Anti-LTN campaigners’ appeal triumph paves way for judicial review
Ed Sheridan, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Fatima Hajjat (فاطمة حجات)
A judicial review into Hackney council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) is set to go ahead after community company Horrendous Hackney Road Closures Ltd. (HHRC) won its appeal.
An attempt by HHRC to have the local roll-out of LTNs argued in court was dismissed back in February, with campaigners told they needed to have challenged the policy within six weeks of it coming into force.
Now, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a judicial review is arguable, with Mr Justice Bean finding that the High Court had been mistaken in imposing the six-week cut-off.
It means HHRC will be able to argue in court this summer that the council did not consider the impact of the scheme on main roads, equalities and air pollution, and failed to consult the public in advance.
Campaigner Shiva Kashizadeh-Scott, who lives inside an LTN, said: “I am so pleased by the ruling. This campaign is not about cars versus bikes.
“Our challenge is primarily about protecting members of our community whose needs and rights have not been taken into account.”
The news comes as the council is fighting a claim from a disabled resident in Stamford Hill about the School Street for Harrington Hill Primary.
According to HHRC, the Town Hall has yet to produce any documents supporting its defence, despite multiple Freedom of Information (FoI) requests, legal letters, and the claim itself.
Independent by-election candidate and HHRC campaigner Niall Crowley added: “It’s a great result, and well done to everyone for not being set back at the first problem. This is all new to us, so we are learning as we go along.
“The fact we’ve got this far is testament to the strength and resilience of so many Hackney residents who have been involved and supported us.
“The council thought we’d simply roll over or be intimidated by all this, but I hope they realise now that’s not going to happen.”
Hackney shared an interim analysis earlier this month from the London Fields LTN which showed that traffic levels have decreased on average, with a drop inside the LTN of 44 per cent and on boundary roads of 21 per cent.
However, HHRC’s solicitor, Bill Parry-Davies of Dowse & Co, challenged this analysis: “Since September 2020 I’ve been waiting for an FoI reply that the Mayor of Hackney said he would obtain, for air pollution data modelling before, and monitoring data after, imposing LTNs. Still nothing.
“So why should we believe Hackney Council’s release of selective traffic counts?”
The Town Hall said it was unable to comment directly on an ongoing legal case, but a spokesperson added: “We’re committed to ensuring that we don’t return to normal levels of pollution and traffic after the pandemic, and our LTNs are playing a key role in this effort by supporting everyone – including the 70 per cent of Hackney households who don’t own a car – to walk, cycle and shop locally.
“In line with direct guidance from the Department for Transport and Transport for London on reallocating road space during the pandemic, residents and businesses are able to have their say on the council’s work to rebuild a greener Hackney online and in writing.
“To ensure that the views of everyone in our borough are heard, we’ve extended the engagement period so that residents can see how LTNs, School Streets and cycle lanes operate as we emerge from lockdown, and we’ve sent a leaflet to every property in the borough to encourage as many people as possible to have their say.
“Residents’ views – including those of our diverse communities, older and disabled people – are, and will continue to be, considered alongside traffic monitoring before any decision is made on whether to make the changes permanent.”