July 18, 2024

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Low traffic neighbourhood schemes drive wedge between communities across UK

2 min read

In the elegant, hilly Lansdown district of Bath, Tim Spratt had a warning for Wera Hobhouse, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who has represented the city in western England since 2017.

The plan by the local Lib Dem-led council to introduce “low-traffic neighbourhoods” (LTNs), which would close some roads to through traffic had provoked a petition signed by nearly 2,000 opponents, Spratt said. Hobhouse, he added, should be “conscious” of intense opposition from some quarters in her bid to remain the city’s MP — a veiled warning that the issue would cost her votes.

The controversy in Lansdown is illustrative of how LTNs and other measures to control noise, pollution and danger from motor vehicles are splitting communities across the UK.

Hundreds of other LTNs have been introduced or proposed in places across England. They have stirred up particularly strong emotions in Oxford, Exeter and parts of London.

Tim Spratt said nearly 2,000 people had signed a petition opposing the introduction of a LTN in the area © Tom Pilston/FT

The issue is particularly important for the ruling Conservative party which, after initially encouraging the widespread introduction of LTNs during the pandemic, has turned against them. The party has vowed to make it harder to introduce the schemes, which typically aim to reduce traffic levels on side streets by preventing drivers from using them as through routes.

The three linked schemes in Lansdown are among five LTNs due to be installed on an experimental basis this year in Bath, following the installation of previous trials, which are continuing.

Both transport secretary Mark Harper and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have made their opposition to LTNs part of their general election pitch to motorists.

“We’re on the side of drivers, and these latest measures show we’re getting on with . . . making their lives better, fairer and cheaper,” Harper said, when announcing the planned curbs on new LTNs earlier this…

2024-06-22 00:00:43

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