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Petition with “factual errors” to scrap low-traffic neighbourhood launched by a “keen cyclist” after just two months of trial

Almost 2,000 people in Newcastle are calling for the consultation to be “axed immediately”, days after the Government withdrew support for LTNs

A petition started by a “keen cyclist” objecting to the Jesmond low-traffic neighbourhood trials in Newcastle has received almost 2,000 signatures, despite the council stating it is factually incorrect in claiming that there was no pre-consultation, as the UK Government withdrew support for LTNs from its latest active travel funding.

The consultatory scheme was introduced in March to prevent through traffic using filtering measures on a number of residential streets between Osborne Road and Cradlewell in East Jesmond, becoming the fourth area in the city to receive an LTN.

The petition, started by Antony Baird of Jesmond Vale, who describes himself as a “keen cyclist” alleged that the LTN had impeded emergency services, was “damaging livelihoods and businesses”, and had increased traffic on surrounding streets, according to Chronicle Live.

Baird wrote on the petition: “Newcastle City Council failed to conduct an adequate public consultation prior to the installation of the East Jesmond LTN. They failed to engage and consult with a representative cross section of residents and businesses within the East Jesmond LTN boundary. They failed to engage with residents, business and other stake holders on the periphery of the scheme and other affected organisations across the city.

“We demand that the Council commits to conducting a thorough, transparent and unbiased public consultation on their plans prior to the implementation of the proposed scheme.”

LTN in East Jesmond, Newcastle (Newcastle City Council)

LTN in East Jesmond, Newcastle

However, Newcastle City Council has pointed that there was indeed a pre-consultation period from 7 to 19 February in which all the road closures received more than 50 per cent agreements in the responses, before the 18-month trial scheme started in March. The public consultation will run until September to help decide whether it becomes permanent or not.

> LTNs and 15-minute cities accused of being led by cycling lobbies, official review called a “whitewash”

Jane Byrne, the council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “The petition has many factual errors, so it is important to point out the following. Before the scheme was implemented, we asked people and businesses to tell us their views, as part of a pre-consultation period, with 3,500 leaflets delivered in the local area.

“The formal public consultation is running now, as required by the legal orders, which runs from when the scheme is implemented. Emergency services were consulted throughout the development of this scheme, and we have worked together to ensure emergency access is available at all times.”

She added: “Furthermore, this is a consultation, not a referendum, and we’re listening to a wide range of voices. We’re now half-way through the trial and we are continuing to review the feedback as well as looking at the impact of traffic on local streets and other data we have collected, which we will share with residents soon.

“Neighbourhoods should be somewhere you can get to, but not be used as a through route, which is what the scheme provides. All businesses and properties are still accessible by car.

“Reducing traffic on local streets not only makes the area safer, but encourages more people to walk, wheel and cycle on local journeys, which is good for the environment, as well as improving health and wellbeing.”

The petition signatories have left comments citing several reasons for signing the form, including the age-old “dividing our community”, the conspiracy theory now gaining-traction that “LTNs are a form of implementing communism”, and that “LTNs are responsible for greenwashing”. Someone also wrote: “Birds are cameras”.

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Transport journalist Carlton Reid, who is a Jesmond resident himself and frequently documents the quieter and less congested streets in the area after the LTN trials, argued that the tone of the comments was set by the petition starter “who probably hasn’t read the council’s long-term transport plan and why removing motor traffic is essential to keep the city moving in the future”.

The backlash against the Jesmond LTNs has come just days after the Department for Transport (DfT) and Active Travel England announced over 265 schemes in 60 areas with a £200 million funding to improve walking and cycling conditions across the country.

However, it was revealed that LTNs are not to be a part of any of these schemes.

“The winning projects have demonstrated they provide people with attractive choices to use cycling and walking for local journeys, and do not include any low traffic neighbourhood schemes. Local authorities have worked closely with local people to ensure the schemes benefit the community as a whole,” read the announcement from the Government. reached out to DfT to elaborate on the decision, to which it replied: “Our £200 million investment will provide attractive choices for people to use cycling and walking for local journeys and do not include low traffic neighbourhoods.

“Each bid received for this round of funding went through a robust assessment process, with schemes marked against a range of criteria. Active Travel England will provide feedback to authorities with unsuccessful bids. Funding decisions for authorities were not influenced by the types of scheme proposed, they were taken on the basis of quality, deliverability and value for money.”

> “A backward move” – Government slashes active travel budget for England

Campaigners have lambasted the Conservative government since then. Leo Murray, director of innovation at climate charity Possible, criticised the government’s decision, claiming it was a capitulation to LTN critics and would worsen air quality and increase traffic congestion.

However Jon Burke, former transport lead at Hackney Borough Council responsible for installing several LTNs in the area in 2020 said that “this decision should make zero difference to the delivery of new LTNs”.

“There will continue to be local demand for interventions proven to eliminate the rat-running that blights neighbourhoods,” tweeted Burke. “So, irrespective of Active Travel England’s decision not to fund new LTNs— under pressure from a dying Gov’t —local demands to address rat-running aren’t going anywhere and neither are their proven, cost-effective solutions.”

Adwitiya joined in 2023 after finishing his masters in Journalism from Cardiff University, with a dissertation focusing on active travel. He's currently living in Cardiff and for the most part moans about the abruptly ending cycle lanes, if he's not cursing the headwind. Adwitiya also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes dabbles in topics related to science, tech and the environment. Cycling became a part of his life just a couple of years ago, and now he can't think of a single reason why anyone would drive if they could cycle. He usually uses his bike for commuting, but he also loves excursions on the Taff trail, however never underestimate his ability to find an excuse to watch something on GCN instead.

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