Council rejects call to scrap ‘ill-thought-out’ Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – despite 10,500 signature petition

Ultra Low Emission Streets sign

Islington street sign promoting its ‘ultra low emission streets’. Photograph: Julia Gregory

A bid to scrap low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) which are designed  to cut traffic and pollution in Islington has been rejected by politicians.

Rakhia Ismail, the sole Conservative councillor in Islington,  called on the council to halt the controversial traffic scheme which has attracted mixed responses.

Her call was backed by a 10,500 strong petition presented to the council.

Similar traffic schemes have been brought in across London after calls by the Government and Mayor of London to set them up.

The council has seven schemes, which it also calls People Friendly Streets.

“It will be much harder or impossible for traffic to cut through local streets from one main road to the next, ” Cllr Ismail said.

“Although the council has claimed that LTNs make our neighbourhoods more accessible the opposite has occurred, with those with disabilities, those with elderly and medical care responsibilities, and those with children most affected.”

She rejected the council’s policy to use LTNs to reduce the problems caused by air pollution from cars and other motor vehicles.

Instead she said it has seen  a “marked increase” in  respiratory illness  for people with symptoms on nearby roads, due to idling traffic avoiding the LTNs.

Cllr Ismail was also concerned that “the decrease in traffic has made neighbourhoods unsafe and has caused an increase in criminal activity.”

One Canonbury West resident told the Local Democracy Reporting Service his daughters were robbed at knifepoint and said he felt the lack of passing traffic contributed.

“It would never have happened had there been something passing through. It’s an absolute ghost town from 5.30pm,” he said.

Cllr Ismail said the council had received “mostly negative” feedback about the schemes which were brought in during the pandemic.

Resident Jody Graber, who stood for election as a  We Are Islington candidate in a by-election in St Peter’s ward last May,  brought a petition signed by 10,500 people against “your ill-thought-out”  scheme.

He said : “There is a vast vast selection if the community against your people friendly scheme.”

Mr Graber said people in south Islington were  “detrimentally affected” and those with disabilities were also affected.

Green councillor Caroline Russell said: “We urgently need to cut air pollution and reduce both road danger and congestion, helping more people to leave their cars at home and build more physical activity into their daily journey.”

She said many people had talked about “how low traffic neighbourhoods have benefitted them and made the area where they live safer to get around on foot, with a white cane or in a wheelchair.”

Cllr Russell added: “Likewise many families and children have seen real improvements in their journey to school.”

She added: “Main roads are hostile and traffic dominated.”

Another resident  from Living Streets Islington  and Islington Clean Air Parents who joined campaigners outside Islington town hall said: “We want more  people to think twice about getting in their cars to go onto the streets.”

Cllr Rowena Champion, the executive member for environment and transport reminded the Conservative councillor and others present that the government is committed to LTNs and “believe they work and want councils to carry on”.

She added: “For Islington where 71 per cent of people don’t have cars, it is really beneficial.”

She asked Cllr Ismail: “What is your alternative to tackling climate crisis, making our roads safer and increasing walking and cycling?”

Cllr Ismail’s motion to full council (9 December) was overwhelmingly rejected by councillors.