'Youngest ever' Conservative mayoral candidate to scrap LTNs if elected
Julia Gregory, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Oliver Hall
Time might be up for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Hackney if Conservative candidate Oliver Hall becomes the next directly elected mayor.
Voters go to the polls in local and mayoral elections on May 5, and Hall said that he would put a stop to any new LTNs and consult residents about removing the current ones.
He said that many people told the council they did not want the LTNs but it went ahead.
LTNs were introduced to reduce motor vehicles using quieter roads as shortcuts, and to make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to get around.
Although some were planned before the pandemic, many were brought in as emergency measures to give people more space to maintain social distance.
They have attracted supporters and detractors in Hackney.
“I completely recognise that we are facing serious climate issues, but there are other ways to go about this,” said Hall.
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“I speak to people who are against the LTNs every day.”
Hall is a keen cyclist and said people do not drive in Hackney because they enjoy driving but because they need to for work.
He said businesses also need to “get back on their feet after the pandemic”, adding: “I think the council has pushed these proposals through.”
If elected, he pledged to look again at the changes to the roads: “LTNS – they would be gone. Some will work but then others, I think it is time to look again.”
Housing is another ongoing challenge in London, with an increasing need for more good quality homes for residents.
Hall said: “What we actually need first of all is to get tenants into the units that are not currently in use.”
He said some families have struggled to change to smaller or larger homes and the council blamed the 2020 cyber attack for problems with the system.
He vowed to build more affordable homes in the borough and concentrate attention on “high quality social care”.
At 19, the second-year law student is thought to be the youngest ever person to stand as a directly elected mayor for a majority party in England and Wales.
His studies will have to wait if he is elected, as he would leave university.
He could be one of the few to have trained as Covid vaccinators too – he helped out at the ExCel vaccination centre – despite hating injections himself.
Oliver said: “I’m really proud of Hackney and the way that it has taken the pandemic head on.”
He wants to give young people a voice and help ensure there are local jobs and affordable homes so they are not priced out of the borough.
The candidate volunteered during the pandemic to help vulnerable people.
Before that, he helped in care homes and said more needs to be done to combat loneliness.
Another aim would be to focus on safer streets – tackling issues such as overgrown plants and a lack of street lamps.
He said he thought the Labour party in Hackney see elections “as a coronation”.
He said he was inspired to stand to challenge this and feels “they take everything for granted”.
The Labour party has controlled the council since it was created in 1964, apart from the 1968 election when the Conservatives took power and in 1998 when there was no overall control.
Hall said he knows he is facing an “uphill battle” but that he is “really excited to be running”.
He pledged to work with political rivals if elected.
“I have always worked across the political divide,” he explained. “I’m not interested in tribal disagreements, not party before people. I am far more interested in working with people and getting solutions.”
He said it was crucial to listen to communities to help find solutions to problems such as inequalities: “We have seen time and time again that yes, they do consult, but they do not listen to the consultation.”
However, he said a mayor might have to make “difficult decisions” – and was prepared to do that if necessary.
The nomination period for mayoral candidates and ward elections will end on April 5 and a final list of candidates will be published on April 6.