Sadiq Khan’s Book and Tower Hamlets Legal Action over LTN

Sadiq Khan is publishing a book he has written. It’s called “Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency” and links air pollution to climate change. Khan was diagnosed with asthma a few years ago at the age of 51 – in other words he suffers from “adult-onset asthma” which is moderately rare and can be caused by a number of different things – but not usually background air pollution. Since then he has been promoting restrictions on vehicles to improve air quality and to raise taxes to support TfL such as the ULEZ scheme. But there is no evidence that the ULEZ scheme has reduced the incidence of asthma which is rising from other causes.

Without reading it (it’s not yet available) the book seems to be a manifesto for climate activists. One wonders how the Mayor found time to write this book as he has so many other problems to deal with. Perhaps it was ghost written.

One can sympathise with anyone who has asthma, but this book already looks like a political manifesto to justify the Mayor’s actions rather than a scientific analysis of air pollution or climate change issues.

Tower Hamlets

Another item of recent news is the threat of legal action over plans to remove road closures in Tower Hamlets after the election of Mayor Lutfur Rahman who had it as a manifesto promise. A group called “Save our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets” is raising money for a legal challenge via a judicial review and has raised over £13,000 so far.

A particular focus is on the closure of Old Bethnal Green Road under the “Liveable Streets” programme (see photo above). This was a “B” road and carried as many as 8,000 vehicles per day it is claimed – that surely demonstrates how important it was as part of the local road distribution network!

Comment: The grounds for a judicial review seem poor and the groups budget for it totally inadequate even if it is permitted. Councillors have wide discretion on decision making so long as it is not perverse. The basis of the challenge is poor public consultation but even if the case was permitted and won it might just result in more money being wasted on more consultation. This attempt to overturn the will of voters should not be allowed.

Roger Lawson

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Spurious Evidence on the Benefits of LTNs

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) have been justified on the basis that they reduce traffic and encourage more active travel (walking and cycling). The main evidence used to support this claim is a report prepared for and paid for by Transport for London. It was written by Dr. Rachel Aldred et al – see link below.

Dr (now Prof.) Aldred from the University of Westminster has written extensively on the benefits of active travel schemes, was actually a trustee of the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) when the report was commissioned and her work has been funded by TfL. The Mayor of London does of course have a policy to encourage more active travel and has been funding LTN schemes. In summary therefore both the commissioning organisation and the researchers were not independent but had an in-built conflict of interest in the outcome of the research.

The report is a “longitudinal” study of three London boroughs – Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest over the years 2016 to 2021. The results are based on survey respondents who lived in the area.

How were the survey respondents recruited? Initially by random household sampling but after a very low response rate they added people from TfL databases of Oyster users and cyclists. Hardly an unbiased sample!

Were there actual changes in travel behaviour during the phases of the study? There were reported reductions in minutes of car travel in the past week but also reductions in minutes of cycling and walking. But this was a period when the Covid epidemic was rampant and there was much more working from home, and avoidance of travel in general.

Were the changes in travel modes statistically significant anyway and were there adequate control groups? We do not know.

In summary this report is quite useless as a scientific study of the impact of LTNs.

People and Places Final Report – available from here: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/cycling-and-walking

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Greenwich Transport Policy – Have Your Say

Greenwich Transport Policy – Have Your Say

The London Borough of Greenwich is conducting a public consultation on future transport policies using the Commonplace platform. To quote: “The council has ambitious plans to make the borough greener, healthier and more connected, with a particular focus on how walking, cycling and public transport can be improved”.

They say this in the published Transport Strategy document: “Having declared a climate emergency in June of 2019, this strategy supports the Royal Borough’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and supporting a green post-pandemic recovery. Transport is the second biggest source of emissions in the borough. The Royal Borough has recognised that to become carbon neutral it is necessary to work to: a) reduce the number of journeys made by polluting motor vehicles, and b) enable people to walk, cycle and use public transport wherever possible”.

In other words, the use of vehicles will be attacked in the name of addressing the climate emergency. Is there a climate emergency and will reducing vehicles make any difference to the climate? The simple answer to both those questions is NO.

Just because we have had a slightly hotter and dryer period of weather this summer does not mean there is a climate emergency and emissions by vehicles in Greenwich cannot have any significant impact on the climate even if you accept that carbon emissions might be influencing the climate.

The whole of the UK produces less than 1% of worldwide emissions so any reduction in Greenwich alone will have a negligible impact.

In reality this is just another unnecessary and unwelcome attack on the use of cars.

How do they propose to discourage vehicles? By introducing more Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs), more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and more School Streets.

Reading the detailed report shows how Greenwich is failing to meet the Mayor’s targets for active travel, improving road safety and reducing emissions – see page 26. A particularly telling statistic is that the percentage of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) in collisions in Greenwich is on average lower compared to adjacent boroughs but a high proportion of such collisions are made up of people who are cycling (17%). Given that people cycling in the borough makes up less than 2% of the mode share, this demonstrates how dangerous cycling is in reality.

Make sure you respond to this consultation by going here: https://royalgreenwichtransport.commonplace.is/

Meanwhile Mayor Sadiq Khan has committed to spend £4million on making London a greener and more climate resilient city despite him being desperately short of money to keep TfL afloat. This includes funding more LTNs in Hackney and Enfield but it will also include rain gardens and tree pits (rain gardens might replace parking spaces and help to absorb excess rainfall which we are not exactly overwhelmed with this year).

Planting more trees and generally greening the environment may be welcomed but spending more money on non-essential projects at this time of economic difficulty is surely unwise.

More details on the Mayor’s expenditure here: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/4m-announced-to-aid-future-climate-resilience

Roger Lawson

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Grant Shapps for Prime Minister?

Transport Minister Grant Shapps has announced his candidacy for the position of Prime Minister and with two others yesterday the field is getting quite crowded.

But Shapps has a very poor record as Transport Minister. Among his negative contributions has been the promotion of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) to tackle the Covid epidemic – a totally misconceived policy and implemented without local consultations; support for HS2 – an enormous white elephant; a rewrite of the Highway Code which makes some people more equal than others on the road; a £2 billion investment in cycling and walking to promote “active travel” and “behaviour change” and he keeps bailing out Transport for London (TfL) allowing Sadiq Khan to continue to run an uneconomic service instead of reforming it. His response to the national rail strikes has also been to line up for a fight with the unions while committing £1 billion to “modernisation” of the railways; basically throwing more money at an uneconomic and outdated transport technology.

Meanwhile the road transport network gets ever more congested and drivers pay ever more in taxes and road charges such as in CAZ and ULEZ schemes.

I certainly would not support Shapps for Prime Minister. But what of the other candidates? A number wish to cut taxes. A laudable policy but to be able to do that without increasing public borrowing means a reduction in public expenditure. None seem to be promising that (for example Shapps wants to spend considerably more on defence).

We would all like a cut in the price of diesel/petrol which might help to stimulate the economy as high prices impact the delivery of goods and services. But most of the increase of late has come from the market price of oil not from taxes (Fuel Duty rates have actually been reduced recently).

Rishi Sunak seems to be one of the few candidates who is wisely not promising hand-outs to the electorate if he gets the job.

But no doubt we will learn more about the other candidates over the next few weeks. As in previous Conservative Party elections, it may be a case of who avoids the most gaffs and who is least disliked by MPs that wins the day. Boris Johnson only got the job because he seemed likely to break the deadlock over Brexit but there should surely be no rush to appoint a replacement.

Roger Lawson

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The Good News and the Bad

The good news is that Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is proposing to drop plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme that would charge motorists similar to the Birmingham and London schemes. But it depends on agreement with the Government. The charging scheme had already been “paused” until 2026 but now looks like it will be scrapped. Signs already put up for the scheme will need to be removed. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-61439444 for more details.

The bad news is that the Daily Telegraph have reported that the Government is to finance Mini-Holland cycling schemes to encourage people to ditch their cars in Britain’s major cities under government plans.

Nineteen local authorities, including Manchester, Hull and Nottinghamshire, are to get government funds for mini-Hollands with segregated bike lanes, traffic calming and residential streets blocked to cars.

It is suggested officials have steered away from describing any of the projects as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), which have provoked intense local opposition over road closures and claims of increased congestion on boundary highways in some areas. But they did acknowledge some had LTN features. See Telegraph article here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/05/14/wheels-motion-turn-british-cities-cycle-friendly-mini-hollands/

Comment: I cannot understand why people think that Holland is a good example to follow. There may be more cycling in some Dutch cities such as Amsterdam but nationally there are more casualties to cyclists than in the UK and traffic congestion is also worse. There is no evidence that introducing such schemes increases cycling (or “active travel”) in the UK. Cycling remains a fair-weather transport mode only followed by young males in flat locations. If people calling for mini-Hollands actually bothered to visit Holland they would see a very different picture. The only good aspect is that Holland has encouraged more off-road cycle paths that separate vehicle traffic from cyclists.  

Instead of spending £200 million on encouraging cycling the Government should spend it on improving the road network to improve road safety and cut traffic congestion.

Another good article in the Telegraph was entitled “Why Boris and the elite are determined to wean us off the car”. It said “Exasperated motorists are feeling pushed out of the picture with rising fuel costs, congestion charges, low traffic zones and speeding fines, and motorists, especially those who travel into cities, feel they are being hit from every direction. Dead ahead there are closed off roads in low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs); to the left there are automated cameras monitoring their every move; to the right low emission zones and 20mph limits. And all around are parking charges and fuel costs that put a hefty dent in your wallet”; “There has now developed in Government an anti-car attitude as opposed to car management, a hostility to the motor vehicle rather than how we can manage this, says former transport minister John Spellar. He puts this down to a London-centric approach to transport that focuses on the problems cars cause in congested cities and ignores different conditions in other areas. As Spellar points out, working Britons outside the capital – particularly manual and shift workers – often rely on their vehicles to get to work, unlike city commuters who can travel by train”. See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cars/features/boris-elite-determined-wean-us-car/ for the full article.

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How Many Objections in Lewisham to the LTN?

Back in November 2020 we submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to obtain the number of objections received by the Council or Councillors to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in Lewisham. Their response after a long delay was that they did not have that information.

We appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and have just received a final decision. The ICO have concluded that the Council breached regulations 5(2) and 14(1) of the EIR by failing to respond within 20 working days and failing to advise that it was relying on regulation 12(4)(b). But they agreed that it was too burdensome a request.  

The FOI Act can be a useful piece of legislation but not when Councils deliberately frustrate or delay answering reasonable questions.

It’s taken so long (eighteen months) to get to this point that the information requested is now somewhat irrelevant so we won’t be pursuing a further appeal. But one item of data obtained as a result was that Louise McBride (Head of Highways and Transport at the Council) alone received 1,040 emails on the subject.

That contradicted a minute of a Council Meeting on the 25th January 2022 where it was stated that Cabinet Member Patrick Codd reported that the Council received approximately 150 emails about the experimental introduction of the LTNs. That was clearly inaccurate and Councillor Codd is arranging for the minute to be corrected.

These events show how Lewisham Council is incompetent in many ways. They failed to record objections in any useful way despite the Lee Green LTN being an “experimental” scheme. I have requested that they at least count the objections to the Permanent LTN properly.

If you have not yet sent in objections to the Lewisham and Lee Green LTN, please use this template email or letter below (simply copy and paste it but modify it as you see fit):

Send to: ParkingDesign@lewisham.gov.uk (or post to Lewisham Transport Policy & Development, 5th Floor Laurence House, 1 Catford Road, London SE6 4RU)

Objection Letter:

Re: Statement of Objections to Traffic Order 4030579

I am writing to object to the proposed Traffic Order 4030579 published on the 25th March 2022 made by the London borough of Lewisham (“Lewisham”) concerning the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

Grounds for Objection

I dispute whether the experimental scheme which is now proposed to be made permanent has actually reduced the volume of traffic (rather than just displaced it). There is no evidence that it has done so during the period of the experimental traffic orders other than within the LTN alone where roads were closed while traffic flows on boundary roads have increased. Neither has it had any impact on overall levels of air pollution as is clear from the evidence in the Monitoring Data Summary published by the council but residents have reported large increases on boundary roads.

One of the objectives was apparently to mitigate the impact of emissions on climate change but there is no way that actions in Lewisham will have any impact on climate change which is driven by major global factors. Any impact from actions in Lewisham will be trivial.    

The effect of the scheme has been highly detrimental for the local community as a whole but especially detrimental for people from protected groups defined in the Equality Act 2010. The proposed mitigation measures do not address the intrinsic flaws in the scheme, which have been readily apparent for the entire duration of the scheme.

In short, the scheme displaces traffic on to certain “strategic” and certain other roads without proper consideration of the consequences. Specifically, the impact on those who are car-dependent and those who are dependent upon visitors (e.g. those who receive social care) are disregarded. Moreover, the gridlock and traffic congestion the scheme has created has had indirect effects on many.

1. The Scheme

The scheme restricts traffic from using certain roads at certain times and prevents traffic using routes that have historically been available. This concentrates traffic onto other roads, increases congestion and acts as a barrier, making it much harder to traverse across the borough, and in particular north to south Lewisham and vice versa. The Blackheath, Lee and Hither Green community was previously a completely holistic one but has now been cut in half by the imposition of a physical barrier to all motorised traffic in the heart of the area.

2. The Public Consultation

The public consultation with local residents had numerous flaws and is therefore unlikely to represent the true extent of the local community’s aversion to the scheme.

The Report on the consultation ignores the views expressed in response to the public consultation, the objections received to the Temporary Traffic Orders and the 12,000 signature petition which was submitted to the Council (from Change.org).

Councillor Patrick Codd is reported as saying: “We believe the LTN is meeting its aims…..” while Mayor Damien Egan said “The world is facing a climate emergency and we urgently need to do more to improve air quality in London” but he seems to have ignored the evidence in the report that air quality is already massively improved and will continue to be so (NO2 concentrations at roadsides have fallen by 42% since 2014).

The Report repeats the false allegation that traffic on local roads in London has increased by 60% since 2009 which is contradicted by the latest TfL report on Travel in London – see this blog post: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/01/05/travel-in-london-report-mayors-objectives-not-met/   

The LTN was introduced urgently and without prior consultation as a measure to help social distancing during the pandemic. The Council’s report says “The primary aim was to encourage people to walk and cycle more, and to do so safely…..” (see para. 5.2). But did it? The evidence is not clear particularly as travel patterns changed as a result of the pandemic (see the TfL report above for evidence of how travel was reduced or changed in London). Closure of schools and businesses with more working from home were the main factors.

The Council received 7,065 responses to the public consultation on the LTN. Some 56% of respondents felt negatively about the revised LTN, as opposed to 44% who felt positively or neutral. That’s a clear majority against the current road closures which Councillors have ignored in an anti-democratic fashion. It is unfortunately the case that councillors and council officers once they have taken a dogmatic position, in this case that “deterring the use of vehicles is good for the planet”, they rarely want to change their minds despite the contrary evidence of the negative side effects.

In this case the road closures have increased journey times for many people, increased air pollution on boundary roads and obstructed emergency service vehicles. The conversion to ANPR enforcement will avoid the latter problem but has already resulted in many accidental fines so we do not consider that a sensible solution and it is clearly being motivated by the financial benefit obtained. That is unfair and unreasonable.

The Report comments on the Equalities Impact Assessment but simply ignores the negative consequences of the impact on disabled people who rely on motor vehicles. The Report also ignores the obligations of the Council under the Traffic Management Act 2004.

Although the latest LTN is an improvement on the original version it will still cause many problems. For example the closure of Upwood Road, Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park might deter through traffic but will also cause enormous inconvenience to local residents or their visitors who will have to take very circuitous routes. People badly affected by the closures are being ignored.

3. The impact of the scheme on main roads

There can be no doubt that the scheme has displaced substantial traffic onto roads which simply cannot bear the volume of traffic forced on them. This has had a severe impact on local residents and particularly the groups identified above.

4. The day-to-day impact of the scheme

The day-to day impacts to local residents have been overwhelming and are not limited to those outlined below;

5. Impact on certain groups

The Public Consultation confirms that the “overwhelming majority” of people from protected groups oppose the scheme. We strongly believe, and the evidence shows, that, despite this clear opposition, the needs of particular groups have not been adequately thought about and the scheme actually exacerbates challenges for these groups rather than removes them.

Car use is often essential for older and disabled people; and for those who are dependent upon their car it needs to be available at all times to ensure that they can visit urgent health appointments and live independently.

Many have attempted to eliminate their private car use, but the only potentially affordable alternative is taxis or minicabs (PHVs). However, as a result of the scheme, some residents are reporting that taxis and minicabs are struggling or refusing to access streets within the scheme.

The other alternative to private car use, buses, are slower and unreliable plus difficult to use for people with mobility problems meaning that older people do not feel that this is a viable alternative.

For many older people, cycling and walking extended distances are simply not viable.

Access to visitors who travel by car, such as community nurses, social care staff, pharmacists and GPs, is equally essential. Similarly, these health and social care professionals need to be available at all times to provide care and deliver prescriptions.

Cumulatively, older people describe the impact as severe; as well as the obvious health impacts caused by struggling to access services, they spoke of being kettled-in or cut-off from their friends and family.

Accessing school for disabled children has become exceptionally difficult with journeys that should take a maximum of 15 minutes now taking 45 minutes.

The consideration of those who are car-dependent has been wholly unsatisfactory.

Given that Lewisham is required to think about the impact of these schemes on protected groups and remove obstacles that prevent protected groups participating in society, Lewisham has failed to meet its duty since it has failed to make any effective mitigation for those who are largely or wholly car-dependent and whose mobility has been drastically reduced or removed by this scheme. Cumulatively, the scheme exacerbates obstacles for protected groups rather than removing them. These obvious disadvantages, explained in exacting detail in the Public Consultation, and Lewisham’s own Equality Impact Assessment, are completely discounted.

6. Add a statement about how you personally have been inconvenienced by this scheme:

7. Conclusion

For the reasons set out above, I object to Traffic Orders 4030579 in the strongest possible terms and ask that you reverse your decision to make the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood permanent given the impact on local residents, local businesses and, in particular, those in protected groups. I urge Lewisham to recognise that this experiment has thus far failed and to show its courage by not ploughing on with an obviously divisive, detrimental and unsuccessful scheme that fails to fulfil its aims.

Yours faithfully

(Name)

(Address)

<END>

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Manchester Campaign Against CAZ and Bromley Air Quality

While Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, plans to expand his ULEZ scheme, in Manchester there has been a very effective campaign against their proposed CAZ scheme. Mayor Andy Burnham is now back-tracking on the proposals.

Daily charges for the most polluting vehicles that don’t meet emission standards – HGVs, buses, non-Greater Manchester licensed taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) – had been due to begin on 30 May 2022 but will now not go ahead. The withdrawn legal direction would have led to charges for non-compliant vans, Greater Manchester-licensed taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) from June 2023. Private cars, motorcycles and mopeds were exempt. Concerns about financial hardship for local people and the availability of compliant vehicles led the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester local authority leaders to ask government to lift its legal direction. Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities have until 1 July 2022 to work with government to develop a new plan that will clean up the air while protecting livelihoods.

The campaign against the Manchester CAZ has 90,000 supporters under the banner Rethink GM. Go here for more information: www.rethinkgm.co.uk and to register support. On the home page click “Forums” then “Register” with just your name and email. The web site also provides a link to an active Facebook page.

Meanwhile the London Borough of Bromley have shown that it is not necessary to impose expensive ULEZ or CAZ schemes to clean up the air (most of that borough is outside the London ULEZ scheme). A press release from Bromley reports that updated data from the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory shows that between 2016 and 2019 there was a 23% decline in NO2 across the borough, a 19% decline in PM2.5 and a 28% decline in PM10 particulates.

Bromley claims to now be the “cleanest and greenest borough in London”.

For more details see Bromley press release here: https://www.bromley.gov.uk/news/article/2825/big_improvements_in_air_quality

Comment: Bromley has of course ignored demands for LTNs and road closures and is keen to keep traffic moving. But they have pursued positive initiatives such as electric bus trials. Unlike many Labour controlled boroughs in London they have taken a more empirical and less dogmatic approach to the air quality issue.

Readers are reminded that the London ULEZ did little to contribute to improvements in air quality so why is the Mayor wanting to expand it? See https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2021/11/17/ulez-had-minimal-impact-on-air-pollution/ . It will cost a great deal to install hundreds of new cameras to expand the zone and high operating costs, apart from the impact on residents who will need to buy new vehicles or pay £12.50 per day. Although the Mayor says he has abandoned the idea of a boundary charge for people driving into London from outside, the extra cameras will make it very easy to introduce such a scheme!

Roger Lawson

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Increased Delays to Fire Engines Due to Traffic Calming in London

A report in the Daily Telegraph has covered the increasing delays to fire engines due to traffic calming measures. That includes the impact of LTNs. To quote from the report: “Analysis of the latest data published by the London Fire Brigade show firefighters experienced slowed response times 3,035 times, equivalent to 253 each month, due to “traffic calming” measures”.

Hackney and Lambeth boroughs were the most badly affected with increases of 66% and 92% in such incidents.

Such events are regularly reported to us and on social media so it is not surprising that the data now shows the problem, although the Fire Brigade say they are still meeting their response targets.

See https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2022/01/22/fury-low-traffic-neighbourhoods-slowed-3000-fire-engines-last/

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Councillors in Lewisham Decide LTN Should Be Permanent

Last night (12/1/2022) Lewisham Council’s Mayor and Cabinet Committee decided to make the Lee Green LTN permanent. While other London boroughs are removing their LTNs due to residents’ objections, Lewisham is sticking to its dogmatic approach that an LTN is good for you. That’s despite all the evidence to the contrary and the majority of responses to their public consultation opposing retention (see previous blog post here: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/01/07/lewisham-ltn-to-be-made-permanent/ ).

There was a good speech by Rosamund Kissi-Debrah whose daughter died following an asthma attack exacerbated by the air pollution near the South Circular. But she was ignored. Air pollution on the South Circular (A205) has worsened as a result of the LTN as traffic cannot now avoid the jams on the A205. Rosamund threatened the Council with a judicial review if they did not back down but to no avail.

Comment: as a former sufferer from asthma, I personally think the Council’s attitude is despicable. They may have removed traffic from some roads but they have made other areas much worse. This is not social justice.

In summary the Committee have decided to make the LTN permanent when the evidence was unclear and there was a majority of residents opposed to retaining it. It’s both irrational and a corruption of democracy.

In addition they seem to be ignoring the legal requirement to publish a Permanent Traffic Order (PTO) and allow 21 days for objections before it is implemented. There is a need for a formal consultation process in the case of Permanent Traffic Orders and the use of Temporary Traffic Orders preceding as happened in Lewisham does not exclude that requirement.

The vote to make the LTN permanent was unanimous by the Committee and apart from possible objections to the PTO or legal actions, the only certain way to get the council to reconsider is to change some of the councillors at the upcoming elections in May.

The LibDems spelled out the problem in a recent note which was headlined: “There is no democracy in Lewisham’s one-party state”. See https://www.lewishamlibdems.org.uk/no_democracy_in_lewisham_one_party_state . It’s well worth reading.

They might provide some significant opposition to the dominance of the Labour Party in Lewisham. Other parties that might put up opposition are the Conservatives who have opposed the LTN, and the Reform Party are looking for local election candidates based on an email I recently received. Or of course you could stand as an “independent” which is not difficult to do. Please contact me if you need more information on that.

We certainly need people to step forward to oppose the one-party state that exists in Lewisham where a few people decide policies and everyone else is ignored.

We will be giving recommendations at a later date on who Lewisham residents should vote for subject to sight of their manifestos first and their views on the LTN.

Roger Lawson

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Lewisham LTN to be Made Permanent

Lewisham Council have published a report on the Lewisham and Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) and are recommending that the road closures are retained. This will be put to a Mayor and Cabinet Meeting on the 12th of January. See link below for full details.

This is of course a most disappointing outcome and ignores the views expressed in response to the public consultation, the objections received to the Temporary Traffic Orders and the 12,000 signature petition which we submitted to the Council.

There were some changes made to the scheme to meet some of the objections in November 2020 and there are some minor changes proposed now. These include:

  • The physical modal filters within the LTN will be converted to automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera enforcement and  Lewisham blue badge holders and emergency services will be exempt.
  • More school streets where schools are supportive
  • Additional complementary measures may be implemented within the LTN and surrounding areas, such as planters/trees and green spaces, additional electric vehicle charging points, additional bike hangars and cycle stands, additional and/or improved pedestrian crossing points and new seating.

Councillor Patrick Codd who is responsible for Environment and Transport said: “We believe the LTN is meeting its aims…..” while Mayor Damien Egan said “The world is facing a climate emergency and we urgently need to do more to improve air quality in London” but he seems to have ignored the evidence in the report that air quality is already massively improved and will continue to be so (NO2 concentrations at roadsides have fallen by 42% since 2014).

The report repeats the false allegation that traffic on local roads in London has increased by 60% since 2009 which is contradicted by the latest TfL report on Travel in London – see this blog post: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2022/01/05/travel-in-london-report-mayors-objectives-not-met/  

The LTN was introduced urgently and without prior consultation as a measure to help social distancing during the pandemic. The Council’s report says “The primary aim was to encourage people to walk and cycle more, and to do so safely…..” (see para. 5.2). But did it? The evidence is not clear particularly as travel patterns changed as a result of the pandemic (see the TfL report above for evidence of how travel was reduced or changed in London). Closure of schools and businesses with more working from home were the main factors.

The Council received 7,065 responses to the public consultation on the LTN. Some 56% of respondents felt negatively about the revised LTN, as opposed to 44% who felt positively or neutral. That’s a clear majority against the current road closures which Councillors have ignored in a typical anti-democratic fashion. It is unfortunately the case that councillors and council officers once they have taken a dogmatic position, in this case that “deterring the use of vehicles is good for the planet”, they rarely want to change their minds despite the contrary evidence of the negative side effects.

In this case the road closures have increased journey times for many people, increased air pollution on boundary roads and obstructed emergency service vehicles. At least the conversion to ANPR enforcement will avoid the latter problem but it will also result in many accidental fines.

The Report comments on the Equalities Impact Assessment but simply ignores the negative consequences of the impact on disabled people who rely on motor vehicles. The Report also ignores the obligations of the Council under the Traffic Management Act 2004. In our view the Transport Minister cannot override that legislation by issuing “guidance”.

Although the latest LTN is an improvement on the original version it will still cause many problems. For example the closure of Upwood Road, Manor Lane, Manor Lane Terrace and Manor Park might deter through traffic but will also cause enormous inconvenience to local residents who will have to take very circuitous routes. People badly affected by the closures are being ignored.

What can residents of Lewisham do about the proposed decision? You can make representations to Mayor Damien Egan or to Councillor Codd (email addresses are damien.egan@lewisham.gov.uk and Cllr_Patrick.Codd@lewisham.gov.uk ) or to your local ward councillors. But as a last resort as Council elections are taking place in May you can vote for other people to represent you! You can also make objections to the Permanent Traffic Orders when they are published.

Lewisham Mayor & Cabinet Agenda and Report: https://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=31225#mgDocuments

Roger Lawson

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