High court judge throws out legal challenge by Hackney residents on LTNs

A legal challenge by residents to the controversial low traffic network scheme in Hackney has been thrown out by the High Court.

The council closed 20 roads to through-traffic, open only to pedestrians, cyclists and emergency vehicles as part of its response to Covid.

The measures, brought in through the use of 18-month long experimental traffic orders (ETOs), were aimed at aiding social distancing, supporting walking and cycling, and improving road safety by clamping down on rat-running.

Among the businesses that contacted the council over concerns when the LTNs were proposed was 58 Gin in Haggerston.

At the time it was concentrating on making hand sanitiser for the NHS and said an unforseen consequence of the closure would have seen delivery  lorries turning on a corner near a school.

Campaigners from Horrendous Hackney Road Closures Ltd (HHRC) took the council to court. They lodged a claim for a judicial review which alleged the council had not consulted enough and had failed to look at the impact on other roads, on air quality and on some people with protected characteristics, reports the Hackney Citizen.

They said: “LTNs have paralysed our neighbourhoods. Their roadblocks have impacted the work of our emergency services, left many elderly and disabled residents stranded in their homes, massively increased journey times, left people struggling to get to work, hospital appointments, care visits, and pushed many local businesses to the brink of failure.”

HHRC said the LTNs had transformed some streets: “Quiet residential, and even school streets, have become gridlocked, sometimes for hours at a time.

“The hum of stationary engines, the smell of fumes and blaring car horns of frustrated drivers have become all too familiar in many neighbourhoods. The council’s claim that these measures are creating a greener, safer, more child-friendly borough reads like a sick joke.”

However High Court judge Mr Justice Dove was not persuaded by their arguments.

HHRC Ltd’s solicitor Bill Parry-Davies said: “Although HHRC Ltd’s challenge to the LTN strategy has so far failed, future decisions to make each road closure order permanent could still be individually challenged. But there have been dozens of such orders and contesting them would be a massive burden and expensive for the community and, indeed, for the council.Unless the strategy is overturned on appeal, or Hackney is persuaded to reverse the road closures, LTNs could become a fait accompli.”

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