Gaza and LTN protesters rally at town hall

street protest
Two LTN protesters make their way through the Gaza rally

Two rallies demanding action from Lambeth council took place outside the town hall in Brixton last night as a meeting of the full council took place inside.

Supporters of a ceasefire in Gaza got there first and gathered round the main entrance to demand that the council back their call, while opponents of low traffic neighbourhoods assembled on Brixton Hill.

Green Party councillors Scott Ainslie and Nicole Griffiths, who would later call on the council to back a ceasefire, addressed the rally.

Scott Ainslie said they were walking a line between standing up for hope, not hate, and for bring forward their humanitarian motion.

“We know there are issues on both sides of this conflict,” Ainslie said. “We brought this motion with that in mind. We want people released. We want Israelis released, and we want the situation in Palestine to end.

“We all knew that the writing was on the wall when Netanyahu’s government got in, and what he is doing is just absolutely abysmal.

“The world community has to stand up against that. And that’s what we’re doing.”

Some councils. like Islington, had seen Labour and Greens working together on a cross-party motion to call for peace in Palestine. “That’s not happened here,” Ainslie said.

The rally was interrupted by a provocative display of the Israeli flag by two people – leading to a brief scuffle on the town hall steps.

Local resident Glyn Secker of Jewish Voice for Labour and Jews for Justice of Palestine said he was a very different sort of Jew because he and members of the two organisation he represented would not identify with Israel. “We’ll not identify with the crimes against humanity, with the war crimes and the genocide that iy is committing,” he said.

The anti-LTN rally heard several speeches, pausing only to move round the corner and onto the town hall steps once they had been vacated.

Speakers included Sofia Sheikh, whose legal action against Lambeth LTNs was rejected by the high court and appeal court, and John Stewart, who said Lambeth council was trying to divide opposition to LTNs.

They did this “by relocating traffic from some roads to other roads and doing one LTN at a time by stealth”.

But, he said, “We’ve woken up to what they’re up to. We’ve woken up to the fact that they are dividing this borough.

“We’ve woken up to the fact that all across the borough people are suffering because of LTNs. And we are saying together and collectively: no longer, we will fight back.”

He said transport minister Mark Harper and prime minister Rishi Sunak he ordered inquiries into LTNs

“So we feel we’ve got hope and we’ve particularly got hope if we keep on fighting.”

The LTN campaigners had not been allowed to address the council, so Dr Kat Alcock told the rally what would have been said.

She said the council claimed to be “extensively monitoring” the impact of LTNs, but its claims were misleading.

Research claiming that LTNs do not cause traffic displacement were  based on flawed data, she said, including traffic monitoring methods that missed slow-moving or stopped traffic.

The council’s own monitoring report for the Streatham Hill LTN showed displacement of 3,000 vehicles a day onto Leigham Court Road, a “boundary road” which has two nurseries and mainstream and special needs schools attended by more than 2,500 children.

Alcock said the council did not carry out baseline monitoring on any roads beyond the boundary of the LTN that were likely to experience displacement where traffic volumes and congestion increased toxic vehicle emissions.

The predictions in a “modelling” study of the Streatham Hill and Tulse Hill LTNs had been “disconfirmed” by air quality measurements. Mean levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions outside Jubilee Primary school on Tulse Hill “are almost two and a half times above the predicted and safe level,” Alcok said.

“Last week, levels peaked at almost seven and a half times the predicted and safe level.”

Readings from a Leigham Court Road monitor directly outside Dunraven school showed unsafe levels of nitrogen dioxide, with recent peaks of six and a half times the safe level.

“Shockingly, this council-sponsored node, the only one that’s directly on a boundary road at the Streatham Wells LTN, has been unplugged since 11 January,” said Alcock.

“The council appear to be experimenting without consent on the developing bodies and brains of children and young people.”

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