Agenda item

Opposition Business - Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

An issues paper prepared by the Opposition Group is attached for information. 


The Council rules relating to Opposition Business are also attached for information. 


Councillor Maria Alexandrou introduced the issues paper prepared by the majority opposition group.


1.            Issues highlighted by Councillor Alexandrou were as follows: 


·         The view that low traffic neighbourhood schemes were unwanted by local residents and had been ineptly implemented. 

·         That the consultation on the schemes had been flawed and people living within the areas affected had not had an adequate opportunity to comment on them. 

·         Concern that no paper copies of the consultation had been provided, which she felt discriminated against the weakest and most vulnerable.

·         That the imposition of the scheme had resulted in congestion and gridlock in surrounding roads which had increased pollution and made the roads more difficult to cross for pedestrians.  The congestion could delay the delivery of lifesaving medicines and treatments.

·         They had caused local businesses to lose trade and some people had found it harder to sell their properties.

·         Concern that the Council were making money out of the penalty fines which had been imposed due to the schemes.

·         That there was no evidence that the schemes reduced traffic, which she felt was just transferred to neighbouring streets. 

·         Schemes in other boroughs had been found to be unlawful and had been removed. 

·         The Council’s own vehicles had been parked with engines running causing more pollution. 

·         Enfield in comparison to Wandsworth has less than half the number of electric charging points.

·         Currently there were a lack of alternative travel options.  A car was one of the safest options. 

·         A recent high court judgement from Mrs Justice Elisabeth Lang had criticised road closures under similar schemes


2.            Councillor Barnes responded on behalf of the majority party highlighting: 


·         That the current level of traffic on residential roads was unsustainable and destructive. The number of cars on the road had increased dramatically meaning in the last 12 years the number of miles driven on Enfield’s roads every year has increased by over 300 million miles.

·         There were now 140,000 vehicles registered in Enfield and this was predicted to continue to increase, while most of that extra traffic had been pushed onto residential ‘C’ and unclassified roads, sometimes at high speeds, by Sat-Navs.

·         Low Traffic Neighbourhoods were part of Government policy to help fight climate change. 

·         They were beneficial to children and young people. They prevented rat-running. Cars in the Fox Lane estate have been measured up to 80mph which would kill a child on impact.

·         Nearly a third of journeys were shorter than 15 minutes just over a mile which is a 15 minute walk for those who are able and the largest proportion of car journeys are for leisure.

·         The Council had to meet the challenge to improve air quality and encourage more walking and cycling.  This meant bringing about behavioural change. 

·         The schemes would lead to less congestion in future years for those who had to use a car such as those with disabilities.  

·         Low Traffic Neighbourhoods created safe corridors enabling children to travel to school safely inside the LTN and also the surrounding area Many children are suffering from obesity.  They need to walk and cycle more. 

·         The Fox Lane LTN scheme together with a school streets initiative have has seen the number of children being driven to one school drop by 18%.

·         Adapting to the new way of doing things was not easy and the necessary modal shift would take time.  Tough decisions had to be made, but they should lead to a better future.

·         There had been lots of misinformation spread about these schemes.  Roads had not been completely closed and every house on streets within the schemes could still be reached by car. 

·         Engagement on the Fox Lane scheme had begun in November 2019 and took place over 6 weeks, over 1,500 responses had been received and changes to the design of the original scheme made in response. The Fox Lane scheme had been installed in October 2020 alongside a live consultation.

·         The Opposition had had the opportunity to call in the decision to implement the Fox Lane scheme, when it was agreed but had not done so. 

  • The Bowes scheme had been introduced following years of traffic problems from the North Circular. It had been paid for by the government and introduced under its strict 8-week timescale. If the Council had not met this timescale the government would have reclaimed funds. The government has recently awarded the council a further £1.5 million.

·         The emergency services had been and had had to be consulted on all schemes.  The chief operating officer of the Ambulance Service was not aware of any LTNs that have led to any patient safety concerns or any significant delays. 

·         Unhindered routes monitored by CCTV cameras were agreed with the Ambulance Service and all signage conformed to the regulations. 

·         The schemes did not cause congestion, that was the result of the numbers of cars on the roads.  The LTNs directed dangerous rat running traffic back on to the main roads which were better designed for high volumes.    

  • There was concern about the 10% of people living on major routes and there was a need to campaign for more cycle lanes to push cars further from houses, more trees to act as pollution buffers, more pedestrian improvements and to improve traffic infrastructure, which was never designed for this amount of vehicles. 

·         Electric vehicles could help reduce pollution but not congestion.  The Council hoped to be able to introduce lamppost chargers soon. 

·         Thirty nine percent of Enfield’s emissions was from its roads and fighting climate change should not be political. 

·         It was disappointing that these schemes should not be supported cross party, especially as the Council was enacting government policy. 


3.            Cllr Lemonides added the following on behalf of the minority Opposition group:


·         Concern about the lack of consultation.  Dialogue was essential.  If a substantial number of people were against the proposals the plans should be changed.  This had happened with previous plans and the number of complaints had then decreased dramatically. 

·         Concern about the political judgement and approach by members of the Cabinet.


4.            The comments from members of the majority administration: 


a.    An attack on low traffic neighbourhood schemes was also attack on school street projects.  Together these schemes were creating safer, less polluted streets for local children, improving air quality and making it easier for them to walk and cycle to school. 

b.    The schemes would reduce traffic over time, would improve the environment and would be extended to cover streets in other parts of the borough to reduce congestion further. 

c.    One school within the scheme had reported an 18% fall in the number of children being driven to school.

d.    Attacking these schemes was seen to be putting politics above the wellbeing of children. 

e.    The views of hundreds of residents have been listened to.

f.     Local people’s anxieties had been whipped up by opposition parties with untruths and ridiculous arguments. Some of the tactics used against the proposals had been appalling, reminiscent of Donald Trump. 

g.    An acknowledgement that all new traffic schemes could be disruptive, but also there was an urgent need to reduce the number of short car journeys: 40% of greenhouse gasses were from road traffic vehicles.  In order to tackle the climate emergency emissions from cars had to be reduced.

h.    Electric charging points were only one part of the solution.  More electric cars would not solve traffic congestion.

i.      This administration was willing to take action on problems and was looking to the long term future of residents in the borough.  These schemes were effective at taking traffic away from residential roads, reducing pollution and increasing walking and cycling. 

j.      The abuse received by officers and members about these schemes was shameful and unacceptable. 

k.    Other boroughs had benefitted from the reduction in traffic and the schemes in Enfield would be expanded to other areas, funding permitting.  There was no evidence that they only benefited the wealthier areas.  Less traffic makes life better for all. 

l.      In the middle of a climate emergency it was essential to support efforts to reduce traffic, encourage walking and cycling and make Enfield a better place to live. 

m.  It was misleading to state that there had been no consultation on the schemes. In Bowes a live consultation was currently being carried out and in Fox Lane where improvements to the scheme had been made. 

n.    There were signs that pollution had also decreased.  Although this was too early to be able to make a meaningful assessment by how much at this point. 

o.    It was essential to reduce obesity, to improve public health and wellbeing, to encourage people to become more active: (61% of Enfield residents were overweight and 41% of 11 year-olds).  Obesity increased risk of heart disease and cancer.  Physical inactivity was responsible for 1 in 6 deaths. 

p.    Low traffic neighbourhoods were one part of the strategy to address public health problems as well as air pollution and injuries. 

q.    Future generations would thank us for addressing these problems now. 


5.            Comments from the Majority Opposition members: 


a.    More than 34,000 fines had been issued and £1.2m raised from people not obeying the new rules.  This was felt to be immoral.

b.    Gridlock had been created in surrounding roads. 

c.    There were accounts of carers refusing to visit clients in the restricted roads because of traffic delays.

d.    Keys to access roads were said to be unavailable.

e.    The consultation had not been transparent.  The schemes had serious flaws and the timing was unrealistic.  They should be suspended. 

f.     The Labour administration had chosen to bid for money to implement these schemes, designed them and chosen where they would be implemented not the Government. 

g.    Moving traffic onto the already congested main roads traffic just increased pollution and congestion along those roads. People living along main roads were already more likely to suffer health problems.  The schemes have benefitted the few at the expense of the many. 

h.    These schemes punished the motorists and, although temporary at the moment, would soon be made permanent by the Mayor and Transport for London.

i.     Legitimate concerns had been dismissed.  The Council should be serving the whole community.  

j.     There was no real evidence that pollution had decreased.  It was only being moved from one area to another.

k.    Emails leaked from the Ambulance Service showed that they did not support the scheme. 

l.     The money from government should have been used around town centres for social distancing measures. 

m.  There were a large number of residential properties along main roads.

n.    Councillors had received a large number of emails protesting against these schemes.

o.    Concern that there had been no equality impact statement.  The elderly and the disabled were unable to walk and cycle and depended on their cars or taxis. 


6.            Comments of the minority opposition group: 


a.    The traffic would not disappear as a result of low traffic neighbourhood schemes it would only be mainly displaced to other streets. 

b.    Many residents have been annoyed by the patronising responses received to their complaints.

c.    The population in London has grown hugely which accounted for the rise in the number of cars.  Areas needed servicing by vehicles. 

d.    Traffic fines should not be used to raise money.

e.    The view that there was nothing in the 2018 Labour manifesto about low traffic neighbourhoods and that the schemes should be removed. 

f.     A more effective solution would be to impose a 20mph limit across the whole borough. 

g.    The money offered could have been used to encourage safe social distancing on footways. 


7.            Summing up on behalf of the Opposition: 


Councillor Laban asked the Leader and the Deputy Leader to listen to the community and agree to the recommendations in the Opposition business paper.  These schemes had created awful divisions, setting neighbour against neighbour and the pain they had caused needed to be recognised. 


8.            Response on behalf of the administration:


Councillor Barnes responded by saying that the majority opposition had refused to co-operate and had not come up with a viable alternative to these schemes.  There had been large amounts of misinformation put forward, emotions had been manipulated and divisions encouraged. Enfield Conservatives were opposing not only the Council and the Mayor of London, but also their own government. Quieter Neighbourhoods had been included in the Labour Manifesto.  In Bowes Fines would have been imposed if rules had not been breached. the government would have clawed back funds if strict implementation timescales had not been met.


It was necessary to contain pollution, to help address climate change and to put children first.  Introducing 20 mph zones boroughwide would slow traffic down making the streets safer but would not solve the problem of congestion on the roads. 


This administration would not be removing the trials at this time and would complete the consultations. When more funding became available, schemes would be introduced into the east of the borough.  The administration would look to learn lessons and would continue to engage with residents. They would also work to join up the Bowes scheme with Haringey’s LTN and would also look to find ways to reduce traffic and further protect residents on the main routes, aware of the 10% of residents who lived along them. Ultimately if the schemes were judged to be unsuccessful, they would try something else, because something needed to be done. 


During the debate Councillor Vince moved and Councillor Laban seconded a procedural motion that discussion on the opposition business paper should be extended for a further 15 minutes.  Councillor Stewart suggested that it should be extended for a further 30 minutes.  This was unanimously agreed.


Later in the debate Councillor Vince moved and Councillor Laban seconded a further motion to extend the discussion for another 15 minutes. This was not agreed after a vote with the following result: 


For:  18

Against: 38

Abstentions: 0


At the end of the debate, the majority group response to the opposition’s recommendations was put to the vote and agreed with the following result:


For:  38

Against: 18

Abstentions:  0

Supporting documents: