Residents of a “boundary road” to one of Lambeth’s low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) yesterday (5 December) used a Streatham church to voice anger and frustration about the effect the LTN has had on them.
In front of them in St Peter’s on Leigham Court Road – the road in question – were five Lambeth councilllors and Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy.
Organised by residents of the road, the meeting was hosted by the vicar of St Peter’s, Steffan Mathias.
His appeals for bridges to be built and the meeting to be conducted with “respect and kindness” were not always heeded, but most people remembered they were in church.
Leigham Court Road resident Georgina began proceedings with a detailed rundown of complaints about what has happened to the road since the creation of the Streatham Hill LTN.
She said traffic was up by more than a quarter – a “monstrous” increase – and that illegally high levels of pollution remained.
Describing the council’s LTN policy as “positive, but wishful, thinking”, she said it had led to “frustration and despair”.
Among many other contributors with questions ranging from pointed to hostile were Graham, who said he was was lucky to be alive after being “wiped out” by a car that mounted the pavement he was walking on.
Local GP Mike pointed out that pollution levels outside Dunraven school remain above recommended levels and listed in clinical detail the dangerous and fatal effects of local pollution from internal combustion engines.
He demanded to know what Lambeth’s director of public health had to say about LTNs.
Other questioners highlighted poor local public transport that is set to get worse as Transport for London prepares for cuts to meet reductions in government funding.
They also pointed to the effects of other Lambeth LTNs, saying traffic in Herne Hill’s Milkwood Road had doubled.
Neil Salt, chair of Streatham Action’s transport group, complained of “the dearth of information” about the effects of LTNs on traffic and highlighted the big increase in traffic on the South Circular in Lambeth.
He pointed out that reduction in traffic on boundary roads, as well as inside LTNs, is one of the criteria for judging whether or not they are working as intended.
A big future concern for all at the meeting was the possibility of a further LTN – in the Streatham Wells area – that would also have Leigham Court Road as a boundary road.
Answering questions were Streatham MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy; Dr Mahamed Hashi, Lambeth council member for sustainable transport, environment and clean air (who shares the job with Cllr Danny Adilypour); Streatham Hill councillors Liz Atkins and Rezina Chowdhury; Streatham Wells councillor Malcolm Clark; and Knight’s Hill councillor Jane Pickard, who was a member of the council’s LTN commission.
Councillors said that LTNs were only one aspect of the cpouncil’s approach to traffic which included the creation of “school streets” to combat pollution outside them.
Cllr Pickard said that she and Cllr Clark would follow up with council officers the inconsistencies in the data on LTNs being provided by the council, saying “the jury is out” on questionable data.
Cllr Clark also acknowledged that Leigham Court Road was the worst in the borough for vehicles exceeding the 20 mph speed limit.
But he said that the LTN was only one factor among several others, including increased car and decreased public transport use because of the pandemic.
Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a local resident, agreed, adding that local public transport has been “awful for a very long time”.
She also accepted that “consultation has been a problem”.
Cllr Clark pointed out that one reason for this was the way central government has urged local authorities to make changes, setting very tight deadlines for providing funding for them.
Emma Elliott of the residents’ group, who chaired the meeting, said that “no-one is listening to us”.
But, summing up what she saw as its results, she pointed out to councillors that it had been recorded and they would be held to what they had said.
Data – Better analysis and questions put to people who commission and produce the data on LTNs for the council;
Follow ups – Cllr Hashi to come back to the residents with ideas on how residents’ concerns can be addressed;
New LTNs – “I believe we have a firm commitment. I hope we have a firm commitment” that Leigham Court Road will not be a boundary road for another LTN “until we have sorted out the fallout from this one,” said Emma Elliott;
Local transport links – Councillors would come back with suggestions about what might be possible to improve them;
Public health – Councillors would speak to Lambeth’s director of public health about the unsafe levels of pollution on Leigham Court Road.
Consultation on the Streatham Hill and Tulse Hill LTNs closes on 19 December.