Rupa Huq leads House of Commons debate on traffic measures
Ealing Central and Acton MP Rupa Huq led a House of Commons debate this week on the vexed issue of Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes in London. Among solutions proposed to what she called a “divisive” policy, she suggested a local referendum on the success or failure of such measures.
In a debate on Covid-19 emergency transport measures in London on Wednesday (4 November), the Labour MP acknowledged the strength of views on both sides of the LTN debate, adding that there had been successes in the borough.
Dr Huq named Bowes Road in Acton, which hitherto had been a thoroughfare for Ubers and taxis to the A40 but now is hugely popular with residents she says.
But she also said LTN 21, which is the southern part of West Ealing, has been less well received and declared that there was “mistrust” among constituents regarding the consultation process given that local authorities are the final arbiter on whether schemes are a success or failure.
The debate attracted a lot of interest from other London MPs, with those representing Streatham, Tower Hill, Enfield, Kensington, Ruislip, Barnet and even Westminster itself in a slot that usually features only just two people.
Indeed such was the popularity of the debate that Transport Minister Rachael Maclean MP ran out of time responding to Rupa Huq’s questions so instead offered her a meeting to raise the issues.
After the debate, Huq told this site, “LTNs were conceived with good intentions - reducing carbon emissions and obesity. They have been successful and popular with residents when addressing a pre-existing problem such as in Bowes Road Acton which for years was a thoroughfare for people wanting to reach the A40 trapping residents in permanent gridlock.
"However, they have not worked where more problems are created than resolved by them leaving residents continually feeling frustrated. There has been zero pre-implementation consultation and there are concerns and confusion over how they will be evaluated prior to what most see as being made permanent given that local authorities will be marking their own homework.”
In her speech she compared the policy to Brexit given how polarising it had been. She told us, “sadly an unintended consequence has been to divide communities literally and figuratively.
Dr Huq added, “A referendum would remove the issue of excluding those lacking the right level of literacy, technology and energy to navigate a council webtool.”
Regarding the options she explained “Yes, with modifications, if need be”—then if “yes” wins, the modifications can be worked out—and “No” for those who want the measures removed.”
The final decision on LTNs will occur 6 months after the start of each of the schemes. Ealing received over £1million to introduce “active travel” projects with funding for 37 schemes received by the council.
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November 8, 2020