Campaigners are to hold a “people’s assembly” outside Hackney Town Hall next week to discuss the borough’s controversial low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
The event is organised by Hackney Together, which said: “As the results of the consultations on LTNs come to light, Hackney Together believe it’s vital to have an open discussion about their impact through our own lens rather than that of the policy-makers.
“We believe it is important to discuss their impact on the health, wellbeing, and daily lives of those living, working, and studying not just within LTNs, but on the boundary or sacrificial roads.”
The gathering starts at 6pm outside the Town Hall on Wednesday 26 January – the same day as the first full council meeting of the year.
The council has put in a series of LTNS at locations including Homerton, Stoke Newington Church Street, Hoxton and Hackney Downs.
They have proved controversial, with plenty of fans and detractors, and people have taken to the streets to protest their introduction and unsuccessfully challenged them in the courts.
The council said its monitoring showed traffic had dropped by five per cent on boundary roads near the Homerton LTN and 18 per cent near the Hoxton West one.
Hackney Together plans to ask “some difficult questions”, including whether the council should deal with pollution on busy residential roads instead of closing roads in quieter streets.
They also want to know “why should the residents of boundary roads – more likely to be low-income households and/or from Black, Asian or minority ethnic communities – be made to live with far greater levels of congestion, bad air, and collisions?”
The council said people who live in the LTN areas “are many times more likely to be in the more deprived half of the population than in the more affluent half”.
Hackney Together claims that the re-routing of traffic on fewer roads during the day means some schools and nurseries are suffering from “unacceptable levels of pollution for a large part of the school day, and while children are walking to and from school”.
The council said that most Hackney primary schools now have School Streets, which ban traffic at the school gates at opening and closing times, and that this is improving air quality.
Campaigners said of next week’s event said: “The aim of this gathering is not simply to ‘protest’ but to remind Hackney’s Labour administration that it is possible to engage with residents and local businesses in an open, honest and constructive manner.”
Voters go the the polls in May in local council and mayoral elections and Hackney Together wants would-be independent candidates to participate in the event.
Cllr Mete Coban, the council’s transport and public realm chief, said: “Hackney has faced unacceptable rises in traffic in the last 10 years, with most of this rise borne by minor roads due to the increased use of sat nav apps.”
He said the aim of LTNs is to cut air pollution and the amount of traffic on those roads and make the streets greener.
He added: “Evidence from our LTNs so far shows that traffic is down inside the LTNs and on boundary roads.”
He said: “We know that people have concerns about traffic and air pollution, which is why we’re monitoring in such depth and reporting back to communities.
“We’re also not afraid to make changes to schemes if the evidence shows it’s needed and there are solutions we can adopt.”