By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter
Lambeth’s last remaining Conservative councillor has urgently asked for new controversial traffic-busting schemes across the borough be scrapped.
Cllr Tim Briggs says even some members of the ruling Labour group are privately worried about the effect the low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN) are having on their support.
He has sent an emergency motion to Lambeth council’s chief executive asking for his motion to be debated at full council tomorrow, Wednesday (October 14), describing the LTNs as “failed”.
He wants them reversed and has demanded “proper” consultation with residents.
Lambeth received £2,639,000 from the Mayor of London’s Streetspace plans, the most out of all London councils, to cover emergency transport measures to aid social distancing and promote active travel in the wake of Covid-19.
LTNs, which involve placing camera-enforced or physical barriers in streets to prevent through-traffic, are being implemented across the capital as part of the scheme.
Lambeth recently implemented its fifth LTN in Tulse Hill, following Railton, Oval Triangle, Ferndale, and Streatham Hill.
One of the main aims of the LTNs is to promote active travel such as cycling, walking, and public transport, which many residents support.
But many other residents have also raised concerns about traffic displacement, lack of consultation, increased journey times, and the division of communities.
In the motion, Cllr Briggs wrote: “All councillors want to encourage more cycling and walking.
“But the temporary low traffic neighbourhood schemes closing roads and bridges are causing chaos across Lambeth, and without emergency action being taken to mitigate their effect, will ruin lives and shut down businesses.”
Cllr Briggs used a host of comments collected from residents, some of whom said they need to use cars to get around, such as disabled and elderly people, tradespeople, those delivering goods, and parents of SEN children.
People spoke of increased traffic and pollution in their streets, longer journey times, road-rage incidents stemming from congestion, concerns about emergency services access, and vehicles mounting pavements to avoid the barriers.
“The lack of any proper consultation in Lambeth has led to the opposite of what the schemes were intended to achieve,” Cllr Briggs said.
He also referred to the displacement of traffic onto some roads from others.
“Traffic and pollution are being displaced onto residential roads such as Coldharbour Lane with large BAME populations living and working on them, who are disproportionately affected by Covid, with pollution thought to be a factor in disease severity and mortality rates,” Cllr Briggs said.
He asked that the council resolves to “end the low traffic neighbourhoods trial immediately, with all road blockages removed” and for the council to “go back to the drawing board and consult residents in an unbiased way that does not presume an outcome, to see where low traffic neighbourhoods or restrictions are actually wanted, or required to solve a problem”.
Cllr Briggs also asked that the council “lobby Sadiq Khan to end his road-narrowing and other anti-car schemes, open the bridges, and allow the economy of Central London to return to normal, so businesses there can have a chance of survival whilst he remains Mayor of London, before consulting properly on ways to encourage safe cycling and walking”.
Several petitions have been set up by Lambeth residents calling for an end to the LTNs.
But other resident-led surveys have seen strong support for the schemes, while petitions have also been set up asking for LTNs.
Responding to a councillor’s question ahead of full council on Wednesday, the deputy leader and cabinet member for sustainable transport, environment and clean air, Cllr Claire Holland, said that the council has been “inundated” with requests for more LTNs – though there is no funding available at the moment to increase the number of planned schemes.
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