IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

‘Use tech to free residents from streets scheme’

Calls for numberplate recognition system to allow vehicle exemptions in controversial ‘low-traffic neighbourhoods’

29 January, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

CAMPAIGN groups are calling for automatic numberplate recognition technology (ANPR) to allow resident exemptions in newly designated “low-traffic neighbourhoods”.

The controversial scheme, designed to redirect traffic away from residential streets and reduce pollution, has been met by critics expressing concern for blue badge holders and disabled residents.

And some local businesses say they fear delivery drivers will struggle to gain access to their sites.

Joanna Sargent, of Keep Highbury Moving, said: “The council needs to listen to concerns and to act now to permit ANPR exemptions.

“It needs to stop chasing its idyll for the few and start addressing the actual road access needs of the many here in Highbury.”

The council says “people-friendly streets” are not directly impacted by a High Court case last week that saw a judge rule the Mayor’s Streetspace scheme as treating taxi drivers unlawfully.

The ruling said Transport for London (TfL) “took advantage of the pandemic” to push “radical changes”.

In Islington, the changes have been implemented using experimental traffic orders (ETOs) as 18-month trials, with public consultations taking place 12 months into each scheme.

Residents are invited to give feedback of the Highbury West and Highbury Fields neighbourhoods on the council’s website.

Vehicles directed away from residential streets in Highbury can access main roads including Holloway Road, Drayton Park, and Hornsey Road.

Near Highbury Fields, access has been restricted to Baalbec Road, Fieldway Crescent and Ronalds Road.

Kate Pothalingham, from the Islington Lib Dems, who lives in Highbury, has also suggested ANPR use to exempt residents.

She said: “I am a big supporter of LTN (low-traffic neighbourhoods). It is a great scheme but what we have got in Islington is a scheme done in response to government pressure because of the Covid pandemic. I want to make sure these schemes are successful and remain in place. I think engagement with communities is the best way these schemes get bedded down.”

Ms Sargent said: “Our ANPR petition has already collected nearly 3,300 signatures, and this number is climbing daily. Islington Council has so far resisted this call for ANPR exemption. We would like to know why.”

Green councillor Caroline Russell said: “We’ve got used to heavy levels of motor traffic, road danger and pollution, but as we’ve seen last year, it doesn’t have to be like that.

“I hope that over the consultation period that people will come to enjoy these new traffic-free networks where children, older and disabled people can get around safely on foot, by wheelchair or on a bike, and will not want to see them removed. “

Town Hall environment chief Councillor Rowena Champion said: “By reducing the dominance of motor vehicles, we can make Islington a fairer borough where everyone – including the approximately 70 per cent of households that do not own a car– can walk, cycle, and use buggies and wheelchairs safely and easily.

“The Highbury West and Highbury Fields people-friendly streets neighbourhoods will help to create a safer, greener, healthier Islington where everyone is able to travel safely and easily around the borough.”

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