Notting Hill Carnival blamed for scrapping Brick Lane Saturday traffic ban

Brick Lane without traffic

Brick Lane without traffic - Credit: Archant

A controversial scheme closing the famous Brick Lane ‘Curry Mile’ to traffic in London’s East End has been scrapped half-way through its trial period.

Brick Lane... traffic starts rolling

Brick Lane... traffic starts rolling - Credit: Archant

The local authority partly blames it on this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival.

The ‘Summer Saturdays’ idea where the narrow thoroughfare through Whitechapel and Spitalfields was to be switched to pedestrians only on four Saturdays of August was stopped after opposition from businesses.

That means tomorrow and next Saturday the street remains open to traffic as usual, one-way northbound.

Labour’s candidate for Tower Hamlets Mayor, John Biggs, demanded the scheme be cancelled when he attacked Mayor Lutfur Rahman for “not listening” to those living and trading in Brick Lane.

“This unpopular scheme was conceived without their views,” said Biggs.“Despite his u-turn, the Mayor must still admit how much money was wasted on this gimmick.”

The first closure on August 10 also included Osborn Street as far down as Whitechapel Road, and continued along Brick Lane as far up as Quaker Street, with cross-over traffic allowed in Wentworth Street and Hanbury Street.

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But there were “complaints and general comments”, the Town Hall admits, so Osborn Street was left open last Saturday, while the remainder still closed.

Labour has now accused the Mayor of trying “to bury this embarrassing u-turn”.

The the council insisted it was only a trial run. A spokesman for the Mayor’s Office said: “We wanted to see if it would work.

“But some residents and businesses expressed concerns about the trial and were worried about traffic access, the potential for anti-social behaviour and loss of trade.”

The planned closure tomorrow won’t take place, the council has confirmed. This has been put down to police resources needed instead for the Notting Hill Carnival in west London. Brick Lane also remains open next Saturday.

But “further analysis” of Brick Lane is planned to decided whether to create a traffic-free environment in the longer term. This time, residents and businesses will be involved in “much more extensive consultation”, the council promised.