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 Issues Public Consultation on LTN

Lewisham Council have at last issued a public consultation you can respond to on the Lewisham/Lee Green Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN). That’s after multiple road closures have been in place for a year with no prior public consultation.

Lewisham residents and anyone else affected by the closures should make sure they respond to the consultation here: https://lewisham.gov.uk/ltnconsultation

Here are some comments on the questions posed and the information provided in support:

  • They repeat the false allegation that the measures were necessary to ensure social distancing during the Covid epidemic. The Lee Green LTN was planned long before the epidemic arose and forcing people to walk or cycle could not help.
  • They allege they had to act quickly and without prior public consultation because of “timescales and expectations set by central government” but this is untrue. They used this excuse and the funding available to rush in measures without due consideration or public consent. In effect, they defeated democratic input.
  • Because of the rushed implementation there were inadequate measurements of traffic flows and air pollution and there still is.
  • They provide tables of traffic volumes on roads within the LTN before the original LTN scheme was put in, afterwards, and after subsequent changes in November 2020. Needless to say that traffic volumes on closed roads such as Upwood Road fell dramatically. Overall volumes within the LTN fell substantially as one might expect but a few roads showed increases, such as Courthill Road. But for some of the period when measurements were taken the country was in lock-down with traffic much reduced as many people worked from home and others avoided going out altogether. The Council does acknowledge the limitations of traffic counts in the circumstances.
  • No measurements of traffic volume on the main roads which will have been used as alternative routes by drivers are supplied – such as on Burnt Ash Road, Lee High Road, Lee Road and the South Circular. But traffic counts are only viable when there is free-flowing traffic, not when it is stationary.
  • Bus journey times which can give a good indication of traffic speeds seem to be affected both negatively and positively depending on the route.
  • The report discounts the impact on emergency services despite the numerous negative reports we have received. The change from physical road closures to camera enforced closures may have alleviated the problems on roads such as Manor Park Road.
  • They report on average traffic speeds as there is a claim that an LTN will improve road safety, but it is clear that traffic speeds within the LTN were low beforehand. Few roads exceed 20 mph and the reduction after the LTN was implemented is only 2 mph in the first table or 1.2 mph in the second table which nobody would have noticed. These changes will have no significant impact on road casualties and the small changes in average speed could be due to other causes.
  • As regards air pollution, based on NO2 measurements they claim that “the schemes have had little to no impact on air quality in and around the area”. They have not provided data on particulates which are probably more significant in terms of health impacts. They have ignored the numerous reports we have received about increases of air pollution on the surrounding main roads impacted by diverting traffic, and where stationery queues of vehicles are now common.
  • Note that we recently submitted a request under the Environmental Information Regulations to obtain more data on air pollution in Lewisham. The reports they have previously published are now out of date and a new report is being held up for review and approval by the GLA and DEFRA. The council does not seem to have taken steps to monitor air pollution on the roads affected by increased traffic other than on the South Circular and data even from that is not yet available.
  • The Council claims they “have engaged with a wide range of groups….” but they have not engaged with us and Councillor McGeevor has rejected our suggestion for a meeting.
  • As regards the questions the Council poses in the consultation, these are quite bland and fail to ask the simple question as to whether people support the LTN or not.  But I have seen more biased consultation documents in the past.

Please make sure you give the Council your comments by responding to the consultation here:  https://lewisham.gov.uk/ltnconsultation

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics and School Streets

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, has claimed in a tweet that “closing roads around schools to traffic at pick-up and drop-off times has reduced polluting nitrogen dioxide levels by up to 23%”. He has also issued a press release saying the same thing and giving more details – see below.

But the study on which this claim is based was only launched in September 2020 so the period covered is one where traffic was much reduced due to the pandemic and when schools were closed. It is hardly likely to be representative of the normal conditions.

The press release also claims that School Streets are popular with parents but those affected by the road closures who do not have children were not included in the survey. The Mayor even claims that “18% of parents are driving to school less during the pandemic, helping to clean up London’s air”. That’s surely hardly surprising as the schools have been closed!

This looks like a good example of selecting the statistics and the surveyed population that suit your argument while ignoring the bigger picture and the truth.

School Streets are allegedly so popular that Lewisham Council have introduced road closures on roads where there are no schools under the name of School Streets, simply to stop people driving through the Lee Green LTN area. The Council seems to think they can fool people into supporting the LTN by such dubious sophistry.

Mayor’s Press Release: https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/school-streets-improve-air-quality

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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