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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