Hundreds protest against low-traffic scheme

Protesters demand Enfield Council rip out LTN in Palmers Green, reports James Cracknell

Anti-LTN protesters march along Alderman's Hill in Palmers Green (credit Robert Taylor)
Anti-LTN protesters march along Aldermans Hill in Palmers Green (credit Robert Taylor)

Hundreds of people took to the streets to demand Enfield Council remove a low-traffic neighbourhood from Palmers Green.

The protest on Saturday saw several hundred residents meet in Broomfield Park to hear speeches before marching along Aldermans Hill and Green Lanes, around the perimeter of the Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN).

Many motorists driving past honked their horns in support while some local opposition councillors also attended and spoke out against the council’s LTNs programme, which includes a similar trial scheme in Bowes Park.

Fox Lane Area Quieter Neighbourhood, as it is officially called by the council, was launched in September 2020 as a six-month trial but remains in place today with a fresh round of public consultation now due to end in January 2022.

The LTN has blocked off eleven residential road entrances – most adjacent to Fox Lane in Palmers Green, plus another two in Southgate – restricting motor traffic using bollards, planters and enforcement cameras. It aims to reduce air pollution and improve road safety by stopping rat-running drivers and encouraging sustainable travel modes such as cycling and walking.

But the knock-on effect of forcing local drivers to use surrounding main roads instead, often making journeys by car longer and slower, has angered motorists who are unwilling or unable to swap their cars for a bike.

Conservative councillor Maria Alexandrou, who represents Winchmore Hill ward within which part of the Fox Lane scheme is situated, says around 75% of the correspondence she receives from residents on the LTN is from people opposing it.

Cllr Alexandrou told the Dispatch: “I speak to a lot of my residents and they feel very strongly that it is having an impact on their lives and they want their voice heard.

“People are very angry that the council is not listening. Now the consultation has been extended I am urging people to send in their views before 11th January. At some point the council needs to start listening.

“I wouldn’t say there is not a problem [with rat running] but I think we should go back to the drawing board and address it in a different way.”

The local Conservatives are expected to include a commitment to remove the borough’s two LTN trials in their 2022 election manifesto, although Labour councillors point out that they were installed using money provided by the Conservative government.

Asked what measures she would propose to reduce traffic instead of LTNs, Cllr Alexandrou said she wanted to see more rain gardens, wider pavements, more pedestrian crossings and charging points for electric vehicles.

Anti-LTN protesters gathered in Broomfield Park to hear speeches before starting their march
Anti-LTN protesters gathered in Broomfield Park to hear speeches before starting their march

A local resident from one of the roads surrounding the Fox Lane LTN, who did not wish to be named, said Saturday’s protest “went amazingly well” and added: “We thought we would be lucky to get a hundred people along but people were pouring out to join us.

“There were old and young people, disabled people, even people on bikes. They were upset at not being listened to – we just want a fair hearing.”

A council spokesperson said: “We welcome feedback from residents in relation to our low-traffic neighbourhood schemes – our consultation on the Fox Lane scheme concludes on 11th January and all views can be taken into account.

“We note that it is not possible to know how many of those who attended the gathering on Saturday were actual Enfield residents.”

To take part in the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood consultation before the deadline on 11th January:
Visit letstalk.enfield.gov.uk/foxlaneQN