Wandsworth Council under fire after LTN suspensions

Wandsworth Council has come under fire after suspending their LTN (Low Traffic Neighbourhood) schemes less than a month after setting them up.

LTNs were set up in Tooting on 17 August and in West Putney on 31 August, but all trials were suspended on 11 September following negative feedback from residents.

Labour MP for Tooting Dr Rosena Allin-Khan said that the situation has made the position of Conservative cabinet member for strategic planning and transportation John Locker untenable.

She added: “Wandsworth Council failed from the start to communicate the implementation of LTNs to local residents, and instead of listening and reviewing they have now decided to pull them out because they do not want the fuss.

“The council should be ashamed. When the going got tough, they tried to pass the buck, and now Wandsworth Council is wasting tens of thousands of pounds by scrapping the LTNs entirely.”

The scheme aimed to make residential areas friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians, and help the environment by blocking off certain streets with plant-barriers or ‘planters’.

But concerns around reduced public transport, issues with emergency vehicles and consultation with residents lead to the planters being removed.

Cllr Locker said: “It is clear that the LTNs are not delivering the benefits we want to see.

“That is why we have taken the difficult decision to pause and re-think about how we can achieve our objective of delivering healthier, safer streets.

“We all want to do what is right environmentally, whilst maintaining people’s ability to travel and making sure town centres and high streets function properly.

“It’s important that we listen to what people are saying so that we get this right.”

The council’s position centres around issues with Transport for London’s Streetspace programme, which has made changes to the A24, the main road through Balham and Tooting.

It argues that changes to the road, which runs right through the heart of the LTN areas in Tooting, have compounded issues with the LTN system and caused the majority of the congestion.

It also blames TfL for issues with emergency services and claims TfL is yet to make changes to the scheme in Tooting.

Dr Allin-Khan acknowledged that the TfL scheme, which is on an 18-month trial, has issues but said that she is meeting with a TfL representative next week to discuss it.

She added: “I have been clear from the start that I am supportive of schemes which encourage cycling and make our streets safer.

“We do that by engaging in polite and respectful discussion to bring about changes collectively.”

The issue with the TfL scheme raised by the council surrounds wands on the side of the roads, which can be slow to lower, preventing cars from pulling over for emergency services.

CONTROVERSIAL: The wands that have caused friction. Credit: Wandsworth Council

Labour London Assembly Member for Merton and Wandsworth Leonie Cooper said that the scheme will be subject to adjustment throughout the trial.

One adjustment being considered is removing some of the wands on the A24 through Tooting.

However, Ms Cooper added that emergency services were informed about the changes made as part of the Streetspace scheme and their suggestions were included.

As such, TfL do not believe that emergency service access has been disrupted by the changes.

LTNs are proving controversial across London, with Lambeth Council also facing a backlash for its LTN in Oval Triangle.

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