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High Court grants permission for judicial review challenge over decision by council to implement Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme.

Residents in Ealing have been granted permission by the High Court for a judicial review of their council's decision to implement roadblocks in their borough as part of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme.

Brought by a member of the Coldershaw and Midhurst Traffic Action Group (CAMTAG Co-ordinator) and a representative of One Ealing (Residents Against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods), the judicial review application claimed that Ealing Council had failed to meet its obligations under Section 122 of the Road Traffic Act 1984 and its public sector equality duty under the Equality Act 2010.

The local authority used an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) in order to implement the LTN. According to the council, each LTN scheme has been introduced on the basis that it will be monitored and consulted on over a minimum period of six months before any decision is taken as to whether it should be made permanent.

But critics say that the council's consultation efforts are not enough. On their crowdfunding page, One Ealing claimed the council's implementation had been "undemocratic and lacking in any substantive community consultation, and they are causing issues for emergency services, including the London Ambulance Service who was NOT consulted, with unfortunate consequences."

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The group also claimed that residents and businesses in and around the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are experiencing "unprecedented" traffic jams on their main roads (due to the road barricades), an increase in pollution and decrease in business.

One Ealing has raised over £27,000 to fund its legal action.

Croydon Council is meanwhile facing similar legal challenges. A resident's campaign group in the borough, 'Open Our Roads', filed a judicial review application last week (Nov 2) against the London borough's implementation of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood which closed roads in Crystal Palace, Upper Norwood and South Norwood in August.

Open Our Roads claimed Croydon Council did not undertake the necessary impact assessments and failed to consult key stakeholders before introducing the roadblocks.

The applicant, Eliska Finlay, on behalf of petitioners in Croydon and Bromley, said: "We believe Croydon Council acted unlawfully with the decision to close our roads in Crystal Palace, Upper Norwood and South Norwood. Amongst other failings, Croydon Council did not undertake the necessary impact assessments, nor did they consult key stakeholder groups such as residents, businesses and people with protected characteristics before implementing the LTN. Croydon also deliberately diverted traffic onto roads in the neighbouring Borough of Bromley.

"The supporters of Open Our Roads have written hundreds of emails to the council to voice their opposition to these schemes. But the council has not listened."

Ms Finlay added: "We felt we had no other choice but to seek legal justice for the residents of Croydon and Bromley who have been negatively impacted by Croydon Council's woeful mismanagement of the traffic network and its neglect of its legal duties as a local traffic authority.

"We hope that Croydon Council will do the right thing: remove all restrictions on our roads and then conduct a full and robust traffic survey, undertake pollution monitoring, and work towards a network wide traffic management plan that takes into account all road users and businesses."

The closures are intended to keep traffic away from residential streets and encourage socially distanced exercise, according to Croydon Council.

Bromley Council, which neighbours Croydon, has supported the judicial review and said it had seen increased congestion in and around the 'Crystal Palace Triangle' as a result.

In response to the application, Croydon Council announced a public consultation on the scheme.

On its consultation page, the council said that it "did not consult formally before introducing measures because we were required as a matter of urgency by central government and TfL to reallocate space on the highway to people walking, cycling, and using other alternatives to the car".

Ealing Council and Croydon Council have been contacted for a statement.

Adam Carey

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