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Tower Hamlets Council ‘misrepresented’ TfL on Liveable Streets

Setting the record straight about its objection to the reversal of Liveable Streets in Tower Hamlets, Transport for London claims the Council misrepresented its position in a report published during the most recent round of public consultations. 

In a letter to Tower Hamlets Council made available through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Transport for London (TfL) has said that the Council misrepresented its position in a report on the divisive Liveable Streets scheme in Tower Hamlets.

The misrepresentation occurred in an outcome report from consultations held in the summer of 2022 that was published online in January 2023 in conjunction with the launch of the stage two consultations: the report did not include TfL’s official response to LTNs in Bethnal Green. 

In the letter (included below), TfL Strategy Officer Alex Williams said that Tower Hamlets Council’s publication of an ‘officer statement which did not reflect proper consultation of TfL and did not represent the views of our organisation’ misrepresented TfL’s position on Liveable Streets schemes across the borough. 

It is believed that Williams was referring to the below statement:

‘TfL Buses

‘We would support the removal of the liveable streets schemes in the borough as this would mean traffic would be able to flow freely on the main roads which will mean the bus network will run more efficiently in Tower Hamlets.

‘The schemes in Bethnal Green directly impact buses so we would support a full removal of the scheme as it impacts on all the surrounding main roads such as Cambridge Heath, Hackney Road and Bethnal Green Road into the Shoreditch area.

‘TfL Sponsorship Team

[TBC]

It is unclear whether or not the ‘[TBC]’ highlighted in yellow was supposed to remain on the consultation report, which can still be found on the Council website. We asked Tower Hamlets Council to clarify the meaning of the note but have not yet had a response. 

Rebecca Unverzagt from Save Our Safer Streets campaign group supporting Liveable Streets schemes in Bethnal Green said: ‘We are pleased that TFL is clearly opposing the removal of the schemes and are glad this information is now in the public domain. 

‘However, we are also worried that the misrepresentation of TFL’s views may have influenced the consultation process – giving thousands of people taking part the misleading impression that TFL supported the removal of these schemes.’

In the letter, Williams provides TfL’s consultation response on each individual scheme, objecting to all of the Council’s proposals to remove Liveable Streets schemes in Bethnal Green, Weavers, and Brick Lane. 

Citing the fact that Tower Hamlets has the third lowest rate of car ownership across all London Boroughs, TfL says it expects that the proportion of people in the borough choosing active travel modes such as walking, cycling or public transport will rise to 84% by 2024/25. 

Williams writes: ‘we firmly support retention of the LTN on Old Bethnal Green Road. We have offered funding and resources to progress further bus priority measures on Hackney Road, to address any impacts caused by the LTN.’

TfL is spending £737.8 million over five years on ‘healthy streets’ across London but has withheld £1.049 million from Tower Hamlets whose consultations on the removal of the schemes appear to conflict with London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s strategy of discouraging private car use.

Penny Rees, TfL’s Head of Healthy Streets Investment, said: ‘We’re determined to ensure people living in every borough are able to walk, cycle and use public transport safely and schemes delivered by boroughs play a vital role in this. 

‘Any projects funded through the Local Implementation Plan must enable safer, cleaner and healthier streets, in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy … and we are concerned that the borough’s recent change in policy direction is not in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy for London.’

Roman Road LDN approached Tower Hamlets Council with the claim that it misrepresented TfL’s position and received no response. The Council has not announced when the results of the second stage of consultations in Bethnal Green, Brick Lane and Weavers will be published. 

Page 1 letter from TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 1 of the letter from Alex Williams of TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 2 letter from TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 2 of the letter from Alex Williams of TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 3 letter from TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 3 of the letter from Alex Williams of TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 4 letter from TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.
Page 4 of the letter from Alex Williams of TfL to Tower Hamlets Council.

If you enjoyed this article, find our piece about Tower Hamlets schools calling on Mayor Rahman not to reverse Liveable Streets schemes. 

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