High Court hearing was due to decide on validity of access restrictions
Anti-LTN campaigners present judicial review application. Picture' Lorna O'Driscoll/Facebook
Ealing Council has agreed to pay the costs incurred by residents who had obtained a judicial review of the legality of some of its Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) schemes.
The case was due to be heard on 12 February but, just a day before, the council informed the court that the Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) to which residents were objecting had been revoked.
The judge was due to make a ruling on areas 20, 21, 25, 30 and 35.
The Council has now published a new round of ETOs for the schemes which will come into force this week. This will mean there will be no change to the barriers currently in place for the LTNs and the clock will be reset on the trials for the schemes meaning they are likely to run at least until August.
Over 6,000 fines have been issued in LTNs since the schemes were first introduced. The paying of the legal fees of the objectors will be regarded as tacit admission that the ETOs were defective and grounds for appeal of any fines issued in those LTNs but there is nothing to indicate at this stage that the council intends to rescind those given out already or refund people who have paid Penalty Charge Notices.
The LTNs were introduced in Ealing in Autumn 2020 ostensibly in response to Covid-19 'to provide safe space for pedestrians and cyclists to travel'.
Residents opposed to the schemes filed an application for a judicial review which was presented to the High Court on Tuesday 29 September 2020. The application was submitted in the name of Peter Mason, the Coldershaw and Midhurst Traffic Action Group (CAMTAG Co-ordinator), and Tracy Scott, representing Ealing Residents Against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. The application claimed that Ealing Council failed to meet its obligations under Section 122 of the Road Traffic Act 1984 and its public sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010.
CAMTAG co-ordinator Peter Mason, one of the lead claimants against LTN 21, said he was pleased the council would be covering the costs, adding, “I regard the payment of costs – and the fact that the new orders address some of the issues of emergency services access and (to a limited extent) discrimination against the disabled – as a clear admission that Ealing did not give proper consideration to the effects of these schemes before they were so hastily introduced last year.
“I believe the new Experimental Order for LTN21 – which ignores most of the comments residents have put forward in the past six months – still creates a scheme which is fundamentally flawed.
“It will cause problems which far outweigh any benefits they may have. My colleagues and I will therefore be examining closely whether this and the other Ealing orders have been properly made.
“More importantly, we will apply what we have learned about the underlying legislation to make sure that Ealing Council does not continue to ignore the views of local residents and businesses if they attempt to make these LTNs permanent.”
And he added, “As a council taxpayer, we take no pleasure in seeing how the council have wasted our money in meeting their own and our legal costs, defending their evidently flawed decision-making. This is on top of the pointless expenditure of installing and then removing bollards. We must remain vigilant in holding them accountable.”
A statement from Ealing Residents Against Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on the legal action said, “Actions have been ceased by agreement due to the making of the new ETO orders issued by Ealing Council.
“Ealing Council has met our legal costs.”
An Ealing Council spokesperson said, “We note that legal challenges were settled by consent and the claims withdrawn in light of new Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) having been made.
“In December, the council’s interim assessment of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTN) recommended significant amendments to the trial schemes and when such changes are implemented, it is a legal requirement to create new ETOs.
“The changes we have implemented as a result of our interim assessment underlines the council’s ongoing commitment to amend and improve LTNs based upon feedback from residents and the emergency services.”
“We will continue to listen to the views of local people and collect a wide range of data before any final decision on the future of the schemes is made. We encourage everyone to have their say via the council’s Commonplace website.”
A recent ruling by Justice Lang which deemed that a Streetspace scheme by TfL in the City of London did not take due account of the needs of the disabled was widely believed to have provided an indication that Ealing's ETOs might be deficient on similar grounds.
It is understood that the objectors believe that many of the grounds for the review for the previous ETOs still apply for the more recently issued ones and a renewed application for a judicial review is thought possible.
Residents can visit the low traffic neighbourhoods' page of Ealing council's website for further information on the schemes it has already implemented.
You can email feedback to TrafficNotices@ealing.gov.uk, or post them to the Highways Service, Perceval House, 14-16 Uxbridge Road, W5 2HL, quoting reference ORD XXX.
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February 17, 2021