Blocked roads infringe the rights of older residents, couple claim
‘I want people-friendly streets but want them to be friendly to Blue Badge holders’
27 November, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
Hilary and Steven Rose
AN elderly couple living in Clerkenwell have complained to the equalities commission about Islington’s road changes which have blocked off traffic with bollards.
In the latest flashpoint over the council’s reordering of the borough’s streets – a policy known as Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) – Hilary and Steven Rose, aged 85 and 82, say their rights are being infringed because of longer journeys older and disabled residents now face.
The Town Hall wants to cut pollution by encouraging walking and cycling instead of driving. But those who say they rely on cars say they will be left isolated by the changes.
Mrs Rose said: “You only know how crazy it is when you have got mobility problems. To go to Chapel Market where we do our shopping I have to go through the King’s Cross gyratory and it could take up to half an hour. It means people who are disabled are bearing the brunt of these measures.”
The council announced plans for more LTNs last week, with works beginning on Monday.
Some roads have already been blocked, including Lloyd Square where Mr and Mrs Rose have lived for more than 20 years.
Roads have also been shut off in St Peter’s, Canonbury East, Canonbury West and Clerkenwell Green, with councillors saying the measures will cut rat-running through residential areas. On the council’s website page for “people-friendly streets”, Islington says it wants to “make our streets friendly for all, especially children, young people and the vulnerable”.
But Mrs Rose said: “I am all too conscious of those 8,000 other Blue Badge holders in Islington, some of whom may have equal or worse problems than ours. I do want people-friendly streets but want them to be friendly to Blue Badge holders as well. At present they are not.”
Their complaint is based on their rights as disabled residents.
Islington faced a summer of protests as objectors to a series of new traffic measures picketed the Town Hall in Upper Street on a near-weekly basis.
In response, Islington insisted it could not give up on its attempts to have cleaner and less polluted air after the coronavirus lockdowns end.
Council environment chief Rowena Champion said: “We are creating people-friendly streets, to make it easier for residents to walk, cycle, and use buggies and wheelchairs safely and easily. This will bring a range of health benefits, bringing cleaner air by reducing motor vehicle traffic and making it easier for local people to enjoy active lifestyles.
“People-friendly streets will also help make Islington a fairer borough, where everyone – including the approximately 70 per cent of households that do not own a car – can travel safely and easily.”
She added: “We know some people, including some disabled people, rely on vehicles for travel. All homes and businesses in Islington can still be accessed by car.
“We carefully consider all feedback received and have made some changes to the Amwell people-friendly streets scheme to improve accessibility.
“People-friendly streets will also bring benefits for some disabled people, including making it easier to use their local streets because of reduced traffic danger, pollution and noise.”