Some of our local representatives seem to have been caught up in the meme that the opponents of the LTN ‘won the vote’. If they had been paying attention, rather than getting caught up in OOR hysteria, they should have spotted that it was a consultation. So looking beyond the simplicity of the numbers let’s see what this consultation actually revealed.
The most striking feature was that 75% of residents were so unconcerned about the LTN that they did not think it was worth responding.
The next is that the sample did not reflect the population within the Temporary LTN area especially in terms of age profile and ethnicity. Although 31% of the population are under 25, only 1% of under 25 year olds responded.
If we want an indication of how young people think, we only have to look at the survey conducted in Cypress School in which 272 pupils participated. This survey showed that 86% preferred active travel. A massive 46% wanted to cycle to school. Despite this not being a vote either, some parents have listened as increasing numbers of children cycling to school demonstrates. 70 parents who responded to the consultation said their children are walking and cycling more.
The ethnic diversity of the population sample does not reflect that within the Temporary LTN
The Household income of responders appears to be higher than the average within the area of the Temporary LTN
So the greatest number of responders were rich middle aged white people in an area that is amongst the top 20 to 30% most deprived in England and where the majority of the population are minority-ethnic.
Luke Clancy, one of the Tory councillors on the TMAC committee claimed that the people who lived in the LTN were the “privileged few” and he had seen some analysis that “the LTN is majority white” and that traffic had been diverted to areas where predominantly black people lived. Councillor Karen Jewitt angrily denounced this nonsense, saying “we are a mixed community, and we enjoy being a mixed community”. Councillor Clancy responded lamely that he had been briefed this. It doesn’t take much speculation where the briefing came from. OOR have concocted this myth from selective data, assertions that lack evidence and deductions that are illogical.
Finally, we have heard many times over that 85% of traders in the area are against the LTN and that they are losing trade because of either too little traffic or too much. For once OOR have got the figure of 85% correct, but it turns out that 85% of businesses consulted didn’t have a particular view on the Temporary LTN sufficient to be motivated to respond.
So given that:
- 75% of residents and 85% of businesses are unconcerned about the LTN
- The responders to the consultation are unrepresentative in terms of age, ethnicity and income level
- LTNs are government, mayor of London and council policy (all bodies that have actually been voted for)
… it does seem sensible that the council recommends a properly scrutinised experimental enhancement that addresses many residents’ concerns, and that further, more representative, consultation takes place when the effects can be measured.
The Secretary of State reminds us that consultation ‘should not be confused with listening only to the loudest voices or giving any one group a veto’. Should the ‘votes’ of 932 privileged affluent white middle-aged people who think they are entitled to whizz around in their cars have precedence over the urgent need to address:
- Health: obesity, pollution
- obesity and lung disease are significant contributory factors to people becoming poorly with COVID (Rachel Flowers, Director of Public Health, Croydon)
- CO2, emissions from vehicles on Croydon’s minor roads and streets, almost equals that emitted from its A Roads, with 129,000 Tonnes of CO2 emitted from its minor streets in 2018, more than in any other London borough.
- Safety: the ability of our children to travel safely to school
Councillor Paul Scott also reminded us that the real danger to all of us (particularly to our children and grand children) is the climate change emergency:
“We have got to make really difficult decisions to change behaviours, to change the way we live on this planet so that we can do it in such a way that we are not destroying the very environment that we rely on. If we get this wrong, however awful the pandemic is at the moment, it will pale into absolute insignificance.
“We need to create more LTNs, not less. The government is promoting, the Mayor is promoting, and all right-minded councils are promoting to reclaim our streets for our communities.”