'It's a disgrace!' - 'Sadiq Khan should go!': Angry LBC listeners slam LTN schemes

15 November 2022, 13:02

LTN Road Closure In Dulwich Village
LTN Road Closure In Dulwich Village. Picture: Getty
Melissa Fleur Afshar

By Melissa Fleur Afshar

Rosamund Kissi-Debrah will write to Sadiq Khan about ULEZ

Furious LBC listeners, including the mother of the late Ella Kissi-Debrah who died in 2013 from an asthma attack triggered by air pollution, have called Nick Ferrari to express their anger and disdain at London's low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

"It's a disgrace what Lambeth Council has done to my neighbourhood," this furious caller, named Angela, from Lambeth told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

Residents of London's South Circular are relentlessly fighting back against the LTN policies that have been implemented by their overseeing Labour councils, Nick heard today.

Like the many people who are obligated to own a car for one reason or another, Angela shared with Nick that she needs to drive to provide care for her disabled granddaughter.

Being a motorist, she's inevitably been subjected to the regulation upheld in her LTN, and is angered by the inconvenience and stress that it causes her.

Angela told Nick that despite constant protests against the system and its high fines by residents, Lambeth Council has continued to keep LTN policies firmly in place.

Lambeth, where Angela is based, is not the only London Borough fighting against its LTNs.

Nick Ferrari also heard from Martyn Brown, Deputy Political Editor of the Daily Express, who informed him that protests had also occurred further afield in North London's Wood Green last night.

"I have organised protests and we have had deputations in the town hall," said Angela.

"[However] the local authority couldn't give a hoot!"

READ MORE: Council apologises after wrongly claiming LTNs caused reduction in pollution

When questioned by Nick on whether anyone within her neighbourhood welcomes the LTN system, Angela said: "The majority in my ward are against [what Lambeth Council] have done".

Debilitated by having only one entrance to and from of her neighbourhood and restricted access to the main road, Angela and her neighbours have taken to tearing down signs and disconnecting cameras, in a bid to "fight back" against Lambeth Council.

Angela shared with Nick that Lambeth Council has failed to respond to its residents upset, instead choosing to replace CCTV cameras on a near daily basis and install police squads and camera-vans in residential streets.

"Think of all the resources that are being wasted! [Instead of Lambeth Council] spending money on the environment!"

Feeling that their needs have been overlooked and ignored by their local authorities, the listeners took to LBC's airwaves to express their discontent.

READ MORE: 'Entitled car extremists' behind demands to scrap LTNs, campaigner claims

LTNs are a road-traffic organisation system that have been in existence in one form or another since the 1960s. They became more commonplace during the first-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic when 72 new LTNs were established in London, and the City's residents are not happy.

LTNs were designed to usher traffic out of one and away from neighbourhoods that had become congestion and air pollution hotspots, and to encourage 'green transport' measures like cycling or walking to be opted for instead.

This is typically achieved by developing planters and bollards over key crossings.

However well-intentioned the system might have been, residents have been left furious, because ushering traffic and air pollution away from one neighbourhood inevitably means that it will end up in another.

This will lead to the concentration of busier roads and higher levels of air pollution in designated areas, both of which can harm the health of residents.

While other streets have been forced to welcome higher levels of congestion, the established LTNs are difficult to navigate with entrances and parking spots being blocked off, all of which inconvenience people's daily lives.

Many of the disgruntled callers that Nick Ferrari heard from were under the impression that their councils are taking financial advantage of them, by stacking large fines against them for breaking LTN protocol.

Nick heard from Martyn Brown that the demonstrations held in Wood Green last night appear to have been triggered by a piece published in the Daily Express, which claimed that collective London Councils have issued a total of 1.1 million pound fines related to LTNs.

The fines themselves are said to be worth up to 100 million pounds.

While the LTN schemes had initially been put in place to encourage a long-term move to cycling and walking, angry LBC listeners shared with Nick Ferrari that they felt the system had become a cash cow.

It's a sentiment echoed by Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, who has been campaigning for cleaner air and safer roads since the death of her daughter Ella, aged 9, in 2013.

An inquest into Ella Kissi-Debrah's death concluded in 2020, with the verdict that London's air pollution had been a contributing factor in her death.

READ MORE: ‘Landmark moment’: Air pollution marked as a cause of 9-year-old's death

'How appalling! I see Labour councils are milking their residents! Over 100 million [pounds] you said!" Ms Kissi-Debrah told Nick.

"I am writing to Sadiq Khan about LTNs. He should go".

Miss Kissi-Debrah also revealed on-air that the inner-city air pollution has also affected her son's health too.

"My son has to continuously go into Kings College," said Ms Kissi-Debrah.

"I have asked the lead doctor [of the respiratory team] at Kings College to write to the Prime Minister about this policy".

Ms Kissi-Debrah told Nick that her 15 year old son now experiences breathing difficulties, which began during the September of 2020. The aligns with the time when LTNs grew in popularity across South London.

While her son is now heartbreakingly suffering from the same illness as her late daughter. Ms Kissi-Debrah has remained focused on her campaigning.

She announced on-air during her exchange with Nick Ferrari that she is in the process of writing to the Mayor of London about LTNs.

"It's not just about [my son] Nick, it's about all the children that live around the South Circular," said Ms Kissi-Debrah .

"I am going to write to the Mayor [of London], because he wants to role out the ultra-low-emission-zone, but it's going to fail if all the main roads are chock-a-block".

Amid hearing calls from furious LBC listeners who shared with Nick their experiences of living in LTNs or their place in the many protests against them, Nick Ferrari also rounded up the latest from Martyn Brown, journalist at the Daily Express.

"Lambeth, Ealing, and Lewisham," said Martyn Brown.

"These are all the worst boroughs for dishing out fines and for the fines that they've dished out".

Residents have protests against the traffic reduction measures.
Residents have protests against the traffic reduction measures. Picture: Getty

When probed by Nick on how residents get caught up in fines, Martyn Brown said: "They get you through cameras, you have to be on your toes because in my road in Ealing I didn't know that they'd introduced the scheme, I went round to my friend's house, and I got zapped."

As evidenced in the many protests spurring up since the scheme's expansion, Martyn Brown added that the LTNs are "hugely controversial", and likened the matter to "marmite" because "people are very unhappy".

"They are supposed to invest the money on traffic and environmental schemes." said Martyn Brown.

"The Mayor of London's office told me that's what they should be doing, councils should be doing that, but it's just freeing up money for them to spend on other things".

Martyn Brown: "Councils are finding that there is a huge opportunity here to make money".

Nick Ferrari hears from caller who was involved in protest about LTNs

In what will have surely come as a relief to LBC listeners was to hear Martyn Brown inform Nick that certain LTNs had been removed due to rigorous protesting by residents.

"They have done that [removed LTNs] in Ealing, there was a massive outcry from the public, they held petitions, and they have now removed 7 out of 9 of their LTNs." said Martyn Brown.

"There have also been protests in Harrow, and they have removed LTN cycle lanes".

Perhaps such a response from the council was inevitable.

Nick's first upset caller, Angela had said: "My granddaughter has asthma but you cannot take democracy away from people".

The Daily Express investigation into how councils profit from LTN's had been conducted in partnership with the TaxPayers' Alliance.