Uproar over Chingford road closure plan

Plans to fine drivers for using a Chingford “rat run” near a school have outraged hundreds of residents.

Waltham Forest Council has proposed a “modal filter” on Ainslie Wood Road, that would fine cars and motorbikes that use it to travel between Highams Park and Chingford Mount Road.

Giving a deadline of December 3, the council has posted letters asking residents whether they would prefer a round-the-clock “filter”, one limited to school drop-off and pick-up times or no restrictions at all.

A petition started two weeks ago has already gained more than 900 signatures, with many residents arguing the closure would increase traffic and pollution on main roads.

Local resident Val Loizou said she is strongly opposed because she works as a carer and needs to drive between clients’ homes.

The mother-of-two said: “That’s the main road for us, it’s not a ‘rat-run’ for us residents, we use it to get around.

“I have clients on the other side of the borough, this is going to add more time to my journeys.

“There are a lot of people who walk around but need to drive to do their jobs.”

On November 12, Waltham Forest’s principle traffic engineer Tarik Qirem wrote to residents saying there have been “requests and complaints” from the community about the “impact of traffic”.

Mr Qirem argued that all-day or part-time closures would reduce traffic while improving road safety and air quality.

Ms Loizou said many residents accepted there are issues with traffic outside the primary school, but were still opposed to any restrictions.

She added: “I do understand that at kids’ drop-off times there are some problems there that do need to be addressed, the thing is that they just want to close it all.

“They want us to all go by bike, but the thing is we are not going to stop driving – unless by law they take away our car.”

Waltham Forest’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes said: “We are currently asking for the views of residents on options that will reduce traffic congestion on roads in the area, improving air quality and making it safer for children to walk and cycle to school.

“We know that reducing emissions from transport is a key part of our ambition to become net-zero by 2030, and keeping our young people safe from harm should always be a priority.

“Making it easier and more attractive for more people to ditch their car and to walk and cycle local journeys such as the traditional ‘school run’ is a major way to help achieve both.”

A petition opposing the road closure can be found here

Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter