Legal threat over low-traffic scheme consultation

Residents’ group opposing Fox Lane LTN claims consultation rules not followed, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A traffic jam in Alderman's Hill, Palmers Green, on the edge of the Fox Lane LTN scheme
A traffic jam in Alderman’s Hill, Palmers Green, on the edge of the Fox Lane LTN scheme

Enfield Council could face legal action over a traffic-reduction scheme consultation that is due to end this weekend. 

A group of residents and businesses claims the consultation on the Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme was flawed because a key document was published late – and accused the council of trying to mislead the public.

The group, One Community Against Fox Lane LTN, has threatened to mount a legal challenge if the scheme is made permanent. Enfield Council confirmed it had received an objection letter from the group and a spokesperson said it would respond after the consultation closes.

LTNs involve closing residential streets to through-traffic in a bid to cut rat-running, boost air quality, and encourage more people to walk and cycle, but they have divided opinion, with some residents complaining of longer journey times, increased pollution on surrounding roads and possible delays to the emergency services.

The Fox Lane LTN trial, officially called Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood, includes an area between Southgate and Palmers Green. A consultation on the trial is due to end on Sunday, 11th July. 

One Community claims that when the council published an experimental traffic order at the start of the LTN trial last August, it did not give an accompanying statement of reasons until two months later.

When the council finally did so, the group claimed it did not publish a notification of the amendment and accused the local authority of trying to mislead people into believing the statement had been available from the start of the trial.

One Community claim it is a legal requirement to keep the statement of reasons available for inspection throughout the whole experimental period. The group has submitted a formal letter of objection against the Fox Lane traffic orders being made permanent, which it says is the precursor to a legal challenge.

An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “The council can confirm that it has received an objection letter from the One Community group. A formal decision report for the Fox Lane Quieter Neighbourhood will be produced once the consultation closes and other monitoring data is reviewed and analysed. This report will provide a response to any objections raised.”

The council has been collecting a range of data, including traffic speed and volume, air quality and cycling counts, which will be used to judge the success of the Fox Lane trial and whether or not it should be made permanent.

Meanwhile, a consultation on a similar LTN scheme in Bowes – called Bowes Primary Area Quieter Neighbourhood – will continue so that more traffic data can be collected.

During a cabinet meeting in June, councillors noted there had been a “serious impact from the lockdowns” that affected travel patterns. The extension will allow the council to collect traffic data that is more representative of normal conditions.

With neighbouring Haringey also rolling out LTNs, Enfield Council has suggested it could draw up an alternative design for the Bowes scheme that could provide “a more optimal solution” for both boroughs. 

Findings from the trial period that were published with last month’s cabinet papers reveal that most residents remain unconvinced by the scheme. Only a quarter (26%) of LTN residents who responded to a survey thought the impact of the scheme had been positive. Just over half (51%) thought the scheme had had a negative impact, with 22% neutral or unsure. 

More than three quarters (77%) of those with a disability thought the trial had had a negative impact on them, while only 15% believed the impact had been positive.

The findings identify one delay to a London Ambulance Service response vehicle due to a road closure, with a report stating that it is “unclear how the delayed crew were navigating to the scene”. According to the council’s June report, the police and fire brigade had not raised any incidents of delayed responses from the project.

There were also moderate to major reductions in noise levels on some roads, although other roads are likely to have seen moderate increases, the report states.

An air quality report also states that overall the scheme is not considered to have had a significant effect on local air quality, although it admits there are “many uncertainties around the predictions” presented in the document.

A further decision report on the Bowes project is expected to come to cabinet later in the year.

Residents can provide feedback on the LTNs via the council’s website:
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 Neighbourhoods Hub | Let’s Talk Enfield