Local elections 2022: Low traffic neighbourhoods at the forefront as Islington’s parties prepare for battle

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Citizen

Brought in to reduce car use and air pollution across London, the fate of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Islington could be in the hands of voters.

The Conservatives say the LTNs, also known as ‘people-friendly streets’ have not worked and vow to scrap them.

They say LTNs “increased pollution and congestion on main roads, isolated the vulnerable and increased response times for emergency services”.

LTNs are one of the issues dividing politicians.

The party hopes to gain seats and is contesting each ward: Rakhia Ismail, who was its only councillor, crossed the floor from Labour and is not standing again.

Other policies to address the climate crisis include more electric vehicle charging points with no resident permit fees for those with electric cars, car pooling, and more trees.

They also pledge to freeze council tax at the 2021/22 levels.

The council recently voted to increase council tax by 4.27 per cent, including the 2.99 per cent element for council services.

Islington Conservatives also pledge to have a faster response to housing repairs and combat crime with measures including “bobbies on bikes” and getting government cash for more CCTV. They also want smart bins which trigger collection when they are nearly full.

Islington Green party’s Caroline Russell hopes to have more colleagues to join her scrutiny of the council.

She was the sole opposition councillor in the last term until two politicians left Labour: one to become an independent, the other a Conservative,

The Greens want to ensure new housing includes 50 per cent affordable homes and to invest in tackling repair backlogs and the damp problems besetting some homes.

Another key pledge is extending the network of LTNs which they believe have encouraged families onto their bikes.

They want funding to help low income families use greener transport, with more secure bike hangers, and to make sure it is never cheaper to park a car than a bike.

Council tax charges would also be scrapped for the poorest residents and care leavers would get a basic income.

Labour is campaigning to maintain power: currently, it has all but three seats on the council.

It  said the people-friendly streets (LTN)  programme “has increased the amount of people walking in their local area. The reduction in traffic using local roads has meant that it is safer and healthier to walk or cycle rather than drive.”

It pledged to create segregated bike lanes, more secure storage and to plant more trees.

Another policies include 750 new council homes, help for local job-seekers, new apprenticeships, laptops or tablets for children starting secondary school and work to make council homes greener and more energy efficient.

Leader Kaya Comer-Schwartz also promised to protect youth services to help young people who had been hard hit by the pandemic.

The Liberal Democrats are keen to get back on to the council after losing their previous seats in 2014.

They back LTNs to give residents “ quieter, well-managed roads, and improved air quality” but say there should be more consultation.

They promise a Citizens’ Assembly to decide how “to make them work better”. Other pledges include pushing for smart road use charging using number plate recognition.

Charges for bike hangers would be cut and they want to  set up a Safer Roads Task Force and look again at the design of the new Highbury Corner traffic scheme.

When it comes to council tax, they say it will never go up by more than inflation.

They have also set a target of 200 council homes a year.

Other parties fielding candidates include the Communists who are opposed to austerity and want to see sustainable development; and the Social Democratic Party,  which is campaigning “for growth and renewal” and a vigorous economy.

Reform UK  wants low taxes and better public services and  the anti-austerity Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition is anti-austerity and cuts.

One independent, Sadia Ali, is standing with aims to help tackle drugs issues and improve options for young people and job-seekers.