewhere in the country should be banned from using London’s roads. And doing a week’s shopping and carrying it home or visiting doctors should also be banned. Meanwhile the hypocrite that he is drives around in an armoured Range Rover (cost: £300,000 according to the Mail OnLine).

The Independent article is a classic example of how to throw mud at your opponents and to ignore the desires of the residents of London to have the LTN roads re-opened. See article on the link below for the full horror of what Mr Khan believes which includes some very misleading comments about his opponent’s policies.

To read about all the candidates and their policies in a less biased form, read this previous blog post:  https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2021/04/10/london-elections-runners-and-riders/

The Independent Article: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/london-mayor-sadiq-khan-traffic-b1834758.html

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Times Covers Delays to Emergency Services from LTNs

The Times newspaper covered the delays to fire services yesterday (29/3/2021) caused by the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

They reported that slowed emergency responses caused by traffic calming have jumped by more than one third in London boroughs. The article suggested that frontline workers were concerned that management was ignoring the problem due to political pressure. The Times notes that one serving officer, who asked not to be named, said: “The bosses are controlled by Sadiq Khan and don’t want to upset him as he controls the budget”. Another quote supplied was “They don’t even want bollards with keys as it takes too long. When it comes to strokes or heart attacks, every second counts.”

See full article here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/3248bade-8ff6-11eb-930d-e9e6e3751f8f?shareToken=7e22feaa3656a60f5cfdf82e77775245

We covered the issue of emergency service delays in a note to our Lewisham campaign supporters which included the following evidence:

Many examples of delays to ambulances, police and fire service vehicles caused by road closures, road narrowing by cycle lanes and modal filters have been reported across London. The following letter from a paramedic was recently published in Private Eye.

Dead-end roads

Sir,

I saw the cartoon (Rotten Boroughs, Eye 1538) depicting “low traffic neighbourhood” barriers in Ealing preventing ambulance crews from getting to jobs. These are now pan-London and in Lewisham and Crystal Palace have caused severe delays getting to cardiac arrest calls.

On a recent job we were literally at the end of a street adjoining the road the cardiac arrest was on. Due to the barricade we had to take an almost five-minute detour around the side streets before we found our way to the address. Five minutes probably doesn’t seem long to whoever came up with the idea of the barriers, but to a London Ambulance Service (LAS) crew trying to get to a cardiac arrest patient and give that first shock, it slashes our chances of a viable resuscitation. In this case the patient did not survive.

We’re not able to call attention to the issue because our internal problem-reporting software only allows us to report equipment or personnel failures within LAS; there is no way for us to quantify’ the number of fatal delays caused by the council’s arbitrary road closures and no structure in place for us to report this. With the huge spike in Covid-related cardiac arrest calls we’ve seen in the past few months, these barricades are literally killing patients. Private Eye is the first publication I’ve seen so much as mention it.

PARAMEDIC (name supplied), London.

<END>

Residents who live within LTNs may have quieter roads but they need to bear in mind that their lives will be threatened if they suffer a medical emergency.

The Daily Telegraph also reported on a Freedom of Information Act request handled by the Borough of Greenwich. It included some comments from the London Ambulance Service:

“The London Ambulance Service (LAS) cannot support any scheme that involves the closure of a road to traffic using static bollards, lockable bollards, coffin bollards, gates or physical barriers like planters. The main reason for this is our vehicles do not carry any form GERDA or FB keys to access these obstacles and delays can be detrimental to patient safety.

Existing schemes already create us problems and gates and bollards are not generally routinely maintained pan London and are difficult to unlock anyway.

The nearest available ambulance is dispatched to a 999 call so we do not profile emergency access routes like the LFB because any crew from across London can be dispatched if they are nearest and this might not be a local crew.

Any delay in response to an address behind closures could be detrimental to patient safety and cause serious harm, injury or even death to a patient due to the ambulance response being delayed.

Consideration also needs to be given to the wider health and social care providers who will need access to address and are on tight schedules. Patient transport ambulance picking patients up for chemotherapy or dialysis appointments, district and community healthcare teams and social care carers will all be delayed by having to navigated additional road closures and restrictions leading to delayed care, welfare issues, humanitarian concerns and potential for emergency admission as a result of delays. Addition missed clinical appointments has a detrimental effect on service delivery and patient flow through the NHS system. Consideration of exemptions for these staff through restrictions would also need to be given.

Although the LAS does support the need to ensure social distancing this cannot be at the detriment of patients calling 999, but currently the use of any kind of bollards/gate/planter to close road is not acceptable”.

Clearly the “modal filters” used in so many LTN schemes are not advisable such as those used in Lee Green. Such objections may be why Councils are now installing camera systems to close roads instead. But that just creates complaints about the number of PCNs generated through inadvertent mistakes.

It is very obvious that the supporters of LTN schemes are ignoring the clear evidence of the impact on emergency services.

Roger Lawson

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Have Lewisham’s Road Closures Made Our Streets a Predators’ Paradise?

There has been much debate of late about the safety of women when walking the streets of London. The following article is written by a resident of Lewisham and gives her views on the subject and the impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods:

Over the course of my 40 years spent living on Burnt Ash Hill, I have walked home from the train station or the bus stop after a night out many, many times.   Advice to women who are walking home alone recommends that they should try to stick to well lit, busy streets.  In this regard, I count myself lucky to live where I do because there is always traffic.  This may well give a false sense of security because not every driver will stop if they see an incident happening in the street but there is always the hope that the approach of a car will deter or at least disturb a potential attacker and may lead to someone intervening to prevent something bad happening.  But what is it like to walk at night on the roads that have been closed by Lewisham Council on the pretext of the Covid pandemic?  Their justification is that it will improve the ability to socially distance.   But does it really make the streets safer?

To answer that question, I decided to walk along two streets that have been closed.   Admittedly, when I left home at 6.45pm it was not completely dark, but it was close enough as I didn’t want to be out much later.  Walking down Burnt Ash Hill it was reassuringly busy and crossing over the South Circular and down to the shops where the lights from the shop fronts allowed me to make out the colour of the jacket worn by the man in front of me allowed me a measure of confidence.   This changed when I turned left into Holme Lacey Road.  At the road closed sign, I turned into Dallinger Road.   The further I walked along this road the quieter it became as the traffic noise decreased almost to nothing.   From the start of this road to the end just one car passed me and the family travelling in it parked up and went into their house.   Further along, a woman was collecting her child from the minder.  She got into her car but had to turn around in the road so would not be driving past me.   Just one cyclist rode by.  I emerged and turned right onto Manor Lane and then right onto Holme Lacey Road.  By now, the light had faded, and it was fully dark.  No vehicles passed me there.  I was happy to get back to the bright lights of Burnt Ash Road. 

When I was doing the walk, catching the virus was the last thing on my mind.  I was more concerned with getting out of the closed roads in one piece.  I would not want to do this walk, alone, after catching the last train home. 

Of course, the flip side of living on Burnt Ash Hill is that when lockdown finishes these road closures will once again lead to queues of traffic outside my front door for three to four hours a day.  It is not the virus that will kill me now that I have had the jab.  It is the toxic air that is created by the traffic jams.  In the meantime, potential predators seem to have been given a helping hand for which I am sure they are extremely grateful.

Christine Warwicker

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Tories Abandoning London?

There was a good article in the Telegraph by Allister Heath yesterday about the Tories abysmal showing in London politics (they are likely to lose the Mayoral vote to Sadiq Khan in May if you believe the latest poll results). This is some of what he said under the headline “The Tories have abandoned Sadiq Khan’s London to a doom-spiral of permanent decline”:

“The reality is that while the Tories will happily take your tax money, they won’t lift a finger to help you. They prefer to help Khan: refusing to criticise the Met Police’s deplorable performance, which the mayor is ultimately responsible for; handing over billions for Transport for London, chaired by the mayor, without seizing genuine control; and promoting Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and anti-car measures that infuriate Tory voters. Covid should have been a chance to force an insolvent London mayoralty into special measures, and engineer a renegotiation of the dysfunctional devolution settlement; instead, Labour has been handed victory on a plate.

London’s “agglomeration economics” model is based on a massive, almost self-financing public transport infrastructure ferrying workers into central offices. Much of that will return, but even a 10 per cent permanent decline in commuter trips will bankrupt the transport system, forcing higher taxes and user fees, further discouraging demand.

At some stage, remote working will trigger Beeching-style cuts, tipping central London into a spiral of decline and dispersing economic activity across the nation and even the world.

Dense cities generally require more state intervention, planning and spending than exburbs. Instead, the Tories are pursuing an urban policy indistinguishable from Labour’s, have fallen in love with neo-communist ideas such as the 15-minute city – good for childless 20-something Deliveroo addicts, terrible for extended families, religious and cultural life and school choice – and transport policies that lock in ever greater levels of public subsidy.

The Government appears oblivious to all this, and has decided that it wants to win Hartlepool, not Harrow. Why not both? In abandoning Londoners to long-term decline, while simultaneously and mindlessly embracing Left-wing urbanism, it is betraying not just its electorate but also the country’s long-term interests”.

Comment: Many London boroughs are now so dominated by extreme left councillors that they pursue extreme policies with glee and without opposition. There is no active local democracy in such circumstances. Some London councils have only Labour councillors, i.e. no other parties represented and no independents.

It certainly seems that support for Tory mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey is waning although there are a number of other contenders for the job of Mayor. My position is that Sadiq Khan has done a very poor job. His policies have been divisive and he has not tackled the big issues in London of housing, crime and transport while running up massive financial deficits. The road network is becoming paralysed by the growth of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, a policy actually promoted by central Government and Conservative ministers.

Sadiq Khan seems to prefer to spend more time on attacking the Government and playing politics than actually doing the job he was elected to do. Only a few years ago the common saying was “Vote for anyone but Ken” in the era of Ken Livingstone after the public became disillusioned with his performance. Now the saying is surely “Vote for anyone but Khan”.  

Roger Lawson

Full Telegraph article here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/03/17/tories-have-abandoned-sadiq-khans-london-doom-spiral-permanent/

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Why LTNs are Failing, and Deserve to Do So

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are still spreading over London but opposition to them is growing. Some have even been removed or substantially reduced already due to local opposition. It’s worth reviewing why they have failed or generated such opposition, and why they are even being installed in the first place.

The support for LTNs comes from a desire to reduce traffic, particularly on residential streets. This is promoted by their supporters as a way to reduce air pollution and to tackle climate change. A number of London councils have declared “climate emergencies” which they say justifies an attack on the use of vehicles, particularly internal combustion driven ones. But this has extended to halting the use of all vehicles which it is argued will  reduce traffic accidents, enable children to play in the streets and encourage people to walk and cycle, thereby making us healthier and live longer.

Even those who own vehicles (about 50% of London households own a car) would like to see less traffic as high traffic levels cause congestion and hence extended journey times. Many residents who own cars want to drive via the shortest and least congested routes possible but don’t want folks from adjacent neighbourhoods driving down their street.

There are undoubtedly good arguments for encouraging healthy life styles not just for your personal benefit but because it reduces the cost of the NHS which we all pay for out of taxes. However the introduction of LTNs as a solution to excessive traffic has followed the law of unintended consequences. Firstly they tend to simply redistribute traffic from minor roads onto surrounding major roads. Those roads become more congested and as the traffic is slow moving or stationary, it creates more air pollution for residents of those roads not less.

LTNs do not reduce the demand for travel. They might encourage the use of walking or cycling by the healthy and young cohort of the population but there is very little evidence of a significant change in the habits of existing car drivers. In other words, the claimed “modal shift” generated by “modal filters” and such like is frequently a mirage. The traffic does not “evaporate” as claimed but gets redistributed or delayed as circuitous routes are taken. The elderly and disabled are particularly disadvantaged as they may be unable to walk or cycle far, if at all. But their needs are frequently ignored by council planners who tend to be young and unsympathetic – indeed the Equalities Act which protects minorities is often not properly considered.

Of course it does depend to some extent on how well designed is an LTN. It has been long standing practice to close some minor roads to avoid excessive traffic which should be on major roads. At least that is the theory but in London even major roads are commonly roads on which people live in apartments, i.e. they are residential roads also.

Other roads such as major shopping “high streets” have been pedestrianised to the advantage of shoppers and retailers. This writer certainly has no objection to such measures which remove traffic to other roads as long as the needs of the disabled are taken into account.

Although overall vehicle ownership and traffic volumes have actually not been rising in London in the last few years, the closure of roads, the addition of cycle and bus lanes, and other measures such as removal of gyratories, more traffic lights with reduced timings and more pedestrian crossings have resulted in more congestion. The growth of ride hailing apps such as Uber have also contributed to more congestion in some parts of the capital.

The population of London has been rising rapidly, encouraged by Mayors of all political complexions. This has put more pressure on transport and on housing provision. Even public transport has become heavily congested while buses are delayed and become less attractive to use by the traffic congestion. The rise of deliveries of internet orders by LGVs has also increased markedly leading to higher use of minor roads which has also been supported by the use of Satnavs.

What can actually be done that would really reduce traffic in London and cut air pollution? Here are some more realistic ideas:

  • Reducing air pollution by obstructing traffic (a typical focus of LTNs) simply does not work. The solution is to produce vehicles that generate less pollution. In fact this is well on the way to being achieved by Government regulation and taxation, and by improved diesel/petrol engines.
  • Reducing the population of London would relieve the problem of traffic congestion, public transport congestion and housing insufficiency. Why does no politician advocate it?
  • Investing in expanding and improving the road network would also help while putting in LTNs does the opposite.

Note that none of those measures will actually do anything about climate change, whether you believe in man-made global warming or not. The contribution of road transport to CO2 emissions globally is only 18% and is falling while emissions from aircraft and shipping is rising. Meanwhile other sources such as home/office heating, industrial processes and construction are very big contributors. These emissions do of course directly relate to population levels so that’s another reason for reducing the population.

But global emissions are dominated by the big and populous countries such as the USA, China, India and Russia. The UK only contributes about 1%. So when local councillors such as Councillor Scott in Croydon suggest we are all doomed unless we cut vehicle use, he needs to go tell it to Joe Biden et al. 

The UK is already focussed on achieving net-zero carbon emissions and is well ahead of other countries in that objective. But whether it is economically practical to achieve that, or wise to even aim for it, has yet to be confirmed. But it is certainly the case that putting in LTNs in local boroughs will have absolutely no impact on the outcome.

Regrettably many local councillors seem to think they got elected to save the world rather than sticking to their job of listening to their local electorate and improving their borough by practical steps. Even central Government politicians have fallen into this trap, hence the encouragement with funding from Grant Shapps, Transport Minister, for LTNs.

In the meantime all LTNs are doing is creating enormous inconvenience for many of London’s residents to no purpose. It’s like a religion where supporters of LTNs claim benefits which are unproven but they think all you need to do is believe in them and the world will be a better place. No it will not be.

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