'What is the alternative'? Islington rejects call to scrap LTNs

Cllr Ismail, reading her motions calling for LTNs to be scrapped at the Islington Council meeting

Cllr Ismail, reading her motions calling for LTNs to be scrapped at the Islington Council meeting - Credit: Islington Council

Islington's only Conservative councillor's bid to scrap low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) has been rejected by her fellow councillors.

Rakhia Ismail advanced a motion calling for an immediate repeal of the borough's people friendly streets schemes, which are designed  to cut traffic and pollution. 

The Holloway ward councillor, who defected from Labour to the Tories last November, is annoyed about the way the seven low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) zones have been implemented, with no prior consultation.

Set up on 18-month trials before a formal consultation, LTNs are controlled through bollards and smart cameras, with motorists caught breaching the new rules issued with fixed fines. 

Reading out her motion, Cllr Ismail said: "The correspondence the council has received, and the feedback gained through consultation has been mostly negative, yet the council continues to move forward with LTNs.

"Furthermore, ongoing consultations have not been made public, and that the commitment to consultation after a full trial period is counter to proper transparency and accountability which should be forthcoming."

She claimed that LTNs have made neighbourhoods more inaccessible, despite the council's claims to the contrary, and said that "those with disabilities, the elderly and and people with children are most affected".

In response Cllr Caroline Russell from the Green party, told Cllr Ismail that although she had "raised some important points like air pollution, air pollution and disability", that she disagreed with her motion to scrap the LTNs.

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"I support the council's public health approach to transport," she added.

"We urgently need to cut air pollution and reduce road congestion and danger. 

"Older and disabled people are not all the same. Many have spoken up about how low traffic neighbourhoods have affected them, and made the area they live safer to get around on foot or with a cane." 

She added: "I very much hope you are urging your Conservative government colleagues to do a deal quickly with Transport for London, so that London's transport system is safeguarded from the devastating financial impact of the pandemic and decreased tube and bus ridership."

"I will not be voting for your motion. I'm sorry."

Islington's eco chief, Cllr Rowena Champion also rejected Cllr Ismail's calls - reminding her that it was her own party which had introduced the legislation to push councils to implement LTNs. 

She said: "It remains very clear that the government remains committed to the introduction of LTNs, that they believe they work and they are beneficial," she said. 

"It is very clear the government didn't intend councils to consult beforehand.

"If you don't believe me look at the statutory guidance." 

Although the council wasn't obliged to hold consultations after 12 months, or to publish figures after six months, they had done so all the same.

"My question to the Islington Tories is what is your alternative to the climate crisis?" she ended. 

"I think you should take your petitions and motions to 10 Downing Street."

Cllr Ismail, who was given the right to reply, responded: "In my ward there are people suffering quite seriously in terms of road blocks, in terms of air pollution - but of course that's going to deaf ears. 

"To be honest and to be frank, I left Africa because of a dictatorship - I didn't come to Islington to face one.

"The least you could have done at the beginning, you should have done the consultation, and respect the consultation. 

"No you didn't do. You and everyone else who is voting against this motion have one thing agenda, and that is a way of trying to stop and get some schemes on your own terms.

"Whether you get back all of you in May [when the local government elections will be held], the proof will be in the pudding. 

"The truth is in Islington, one too many are suffering and dying because of this scheme and you should stop it."

Cllr Ismail's motion was rejected after mayor Troy Gallagher took a vote in the council chamber and the number of councillors opposing it outnumbered supporters.