Protests continue against Islington’s People Friendly Streets
PUBLISHED: 17:53 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:59 05 August 2020
Crowds gathered once again to make their voices heard against Islington’s new People Friendly Streets.
Demonstrators gathered outside the Town Hall today (August 5) - before marching to Angel and back - urging Islington Council to reverse its plans for low traffic neighbourhoods.
The first scheme was introduced in St Peter’s in early July, the next in Canonbury East about a month later and a string of areas are set to be affected in the future - including in Canonbury West, Highbury, Clerkenwell, Nags Head, and St Mary’s.
The council has used 18-month Experimental Traffic Orders to implement road closures using cameras and bollards.
Power to implement the schemes was granted to local authorities by the government in new Covid-19 legislation.
They aim to make the streets easier to use for pedestrians and cyclists and facilitate social distancing in a post-coronavirus world.
READ MORE: Islington reveals second ‘people-friendly’ neighbourhood
However, protesters are angry to have not been consulted about the changes and have demanded the measures be revoked.
They are concerned about access for elderly and disabled people and the knock-on effect on congestion in neighbouring roads.
A retrospective consultation will take place next year and in the meantime, the council is asking residents to leave comments here.
READ MORE: Upper Street blocked off by protesters against traffic measures
A resident who attended the protest, David Harvey, said: “It was very good, very busy, with lots of residents and disabled and older people who are disgruntled with the way they have been treated by the council.”
He said the protests could have been avoided if the council had given residents and taxis exemptions from the closures.
Although the council said it has offered to open discussions with the protesters, one of the organising group Jody Graber there was no “goodwill” to revisit the policies.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “People-friendly streets will create a better borough for all. As a result of the coronavirus crisis, there’s a need to implement these measures as quickly as possible.
“Central government has made clear that local authorities, like Islington, where local people usually rely on public transport, must swiftly adapt their streets to create more space for walking, cycling and social distancing and avoid a rise in motor vehicle traffic as we move out of lockdown.
“Furthermore, modelling by Transport for London shows that, without urgent action to improve streets, congestion in the capital will become even worse than it was before coronavirus.
“That is why we have urgently moved forward with our People Friendly Streets plans.”
She said the safety of residents is an “absolute priority”, pointing out that a bollard which was initially installed on Wharf Road was removed after further consultation with the London Fire Brigade about access.
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