Tower Hamlets LTNs: Campaigners seek legal advice after mayor scraps traffic schemes

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Save Our Safer Streets said it is taking advice from its lawyers “to monitor the legality of what the mayor has done”.

An east London healthy streets campaign group is seeking legal advice after the borough’s pro-car mayor chose to tear out the majority of its low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

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Consultations into both schemes had indicated public backing for their retention, but Mr Rahman, who pledged to “reverse the botched Livable Streets closures” in his 2022 election manifesto, said he would instead look at ways to tackle air pollution which “unite our residents”.

“While LTNs improve air quality in their immediate vicinity, they push traffic down surrounding arterial roads, typically lived on by less affluent and BAME residents,” he said.

Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Lutfur Rahman, mayor of Tower Hamlets. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The 33 school streets will be retained, as will the road closure on Canrobert Street. The council will also be investing £6 million on schemes such as more infrastructure for public spaces and better walking and cycling facilities to improve air quality in the borough.

Following the decision, the Save Our Safer Streets campaign group, composed of Bethnal Green residents, said it is taking advice from its lawyers “to monitor the legality of what the mayor has done”. It has raised more than £26,000, with significant donations since the decision.

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A statement on the group’s Crowd Justice page says: “Lutfur Rahman has taken the most extreme, undemocratic and dangerous decision available to him this evening. He has decided to rip out all the walking and cycling infrastructure in Bethnal Green.

“This is not the end. We know we have public support for our cause and the overwhelming evidence too.

“With the advice of our lawyers, we will monitor the legality of what the council has done. Our Crowd Justice page is open for donations. The more we receive, the more ready we are to act as necessary to protect our safer streets.”

A spokesperson for the group told LondonWorld they could say no more while the advice is being sought. They said, as of Thursday morning (September 21), the group had received more than £7,000 in donations since the meeting the previous evening.

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During the meeting, Mr Rahman said LTNs have led to “division” in Tower Hamlets, and that he had wanted to consult on the schemes to better understand the impacts.

The council is now due to set a timetable outlining when the closures are to be removed.

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