By Joe Talora, local democracy reporter
The High Court has ruled that the Mayor of London and Transport for London acted “unlawfully” by introducing a Streetspace scheme at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The scheme, introduced in London last May, restricted licensed taxis from entering the key A10 Bishopsgate thoroughfare between 7AM and 7PM on weekdays.
The judge, Mrs Justice Elisabeth Lang, ruled that London Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL had “taken advantage of the pandemic” and described the scheme as an “ill thought-out response”, calling it “unfair” to licensed taxi operators.
The ruling could give hope to scores of communities across London fuming about TfL-imposed Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, such as along Upper Tooting Road in Wandsworth.
The decision has been leapt upon by Mr Khan’s mayoral rival Shaun Bailey, who has called on the current mayor to apologise.
Mr Bailey said: “Sadiq Khan’s A10 Bishopsgate Streetspace scheme is unlawful and discriminatory – with the process behind it irrational and seriously flawed.
“Not my words, but the ruling of a High Court judge. This is a victory for taxis and for the Londoners who rely on them – particularly the elderly and those with disabilities.
“Given the severity of the judge’s ruling, Sadiq Khan must now publicly apologise for the harm his Streetspace scheme has caused.
“And he must compensate the hardworking taxi drivers who lost even more business in the middle of a pandemic, all thanks to his scheme.”
The case was brought to the High Court last year by the United Trade Action Group and Licensed Taxi Drivers Association over fears that taxi operators would lose trade due to the restrictions.
Today’s ruling “quashes” the Streetspace scheme, the A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order and Interim Guidance to Boroughs and means that TfL and the Mayor must re-consider them and assure they are “substantially amended”.
TfL will appeal the decision, with the Streetspace scheme remaining in place until the appeal is heard.
The spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and are seeking to appeal this judgment. Temporary Streetspace schemes are enabling safer essential journeys during this exceptionally challenging time and are vital to ensuring that increased car traffic does not threaten London’s recovery from coronavirus.
“We absolutely recognise the need for schemes such as our Bishopsgate corridor to work for the communities they serve and have worked hard to ensure that people across London, including those who use taxis, can continue to get to where they need to be.
“We also recognise the need for schemes to be delivered in a fair and consistent manner and have worked closely with the boroughs to create clear guidance for implementing schemes, updating this regularly to reflect what we have learnt. We are now carefully considering our next steps.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is yet to comment on the ruling.
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