A deputation of locals called for more low traffic neighbourhoods across Lambeth at full council on Wednesday (October 14).  

A speaker for the group praised quieter and safer streets, and said LTNs are “necessary to cut pollution”.  

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 received £2,639,000 from the fund, the most out of all London councils, and 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 cycling, walking, and public transport, and to reduce air pollution, 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. 

A separate deputation of residents calling for their reversal also presented at full council.

Councils were under pressure to get the schemes in quickly and had until September to spend the money they were given.  

They are using the trial period of the schemes (up to 18 months), which are temporary and cannot be made permanent without a full consultation, to gauge public feeling.  

Speaking to council leaders on Wednesday, Sarah Berry, who took up cycling in London in the wake of the pandemic, said she feels much safer with the “life-changing” LTNs in place.  

Ms Berry said: “Whilst we are thrilled with the new LTNs, they are not the whole solution.  

“We want to see LTNs expanded to more neighbourhoods, additional protected cycle routes, wider pavements, and more interventions designed to make the streets safer for those without cars.  

“Because every person who can leave their car at home frees up road space for those who genuinely need to drive.  

“These changes are necessary to cut pollution and keep our city moving in a way that is healthier, more efficient, and fairer than before.” 

Liz Stephenson, member of community group Liveable Streatham Wells, said she and other residents have been campaigning since early 2019 on issues of “speeding and rat-running” on local streets.  

She urged the council to implement the Streatham Wells LTN, which was proposed by Lambeth in the 2019 transport strategy and the Covid-19 emergency transport strategy. 

“We understand the council is committed to a trial LTN in Streatham Wells, but we’re disappointed there’s no timeframe for implementation. 

“Our key message to councillors is that there is widespread community support for the Streatham Wells LTN,” she said, adding there is also a sense of “urgency” to do so.  

Ms Stephenson said “speeding, congestion, fights, abusive language, and incessant tooting” are “everyday occurrences” in the area and impacting the health and wellbeing of residents. 

When responding, the deputy leader and cabinet member for sustainable transport, environment and clean air, Cllr Claire Holland said a “small minority” have been “abusive and inappropriate” and thanked both speakers for “putting their heads above the parapet”. 

There have been reports across the capital of abuse and bullying around the LTN debate, and they are not specific to any argument. 

“My counterpart in Hackney, Cllr Jon Burke, has received death threats, including to burn his house down with his children inside. Utterly unacceptable. 

“Whatever our views we all hold them in good faith and to suggest otherwise is to create otherwise is create a hostile and unsafe environment.  

“So in such a climate I thank you for putting your head above the parapet and speaking out publicly tonight,” she said.  

Cllr Holland said it was “heartening” to hear stories of people cycling for the first time and “feeling more confident to walk to the park with their children”. 

“London’s emergency plans are working – whilst other transport modes are down, cycling in London has increased by over 25 per cent generally and as much as 100 per cent on weekends as people feel able to cycle on quieter streets,” she said, adding that the council will continue to monitor the schemes, consult, and address issues that arise.  

On the Streatham Wells LTN, Cllr Holland said she was “sorry” the council didn’t have the “capacity and funding to include it in the emergency tranche”.  

“London and cities worldwide are waking up to the fact that if we are seriously to address unacceptable levels of road danger, if we are to clean up our air that kills 10,000 Londoners a year, if we are to create safe and healthy streets, if we are to reduce emmissions and fight the climate crisis, if we are serious about creating a safer borough for all our citizens, then we have to do things differently,” she said.