LTNs set to be key issue in Islington local elections: Best of 2022

Originally published April/May edition of EC1 Echo

By EC1 Echo

A freen road sign on a planter reading 'Road open to' followed with icons representing children playing, bikes and wheelchair users
Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash

The launch of seven experimental low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) during the pandemic has had a mixed response – and they seemed destined to be a key part of the local election battle held in Islington 5 May 2022

Islington Conservatives are now campaigning on a platform to repeal LTNs, although LTNs are a central government policy. Islington Liberal Democrats, campaigning under the banner of ‘Labour Isn’t Listening’, has said that it would hold ‘Citizens’ Assemblies’ to allow resident views to be properly assessed before LTN schemes are brought in.

Of the seven LTNs the council has announced that the Clerkenwell Green scheme will be permanent. But anti-LTN campaigners say that the policy has been pushed through without due consultation and has displaced traffic onto arterial roads where lower-income residents are more likely to live, leaving richer home-owners with quieter streets.

Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said that “cutting air pollution is particularly important in Islington because the additional traffic was exacerbating the problem and had a serious impact on health and wellbeing”, adding that, LTNs are “transforming our streets, making things better.”

Independent Gary Poole, who is standing down as a St Mary’s ward councillor in May, said: “This city is being strangled by the impact of unnecessary car journeys, it is a public health crisis.” Recently Islington Council was forced to apologise after its publicity suggested that pollution levels were falling in LTN areas when the levels were in reality rising.

In a survey in October last year (2021) contractor Project Centre published data showing that Islington Council’s six month review for the trial of the eight Highbury schemes reported air pollution had fallen, but an audit by Project Centre’s successor company Systra found pollution had actually risen 26 per cent in Highbury West and Fields neighbourhoods, where feelings run high about LTNs.

Islington Council’s statement read: “We ended the contract with [contractors] Project Centre due to concerns about the general quality of work.”

“Therefore, we have commissioned independent consultants Systra to produce the monitoring reports for our programme going forward. We are confident their methodologies, presentation and interpretation of the available data is accurate and in line with industry best-practice.”

Read more from April/May 2022’s EC1 Echo

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