Road signage review for low-traffic schemes

Entrance to Warwick Road in the Bowes Park low-traffic neighbourhood
Entrance to Warwick Road in the Bowes Park low-traffic neighbourhood

Council will re-examine signage used in two low-traffic neighbourhoods, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Transport chiefs will be asked to review signage within two low-traffic schemes, after fines raised by enforcement cameras neared £2million.

Enfield Council leader Nesil Caliskan said she would ask an officer to “re-look” at some of the signs but stressed they were not there to “generate income” for the local authority.

It came as councillors grilled town hall bosses on low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) during a meeting of the council’s environment and climate action scrutiny panel.

LTNs involve closing residential roads to through-traffic in a bid to improve air quality and cut rat-running – but some residents claim they cause longer journeys and simply move pollution into surrounding roads. Two such schemes were installed last year in Palmers Green and Bowes Park, as trials.

Speaking during the meeting, Community First councillor Daniel Anderson said the LTN cameras had raised “close to £2m” and that many residents – particularly older people – had contacted him saying signs warning them not to drive through traffic filters were unclear.

Richard Eason, the council’s healthy streets programme director, said the signage was “comprehensive”, adding that the council was unable to use ‘no entry’ signs because the enforcement cameras are designed to allow access for emergency vehicles.

But after Cllr Anderson urged them to “look at the signage”, Cllr Caliskan said: “I absolutely will. I will specifically ask Richard if he can look at those cameras that are higher than the rest and perhaps re-look at those signs.

“The motivation for doing this is about trying to improve the lived environment. There would have been easier ways for the council to generate income than implementing traffic schemes. It is not done for that reason.”

Conservative councillor Maria Alexandrou said: “Why weren’t businesses contacted? As far as I know, they were just totally ignored. And why did it take the council take six months to contact blue badge holders? They should have been contacted straight away.”

Cllr Alexandrou said she was in favour of school streets schemes – designed to reduce traffic around schools – and criticised the council for only introducing twelve compared to Islington’s 39 last year.

Richard said: “Businesses have not been ignored. They have received the information on the consultation. Within the consultation itself, there is an opportunity for them to identify themselves as a business so we can hone in on the points they are raising.

“In terms of blue badge holders, letters have gone out. I wish we had done that sooner. We had issues with GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation] that did slow us down, but it would have been preferable to have sent them out earlier. I think that is a key takeaway for future schemes.”

Following further questioning from Cllr Alexandrou, Richard said the council would “take away what more we can do that’s targeted specifically at businesses”.

Cllr Alexandrou also said she had “hundreds of emails” from residents claiming LTNs had increased traffic and pollution and asked why air quality monitors were not being used.

Richard said air quality monitoring was taking place using a “model” that would allow it to compare traffic levels before and after the schemes had been rolled out. He added that more monitoring would take place after the Covid-19 pandemic, which is currently affecting traffic levels.

Cllr Anderson said the administration appeared to have made a “political decision” to go ahead with LTN schemes rather than looking at the issue “purely in the light of evidence, experience, impacts” and other factors that would constitute “an honest, scientific approach”.

Cllr Caliskan replied that all decisions made by council administrations were political ones.

She said: “Our decision to take action with traffic schemes was a political one, because we are committed to cleaner air, because we want to meet carbon targets and because we want to reduce the number of cars.

“But as with any decision we make, we rely on the professionalism, knowledge and long-term experience of officers in the local authority who advise us, present evidence to us and ultimately allow us to make a judgement.”