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Members of Stamford Hill Haredi community storm out of Hackney council meeting over cycle lane row

PUBLISHED: 11:56 31 October 2019

A driver in the CS1 cycle route in West Bank. Picture: @daaain

A driver in the CS1 cycle route in West Bank. Picture: @daaain

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Members of the Haredi community in Stamford Hill stormed out of the town hall chamber last night before the council could respond to their calls to remove a cycle lane.

Cllr Simche Steinberger introduces the deputation. Picture: Adrian ZorzutCllr Simche Steinberger introduces the deputation. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

More than ten people in the public gallery jeered as they filed out of the chamber after the leader of the deputation - former Leabridge councillor Linda Kelly - declared: "I would like the chamber to know that we will not be listening to the cabinet member for transport's response because we are leaving."

One Tory councillor muttered the group left because they did not want to face antisemitism.

His comments were immediately rebuked by Labour councillors who demanded he withdraw his statement or be removed from the sitting. Neither occurred.

People have complained they cannot access shops along Dunsmure Road in their cars since 70 parking spaces were removed to make way for the West Bank cycle lane this summer. They say shop owners have since suffered a drop in trade.

Former councillor Linda Kelly speaks. Picture: Adrian ZorzutFormer councillor Linda Kelly speaks. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

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They also claim it has confused children who cross the West Bank daily on their way to school and that the community was not properly consulted and that an impact assessment had not been conducted.

Ms Kelly said the cycleway had left an "ill feeling" in the community and that the council's handling of their complaints showed a "blinding gap of experiences between the residents of Stamford Hill and the council."

The cycle lane was installed to make the cycle route safer in response to aggressive drivers tailgating cyclists, though drivers have still been flouting the rules. Just this week a photo shows a car ignoring barriers and driving in the lane.

Transport chief Cllr Jon Burke challenged an empty lectern when he said: "What is happening in Stamford Hill is an absolute nightmare and the behaviour of certain people has been absolutely appalling.

"But, this council remains committed to reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality in an area with an extremely high and unjustifiable number of car journeys."

The group leading the deputation has called for controlled parking zones that would prohibit drivers from leaving their cars along the West Bank during peak-hour traffic.

The deputation was brought forward by Tory Cllr Simche Steinberger, of Springfield ward, and was unsuccessful.

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