Locals Revolting Against LTNs and Acoustic Cameras Installed

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are proving to be one of the most divisive political policies in recent years. Brought in without any public consultation, they are creating massive opposition as the road network grinds to a halt. This is happening all over the country as local residents form grass-roots organisations to oppose them, but particularly so in London where there are more such schemes than elsewhere.

With public demonstrations now restricted by the epidemic, and Councillors not listening, people are resorting to other ways to show their anger. That includes death threats to councillors, and vandalism of modal filters and camera systems (for example in Hackney and Lewisham). Modal filters (planters) have been moved aside and “road closed” signs sprayed over.

All this vandalism is to be deplored but when democratic ways of stopping the road closures is thwarted (in London local borough elections are not until 2022) and there are not even any public consultations or other ways of persuading councillors to change their minds, then people resort to other means. This has happened all the way through history. Grievances that are ignored lead to violent revolutions, and that is the way it is headed in London unless policies are reconsidered.

When life become intolerable because people cannot move around, cannot do their jobs, their income is threatened, they cannot visit their relatives or care for the elderly and their health is threatened by more air pollution, then anger rises to boiling point. Councillors and those who are encouraging these defective policies such as the Mayor of London, TfL and central Government need to reconsider before the divisive atmosphere gets worse.

Peaceful Ways of Opposing

There are of course peaceful ways of opposing the road closures and other damaging road redesign schemes. We have listed a number of petitions against them on this web page: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/opposition-to-road-closures-in-london-grows-sign-the-petitions/ and we will update that page as we learn about more. Please sign them if you have not already done so.

Hammersmith & Fulham

Local M.P. Greg Hands in Hammersmith & Fulham has created a petition calling on LBHF to cancel its SW6 traffic scheme and it has received 4,000 signatures to date. But he could do with more – go here to sign it:  https://www.greghands.com/campaigns/SW6petition  

Photo above shows one result of the current scheme in Fulham Palace Road.

Acoustic Camera Pilot to Curb Noisy Supercars

One move to curb anti-social behaviour in Hammersmith and Fulham is the use of new acoustic cameras. Supercar drivers using iconic Sloane Street and the surrounding area as a racetrack could face new punishments, after the Council takes action to curb noisy engine revving in the area.

Chelsea street is a magnet for Lamborghinis and Ferraris, with drivers showing off their cars by cruising the local area, often in convoy. Now Kensington and Chelsea is becoming the first Council to pilot its own noise camera technology to catch drivers who are revving too loudly and disturbing residents and businesses. Persistent offenders will be fined and in extreme cases, on conviction the Council can apply to the Magistrates Court to seize the vehicle.

Lead Member for Transport Cllr Johnny Thalassites said:

“Residents have had enough of drivers using our streets as a racetrack. We have had fines in place for a while now, but this new noise camera technology will make sure we are catching more of the worst offenders. Supercars look good and most drivers are considerate but when they they’re not, it is disruptive and irritating for people living and working in the area”. It has become the first authority to set up noise cameras and run them directly.

Comment: This is surely a sensible initiative to halt this anti-social behaviour that has kept residents awake at night.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using the Contact page to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Bromley Council Experimental Traffic Orders – Objections Submitted

Albemarle Road, Beckenham and School Road/Church Row in Chislehurst

The London Borough of Bromley have published two sets of Experimental Traffic Orders to put in one-way systems, cycle lanes, parking restrictions and road closures in Beckenham and Chislehurst. These are being justified using the Covid-19 epidemic as a feeble excuse to assist walking, cycling and social distancing. The changes are being financed by TfL – the cost is not disclosed but must be very considerable as it even includes a new pedestrian crossing.

The first such scheme covers Albemarle Road and Bromley Road which are the main roads between Bromley and Beckenham. This is what the ABD has submitted in response to these proposals:

Our objections to these proposals are as follows:

1.       The changes are unnecessary and not justified in the given “Statement of Reasons”. These changes will not “facilitate walking, cycling and social distancing” as specified. There will certainly be no additional advantages to walking as the pavement on the affected roads such as Albemarle Road are wide, and there is no problem with “social distancing” at present. Neither is there any apparent benefit for cyclists who have no difficulty in cycling on these roads at present.

2.       The introduction of a one-way system on the stretch of Albemarle Road between Downs Bridge Road and Bromley Road will mean vehicles that wish to travel west will have to turn right at the junction with Bromley Road, which is currently banned for obvious safety reasons. There is undoubtedly a considerable volume of vehicles wanting to do that as there are numerous visitors to the Sloane Hospital.

3.       The introduction of a pedestrian crossing on Bromley Road, just east of the junction with Albemarle Road, is surely dangerous. This is a relatively sharp bend on a busy road. We recognise the need for a pedestrian crossing on this stretch of Bromley Road, but it should be moved further east or west (preferably west to avoid interaction with the Shortlands junction traffic lights).

4.       The introduction of parking restrictions along the whole of Albemarle Road will inconvenience local residents, and visitors to the Sloane Hospital, very considerably.

5.       These proposals will clearly be very costly and there is no justification for such expenditure on a cost/benefit basis.

More details of this scheme can be obtained from traffic@bromley.gov.uk by referencing:

The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 1) (One Way) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 2) (Cycle Lanes) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 3) (Road Closure) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Waiting and Loading Restriction) Order 2003 (Amendment No. 207) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Controlled Parking) (On Street Places) Order 2004 (Amendment No. 128) Experimental Order 2020; (Bromley Road and Albemarle Road, Beckenham; Crystal Palace Park Road, Penge).

The second scheme includes the closure of School Road (see photo above) and the introduction of a one-way system in Chislehurst plus some School Streets. The ABD has put in the following objections:

1.       The closure of School Road at its junction with Royal Parade will cause more traffic to use Church Lane to reach the St.Pauls Cray Road or Centre Common Road. This is already heavily congested at busy times of day.

2.       The introduction of a one-system covering School Road and Church Row makes sense but it should be in the reverse direction to that proposed with the exit onto Royal Parade maintained. This would maximise traffic flows and avoid long circuitous routes for residents of Church Row and other roads.

Note that as a matter of principle we object to the closure of roads unless there are very good reasons to do so. The justifications provided are inadequate. These changes are not justified in the given “Statement of Reasons”. These changes will not “facilitate walking, cycling and social distancing” as specified.

Note that there will be signs on Royal Parade diverting traffic via Bromley Road and Watts Lane. But not only does Watts Lane have a width restriction on it but there is an awkward left turn from Bromley Lane at the Hangman’s Corner roundabout. Larger vehicles going to the Crown Inn are surely going to have difficulties also because of the sharp bend introduced on the one-way system.

For more information contact traffic@bromley.gov.uk by referencing:

The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 4) (School Streets) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Waiting and Loading Restriction) Order 2003 (Amendment No. 208) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 5) (One Way) Experimental Order 2020; The Bromley (Prescribed Route) (No. 6) (Road Closure) Experimental Order 2020 (Various Locations). Or contact the ABD for more information.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using the Contact page to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Wandsworth Suspends Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Wandsworth Council is suspending its Low Traffic Neighbourhood which has affected areas such as Tooting and West Putney following an urgent review subsequent to residents’ complaints. Wandsworth Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, Cllr John Locker said:

“We have monitored the traffic flows and listened to feedback from residents and businesses. We have also spoken to our partners including local hospitals and key services to hear the impact on them.

It is clear that the LTNs are not delivering the benefits we want to see. In fact it looks like the combination of changes in areas like Tooting, where TfL are making changes to the main high road, are unfortunately having the opposite effect. That is why we have taken the difficult decision to pause and re-think about how we can achieve our objective of delivering healthier, safer streets”

He added: “We all want to do what is right environmentally, whilst maintaining people’s ability to travel and making sure town centres and high streets function properly. It’s important that we listen to what people are saying so that we get this right.”

But other London Councils such as Lewisham are not listening and are still persevering in the vain home that the worsening traffic congestion they have caused will go away. It will not.

Opposition is growing to road closures across London with many local groups being formed. The ABD is happy to advise or assist any local groups.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using the Contact page to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Is the Traffic Management Act Being Ignored?

The Traffic Management Act was passed by Parliament in 2004. Its objective was to improve the management of the road network.  Part 2 of the Act imposes a duty on all local traffic authorities to secure the expeditious movement of traffic on their road networks. Authorities are required to make arrangements as they consider appropriate for planning and carrying out the action to be taken in performing the duty and part of the arrangements must be the appointment of a “Traffic Manager”.

Section 16 of the Act specifically says:

The network management duty

(1) It is the duty of a local traffic authority or a strategic highways company (“the network management authority”) to manage their road network with a view to achieving, so far as may be reasonably practicable having regard to their other obligations, policies and objectives, the following objectives—

(a) securing the expeditious movement of traffic on the authority’s road network; and

(b) facilitating the expeditious movement of traffic on road networks for which another authority is the traffic authority.

(2) The action which the authority may take in performing that duty includes, in particular, any action which they consider will contribute to securing—

(a) the more efficient use of their road network; or

(b) the avoidance, elimination or reduction of road congestion or other disruption to the movement of traffic on their road network or a road network for which another authority is the traffic authority;and may involve the exercise of any power to regulate or co-ordinate the uses made of any road (or part of a road) in the road network (whether or not the power was conferred on them in their capacity as a traffic authority).

But the road closures that are taking place all over London and in many other parts of the country are surely ignoring that obligation. In other words, the law of the land is being ignored. As a result we have massively increased congestion which the Act was designed originally to avoid.

Local councils such as Lewisham are claiming that they can do so because of the Guidance published by the Secretary of State in May (See Reference 2). This provided additional guidance on how to adapt roads to cope with the Covid-19 epidemic – for example to improve the support for active travel modes such as walking and cycling . That included reallocation of road space and the use of Modal Filters to close roads to motor traffic. But that surely contradicts the basic wording and obligations imposed by the Act of Parliament. That should not be overturned simply because some civil servant in Whitehall thinks it’s a good idea to do so.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is apparently reviewing the Act but it would surely be unwise to change the principles behind the Act as it stands.

Reference 1: The Traffic Management Act 2004:  https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/18/contents

Reference 2: Statutory Guidance 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

Reference 3: Statutory Guidance 2004: https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tpm/tmaportal/tmafeatures/tmapart2/tmafeaturespart2.pdf

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using the Contact page to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Mayor Sadiq Khan Obstructing London Roads

London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has embarked on a steadily intensifying witch-hunt amounting to the complete obstruction of motorised commercial and private mobility, through the misuse (potentially illegally) of Temporary Traffic Orders during the Covid-19 outbreak. These have been used to implement lowered speed limits, carriageway narrowings, superfluous cycle lane widenings, and so-called “Modal Filters” (roadblocks in plain English). This has incensed, amongst others, London cabbies: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1289098/Sadiq-khan-London-news-public-transport-tfl-taxis-disabled-vulnerable .

This policy particularly adversely affects the elderly and the infirm – who often have no alternative to private car use – but also increases congestion, unnecessarily elevates vehicle emissions and wastes precious economic time. This is time that can be ill afforded, as the whole country seeks to climb out of the deep economic well created by the Covid-19 outbreak.

ABD’s London Campaigns Manager, Roger Lawson, is spearheading the investigation of a legal challenge (https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm ) to measures implemented in the borough of Lewisham without adequate public notice or consultation.

COVID-19 was not supposed to bring with it rampant inconsiderate cycling schemes and “Low Traffic Neighbourhoods”.

Abusing emergency powers, Park Lane for example is now down to one lane Northbound. With a pre-existing cycle lane already in the park, there is now a parallel, totally redundant one on Park Lane. Mayor Khan inexplicably thinks that this is effective traffic management.

In the past, local authorities had in place a perfectly good, real consultation process that had to be completed with residents, local public transport AND all three of the emergency services, prior to any road closures, so that public safety and response times could be met. Sadly this approach no longer prevails and people’s lives are being put at risk in a mad rush to slash vehicular access.

If you know of any instances of emergency vehicles being delayed by these (or any other traffic impeding) measures in the London area (or indeed anywhere else) and that have had adverse health implications for anyone, which is a failure in a local authority’s basic duty of care, for which they may be punishable in law, then please send ABD Director a message using the ABD’s main contact page here: https://www.abd.org.uk/contact/ .

What local and national politicians actually need to do is avoid the pitfall of making excessive provision for cyclists at the expense of adequate road space for vehicles. The constraints applicable to the realistic extent of future commuter cycling – i.e., distance, terrain and weather; plus the current imperative of avoiding public transport, indicates that car use will be the primary practical mobility solution for the overwhelming majority of road users. So under current circumstances there should actually be concerted efforts to smooth and ease motorised traffic flow and increased provision for car parking; instead of the very opposite.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps’ incomprehensible call to local authorities “to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians, to help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel” is the root of all the road space reallocation problems currently taking place https://www.localgov.co.uk/Roads-to-recovery/50932 .

In the final reckoning, all politicians are fortunately electorally disposable, and their policies are reversible – as subsequent recent events are already demonstrating locally in London boroughs (see for example:  https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/news/352786/local-authorities-backtrack-closing-roads-cars ).

The ABD has a rolling campaign to oppose these fundamentally anti-mobility and anti-democratic policies which are all part of Sadiq Khan’s London Transport Strategy which he adopted a couple of years ago but is now using the Covid-19 epidemic as an excuse to bring them in without proper public consultation. See https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for more information and to register your support.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Protest Against Hammersmith Bridge Closure

If you feel strongly upset by the way Hammersmith Bridge has been closed to all traffic and are inconvenienced by it, there is a protest rally being organised on both north and south sides of the bridge on Thursday (3rd September) at 5.00 pm.

The Broken Bridge Broken London campaign group has already accumulated hundreds of people on a WhatsApp group and on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/groups/507440140087966/ .

Local residents feel they are being badly let down by politicians of all colours because there is a very good proposal for a temporary bridge on the upstream side, from specialist marine engineers Beckett Rankine, which have been on the table since March. The cost would be just a few million pounds and it would take just 2-3 months to erect but local politicians won’t consider it seriously and the government is not offering to pay, despite Greg Hands and Grant Shapps promising to take action if elected. (See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_purI1mldc and https://lnkd.in/dcAWgYK ).

If you are sympathetic to the cause, please share this and support the postings on social media.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Are There Any Benefits from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs)?

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) are being promoted by local councils and central government and are actually being implemented in many locations around the country. Typically they are called “Healthy Neighbourhoods”, “Healthy Streets”, “Mini-Hollands” or other fine sounding names when in reality they usually consist of mainly road closures (“modal filters”, “school streets”, etc) that obstruct the use of roads. The object is stated to get us all to use “active travel” modes such as walking or cycling so that we live longer. But do they really do so? And what are the disadvantages?

These schemes are currently now being implemented using Temporary Traffic Orders using the claim that the Covid-19 epidemic justifies emergency measures to enhance social distancing without any advance public consultation whatsoever. But they have aroused very strong opposition in several London boroughs once people have seen the result. See Ref.2 below for a list of some of them in London).

It is frequently claimed that traffic “evaporates” once these schemes are installed, but is that true? A recently published academic study (see Ref.1 below) of three mini-Holland schemes in outer London gives a very different picture however.

The three boroughs studied were Enfield, Waltham Forest and Kingston. They selected over 3,000 people at random and gave them a survey of their travel behaviour with a follow up later to see the changes (although there was a high drop-out rate). There was a particular focus on their use of cycling.

Based on reports of past-week cycling, the authors suggest there was a trend towards higher cycling levels in the mini-Holland areas than the non mini-Holland areas. But this effect was not statistically significant (i.e. may not be true). Bearing in mind that these are self-reported numbers in addition which are likely to be biased, the claimed effect is likely to be a mirage.

The report also says “There was generally little or no evidence of differences by mini-Holland status in the proportion of individuals doing ‘any walking’ or ‘any active travel’ in the past week”. In reality therefore the mini-Holland schemes have had no impact on active travel use.

On car use the report says: “For past-week car use, there was a non-significant trend for those living in mini-Holland boroughs to be less likely to report any past-week car use than those living in non mini-Holland areas. Time spent driving in a car in the past week showed no consistent pattern in the results, and no evidence of a difference in any contrast [sic]”. In other words, car use had not changed.

At the follow up survey, in those living in mini-Holland areas there was an increase in the proportion saying that there was “too much” support for investment in cycling (from 27% to 33%). These differences were highly significant which shows the population were not convinced of the merits of the programme.

The report’s authors make some positive comments about the effect of the mini-Holland interventions but their conclusions are hardly consistent with the data they report.

In reality there is no substantial movement that is statistically significant into active travel modes, and car use continues at the same level.

Emergency Service Access

One of the complaints from those living in LTNs is the impact on emergency services access (ambulances, police cars, fire engines). The College of Paramedics has warned how lives could be put at risk and emergency response times increased as road closures, cycle lanes and one-way systems cause problems for ambulances and delay response times.

Richard Webber, a College Spokesperson, recently said “Previous traffic calming measures have caused delays for emergency vehicles. So now we are particularly concerned new measures are being rushed in without proper consideration and there will be a risk of further delays for ambulances and other emergency responders. For someone not breathing or having a heart attack, stroke or allergic reaction this risks causing significant harm. We would urge councils as they implement these new measures to give proper consideration to access for emergency vehicles and ensure they are not delayed reaching the scene of an emergency.

We fully support and understand the need to improve routes to protect cyclists and pedestrians, particularly while there is a reduction in the use of public transport following the Covid-19 epidemic. However, the designs must take into account fully whether an emergency vehicle – whether ambulance police or fire – can gain access in a hurry, rather than making it difficult to do so.”

But in reality little account is being taken of emergency service access. For example in Lewisham there are numerous reports of ambulances and police cars being blocked. They are supposed to have keys to open locks on the bollards on some roads, but they do not. Even if they do have keys, significant delays are caused.

Photo below shows an ambulance with blue flashing lights being blocked in Manor Lane Terrace Lewisham.

In summary, there is no evidence that Low Traffic Neighbourhoods produce any significant benefits while there is clear evidence that they delay emergency service vehicles. Residents also report massively extended journey times and increased air pollution on major routes as traffic is diverted onto them.

The ABD suggests that encouraging active travel may be a good thing, but there are better ways to do it than just closing roads. Closing roads simply does not work to encourage active travel and the extreme versions of LTNs implemented in boroughs such as Waltham Forest and Lewisham will never get general public support.

Reference 1: Impacts of an active travel intervention with a cycling focus in a suburban context: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0965856417314866

Reference 2: Opposition to Road Closures in London Grows: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/07/12/opposition-to-road-closures-in-london-grows-sign-the-petitions/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

Streetspace Reduction and A21 Lewisham – Catford Changes

Transport for London (TfL) have launched an initiative called “Streetspace” – see Reference 1 below. To quote they are: “creating more space for people to safely walk or cycle as our city emerges from the coronavirus lockdown. Temporary cycle lanes and wider pavements are among the changes we’re making as part of Streetspace for London”. In reality this means less space for road traffic and in addition it includes creating car-free zones and low traffic neighbourhoods by introducing road closures as we have seen in many London boroughs recently. This is a natural consequence of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (see https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm ) which the ABD has consistently opposed since it was adopted. But the Covid-19 epidemic has been used as an excuse to sneak these damaging changes in without any public consultation.

TfL and the London Borough of Lewisham have just announced a scheme as part of the Streetspace progamme that covers the A21 between Catford and Lewisham. It includes:

See map above for the details. For example a right turn from Courthill Road onto the A21 is banned. These changes could make life very awkward for some people. It is suggested that they are only temporary but you can expect them to made permanent unless enough people object.

Note that although this is a TfL Programme (and financed by them even though they are supposed to be short of money), it has clearly been supported by Lewisham Council.

Go to Reference 2 below for more details and for how to object. Or simply send your comments to: streetspacelondon@tfl.gov.uk

Similar changes are happening all over London under the Streetspace programme and are likely to increase traffic congestion as we are already seeing from such schemes in Lewisham (see Ref. 3) and other boroughs. Make sure you tell your local councillors and MP what you think about them.

But the lack of any proper public consultations on these schemes is totally undemocratic and is undermining public respect for politicians (including the Mayor of London) who are pushing these schemes through.

Ref. 1 London Streetspace Programme: https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/streetspace-for-london

Ref. 2 A21 Lewisham-Catford: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/034ec426/

Ref. 3 Lewisham Campaign: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

London Resort Public Consultation

One of the biggest development projects in the South-East is planned. It’s called the “London Resort” and will comprise a theme park, hotels with 3,350 rooms, 500 homes, a conference centre and other facilities. In total it will cover 1,245 acres which is larger than the largest theme park in the UK (Alton Towers).

Where exactly will it be? In Swanscombe which is just east of the Dartford Crossing. The road network in the area is of course very heavily congested already as there has been a large amount of development in Kent in recent years and the M25 and Dartford Crossing capacity is insufficient to cope with existing demand although the new Lower Thames crossing further east may help and there are plans for a direct link to the A2. The developers also propose to put transport facilities on the north side of the river Thames.

The developers are currently running a public consultation on their plans. See here for more details: https://londonresort.info/ . Residents in the area should certainly take a look at them and give their views.

It may be some time before a planning application is made and any traffic study would be worth a close look.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.

More London Road Closures and Another TfL Bailout

Lewisham: The opposition to road closures in Lewisham grows daily with more people responding to our leaflet drop and more people signing the petition against them. We now have 2,700 signatures to this petition: http://chng.it/ft4KcrVM . Please sign it if you have not done so already.

We sent out an update to our Lewisham campaign contacts today and this is some of what it said (you can register to follow the campaign on this page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm ):

We have received numerous complaints about much longer journey times (sometimes over an hour added to a local trip). Residents are the biggest source of complaints by far, not people from outside travelling through the area. We will publish some of them soon.

A few people support the road closures, but most do not. The Council has done a great job of setting one group of residents against another instead of trying to resolve past complaints about traffic congestion, speeding traffic and air pollution. The road closures have made traffic congestion worse and air pollution probably worse also as people spend longer in queues of traffic on the major roads.

Legal Action

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has been consulting solicitors on whether a legal challenge can be mounted against the use of Temporary Traffic Orders to close roads. We believe this is a misuse of the relevant legislation and associated regulations. The needs of the elderly and disabled have also been ignored which is probably a breach of the Equalities Act. The lack of proper and full public consultation before the closures were implemented may also be illegal and is certainly obnoxious.

Note that if we proceed with legal action then we will probably need to raise funds to cover the legal costs. Such actions would almost certainly need to be taken in the High Court and hence are expensive. We will advise further on that at a later date. In the meantime it’s worth pointing out that we have already incurred considerable costs on the Lewisham campaign which have been paid for by the ABD or its Members. If you wish to support us then please make a donation here: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/donate.htm

Note that we are extending the area in Lewisham that we covered with our leaflet drop. This will incur considerable extra cost.

Why the ABD is Fighting The Lewisham Campaign

Some respondents to our Lewisham leaflet questioned our motives in undertaking this campaign in Lewisham and suggested we are solely supporting those who drive through the area rather than local residents. This is false.

The ABD is a national organisation that promotes and defends the interests of motorists everywhere they may be. We are not against helping people to cycle or walk, or opposed to improving the environment or reducing air pollution. But we do believe in a rational approach to such issues that does not unreasonably prejudice those who need to use vehicles.

We support local residents against unreasonable impositions by Councils but we also wish to see the road network maintained as a functioning system, and improved where possible, for the good of everyone. Not all people can use public transport for all journeys, or can walk or cycle everywhere. A functioning road system is essential also for goods deliveries, for buses and for emergency service vehicle access.

The ABD got extensive press coverage on our campaign in Lewisham and if we can obtain a legal judgement on the issues this would set a wider precedent. We will continue to fight this campaign until councillors see reason and withdraw the road closures.

Islington: There was a large public demonstration by Islington residents against the road closures in the borough last week. This was outside Islington Town Hall and another is planned for this week. It’s good to see such opposition. A photograph posted on Twitter by AutomaticDog is shown below.

Hammersmith & Fulham: Complaints about the road closures in South Fulham have caused the Council to drop them. But they are replaced by a scheme whereby cameras are used to stop vehicles other than those registered in the area from entering. See https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/articles/news/2020/07/pioneering-new-sw6-traffic-reduction-scheme-launch-20-july . The ABD is opposed to such schemes because it causes problems for visitors and for delivery drivers. It is also administratively complex and undermines the general principle that all roads should be open to everyone as everyone pays for them.

This is what local M.P. Greg Hands had to say about it: “This scheme is clearly designed to be a revenue raiser by Labour run Hammersmith and Fulham Council. On top of the existing million-pound moneybox junction, this scheme will hammer residents, visitors and essential deliveries hard, in addition to increasing traffic on the already congested Wandsworth Bridge Road.

There has been minimal consultation with residents, and Fulham has not reacted well to this money grab by greedy Labour councillors. The Council need to shelve its hastily conceived scheme and consult and involve residents. Traffic in Fulham is a problem, but this is not the solution.”

TfL Needs Billions of Pounds

Transport for London (TfL) is seeking another bail-out in addition to the £1.6 billion already supplied by the Government due to the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on revenues. They are now seeking another £3.5 billion.

Apart from the epidemic impact, an additional problem has been the further delay in the completion of Crossrail. It was supposed to open next summer but any new date is unknown. This was budgeted to add significantly to TfL’s revenue.

The Government is undertaking a review of TfL’s financing but Sadiq Khan responded by appointing his own “independent” panel to examine long-term funding.

These were my comments on Twitter: “What’s another few billion pounds to keep Sadiq Khan in power? But it would be cheaper to sack him and most of TfL”. Tory Mayoral Candidate Shaun Bailey said this: “Sadiq Khan wants another TfL bailout. He’s blaming coronavirus again. But the virus didn’t cause 4 years of negligence. £5bn lost on Crossrail delays, £640m on subsidising tourist travel, £56m a year on TfL staff earning £100k+ and Record levels of debt”. That’s a good summary. You can read what we said about the ludicrous finances of TfL in January (i.e. before the epidemic) here: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/01/17/tfl-business-plan-and-budget-for-the-next-5-years-more-of-the-same/

But TfL still have the funds to finance road closures in boroughs all over London!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London 

You can “follow” this blog by clicking on the bottom right in most browsers or by using this Contact page: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm  to send us a message requesting. You will then receive an email alerting you to new posts as they are added.