Three petitions to end LTNs dismissed by council

The petitions calling for removal of LTNs around Haringey had between 2,800 and 7,500 signatures, reports Miriam Balanescu

LTNs protest
LTNs protest on Tottenham High Rd on 13th February; Credit Stephen Furner

Haringey Council has chosen not to take action on three separate petitions demanding an end to low-traffic neighbourhood schemes (LTNs) in Haringey.

The petitions were presented at a full council meeting on Monday, 13th February, calling for the removal of LTNs in West Green and St Ann’s (4,238 signatures), Bounds Green (2,837 signatures) and West Green and Bruce Grove (7,603 signatures). A deputation from the Jewish community on LTNs was also heard.

The LTN ‘experiment’ was introduced on a trial basis last year, with schemes in Bounds Green and St Ann’s launched in August 2022, and Bruce Grove and West Green in November. They are designed to reduce through-traffic and improve air quality by using physical barriers and enforcement cameras.

However, concerns have been raised among residents that they increase congestion, pollution and turn affected highstreets into ‘dead-zones’, worsening the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and forcing businesses to close.

A protest by those calling for an end to LTNs took place outside the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) on Tottenham High Road, while the council meeting went ahead. Opponents to LTNs claim that many were denied access to the public meeting on the grounds of there being limited seating.

This meeting followed the cancellation of a prior full council meeting scheduled for November 2022 to discuss the St Ann’s and Bounds Green petitions, called off at short notice by the council due to alleged “disruption by a small group of protestors”. Opponents to LTNs also claim that the third petition for Bruce Grove was forced to be heard on Monday with only six days’ notice.

Opening Monday’s debate, West Green councillor Nicola Bartlett said: “I think I speak for all councillors when I say that we had very much hoped to hold the full council meeting last time and that we didn’t want to delay having this important discussion.”

She continued: “The reason that this is an experiment is that we don’t initially know the effects of some of these decisions. Personally, I would have liked to see a London-wide scheme being introduced.”

Earlier this month, Local Democracy Reporter Simon Allin reported that drivers had been fined a total of £2million in just four months since the LTN rollout, with 60,000 penalty charge notices served between September and December 2022 – raising concerns among opposition party members and Labour councillors alike.

Scott Emery, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for transport and the environment, said during the meeting: “The implementation of LTNs in Haringey has clearly left a lot to be desired, in particular consultation with businesses and disability groups.

“Signage has also been poor in many places, which is why we’ve ended up with millions in fines.”

In a further statement, he added: “The implementation of the LTNs in Haringey has clearly divided opinion, and there remain significant issues we feel need urgent work such as more obvious signage at filtered junctions and improvements to the individual circumstance exemption scheme.

“However, we must improve air quality in the borough and create safer streets so we are supportive of these trials continuing, as evidence from other areas shows that LTNs generally do reduce traffic, leading to less pollution, less congestion, and fewer traffic collisions.”

Mike Hakata, the council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, transport and the climate emergency, said during the meeting that 60% of Haringey residents use cars: “Councillors are residents too, and most of the councillors in this room drive. All of us use cars some of the time, so we know that this is a major change to how most people get around and we want to make this work as much as you. If you build for cars, you get cars, and you choose to take journeys by car.

“We have a basic problem in major cities and especially London which is classed as the most congested city in the world […] We know that there is a major problem and we need to address it, build safe spaces for active sustainable travel and make our roads safe for everyone.”

He concluded: “I don’t agree with the assertion that the people of Haringey reject the LTNs. I know there are very strong feelings on both sides of this debate. My colleagues and I have had thousands of people approach us […] to talk about how they also support the LTNs.”

In a further statement made to Haringey Community Press, Cllr Hakata said: “The council is listening to all the feedback we are getting from residents, businesses and other stakeholders. We know this is a major change to how people get around. All our LTNs have been introduced on an experimental basis. We are constantly monitoring what’s happening on the ground. Where something clearly doesn’t work, we will make changes. We want to get this right for everyone.

“There is a very specific timeline and time-frame for the LTNs, and we will assess the data we’ve collected, which includes all the feedback from residents. 18 months is the maximum amount of time we can have an experimental scheme in place. We need time to see if the LTNs are having their desired effects and will make a decision on the future of the LTNs before the end of the trial period.”

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