Redbridge sees active travel funding halted after scrapping LTN scheme
Daniel Gayne and Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: Roy Chacko
Redbridge Council has had its active travel funding frozen after removing a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) scheme.
The borough is among seven in London to have funding stopped, pending further discussion, with more councils affected around the country.
In a letter to local authorities (July 30), the minister of state for transport told leaders that the department would, in some cases, be halting funding until they are sure of an authority’s commitment to active travel.
The Quiet Streets LTN introduced in Redbridge in 2020 lasted just a month before being removed in the face of opposition from residents.
Transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris wrote: “Not every scheme is perfect and a minority will not stand the test of time, but if these schemes are not given that time to make a difference, then taxpayers’ monies have been wasted.
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“Schemes need time to be allowed to bed in; must be tested against more normal traffic conditions; and must be in place long enough for their benefits and disbenefits to be properly evaluated and understood.”
In September last year, the council introduced the Quiet Streets LTN scheme, but it was shut down just a month later after more than 4,000 Barkingside residents signed a petition against it.
A similar petition against the Cranbrook West trial attracted less than 1,000 signatures.
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Announcing the end of Quiet Streets last October, council leader Jas Athwal said: “Although we have received some positive comments and significant support for the scheme’s principles, including reducing air pollution and making our roads safer, the overwhelming response has been to ask us to reverse the changes and we are listening.”
According to the 2021 London Boroughs Healthy Streets Scorecard, published last month, low traffic neighbourhoods cover just five per cent of Redbridge streets which would be suitable for the policy.
Kris Sangani, chair of the Redbridge Cycling Campaign, believes the council made a “big mistake” giving in to opposition over the LTNs.
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “There were teething problems but those can be fixed.
“Main roads have got a lot worse in Redbridge… [and] the only solution is to encourage more people to walk and cycle."
The announcement that funding could be cut for certain councils was accompanied by the announcement of a £338 million package to boost cycling and walking across the country.
Last week, the council met with Transport for London (TfL) to discuss the DfT’s decision and the future of active travel in the borough.
A spokesperson for Redbridge Council said they were “actively involved in positive dialogue” with TfL and expected to be able to confirm their funding in the near future.
They added: “We really look forward to working with TfL to continue to improve our local environment and make Redbridge a cleaner, greener place to live.
“It’s really important we have the time to collaborate with local people to design schemes that benefit our environment and work for our communities.”
A Transport for London spokesperson said its short-term funding agreement with the government has restricted its ability to commit to active travel schemes this financial year.
They said that TfL was working to secure additional government support before the current funding agreement ends on December 11.
They added: “We are focussing available funding on ensuring that boroughs can continue temporary projects and those already under construction.
“As a result, more funding has so far been allocated to those boroughs who are progressing this type of project. We have written to other boroughs where we need further discussions around specifics of their funding.”