Campaign groups link up for Hackney Town Hall anti-road closure demo
- Credit: Holly Chant
Residents from Hackney, Islington and Tower Hamlets plan to gather at Hackney Town Hall to protest council road closures on Saturday (June 26).
Anti-road closure campaign groups from the three boroughs have formed a coalition, in opposition of low-traffic measures introduced by councils with the aim of making roads safer and less polluted.
Campaigners however, have argued the measures simply shift traffic onto main roads, causing more traffic and pollution for some, as well as disrupting journeys for car users.
Niall Crowley from the group Horrendous Hackney Road Closures, said the groups have joined forces due to a "common cause": "No matter what they are called — Tower Hamlets Council call them Liveable Streets, Islington labels them People-Friendly Streets and Hackney calls them Low Traffic Neighbourhoods — their effect is always all the same. Draconian road closures that cause chaos and misery.”
Other resident groups have backed the schemes, such as Better Streets for Tower Hamlets, which called for more low traffic neighbourhoods in September 2020.
The demonstration will take place on June 26 at Hackney Town Hall, just days before a legal challenge against Hackney council's road closures is due to commence at the High Court on June 30.
Protesters will assemble outside Argos, Old Street from 12.30pm and march from Old Street to Hackney Town Hall for 3pm.
In response, Islington Council's corporate director for environment Keith Townsend, said: “People-friendly streets are designed to encourage active travel and support social distancing on public transport as we recover from the pandemic."
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Mr Townsend added that by reducing the "dominance of motor vehicles" the council aims to make Islington a fairer borough where "everyone can walk, cycle and use buggies as well as wheelchairs safely and easily".
Islington and Hackney have reported a decrease in traffic in neighbourhoods which have been reviewed.
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Cllr Mete Coban, Hackney's transport chief, said: “Our School Streets and low traffic neighbourhoods are helping people to walk, cycle and shop locally, improving air quality and creating quieter neighbourhoods, while keeping access for cars for those who need to use them.
The measures have been introduced as trials over a period of months with Hackney extending engagement periods on all its schemes to ensure adequate time for resident feedback.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: "Tower Hamlets has spent more than two years engaging with residents, businesses and visitors as part of our Liveable Streets programme to make it safer to move around the borough.
“Proposals have been co-designed with input from the community and research around issues such as air pollution, traffic congestion and road collisions.
“Vehicular access is maintained to every street with investment in improved greenery, street furniture, lighting, CCTV, cycle parking, pavements and crossings to make it safer and easier for everyone to get around.
“We listen to concerns throughout the design and implementation of any changes as part of a multi-million pound investment in neighbourhoods to make them safer and greener with monitoring and regular review of schemes after they’re delivered.
“The pandemic has given a new urgency to the question of how we share our public spaces and how we can champion walking and cycling for the associated benefits for public health, air quality and the environment.”