Group of Redbridge councillors call for more low-traffic neighbourhoods

Redbridge Council should “continue to develop” controversial low-traffic neighbourhoods, a group of councillors has recommended.

The recommendation put to cabinet leaders last night came from a ‘task and finish group’ of councillors that met in private to look at Redbridge’s transport and highways policy in 2019 and 2020.

They said the council should not give up on the experimental ‘access-only’ Quiet Streets schemes, two of which were aborted after only a month in late 2020.

However, any further low-traffic schemes should “actively work and consult with local residents” to minimise “wider impacts”, such as creating traffic jams in surrounding streets.

In a report presented at last night’s cabinet meeting, the group said the failure of the trial Quiet Streets schemes “highlighted the crucial importance” of full public consultations.

It said: “The introduction of the first two of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods met with public criticism that there had been a lack of consultation and that they had caused additional traffic delays on other routes.

“They had been introduced at short notice due to the limited financial time restraints put on the authority to deliver the schemes under experimental orders.”

Facing an overview and scrutiny committee last week, lead member for environment and civic pride Jo Blackman would not confirm whether more low-traffic neighbourhood schemes will be attempted in Redbridge.

However, she added: “The council remains committed to tackling rat running which we know is a really severe health, safety and environmental impact that faces residents in their day-to-day lives.

“The lessons coming out in the report would lead us to quite a different approach, and we’re looking at other ways that we would have the support of ward councillors and residents.”

Cllr Blackman also apologised for taking the group’s report to cabinet 16 months after a scrutiny committee approved it but did not provide an explanation for the delay.

Other concerns in the report included a “highways maintenance backlog” of 300 roads in need of resurfacing, at an estimated cost of £27million.

The group recommended the council “sustain and accelerate” its commitment to “eliminating” the backlog, noting that only £6m had been allocated to target 75 streets in 2020/21.

In the 2022/23 budget, the amount allocated for highway repairs, resurfacing roads, improving road safety and low emissions neighbourhoods dropped to £5m.

Other recommendations included implementing 20mph speed limits “boroughwide”, cycling education and expanding the borough’s cycle network.

Council officers will formally respond to the recommendations in a future report.

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter