Tories U-turn as they look at re-opening borough’s rat runs

Long-standing road closures which have often provided welcome  traffic calming measures for decades could be under threat in the latest move by an increasingly desperate Prime Minister, reports JEREMY CLACKSON,  transport correspondent

Tory targets: perfectly sensible measures are under threat

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, is refusing to attend the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month because of its planned focus on UN Sustainable Development Goals. It is just the latest example of the Conservatives shifting right and turning their back on tackling climate change.

Last month, Sunak gave the green light to “maxing out” North Sea oil and gas reserves. This came after an IT firm founded by his father-in-law signed a $1.5billion deal with energy giant BP…

And it continues a trend by which the Tories are reliant on financial support from the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers. Official figures show that between December 2019 and October 2021, these groups gave £1.3million in legalised bribes.

Now the Prime Minister has announced an inquiry into Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods – with the ultimate aim of re-opening rat runs for speeding drivers across the country. Sunak has ordered the Department for Transport to investigate not just those LTNs created under Boris Johnson during the pandemic, but any scheme that prevents motorists from driving through a residential street.

Government U-turn: this road barrier near Selhurst Park has stopped rat runners for decades. Could it be re-opened by the Tories?

This will be bad news for people living in long-standing LTNs across the borough.

The barrier under the railway bridge over Dagnall Park in Steve Reed’s Croydon North constituency will be a familiar sight to Crystal Palace fans walking from Selhurst Station to the stadium. This could be among those getting the chop, in this case to allow speed fiends to avoid the nearby A213.

In Sarah Jones’ Croydon Central backyard lies Chatsworth Road Conservation Area.

Residents there are concerned about motorists speeding in their area, but probably don’t look on the tree at the end of Friends Road, between 69 Park Lane and Croydon nick, as forming an LTN. Potentially the tree and the tranquillity it brings will be for the Sunak chop.

That brings us to Croydon South and Chris Philp, and the council swing ward of Waddon. The closure of Abbey Road to rat-runners dates back to when Charlotte McAree was a Labour councillor and lived on that street. It provided a handy cut-through for drivers who wanted to avoid Fiveways and the Roman Way.

A stone’s throw away is the Waddon estate, where a bit of strategically placed tarmac on Davenant Road has, since the late 1990s, stopped drivers fed up with rush hour queues on Duppas Hill Road from easily nipping through Hillside Road towards the Purley Way.

For the chop: might the LTN review reopen this cut-through next to Croydon Police Station?

So far the Department for Transport has refused to say who will run Sunak’s politically-motivated review or when its findings will begin to be implemented – there’s a chance it will be timed out by a General Election to be held before December 2024.

But we can be sure that the PM’s lurch towards Trumpian populism to try and cling to power will see no holds barred in his attack on what he calls “anti-motorist” policies.

Whether Croydon’s sitting and prospective MPs will join Sunak in turning back the clock or defend the hard-won gains remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Inside Croydon wants to hear from you if you have an old or new LTN you think is at risk.

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • As featured on Google News Showcase
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Chris Philp MP, Croydon Central, Croydon North, Croydon South, Environment, Fairfield, Sarah Jones MP, Selhurst, Steve Reed MP, Transport, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tories U-turn as they look at re-opening borough’s rat runs

  1. John Jesson says:

    Whilst not generally against closing roads for traffic calming and/or safety reasons, there is one example of which I am aware that needs to be examined. This is the reduction of Handsworth Road to one way between Stanley Road and London Road. This has resulted in unacceptable congestion along the section of London Road between the Bensham Lane/Handsworth Road/London Road traffic lights and the St James Road/Stanley Road/London Road traffic lights. In particular, traffic exiting Bensham Lane can only now turn left, but is immediately stopped by the pedestrian crossing lights. This means that, at busy times, when the lights change (including the pedestrian lights) to allow traffic along London Road towards central Croydon, this traffic cannot immediately move, as the way is blocked by the vehicles that have exited Bensham Lane. The situation is not helped by a lot of illegal and inconsiderate parking along this stretch of London Road.
    Closing roads to stop rat runs or to increase safety is fine, but attention to associated issues is sadly lacking.

  2. Derek Nicholls says:

    The intention behind LTNs was that the residents there would be encouraged to walk or cycle instead of using their cars. Through traffic was obviously forced to stick to the main roads (where people also live!) which in turn became more congested, car-mileage increased and air quality on the the main roads suffered as a consequence. It would be helpful to society in general if journalists were to examine whether the LTN residents did reduce their use of cars and to quantify the worsening of traffic congestion on the alternative routes rather than acting as propaganda conduits for Opposition parties. If it were found that the LTN residents did not reduce their use of cars then one might suggest that it would be fairer if motor traffic were to be spread over all of the roads rather than giving people in LTNs a quieter time and people on the main roads a noisier time. An example worth examining is the Parsons Mead/Sumner Road area. There are consequences to most actions taken on traffic management.

  3. Bernard Winchester says:

    My local LTN is the now blocked Holmesdale Road in South Norwood, and I feel that the effect has been similarly baleful. The upper part of this road runs parallel to the High Street, but is in fact wider, and has never been congested or suffered from noticeably poor air quality.
    Closing it has diverted traffic to South Norwood Hill and High Street, two roads which were already subject to jams.
    From the climate point of view, the measure forces delivery drivers and others to take detours and thus drive further.
    From the pollution point of view it has also made matters worse because now the very cramped streets which are crowded with pedestrians have been made even more congested and slow-moving than ever. Diverting vehicles to such areas while slowing them to a near standstill can only worsen the impact of their fumes upon public health.
    Furthermore, as a non-driver myself, I am very conscious of the fact that five frequent bus routes use the High Street and are having their journey times extended by having to crawl through its bottleneck, so if this umpopular LTN is removed I shall shed no tears.

Leave a Reply