Islington’s new ‘people-friendly’ neighbourhoods receive backlash from community
PUBLISHED: 13:48 16 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:48 22 July 2020
More than 4,000 people have signed a petition calling for Islington’s “people-friendly neighbourhoods” changes to be reversed.
The council has already implemented its first low-traffic neighbourhood in St Peter’s ward, with Prebend Street, Danbury Street, Colebrooke Row, and Wharf Road affected.
It has announced a second neighbourhood in Canonbury East scheduled for the end of July.
Measures such as blocking through-traffic are designed to create greener and safer roads as the lockdown eases and have been put in place under 18-month Experimental Traffic Orders.
Islington Council said emergency vehicles are exempt from the closures.
Residents affected will be consulted on the plans in 2021, after they have been in place for a year.
While the measures have been welcomed by some, others have been critical.
Teaching assistant Sarah Cleary said the extended journey makes caring for her grandmother in her lunch break logistically impossible and is worried about getting to work on time in September.
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She said: “It’s extremely stressful, as our family now have to look at who will look after Nan.
“It’s frustrating because we don’t feel like we are a part of the borough, we have not been spoken to. I grew up in Islington, I know a lot of people and a lot of them are outraged. It was done so slyly so we couldn’t have a say.
“I get some of it, I think blocking off four streets at the same time was ludicrous.”
A petition urging Islington Council to reverse the plans has reached nearly 4,000 signatures at tinyurl.com/y8m6mwe8
Abiodun Oladipo, a resident of Wharf Road, said: “They said it’s because of social distancing but where we are it is a very quiet road, so there’s no point in blocking off the road.”
Another resident on the stretch, who would like to remain anonymous, agreed: “If it was a market I would understand but social distancing has never been an issue here.
“I feel like it has caused bigger problems. Lots of cars drive down here, come up against the blocks, realise they can’t go through and have to turn around - and I am talking big vans.”
She said it will cause more pollution by forcing traffic to idle on congested roads.
However, Islington Council says people-friendly streets will reduce traffic overall, including on main roads, as people decide not to drive.
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We have been listening to local people’s concerns on Islington’s streets.
“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.”
She encouraged people to visit the new Commonplace web page, which is taking comments in real time.
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