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London council scraps SEVEN low traffic neighbourhoods after failing to improve air quality 

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Seven of London’s Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are to be scrapped after they were found to increase local congestion and caused ‘no material change in air quality’.

Ealing Council studied nine LTNs following outcry from residents, who gathered in their thousands outside the town hall in April to demand they be axed. 

The LTNs were brought in during lockdown last year to redirect traffic away from residential areas, which involved installing cycle lanes, closing off roads to through traffic and widening pavements.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously announced the scheme – which plans for 200 LTNs across the country – is to receive hundreds of millions of pounds as part of the Government’s so-called ‘green transport revolution’, which hopes to reduce car use by encouraging walking and cycling.

However a year after being introduced, seven out of the nine LTNs in Ealing had ‘no data available on whether there has been an impact on walking and cycling’, a  report found. 

Ealing Council even discovered an increase in traffic on one road within the Acton LTN, as well as an increase in cars travelling on its boundary roads.

While five of the seven LTNs did inevitably experience a reduction in traffic on residential streets inside the scheme, ‘increased congestion’ was created on nearby streets, although not necessarily on boundary roads, reported the Telegraph. 

More than 2,000 people protested against the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme outside Ealing town hall in April (pictured)

More than 2,000 people protested against the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme outside Ealing town hall in April (pictured) 

A report by Ealing Council found LTNs had 'no material change in air quality' for affected residents (Pictured: an LTN in Dulwich)

A report by Ealing Council found LTNs had ‘no material change in air quality’ for affected residents (Pictured: an LTN in Dulwich) 

In Ealing, between 63 and 79 per cent of those living inside the schemes are opposed to them, climbing to 67 to 92 per cent among those residing on the boundaries (Protestors marching to Ealing town hall in April)

In Ealing, between 63 and 79 per cent of those living inside the schemes are opposed to them, climbing to 67 to 92 per cent among those residing on the boundaries (Protestors marching to Ealing town hall in April)

The report reads: ‘There is evidence that (as would be expected) traffic flows have reduced within each of the LTN areas themselves. 

‘Apart from that, broadly speaking, the overall benefits for some residents are somewhat offset by disbenefits to others.

‘In addition, there are no schemes where the overall impact in terms of traffic/congestion and air quality are significant either positively or negatively.

‘Given this, it is considered that the views of local residents within the LTNs, and therefore most directly impacted by the schemes, are particularly important in terms of deciding whether or not the LTNs should remain or be removed.’

The council used three different systems to evaluate public support or opposition from both those living within the LTNs and those living on roads on the borders. 

The damning report challenges the Government’s repeated claims that LTNs are a popular idea among the public.

In Ealing at least, between 63 and 79 per cent of those living inside the schemes are opposed to them, climbing to 67 to 92 per cent among those residing on the boundaries.  

The damning report challenges the Government's repeated claims that LTNs are a popular idea among the public (Pictured: Motorists dug up flowers and destroyed plants as part of their angry protest against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Dulwich Village, South London)

The damning report challenges the Government’s repeated claims that LTNs are a popular idea among the public (Pictured: Motorists dug up flowers and destroyed plants as part of their angry protest against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Dulwich Village, South London)

The Acton LTN in particular had ‘strong opposition’, with 82 per cent of those inside being against it, rising to 92 per cent for those on its boundary roads.

Only two LTNs had support, with 70 and 61 per cent of residents being in favour of them remaining in place.  

The report – expected to be rubber stamped by councillors this week – calls for the seven unpopular LTNs to be scrapped and for the well-liked two to remain.  

It comes after more than 2,000 people protested against the LTN scheme outside Ealing town hall in April.  

Within a month an experimental LTN in West Ealing was scrapped.   

A spokesman for One Ealing, a group opposed to how LTNs were rushed in during the pandemic, told the Telegraph: ‘We welcome the intended removal of these ill-conceived schemes that have been shown not to deliver the stated benefits whilst in fact creating serious issues for residents.

There were more than 150 separate instances of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year. (Pictured: A steady stream of patients were brought to Royal London Hospital last year)

There were more than 150 separate instances of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year. (Pictured: A steady stream of patients were brought to Royal London Hospital last year)

‘Over the last 12 months, we have repeatedly pointed out that the vast majority of residents were opposed to them, only to be told that this was a ‘vocal minority’ – this fallacy has now been proven utterly false, through numerous surveys. We are pleased the majority have finally been heard.’ 

A spokesman for Ealing Council added that it was ‘delivering an ambitious programme of active travel’, in part to help tackle the climate crisis.

He added the local authority ‘knows we must take people with us’ so would ‘listen to local people’s views’.

He said: ‘As an open, transparent and inclusive council, we will continue to explore future LTN schemes, but we will only be implementing them where we are satisfied that the data and public support them.’

A spokesman for the Department for Transport said: ‘Well-designed active travel schemes can benefit health, the environment and the economy and our evidence suggests they are generally supported by the majority of people. 

‘Decisions on individual schemes are a matter for local authorities.’

It comes after Garrett Emmerson, who stood down as chief executive of the London Ambulance Service last month, said some paramedics were caught out when the roads were changed ‘very quickly’ during lockdown.

There were more than 150 separate instances of LTNs slowing down ambulance crews in London in an eight-month period, it emerged earlier this year.

Mr Garrett told LBC radio the LTNs do not show on SatNavs, meaning crews were impeded in areas they did not know.

A road closure has ended motor vehicle access to Melbourne Grove, Dulwich, which remains open to cyclists and pedestrians, as part of a London-wide bid to cut air pollution

A road closure has ended motor vehicle access to Melbourne Grove, Dulwich, which remains open to cyclists and pedestrians, as part of a London-wide bid to cut air pollution

He said: ‘It is all right if you know the area, but our crews work all across London. Then, when going into an area of London they know less well and relying on satellite navigation that is not up to date – some new restriction has gone in – is where a lot of the problems occur.’

Mr Garrett said he could not ‘definitely’ say the delays caused by the LTNs cost lives, but said the speed with which they were built was the major issue.

He added: ‘Have they delayed responses? Yes, in certain situations I think they have delayed certain responses because they had to be put in very quickly.’

Some 159 delays to 999 calls were flagged by paramedics in the eight months to February this year, according to data revealed in May by a Freedom of Information request.

But the zones ‘did not increase response times’, according to the government’s analysis of more than 100,000 emergency callouts since they were implemented. 

Elsewhere in Dulwich, a business owner was forced to spend around £50,000 moving his shop to another premises in August after an LTN cut off the business to passing traffic.

Scott Callow, who owns Callow Master Locksmiths, was one of several business owners on Melbourne Grove impacted by the scheme, which also triggered protests by residents and business owners earlier this year. 

The more than 20-year-old business opened new premises on Grove Vale after complaining in March of ‘a significant downfall in trade since the road closures were put in place’.

A Twitter account named Reopen Melbourne Grove, which is run by ‘worried business owners’ in the area said in a post that the locksmiths was the second business to move due to the ‘unconsulted’ road closure and that three more were also considering relocating.  



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