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Crowds gather for demonstration against Islington’s ‘people-friendly’ streets

PUBLISHED: 22:26 24 July 2020

At the people-friendly neighbourhoods protest in Islington. Picture: David Harvey

At the people-friendly neighbourhoods protest in Islington. Picture: David Harvey

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Crowds of people gathered in front of Islington Town Hall to have their voices heard against the borough’s new people-friendly streets.

Diane Harvey, David's mother, at the people-friendly neighbourhoods protest. Picture: David HarveyDiane Harvey, David's mother, at the people-friendly neighbourhoods protest. Picture: David Harvey

The protest yesterday (July 23) centred around Islington Council’s new low-traffic neighbourhood projects, the first of which is in St Peter’s ward and the second is set for Canonbury East.

READ MORE: Islington’s new ‘people-friendly’ neighbourhoods receive backlash from community

READ MORE: Islington reveals second ‘people-friendly’ neighbourhood

Streets in those areas are subject to traffic-curbing measures, such as blocking through-routes, in a bid to create greener and safer roads as the lockdown eases.

They were put in place under 18-month Experimental Traffic Orders, with residents due to be retrospectively consulted in 2021.

Although some welcomed the move, a petition criticising the measures has reached nearly 5,000 signatures.

Derick Soreal, admin of a Facebook group against the closures, spoke to the crowds. He said the closures are “utterly unbelievable”.

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“In an ideal world, these closures and restrictions are very appealing,” Derick said. “However, there seems to have been no impact assessment in relation to the traffic levels where traffic displacement has occurred.

“In many cases, these closures have been brought in without consultation, with the Coronavirus Act 2020 being seemingly used as a Trojan horse to bring in these initiatives.”

He said it was “cheap postcode politics, dressed up as environmentalism”.

A resident who attended the protest, David Harvey, called the measures “draconian”. He is worried about his mother Diane, who is in a wheelchair and relies on taxis to get around.

Cllr Rowena Champion, executive member for environment and transport, said: “It is vital that we act now to create people-friendly streets, in order to make it easier and safer for people to walk, cycle, and use wheelchairs, buggies and scooters as alternatives to using public transport, for people to socially distance and to avoid a spike in motor vehicle use as we come out of lockdown.

“Our people-friendly streets neighbourhoods will help local people to socially distance as they make essential trips, whilst contributing towards a greener, healthier Islington in the long-term.”

She encouraged people to log their comments at https://islingtonpeoplefriendlystreets.commonplace.is/


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