Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter
Police, fire and ambulance services did not object to a controversial low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) when the plans for it had been finalised, according to town hall chiefs.
Richard Eason, Enfield Council’s healthy streets programme director, told councillors the emergency services did not oppose the final designs for the Bowes Park (LTN) scheme rolled out this summer, after local people claimed ambulances and police vehicles had found it difficult to access the area.
The project has seen a number of roads blocked off to motor traffic in an effort to curb ‘rat running’ traffic using Bowes Park as a shortcut to reach the North Circular – and make local streets safer for cycling and walking in the process.
Richard was speaking during a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, at which a petition objecting to Bowes Park LTN was debated. It had gained nearly 1,600 signatures. At the start of the meeting, lead petitioner Roland Hewes called for the whole scheme to be removed immediately, saying: “It does nothing to keep us safe from Covid, it is socially regressive, it adds to pollution and congestion in our wider neighbourhood, it reduces the independence of the vulnerable, and provides disincentives to walk and cycle.”
Roland warned the closure of through roads meant access for emergency services “is via a very congested part of the North Circular or Bounds Green Road, both of which are regularly gridlocked and sometimes closed and flooded”.
Responding to Roland’s concerns and comments by councillors, Richard said: “We have a very constructive relationship with the emergency services. The way it ultimately works is at the end of the discussion, do they have any objections? If they do not raise those objections with us, then we proceed to implementation – and that is the case with this scheme.”
The council director added that the emergency services did not carry keys to bollards and other measures designed to stop through traffic, preferring to understand the “strategic routes” through neighbourhoods. He said he had personally spoken to the Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service, and said they had agreed the routes that were settled on.
Under further questioning from councillors, Richard explained there had been an objection from the ambulance service during the discussion of the designs, but said this was based on a potential increase in journey times for staff travelling to and from work and not on the operations of the ambulance service itself.
Councillor Ian Barnes, the council’s deputy leader, pointed out that a camera had been installed on one of the entrances to the LTN to allow emergency vehicles to pass through, while preventing other traffic. He added the council had been given just eight weeks to implement the scheme by the government after it offered the local authority a £100,000 grant to spend on the project – cited as the reason a full public consultation was not carried out before the LTN was installed, as is usual for such projects.
Cllr Barnes claimed there was engagement with neighbouring Haringey Council and Transport for London and pointed out a consultation had been launched after the scheme was put in place. In response to concerns that the LTN was having a negative impact on older and vulnerable people who rely on their cars, Cllr Barnes said the aim was to encourage people who can walk, cycle and use public transport to stop using their vehicles for short journeys.
Following the discussion, the committee agreed to recommend that officers do not make the LTN scheme permanent until a full and proper consultation has been carried out.
The consultation on Bowes Park LTN is now open: