Horn Park and Weigall Road LTN in Greenwich/Lewisham

In addition to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in other parts of the London Borough of Greenwich previously mentioned on this blog, they are now proposing a scheme in the Horn Park Lane and Weigall Road area.

This will include closures of Weigall Road, Abergeldie Road and Westhorne Avenue using cameras and will significantly affect residents of the triangle of roads between the South Circular and the A20. That is particularly so as Lewisham Council have already closed Upwood Road.

This scheme is being imposed with an Experimental Traffic Order and you can find more details plus a map on this Commonplace web site where you can post your comments: https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/horn-park-low-traffic-neighbourhood

This scheme will cause many residents to take long circuitous routes and create problems for delivery drivers and other service providers. It is completely unnecessary as the volume of traffic on these roads has never been very high.

It is important for residents of the Borough of Greenwich who are opposed to these proposals to send in objections directly to the Council, and also send them to your local councillors. You can look them up here: https://www.royalgreenwich.gov.uk/info/200155/councillors_and_elected_officials/598/find_your_councillor

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LTNs Force Vehicles into Poorer Roads

A good article in the Times on Saturday 13/2/2020 reported on how Low Traffic Neighbourhoods resulted in vehicles being directed into streets where poorer people live. Traffic is diverted onto boundary roads which already have high traffic levels and where residents often live in low-cost housing such as flats.

To quote from the article: “The figures will fuel concerns that the policy of sectioning off certain areas of cities to through traffic is dividing communities and disproportionately benefiting middle-class homeowners.

Residents who live on the edge of the zones say their lives have been blighted by increased traffic, pollution and noise. They point out that many of the cycling and environmental activists who have campaigned for LTNs live in areas that have benefited from the schemes at the expense of their neighbours.

Ediz Mevlit, a bus traffic controller from Enfield who has become a campaigner against low traffic neighbourhoods, said: ‘Our local LTN is in the more affluent part and it is pushing traffic on to the surrounding roads that are less affluent. These policies have completely advantaged the wealthier people where I live including a senior figure in one of London’s main cycling groups. I find it absolutely disgusting’”.

See https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/low-traffic-zones-force-cars-into-streets-where-poorer-people-live-6svsbck3k for full story.

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High Court Hearing on JRs and Camden Road Closures

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/

Camden Schemes

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.

Please support it.

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Greenwich LTN and Opposition to Enfield “Regime”

The London Borough of Greenwich are proposing to close a number of roads in the Westcombe Park and Maze Hill area to form a new Low Traffic Neighbourhood. This is the area to the east of Greenwich Park – they have already closed roads to the west. See map above of proposed closures.

Some of the closures will be “modal filters” (i.e. via bollards) such as on Maze Hill and Vanbrugh Hill which will be particularly inconvenient as these are key north/south roads between the A2 and Trafalgar/Woolwich roads. More traffic will be forced onto the main roads which are already heavily congested.

The Council is using a Commonplace web site to get feedback (and a badly designed set of questions at that), but that is not a proper way to do public consultation. This is some of what we have said before about that system:

The system is not an unbiased platform in that typically it is used to promote what a Council is planning to do – and that means after decisions have already been made to implement schemes.

It also has the problem that unlike a conventional public consultation only people who are internet enabled, and are even aware of the platform, can respond. This excludes a large number of people such as the elderly who are not internet connected or don’t spend much time on it. So it tends to be dominated by young activists and those active in local politics, i.e. the comments on it are unrepresentative of the wider population. Indeed information received from Lewisham Council about their feedback on the Lee Green LTN said that they received 9,200 comments but they were from only 3,490 respondents. Many of the comments are repetitive and there is no attempt to stop duplicate comments so the system can be exploited by organised activist groups such as cyclists.

Wildly inaccurate comments can also be made on the platform with no “rebuttal” possible – you can only “Agree” with comments, not “Disagree” with them and you cannot comment further in response. Clearly there are many people commenting who are not directly affected, and those that are affected just give very polarised comments. The comments are not helpful in determining a sensible compromise to meet the needs of the majority.

In summary, Commonplace is a system that can be used by Councils to claim they are “listening” to residents when in reality it is not a fair and honest way to collect the views of all residents. It is not an alternative to a proper public consultation and is more designed to promote the views of scheme promoters than collect unbiased information.    

But I would encourage anyone affected by this scheme in Greenwich to post their comments anyway – go to:   https://greenersafergreenwich.commonplace.is/proposals/westcombe-park-and-maze-hill-area-low-traffic-neighbourhood

Enfield LTNs

There is strong opposition to the LTNs in Enfield. A report on Guido Fawkes web site says that “The leader of loony left Enfield Council has reported the opposition to the police for calling her regime a regime”. Apparently a tweet said that the Conservative Councillors had repeatedly called Enfield Council a ‘regime’ – insults with islamaphobic undertones it was claimed.  

Guido Fawkes suggests this is regular political language and that the complainant, Nesil Casliskan, is a complete idiot. This writer agrees with Guido. When there is a deficit in democracy, as there is in Enfield and many other Labour controlled boroughs, then calling it a “regime” is very appropriate.                                     

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LTNs Collapsing Under Public and Legal Pressure – Croydon the Latest

Several Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes have been abandoned and the latest one to collapse has been that in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood area of Croydon.

This is what local MP Ellie Reeves said in a latter to the Council after a consultation was undertaken:

“The consultation outcome is now known and the results set out below:

– 26% in favour of changing the scheme to ANPR

– 15% in favour of retaining the existing scheme

– 61% in favour of removing the scheme entirely

An overwhelming number, 61% of residents, voted for the removal of the scheme entirely. However, I understand that Croydon Council is looking at implementing ANPR cameras instead. This is not what local residents voted for. This is not what local residents want. There was a high turnout of 25.29% of residents responding, it is important to note that traffic scheme consultation would usually expect a 10-15% response rate. I am surprised that the Council’s report has implied a higher turnout was needed for the results of the consultation to be carried out as expressed by local people who have to live with the decisions they have voted for”.

Yes the Council will be removing the existing scheme almost immediately but they are proposing to bring in an ANPR (i.e. camera enforced) scheme to replace it. Such a scheme will provide exemptions to local residents and other selected groups. They also need to take some legal advice after the recent High Court judgement on the Mayor’s Streetspace plans.

This is what one local resident said about such a proposal: “Where do you draw the line with the permit? Each case looks fair on its own, but you end up with so many permits you might as well not bother”. The ABD totally agrees with that view. We are opposed to permit schemes or timed road closures. They are very expensive to operate and camera enforcement just enables the local council to generate enormous amounts of money in fines through accidental infringements.

In Lewisham over a million pounds has been extracted in this way in a few weeks. Above is a picture of signed bus gate enforced by ANPR in Manor Park which shows how confusing the signs can be. The “No Entry” sign in theory stops buses going through making it the shortest bus lane on record.

The opposition to fines in Lewisham, where many people have collected tens of them racking up thousands of pounds in fines, has resulted in multiple appeals to the London Tribunal and surprisingly it is reported that many have been upheld.

The quote above from a local resident in Croydon comes from a publication I shall call “Insidious Croydon” as they always make abusive comments about the ABD. This publication suggests that the local campaign against the LTN in Croydon called “Open Our Roads” is backed by the ABD and that the Council has caved in to motoring lobby groups. This is simply wrong. The ABD has made a token donation to Open Our Roads, as we have to other anti-LTN groups in London. But we have no influence over the Croydon campaign which was created and run by local residents. It’s the ordinary vehicle owners in Croydon (and the neighbouring borough of Bromley whose residents have also been badly affected by the scheme) who hate the road closures and the traffic congestion they have created.

Open Our Roads is still pursuing legal action on the Croydon scheme. See this web page for other anti-LTN campaign groups in London and their funding of legal action: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/london-road-closures.htm

The conclusion is obvious. The majority of local residents oppose LTN schemes where they have been imposed. And that includes people who do not even own vehicles. If it was not for central Government and the Mayor of London encouraging and financing such schemes, using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse, they would never have been adopted. Bear that in mind the next time you vote.

Roger Lawson

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Legal Actions Against LTNs Escalating

There are as many as 10 separate legal actions being pursued by London residents against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs). There will be an initial hearing in the High Court on the 12th February to decide how the cases should be dealt with.

The grounds for each legal challenge may vary from borough to borough depending on the actions of the local council. But the possible grounds for a legal challenge may include the following:

Roads can be closed by the use of Traffic Orders but there needs to be reasonable justification for such closures and time given for objections. There are also several Acts of Parliament that might be relevant. For example:

–         The Road Traffic Act 1984 which contains this sentence (in Section 122): “It shall be the duty of the Greater London Council and of every other local authority upon whom functions are conferred by or under this Act, so to exercise the functions conferred on them by this Act …. to secure the expeditious, convenient and safe movement of vehicular and other traffic….”. Road closures aimed simply at reducing traffic appear to be ignoring that duty.

–         The Traffic Management Act 2004 which puts a duty on local traffic authorities to manage their road network to make sure that traffic can move freely. Again this duty is being ignored.

–         The Equalities Act 2010 which restricts discrimination against people with disabilities or based on age when road closure proposals negatively impact those sections of the community.

There is also the issue of the lack of public consultations on many of the road closures to date, or they have been done in an incomplete and biased manner.

Alternatively some of the road closures have been simply irrational, or have been progressed without the correct procedures being followed by councils.

The recent successful action by black cab drivers against the Bishopsgate road closure showed how there may well be successful challenges against LTNs introduced using Streetspace funding from TfL.

Below is a list of those campaign groups who are specifically raising funds for legal action. Please give generously!

Croydon: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/open-our-roads-legal-justice-fund

Ealing: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/oneealing

Enfield: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bounds-and-bowes-voice-bowes-ltn?

Hounslow: https://www.gofundme.com/f/onechiswick-united-against-streetspace-changes?

Hackney: https://www.gofundme.com/f/stop-hackney-road-closures?

Lambeth: https://www.gofundme.com/f/OneLambeth?

There is a more complete list of campaign groups on this page of our web site: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/london-road-closures.htm

Roger Lawson

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LTNs Are Not Popular

The promised survey of residents that was planned to take place in December in Lewisham has been abandoned. It will now be combined with a full public consultation in March, so residents of the borough will have to put up with current road closures for many more months.

But Lewisham Council have published a lot of information recently on Commonplace about the data they have collected so far including the opinions posted on Commonplace. See https://lewishamcovidresidentialstreets.commonplace.is/proposals/lewisham-lee-green-ltn-monitoring for the voluminous data.

The chart above shows that there is clearly a large majority of residents who do not wish the LTN scheme to be made permanent. So much for the claims that LTNs are popular with residents!

Roger Lawson

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Streetspace Plan for Bishopsgate Overturned in High Court

There has been an important judgement in the High Court after a Judicial Review was launched by taxi drivers. They challenged the blocking of Bishopsgate in the City of London (the A10) to taxi drivers by the use of a “bus gate”. Mrs Justice Lang declared the Traffic Order used was unlawful.

This is the press release issued by the High Court on the judgement:

– The Streetspace for London Plan and associated Guidance failed to recognise the distinct status of taxis as an important form of accessible public transport,

– The Streetspace Plan, associated Guidance and A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order breached licensed taxi drivers1 legitimate expectation to be allowed to use bus lanes to ply for hire effectively across London,

– There was a failure to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty under the 2010 Equality Act and account for needs of passengers with protected characteristics,

– The Mayor and TfL took advantage of the pandemic to push through ‘‘radical changes”’.

– The “‘decisions were not a rational response to the issues which arose as a result of the COVID.

<END>

The Court has now ordered that the Streetspace Plan, Interim Guidance to Boroughs and the A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order be quashed following the judgement. Justice Lang called the measures an “ill-considered response” to the pandemic including radical changes and it was clear that “the Mayor and TfL intended these schemes would become permanent, once the temporary orders expired”.

Comment: The Streetspace Plan was used by TfL to introduce numerous road closures including Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and such measures as cycle lanes without prior public consultation across many parts of London. It was very clear that this had nothing to do with the pandemic at all but was simply being used to bring in such measures quickly and without consultation.

Although this judgement specifically relates to the challenge by taxi drivers it could have wider implications as similar legal challenges are being mounted for several LTNs (a hearing is taking place on the 2nd of February in the High Court on those). The failure to properly recognise the needs of the disadvantaged under the Equality Act is particularly significant, and the failure to give due regard to the network management duty imposed by section 16 of the 2004 Traffic Management Act. It seems likely that Mayor Khan will appeal this judgement, using taxpayers’ money to do so of course.

It’s worth saying that the last time I walked down Bishopsgate before the pandemic hit on a hot summer day, the level of air pollution was such as to noticeably affect my lungs. But the main cause was clearly the long queue of almost stationary diesel buses on the road. To ban all vehicles except buses was totally irrational. Bishopsgate is a very important route for traffic to access parts of the City now that Bank junction has been closed.

The judicial review was submitted on behalf of the UNITED TRADE ACTION GROUP LIMITED and the LICENSED TAXI DRIVERS ASSOCIATION LIMITED, and their solicitors were Chiltern Law.

Chiltern Law Comments: https://www.chilternlaw.com/tfl-every-journey-matters-unless-you-are-a-taxi/

Full legal judgement: https://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/format.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2021/72.html&query=(UTAG)+AND+(LTDA)

Roger Lawson

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Make Lee Green and Croydon Committee Review of LTN

It has come to my attention that a leaflet has been circulated in Lewisham by an organisation (or one person) called “Make Lee Green”. It argues that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are a big part of the solution to make “A safer, healthier, more sustainable Lewisham”. It then quotes some very selective and misleading statistics.

For example it says “80% of journeys in London will be made by foot, bike or public transport by 2041”. That may be the Mayor of London’s objectives as published in his Mayor’s Transport Strategy a couple of year’s ago but the chance of this happening is very low. The recent trends tell us that the Mayor is nowhere near on target to achieve that. For outer London boroughs it is very unlikely to be met. For example, for the whole of London, before the pandemic hit, the figure was just over 60% but with lockdown measures continuing, the overall “active, efficient and sustainable” mode share – public transport, walking and cycling – could in fact be “the lowest seen in London since the early 2000’s, and not be back at 2019 levels until well into 2021″, the latest report concludes (see links below).

A lot of the journeys are by bus and how are buses more sustainable than cars? They are not, and bus users are not participating in active travel and neither are they necessarily “efficient” if people have to go on round about routes to reach their destinations.

Overall traffic volumes have actually been falling in London in recent years, particularly car trips, but LGV and PHV trips have increased as more people use internet shopping and more people use services such as Uber. These both tend to be trips on minor roads to access local premises and homes, but LTNs do not remove those trips.

So who is publishing and circulating these misleading Make Lee Green leaflets? There is no name and address on the leaflet and neither is there any on their associated web site, where they are even using a proxy service to conceal the identity of the web site owners. In summary the leaflets are simply a piece of distorted propaganda from someone who prefers to remain anonymous. Is it more than one person? We should be told.

OnLondon Travel Report: https://www.onlondon.co.uk/latest-travel-in-london-report-details-extent-of-covids-impact-on-capitals-transport/

Travel in London Survey: https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2019/12/27/travel-in-london-survey-how-its-being-made-more-difficult/

Croydon Committee Review of LTN

I mentioned previously the report on the LTN in the Crystal Palace and South Norwood area of Croydon. It was discussed by the Traffic Management Advisory Committee last night (12/1/2021). Ian Plowright, Head of Transport, gave a very misleading summary of the report and the new proposals to convert the LTN to an “experimental” scheme using ANPR cameras to enforce. Eliska Finlay, representing “Open our roads” gave a good speech in support of scrapping the LTN altogether (see https://webcasting.croydon.gov.uk/meetings/11439 for a recording of the meeting).

The views of committee members were 2 in support of the ANPR scheme but 3 were against. It will now depend on decisions by the Chair of the Committee and others. But there is a good chance the whole scheme will be abandoned. That is particularly bearing in mind that the funding of an ANPR scheme will require approval of funding by both TfL and the DfT which may not be forthcoming.

In summary this was an ill-conceived scheme which has had very negative consequences for residents of that part of Croydon but also in neighbouring boroughs, particularly Bromley. It should be scrapped as soon as possible.

The public survey responses were quite clear. The LTN scheme in Croydon is not wanted. No doubt Lewisham residents would say the same thing if they were asked about their LTN, as would residents in other London boroughs who have been suffering the consequences of these ill-thought out schemes.

Roger Lawson

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How Many Objections has Lewisham Council Received to the LTNs? They Claim Not to Know.

How many objections has the London Borough of Lewisham received to the road closures and other aspects of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in the borough? Nobody knows apparently.

We submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOI) request in early November in which we asked for the numbers and have finally received a response. That’s way past the legal limit for responses for which they have apologised. But they now claim they have no information on the subject.

I consider their response to be disgraceful.

I specifically worded my request so that they could give estimates of the number of objections if exact figures were not available.

But it is clearly a nonsense when the Council invites people to send comments to traffic@lewisham.gov.uk about the LTNs but does not record how many of the comments received are objections. Even if not recorded at the time there is nothing stopping them from reviewing past comments received by council officers and councillors. The number of objections received is clearly vital information when the Council is considering the impact of the Temporary Traffic Orders used to implement the LTNs and I simply do not believe that the Council has no information on this subject.

I believe they are deliberately trying to avoid responding to my FOI request. Just like Mayor Damien Egan did in reply to a similar question in a Council Meeting.

It would seem that Councillors and Council staff are deliberately trying to conceal vital information from the public on this issue, when we know that there have clearly been a very large number of objections – for example we have collected over 12,000 signatures on a petition requesting removal of the road closures.

Councillors are turning a deaf ear to complaints in the hope that people will come to accept the LTNs. But they will not.

Our complaint about the failure to respond to the FOI Act request will be pursued further.

Roger Lawson

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