top of page

Articles

We believe strongly that LTNs are a bad idea for people who live and work in Islington.  These articles, from a variety of sources, present our arguments for holding this belief.

case against LTNs

The next two articles explain in some detail the key arguments underpinning the case against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, followed by the case against traffic camera filtering with exemptions.  Click on the article titles to view.

LTN Signage.jpg
The Case Against LTNs in Islington

​Over the past couple of years Islington Council has introduced a widespread and deeply divisive “Low Traffic Neighbourhood” (LTN) programme. The case for LTNs has been extensively and forcefully promulgated by the Council and other factions, particularly a well organised cycling lobby, but to date there has been little coordinated articulation of the case against. This document aims to redress the balance.

Traffic Cameras.jpg
The Case Against Filtering with Exemptions

​This is a draft article explaining why we must not fall into the trap of allowing the Council to persuade us to accept traffic camera road closures by offering local residents exemptions

barnsbury leaflet

Keep Barnsbury Moving Leaflet

Keep Barnsbury Moving (KBM) posted the two-page leaflet below to most households in Barnsbury in late February.

Undemocratic, Unwarranted, Unwanted - Some Examples!

This email from a concerned Canonbury resident makes some very good points which highlight how the Council has forced through unpopular LTN measures on an unwilling and ill-informed populace in a manner which is undemocratic and possibly illegal.  It is certainly not "consultation"!

I live in Canonbury and have been opposing the restrictions here since they were introduced during lock down. I’ve been ignored and lied to by officials. Our local councillors have insulted me rather than provide any substantive replies. 

 

Here’s what I believe 

 

1. The camera-controlled entry points require a full data-protection assessment. When I last asked, the council hadn’t done this. Instead under a FOI request they sent me one for some temporary light-controlled road-works at Old St. The cameras are under remote control (they can rotate) and are capable of providing a live feed. Their images are subject to automated image-recognition processing. Neither the remote control nor the processing are handled by the council but they won’t say who does it, nor how the operators are subject to oversight. Officials originally said they were “like speed cameras” ie fixed cameras radar-triggered to take still images. That was a triple untruth

 

2. The council has undertaken no assessment on the effects on employment in the borough. Nor have they considered any possible gentrification effects — even though the city architect of Copenhagen, pioneers in LTN, says they would do things differently next time because of this. They haven’t consulted our local shops, and councillors have refused point-blank to speak to them. 

 

3. The council did not conduct, and has not conducted, a proper DDA assessment. Late in the day they seem to feel that a blue-badge scheme is all that’s needed. Yet Canonbury is full of elderly people who are physically too frail to feel safe on public transport yet rely on cars and taxis to maintain their lives. And as a slightly younger example, leaving a hospital consultation for my non-blue-badge “disability” recently, heavily sedated, I was refused a ride home by a taxi driver who was feed up with Islington fines. 

 

4. The council cannot provide any assessment of the supposed health benefits of the schemes, let alone one segmented by age, sex and race. One council in northern England was quoted as saying “six weeks of extra life”. You could waste that in a bus at Highbury Corner years before you were eligible for a Freedom Pass. 

 

5. The council provided itself with a block exemption. If you’re a council tenant the van coming to repaint your windowsill can ignore the signs; if you’re a tentant of a housing association or private landlord then the plumber can queue on St Paul’s Road while the water floods your flat. They haven’t  mentioned this in any publicity nor did they acknowledge this on the signs. 

 

I’m pretty disheartened by the whole thing. Islington has made me sympathise with North Koreans. It’s all lovely — shut up!!

LTNs - There has to be a better way - John Stewart

This paper by transport expert John Stewart is an extremely reasonable and well argued piece about why LTNs don't work in practice, however well-intentioned their aims.  Click on the link to view:

LTNs - There has to be a better way

Letters to Islington Council Executive Committee

As KIM, we've written several letters to Islington Council's Executive Council on LTN issues of particular importance.  Sadly, we have received no replies.  Three of our letters are reproduced here.  The documents referred to in the text can be found else where in this website by clicking on the links.  The Executive Council members are identified in the email header below.  It is headed by Kaya Comer-Schwartz, the Council Leader, and the key member responsible for Transport and the Environment is of course Rowena Champion. 

From: admin@keepislingtonmoving.com <admin@keepislingtonmoving.com>
Sent: 09 September 2023 14:49
To: 'kaya.comerschwartz@islington.gov.uk' <kaya.comerschwartz@islington.gov.uk>
Cc: 'rowena.champion@islington.gov.uk' <rowena.champion@islington.gov.uk>; 'Santiago.BB@islington.gov.uk' <Santiago.BB@islington.gov.uk>; 'Roulin.Khondoker@islington.gov.uk' <Roulin.Khondoker@islington.gov.uk>; 'michelline.ngongo@islington.gov.uk' <michelline.ngongo@islington.gov.uk>; 'una.o'halloran@islington.gov.uk' <una.o'halloran@islington.gov.uk>; 'diarmaid.ward@islington.gov.uk' <diarmaid.ward@islington.gov.uk>; 'John.Woolf@islington.gov.uk' <John.Woolf@islington.gov.uk>; 'nurullah.turan@islington.gov.uk' <nurullah.turan@islington.gov.uk>; 'keephighburymoving@gmail.com' <keephighburymoving@gmail.com>; 

 

Subject: St Mary's LTN - Key Findings

 

Dear Executive Committee Members

 

Once again we are writing to express our serious misgivings about the Council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) programme.  The attached document is our analysis of your own reports on the results of the St Mary’s LTN trial.  Based on the Council’s own data as well as residents’ lived experience, we conclude that the scheme has met none of its objectives and, worse, has resulted in dramatically increased delays and pollution in several congestion black spots.  This is directly attributable to your policy of closing previously important through routes, for example Cross Street, which diverts traffic elsewhere, in this case notably Canonbury. 

 

It is now abundantly clear that the LTN model simply does not work.  Increased journey times throughout the Borough and worse congestion and pollution at certain keys sites has a serious negative effect on quality of life for many residents, particularly those already disadvantaged; it also results in serious inconvenience for all those who rely on cars and vans in some way, particularly tradespeople and small businesses.  The St Mary’s experience highlights how these outcomes have a cumulative effect as the Council persists in its misguided objective of covering 70% of Islington with road closures.  And we are now even more apprehensive about the Council’s plans for the Barnsbury.Laycock “Liveable Neighbourhood” regarding which “engagement and consultation” seems to have been abandoned.

 

We now call on you again urgently to respond to our concerns and explain how you intend to address them. 

 

 

Regards

 

 

Keep Islington Moving (KIM)

 

www.keepislingtonmoving.com

admin@keepislingtonmoving.com

@keepizmoving

 

CC – Keep Highbury Moving (KHM), Keep Barnsbury Moving (KBM)

 

 

 

 

Previous email, August 8th 2023:

 

Dear Executive Committee Members

 

As you know we wrote to you on March 10th raising our detailed concerns regarding the Report supporting LTNs submitted to you earlier this year by the Executive member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport, Councillor Champion.  Please see our original email below.

 

As well as raising fundamental concerns regarding the suite of published consultation reports, we flagged that the Paper submitted to you by Councillor Champion was significantly misleading in respect of critical aspects of what the monitoring results actually showed regarding the trialled LTNs.

 

We suggested that you promptly look into these concerns, and we proposed an independent audit of Section 3 of Councillor Champion’s Paper to be the most appropriate way forward. 

 

You did not respond.

 

We now attach our recent short review of the NO2 air quality results and conclusions published in your pre consultation monitoring results reports. Essentially you conclude, across these reports, that your collected data showed no discernible impact on air quality from the LTN trials.

 

One of the fundamental objectives of these highly controversial and divisive trials is cleaner air. Your published cleaner air fail is therefore very concerning, and you will see that we have publicly called on you for comment and explanation. Please respond.

 

We would add, as alluded to in our paper, that undoubtedly the NO2 levels in certain locations in Islington are now worse than they were before, thanks to increased congestion black spots attributable to the LTN road restrictions. Even with your obvious difficulty in proving ANY causal link (for any NO2 changes) to the LTNs, purely based on logic this negative impact stacks up as LTN-attributable.

 

Islington residents look forward to your response

 

Regards

 

 

Keep Islington Moving (KIM)

 

www.keepislingtonmoving.com

admin@keepislingtonmoving.com

@keepizmoving

 

CC – Keep Highbury Moving (KHM), Keep Barnsbury Moving (KBM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous email, March 10th 2023:

 

Dear Executive Committee Members

 

As you know the Executive Committee voted in January to cover 70% of Islington with road closure schemes.

 

At para 3.6 of her Report in support of her proposal for this, the Executive member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport, Councillor Champion, selected 12 statistics from the public consultations for the first 7 LTN trials, with the intention of leading the Executive Committee to believe that the Islington LTN trials are well received by Islington residents.

 

Councillor Champion presented her 12 selected statistics in an overly positive light as she omitted to include the important “no change” statistic that was collected in the online surveys for each LTN trial.  Please see the attached documents, which provide a more accurate representation of the findings.

 

These documents also highlight very concerning failures regarding whose voices were actually represented in the consultation exercises.  Councillor Champion failed to provide this important context when presenting her Paper.

 

The Paper submitted by Councillor Champion is also significantly misleading in respect of critical aspects of what the monitoring results showed regarding the 7 trialled LTNs.

 

We trust you will want to promptly look into these concerns and respond. We would propose an independent audit of Section 3 of Councillor Champion’s Paper to be the most appropriate way forward.  

 

 

 

Keep Islington Moving (KIM)

 

www.keepislingtonmoving.com

admin@keepislingtonmoving.com

@keepizmoving

 

CC – Keep Highbury Moving (KHM), Keep Barnsbury Moving (KBM)

The Case Against Traffic Camera Filtering with Exemptions - Updated

Islington Council is proposing 15 new road closures in Barnsbury.Laycock (B.L), implemented via “filtering” using traffic cameras.  The current plan is that all motorised traffic passing though the filters will be identified by ANPR and fined, with exemptions only for emergency vehicles, or, possibly, Blue Badge holders resident in B.L. 

 

To reiterate our position, KIM and KBM absolutely reject any plan involving road closures, primarily on the grounds of: severe inconvenience for anyone needing to drive within, into and out of B.L; longer journey times; diversion of traffic on to “boundary” roads. 

 

However, some residents have indicated they would be prepared to accept filtering if exemptions were extended to local residents and possibly other groups such as particular tradespeople.  This article makes the case for vigorously opposing this “filtering with exemptions” approach.  We reject it for the following reasons:

  • The negative effects of the road closures will only be mitigated to a slight extent, since the proportion of local residents driving exclusively within B.L is tiny (note that the number of local residents driving into or out of B.L via one of the available “entry points” will be the same with or without exemptions)

  • Traffic camera filtering, with or without exemptions, would be an unacceptable invasion of citizens’ privacy.  In fact exemptions, by forcing citizens to reveal personal details to the Council, would be even worse and give the Council an unacceptable degree of control over us and our movements.  Worse, the exemptions option makes it easier for the Council to persuade residents to accept traffic camera filtering.

  • Tactically, by offering filtering with exemptions as a “compromise” solution in Phase 3, the Council could claim they have listened to us and it would be much more difficult for us to mobilise widespread opposition to the plan in the limited time available. 

  • Exemptions will not allow tradespeople from outside the area to service residents, or friends and family to visit.  It is unfair both on these groups and also the residents they visit.  It would discourage visiting B.L generally, which cannot be a good thing.

  • Slightly more controversially, exemptions would also be unfair to anyone driving through B.L for whatever reason (eg taking a shortcut when main roads are gridlocked).  B.L residents do not own the local streets and we have no right to turn our neighbourhood into a no-go area.

  • If exemption systems were implemented in all North London LTNs then this would further hinder transport mobility across North London.  B.L residents need to consider the negative aspects of not being allowed to drive to or through neighbouring districts such as Hackney or Camden.

  • An exemption system will be highly complicated to set up, involving a registration system, proof of eligibility, updating as circumstances change, vulnerability to abuse, more complicated signage, administrative errors and more social division and resentment.  It would also be expensive, especially since the Council would no doubt be obliged to retroactively implement exemptions in existing LTNs such as Highbury.

  • No doubt the Council would charge for exemptions in some way.

  • The available evidence suggests filtering with exemptions does not work.  Blue Badge filtering is widely disliked, and a trial in Fulham has been rejected by a majority of citizens there.

The DfT Review of LTNs

Following the Conservative government's signalling of a national change in attitude towards LTN policy, summed up in Transport Minister Mark Harper's excellent "Plan for Drivers" (see here), the DfT has, as promised, conducted a rapid review of LTNs which has now been published together with new Government guidance for local authorities.  This section summarises relevant documentation in this respect.  The documents referenced are all well written, thoughtful analyses of LTN policy and are well worth reading in full for a detailed understanding of the main arguments against LTNs and will be used by KIM both to support the government and DfT in its new policy and to continue to lobby Islington Council in an attempt to first block the threatened imposition of 15 new traffic filters in Barnsbury.Laycock (Phase 3 consultation now expected to start in July 2024) and to reverse the negative features of LTNs already made "permanent" in other wards.  Please click on the links to access the original documents.
 

  • The DfT Review.  Although based on only 4 existing LTNs (one of which was Camden), the report took into account inputs from many other sources (including KIM and KHM - see below) and the findings clearly indicate that many LTN projects introduced in haste during Covid were ill-conceived and poorly implemented.

  • New Government Guidance on Implementing LTNs.  The government has accepted most of the DfT's conclusions and recommendations and there is clear guidance that local authorities must engage with all stakeholders in a much more rigorous consultation process and must demonstrate that the their proposals meet with the approval of and are beneficial to a majority of residents and workers in their areas.

  • Andrew Ellson comments on Guidance.  Andrew Ellson of the Times has commented favourably on the guidance on Twitter and his remarks serve as both a useful summary and also a reminder that persuading councils to follow the guidance and policing their behaviour may still be a challenge.

  • KHM Input to DfT review.  Our sister group Keep Highbury Moving wrote this superb letter to the DfT setting out the detailed arguments why the Highbury LTN had been poorly implemented and why the most negative features of the LTN should now be reversed.  Most if not all the points apply equally as arguments why the proposed traffic filtering in Barnsbury.Laycock should be dropped.  A key point is that the cumulative effects of LTNs, especially diversion of traffic on to main roads, will get worse as more and more LTNs are put in place.

  • Fulham Input to DfT review.  Prior to this, the Traffic Camera Monitoring Group, which has been campaigning successfully against LTNs in Fulham and Hammersmith, wrote this excellent letter to their MP, Greg Hands, who supports their opposition and has clearly had a hand in driving the new government guidance.  Note the criticism of councils using fees from traffic filter violations, which has found its way into the DfT and Government guidance.  This is a topic which clearly applies to Islington!

Parliamentary_Debate

Input to Parliamentary Debate on LTNs

We have borrowed the updated review of LTNs prepared by the Traffic Camera Monitoring Group (see above) as input to the parliamentary debate on LTNs on May 20 2024.  The summary below lists succinctly a number of sensible and practical measures which we hope might be adopted following the debate:


SCHEMES TO LOWER TRAFFIC IN NEIGHBOURHOODS

Summary


The introduction of schemes which restrict traffic in whole areas, commonly but not exclusively referred to as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), has been one of the most contentious topics in areas where they have been introduced. Such schemes have also increased mistrust and disrespect of Local Authorities (LAs) and other bodies promoting them. Many of the motives and results are at odds with wider Government and cross-party objectives, and some regulatory or legislative updates could resolve these issues. The main points of contention are focused on local economies and growth; environmental sustainability; and communities.

Improvements would be derived from deeper and more objective analysis of the following areas, together with stronger oversight and control of LAs:
 

  • Defined consultation requirements of LAs, including standards, objectivity, and an obligation to consult with all those impacted – not simply the perceived beneficiaries; and alignment of LA decisions with consultation results should be mandatory

  • Standardised data collection, reporting and benchmarks, including “before and after” comparisons during normal periods on factors such as changes to: traffic volume, pollution and air quality, congestion, noise, journey miles and time, resilience for events such as roadworks and marathons, business revenue, fines revenue, resident and visitor impact; effects on protected and disadvantaged groups, schools, emergency services, public transport; ongoing costs to others such as delivery companies and tradespeople; and impact to communities both within and outside administrative boundaries

  • Obligatory alignment to National objectives for traffic schemes implemented by LAs (and other bodies like TfL, and DfT) such as economic growth, social cohesion and levelling up; and the reflection of those National objectives in a revised “Hierarchy of Road Users” where the cyclist is not dominant over larger groups such as public transport users

  • Ceasing all direct and indirect public funding for campaign groups, charities and armslength bodies which promote one type of road user to the detriment of another; and to ban discriminating between public road users such as local and non-local drivers

  • Legislative and regulatory changes around the recipient of fines, whereby the excess from fines is not retained by the bodies implementing the LTNs. This revenue could potentially transfer to central Government as in Scotland and some parts of Wales, similar to business rates so there is no incentive to favour traffic schemes over businesses

  • An absolute obligation on LAs to facilitate free movement of the population (“keep traffic moving”), and to not implement changes which adversely impact public transport including mini-cabs: shifting the balance from the “stick” to the “carrot”

  • An effective method of ensuring public officials adhere to the Nolan Principles and other established customs, such as the Gunning Principles of consultation and the Public Sector Equality Duty

  • Better oversight of LAs, an overhaul of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, the establishment of a potential traffic scheme Inspectorate, and a less costly binding method of dispute resolution for community groups as alternatives or precursors to judicial review

bottom of page