Council scraps controversial scheme introduced to block off side streets after opposition

By Sian Bayley, Local Democracy Reporter

Controversial low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) trials in Wandsworth have been scrapped following a review by the council.

Officials were due to begin to remove planters used to block off the side streets on Saturday, and this should be completed by tomorrow, with signs bagged over.

Many residents have already started celebrating.

Lorna Blane is part of the group OneWandsworth, which has been fighting against the LTNs which occurred alongside Transport for London’s (TfL) temporary changes to Cycle Superhighway 7.

She said: “We’re having a celebratory cup of tea in the park because the first part of our protest has seen some success.

“The council has rightly listened to all of the residents, but we do have more to do. The TfL scheme is still a massive concern with the way that they have still blocked off the High Road and blocked off suppliers to shops. People can’t get to the shops as easily.

“We still have an issue with the cycle wands because they still will block emergency services reaching their destination. It’s half a victory, but the fight is not over yet.”

Upgrades to the cycle lane in Balham High Road (Picture: Wandsworth council)

However, Tooting MP Rosena Allin-Khan has raised concerns that “by scrapping the scheme entirely (the council has) wasted tens of thousands of pounds”.

She posted on Twitter: “Wandsworth council failed to communicate the implementation of LTNs to local residents.

“Now instead of listening and reviewing they’ve caved in, because they don’t want the fuss.”

In response to concerns about TfL’s scheme, she added: “It’s a scheme that has its issues and needs reviewing, but I’m confident TfL want to make it work for our local environment.”

The LTN trials were introduced by Wandsworth council last month to make residential streets more bike and pedestrian friendly, and to deter rat run traffic.

They were part of a series of measures introduced as part of the Covid response to free up additional space in support of social distancing, and to promote alternative forms of travel as people gradually return to work.

It was also hoped they would encourage people to use more sustainable forms of transport and improve air quality.

However, an initial review of the trials has identified concerns with emergency access and traffic flows.

Wandsworth council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation, councillor John Locker, said: “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.”

Pictured top: Modal fillers blocking off Beechcroft Road in Tooting


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One thought on “Council scraps controversial scheme introduced to block off side streets after opposition

  • 15th September 2020 at 9:36 am
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    I’m a pedestrian not a motorist so ought to have been celebrating the council’s road blocking measures, but they are a nightmare. The scheme was hasty and badly planned, and residents weren’t consulted. Shopkeepers are in despair over the blockages – bosses are considering redundancies because customers and deliveries can’t reach their shops. The ‘wands’ are stopping and slowing fire engines and ambulances on emergency call, mobility-impaired patients can’t reach GP surgeries and some wands are so badly placed they are a danger to cyclists too. Nor have pavements become safer – cyclists are still racing along them, as there are no police to enforce the law. The other day when a truck reversed out of a side street, blocking the narrowed High Rd, cars drove along the pavement! Complaints to WBC and TfL have met with zero response.

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