MP Reed tells ‘disingenuous’ council to remove LTN scheme

Steve Reed OBE, the Progress MP for Croydon North, has accused the Labour-run council of being “disingenuous” over its handling of the results of a public consultation for what he describes as the “controversial” Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme in Crystal Palace.

Critical of council: Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE

“I trust the council will follow the clearly expressed views of local people and remove the current scheme,” Reed wrote in a letter addressed to Councillor Muhammad Ali, who will tomorrow night chair a crucial meeting of the council’s Traffic Management Advisory Committee.

The LTNs – introduced to reduce use of motor vehicles and encourage more people to walk or cycle,  while ridding areas of “rat runs”  – have over the last six months seen the council threatened with a High Court Judicial Review and propelled into a border dispute with neighbours Bromley.

Reed’s intervention will be seen by some as a significant set-back to Town Hall traffic planners.

A handful of road closures were implemented in the Crystal Palace area and around South Norwood in the middle of last year, in part in response to the need for greater social distancing during the first coronavirus lockdown. The measures have been paid for from grant funding from the Conservative government, and have the enthusiastic support on the board of Transport for London from Andrew Gilligan, the transport adviser to Boris Johnson.

Planters could be on their way out in Upper Norwood

Reed’s intervention, on the eve of the committee meeting, is unusual since he so rarely involves himself in Croydon Council business: when there was a debate in the House of Commons last month over the crisis in the council’s finances, Reed didn’t even bother to show up. And Reed just happens to be the official opposition spokesperson on… local government.

His letter takes issue with the council’s use of response statistics, stating that 25.3 per cent of residents responding “is a high turnout for a traffic scheme consultation”.

“It is disingenuous of the council report to imply the … turnout achieved in the consultation does not fairly reflect local opinion.

Reed cites consultation figures which showed 61 per cent of respondents in the LTN zone in favour of removing the scheme entirely.

“It is important for the council to listen to local people and act on what they say,” Reed said, “and in this case you have a very clear response from residents asking you to remove the scheme.”

Reed may have given the council, and himself, some wiggle room politically by calling for the removal of “the current scheme”. Since that is what the council is recommending.

The council proposes a new 12-month trial which would see the removal of LTN planters, to be replaced with enforcement cameras which, the council says, “would continue to help ease traffic on the streets but give better access to emergency services and local residents”.

Muhammad Ali: tough decisions

Ahead of the meeting, the council said today, “The new scheme would again be subject to further analysis and engagement with residents, businesses and neighbouring boroughs as the council seeks to improve air quality, reduce traffic and increase walking and cycling for shorter journeys.

“The council would also carry out air quality assessments, traffic monitoring and focused research before any decision is made about making the scheme permanent.”

Muhammad Ali said, “Since the introduction of the LTN we are already seeing an increase in local families out walking and cycling, which is fantastic.

“So it is vital that we continue to reduce congestion and pollution by encouraging fewer journeys to be made by car where possible, this in turn provides safer areas for people to walk and cycle – and improves the quality of life for everyone.”

Read more: Upper Norwood’s street battle could be settled this week


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4 Responses to MP Reed tells ‘disingenuous’ council to remove LTN scheme

  1. This is the Croydon MP who’s taken on a couple of road mounted bollards.. Big Deal. Small deed.

    When Croydon Council was turning over and about to sink, where was Steve Reed MP? Nowhere to be seen. Hiding. No opinion. Blind to everything.

    Or was it because Tony Newman’s wife worked for him and he was keeping quiet to do a mate a favour? Well, keeping quiet has cost this borough £1.5billion in debt that will result in council tax in Croydon being increased by the maximum amount every year for the next 20 years.

    Thanks Steve Reed MP

    Perhaps we should call him Small Deed MP? Or no deed? Indeed.

  2. Maurice says:

    The council should listen to the objections to the LTN it is as if the negative response to the LTN has not yielded any real change in the thinking of the council. I do hope but do not believe that they will take into account the frustration of motorists….

  3. Dan Maertens says:

    It would be nice for some, including Mr Reed, to wake up and smell the coffee.

    Firstly, we are in a lockdown and aside from those who have to be in a workplace to work, they should be working from home, so a significant proportion of the vehicle journeys that might be expected in ‘normal times’ (pre-lockdown?) have disappeared.

    Second, voices of dissenters to LTNs always shout louder (negative perception bias), because they don’t want to have to deal with any changes that might impact them ‘negatively’. Ignore the positives, because for them there aren’t any (there are really, but sat inside a car they probably don’t realise). So 60% of 25% don’t like it – 15% of residents. What about the rest of the respondents and potential respondents who are ok with it or don’t have a strong enough view either way?

    Third, LTNs are a positive change – ‘streets’, not ‘roads’ are not the exclusive preserve of ‘motorists’. They’ve been usurped over many years so that what used to be a space happily shared with people on foot or bicycle has been usurped by engineering design that renders them hostile to anyone not sitting behind or astride a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. On these types of streetscapes, cars should no longer be king.

    Fourth, if there are any lessons in this check out Kensington High Street (what not to do it), and compare with Greater Manchester under the guidance of their Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman. And in reply to Maurice above – what about the frustration of those who aren’t motorists?

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