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Complaints lead to suspension of Low Traffic Zone

The decision comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan admitted that the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Streatham Wells was ‘causing huge problems.’

A London local authority has suspended its Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) trial scheme in response to complaints about delays on bus journeys and ahead of major roadworks.

Lambeth Council announced on Thursday it was suspending the Streatham Wells LTN, introduced in October 2023, admitting there had been resultant delays to bus journeys on the A23 which had impacted residents.

Deputy Leader Councillor Rezina Chowdhury, cabinet member for Sustainable Lambeth and Clean Air, said: “We’ve listened to the concerns raised by local people and recognise the major disruption coming as part of transport improvements on the main road running through Streatham. The combination of factors together would cause too much disruption for Lambeth residents.

“We always said that this was a trial, and we would be led by the data—and the monitoring report makes it clear that the scheme met our objectives to reduce traffic and road danger.”

LTNs are residential areas where access to vehicles is restricted. Their aims are to reduce traffic, thus reducing air pollution, noise pollution, and accidents, as well as making the neighbourhoods more accessible to people walking and cyclists. LTNs typically use bollards, barriers, planters, and road signs to restrict vehicular access.

Delays in Bus Journeys

Ms. Chowdhury said that while local people had welcomed the fall in traffic in areas like around Sunnyhill Primary School, “equally, there have been delays in bus journeys on the A23 which has had an impact on many residents.”

The council stated that there had been a 60 percent decrease in traffic within the LTN, but an eight percent increase in traffic on the boundary roads. Overall, there was a two percent net reduction in traffic across the area.

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The scheme was also suspended ahead of planned works by Transport for London on the A23, the council said, which would “substantially upgrade the experience for walking and cycling.” The roadworks are expected to start at the end of spring, continuing into 2025.

Neil Garrett AM, leader of the City Hall Conservatives, called the decision, “A win for all the local people who’ve had to put up with Labour’s LTN nonsense in Streatham, and we who pressed Labour to open their eyes and look at the disaster they created.”

“If the LTN cheerleaders are right, this suspension will make no difference to A23 traffic. Let’s see,” Mr. Garrett wrote on social media platform X.

Khan Admitted LTN ‘Causing Huge Problems’

The suspended scheme came a week after London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan said that “the LTN in Streatham is causing huge problems.”

During his regular phone-in session on LBC on Feb., 29, Mr. Khan told a caller that his office has been in touch with Lambeth Council to “see what we can do to resolve the issues” and that news about changes would be communicated “soon.”

Mr. Khan told the caller, a bus driver, “It’s not working and we’ve asked the council to look at it urgently to look at, in relation to the consequences of a very well-intentioned LTN, but people like you are reporting back to us that people are leaving your buses because it’s taking so long.”

“One of the unintended consequences is less use of public transport,” he said.

In one previously reported case in the Streatham Wells LTN, a bus took 55 minutes to travel two stops—a journey which would normally take four minutes.

Sunak Vowed to ‘Slam the Breaks’ on Controversial LTNs

In September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had pledged to “slam the brakes” on road schemes such as LTNs.
Mr. Sunak said, “What we want to do now is make sure that all these hare-brained schemes forced on local communities, whether it is low traffic neighbourhoods, whether it is blanket 20 mile an hour speed limits, all of that… (they) need to stop.”

“What we want to make sure is that local communities are not having these things imposed upon them, forced on them,” Mr. Sunak added.

There has been community resistance to LTNs across the country, including in Oxford where five people were arrested during a large-scale protest against the proposed traffic control measures, including an expansion to the number of LTNs in the city, in February 2023.
Residents of the city of Bath had also been campaigning against the traffic control systems. In May 2023, Bath local and campaigner for the Free Bath Streets movement Caroline Horsford told The Epoch Times that “no one has asked us if we want to change our entire way of living.”

“Changing the way we live, the way we shop, the way our kids our educated, how we drop them off at school, everything is changing and it is changing fast,” Ms. Horsford said.

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