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Mayor of London and TfL win appeal over High Court ruling that quashed closure of A10 in Bishopsgate under ‘Streetspace’ scheme

The Court of Appeal has allowed an appeal by Transport for London and the Mayor of London against a High Court ruling that quashed the ‘Streetspace’ traffic reduction policies.

In January this year Mrs Justice Lang had held in United Trade Action Group Ltd & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Transport for London & Anor [2021] EWHC 72 (Admin) that the London Streetspace Plan and a traffic order closing part of the A10 at Bishopsgate, in the City of London, to most vehicles including taxis were both unlawful and should be quashed.

Streetspace is a plan intended to encourage people not to use road vehicles in London due to some expected reluctance to begin using public transport again during and after the pandemic.

The Court of Appeal informed the parties of its decision at the end of a hearing this week and said a written judgment would follow.

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A TfL spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that the Court of Appeal has overturned the earlier decision in this case. Helping the capital to get through, and recover from, the coronavirus pandemic has always been at the heart of our plans for encouraging more people to walk and cycle. Temporary schemes continue to enable thousands of safer essential journeys and are helping to improve air quality, congestion and road safety and make local communities greener, healthier and more attractive places to live, work and play. 

“We recognise how important it is for our schemes to work for the communities they serve, including people who use taxis, and we will continue to deliver schemes to ensure a sustainable recovery from coronavirus.” 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “This decision from the Court of Appeal is a vindication of our policies. Our world-leading Streetspace schemes are helping protect the health of Londoners, and this decision reinforces my determination to make it safer and easier for Londoners to walk and cycle, and to help ensure a green and sustainable recovery from the pandemic.  

“The Judges’ decision today, along with the vote from Londoners on May 6th, is a double mandate allowing us to continue with our bold measures. Our changes to Bishopsgate make it safer for people walking and cycling. This central London scheme is the centrepiece of the work we have done across the capital during my first term. Recent data from TfL demonstrates its success, with 700 bikes per hour on average passing through the area at peak times – more than 11 bikes per minute.

“Bishopsgate has long suffered with a poor safety record and slow bus speeds, and the temporary changes enable safer journeys by improving the flow of traffic and reducing the danger for vulnerable road users. I hope councils will work with me to ensure we have a green recovery across our city, delivering policies that address the air quality and climate change crisis.”

Darren Rogers, Managing Director and Solicitor at the claimant/respondent's law firm Chiltern Law, said: “Following such a resounding victory in January, the United Trade Action Group and Licensed Taxi Drivers Association are surprised at the Court of Appeal decision to allow the appeal. The decision will come as a bitter blow to those who have campaigned tirelessly for equality and those with supposedly protected characteristics.

“We look forward to receiving the full judgement so that all options can be considered.”

Lang J had upheld the challenge on the grounds that TfL failed in making the London Streetspace Plan to distinguish taxis from general traffic and so failed to have regard to the distinct status of taxis as a form of public transport, and the role they played in transporting people with mobility impairments.

The judge found the Mayor of London failed to have proper regard to the public sector equality duty and that the Streetspace plan and associated guidance breached the taxi drivers’ legitimate expectation to pass and repass on London’s roads, and to use lanes reserved for buses.

Lang J also held that the treatment of taxis in the plan, guidance and A10 Order was irrational.

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