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LTN Campaigners get boost in Tower Hamlets legal challenge

A campaign group who have been fighting against the planned scrapping of a low traffic neighbourhood in Tower  Hamlets are celebrating after a judge granted them a two-day hearing at the High Court. 

Last year, Lutfur Rahman, the controversial Mayor of Tower Hamlets, announced he would rid the borough of LTNs and rip out the only segregated cycle lane in Bethnal Green.

Since 2022, ‘Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets’ (SOSS) have been raising money to fight for a Judicial Review in the High Court to overturn the mayor’s decision. As of today, £68,745 has been pledged towards a target of £75,000.

Having read submissions from both sides this week, the judge agreed with the campaigners’ legal team that all of their grounds of challenge are arguable, and disagreed with the council’s arguments that the whole case should be dismissed without a hearing. 

SOSS explain what will happen next:  ‘Tower Hamlets Council and Transport for London (who joined the case as an Interested Party in support of the campaign) now have a month to send the court their detailed evidence. We will then have a few weeks to submit our own detailed evidence in reply. In the coming weeks, we should also find out the date for the hearing, which we expect to be in the first half of 2024.’

The LTNs and other improvements were installed between 2020 and 2021 at a cost of over £2 million. Taking them out will cost more.

Prior to this week’s hearing, Jane Harris, a resident who  has been campaigning since summer 2022 to keep the schemes in place said: ‘This legal challenge is an absolute last resort for us. We have tried for a year and a half to meet the mayor and look at the specific issues and solutions for Bethnal Green, but he hasn’t even bothered to visit the scheme, let alone meet us.

‘Not only has he ignored all the evidence, expert views and residents’ preferences about keeping the schemes, but he has now made a decision which we believe has broken the law.’

The SOSS campaign – along with local schools, the Royal London Hospital and the police – has emphasised the benefits of the Tower Hamlets safer streets schemes, underscored by the results of three resident consultations which all came out in support of keeping the cycle lanes, seating areas for residents and wider pavements.

In 2021, Tower Hamlets saw more hit and run incidents (457) than any other borough in London.

 

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