A deputation of residents called on council leaders to reverse all low traffic neighbourhoods across Lambeth at full council on Wednesday (October 14). 

Lambeth received six deputation requests asking the council to scrap the schemes and decided to combine them into one, allocating twice the speaking time usually given to one deputation.  

LTNs, which involve placing camera-enforced or physical barriers in streets to prevent through-traffic, are being implemented across the capital with funding from the Mayor of London’s Streetspace scheme to cover emergency transport measures to aid social distancing and promote active travel in the wake of Covid-19. 

Lambeth has implemented five to date, including Tulse Hill, Railton, Oval Triangle, Ferndale, and Streatham Hill. 

One of the main aims of the LTNs is to promote cycling, walking, and public transport, and to reduce air pollution, which many residents support.       

A separate deputation of locals also presented on Wednesday, asking for more LTNs across the borough.

But many other residents are concerned about traffic displacement, increased journey times, and the division of communities. 

Opponents have also criticised the lack of consultation, though councils were under pressure to get the schemes in quickly, having until September to spend the money. 

Speaking on behalf of the deputation, Christian Oakley said there’s been a “fundamental, unnecessary and ongoing circumvention of democracy” and questioned why the council did not run a “proper consultation”. 

“Many groups from BAME businesses and communities, to the elderly, disabled, and vulnerable, or residents more generally, have clearly not been consulted,” he said, criticising the lack of time given for the six deputations.  

“In terms of the rationale for LTNs, quite simply there is no rationale or evidence to support the scheme and none to support the emergency pretext for it,” he said.  

He added that the justifications for it in the transport strategy decision paper “include to enable social distancing, to reduce traffic speed, to reduce traffic collisions and to enable cycling”.  

“And yet Lambeth collected no evidence on road traffic data, ANPR, or qualitative surveys when designing the LTN.  

“Lambeth has only three pollution monitoring stations, one of which is often out of order, and Lambeth is not implementing any additional alternative measures for those who actually need to drive as oppose to those who can just hop on a bike. 

“LTN schemes have increased pollution, traffic congestion, and journey times over the short and medium term[...],” he said. 

Mr Oakley added that the schemes have dealt a “hammer blow” to local businesses.  

Another speaker, Richard Marshall, said the group rejects LTNs “precisely because we believe in healthy, unpolluted streets for the whole community”.  

“Surveys across London reveal the same increase in congestion we see in Lambeth, predictably even the most vital local traffic is funnelled through thoroughly clogged routes, making journeys up to ten times longer, sending pollution skyrocketing,” he said.  

Mr Marshall added: “I do hope we see an increase in cycling for those who can, LTNs however exclude those who can’t and they expose cyclists to greater risk on main roads due to the heightened congestion and pollution. 

“There is a global climate crisis, but LTNs are no part of the solution, they don’t reduce traffic, they do increase pollution.” 

Gina Attridge, a single mum-of-five, has a son with severe autism who is non-verbal. 

She said: “He has a mobility car and I’m the allocated driver. The car is to give him freedom to get out and about easily.  

“But since the LTNs have been put in place, that freedom seems to have been seriously reduced.” 

Ms Attridge said the longer journey times have “distressed” her son.  

“In response he begins flapping his arms […] at times this can resort to violence,” she said, adding that because it impacts other people, such as his siblings, she has to decide whether to put him in the car or not.  

The mum said it’s hard to go on public transport because people can react badly to his behaviour.  

“I understand the concerns about the environment, but it’s important that those who aren’t able to safety access alternative means of transport are considered and consulted when decisions are being made that will directly affect the quality of their lives,” she said.  

The deputy leader and cabinet member for sustainable transport, environment and clean air, Cllr Claire Holland said her cousin was also autistic and non-verbal, and acknowledged what Ms Attridge was going through.  

“What councils do or don’t do, it matters,” she said.  

Cllr Holland added: “This is part of emergency settlement funding from the Government via TfL and it’s a programme whereby the money did have to be spent by September. 

“We’ve introduced them under temporary and experimental traffic orders and as I’ve said already, they cannot be made permanent without consultation and we would not want to do that.  

“We are monitoring the air quality and I don’t agree that there’s any evidence that pollution has increased on certain roads, but we are monitoring that and we have an open mind about that.” 

She said 60 per cent of residents in Lambeth don’t own a car, 10,000 Londoners a year day from “toxic air-related conditions”, and disabled pedestrians are five times more likely to injured than a non-disabled pedestrians.  

“So for me this is all about addressing the inherent inequalities on our borough’s streets,” she said.