Credit: Save our Safer Streets
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Mayor Lutfur Rahman faces a High Court legal battle after scrapping LTNs

A group campaigning to reinstate Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in Bethnal Green will take Mayor Lutfur Rahman to court following his decision to scrap the scheme.

A case brought forward by Save our Safer Streets (SOSS), a group campaigning to reinstate the scrapped Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Bethnal Green, will be heard at the High Court this summer. 

At the judicial review, SOSS will present a legal challenge to Mayor Lutfur Rahman’s decision to remove the schemes in September 2023. 

While Tower Hamlets Council asked for the case to be dismissed without a hearing, a judge has decided that SOSS have reasonable grounds for challenging the legality of the mayor’s decision. The case will receive a two-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice on 12 and 13 June. 

LTNs were first introduced in Tower Hamlets under the borough’s previous Labour mayor, John Biggs. The measures aimed to reduce motor traffic in residential areas by blocking streets with large planters or lockable bollards and introducing cycle lanes. 

In January 2023, the council ran a public consultation in Bethnal Green and Weavers asking residents and businesses if they wanted road closures to remain. 57.3% of residents were in favour of retaining them, whilst 41.7% wanted their removal, according to the council. 

Following the scrapping of LTNs, SOSS said that Mr Rahman had ‘not only ignored all the evidence, expert views and residents’ preferences about keeping the schemes, but he has now made a decision which we believe has broken the law.’

The SOSS group launched a crowdfund to cover its legal fees and has raised £77,564 as of Tuesday 3 March.

Jane Harris, spokesperson for Save Our Safer Streets, said: ‘This is a huge achievement for the campaign and all the thousands of people who have contributed so far. We’ve been blown away by all the support we’ve received and we want to say a massive thank you to the 1,100-plus donors and the legal team who have got us so far.’

She added: ‘Ultimately, our vision is to save our safer streets, by keeping and improving the good cycle paths, healthier air and safer crossings that we have. The legal challenge is one very important piece of the puzzle but we have plans for a whole lot more.’

In a statement released on X, formerly Twitter, Mr Rahman wrote: ‘I promised the removal of LTNs in my 2022 manifesto – and at a Cabinet meeting in September 2023, a decision was formerly taken to re-open the roads. A Judicial Review followed, and is currently being fully compiled with.

‘I am entirely confident that our process was proper from the start to finish, and I look forward to the decision of the September Cabinet being realised.’

Visit the SOSS crowdfunding page here. 

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