Thousands of protestors marched on Ealing Council on Saturday (24 April) to protest against the council’s controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes.
The procession stretched over a mile, travelling northbound along Northfield Avenue and turning right onto Uxbridge Road until arriving at the council’s premises Percival House and Ealing Town Hall. East bound traffic along Uxbridge Road was part-suspended due to the protest.
Rival groups claimed widely different estimates of those in attendance. OneEaling, a group opposed to LTNs, initially claimed 5,000 were in attendance. Better Ealing Streets, who support the measures, claimed a more conservative figure of 1,300. The Metropolitan Police have since estimated that more than 2,500 people took part.
Protesters say the Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes, which were introduced in 2020, have added more traffic to Ealing’s main roads, sending them frequently into gridlock. The route which protestors marched along has been particularly affected, they say, with journeys reported to take anything up to an hour to get to Ealing town centre at peak times.
Videos of the procession were captured and posted on Twitter.
THREAD: Today, between 1200-2500 people marched against #LTNs in Ealing. In doing so, they inadvertently demonstrated why they are essential.
In London, 36% of car journeys could be walked in under 25 mins. Human-powered transport is very space-efficient.pic.twitter.com/ocSj8Uaxwz
— Adam Tranter (@adamtranter) April 24, 2021
Unexpected turnout say organisers
One of the events organisers, Lorna O’Driscoll said after the event:
“I’m kind of blown away by the people of Ealing and how they continuously support us and come out and stand up for what they believe in, which is essentially the democratic process.
“It’s been a really difficult and challenging nine months for everyone; we’ve been going through this extraordinary time with the global pandemic, and then to have something as bizarre as LTNs dropped upon us was both confusing and bewildering.
“There was no baseline data given, there were no reasons given, or indeed they kept changing the reasons given, it started with COVID, then it was obesity and it ended up as a climate crisis.
“So we don’t have any proper statement as to why the LTNs were introduced and indeed not why this area. This area [Northfields] in the whole Borough of Ealing is the least polluted area, so it just genuinely doesn’t make sense.
“We’ve asked for this information time and time again, we’ve asked for the baseline data. We’re confused as to what a trial means, how can you measure something when you don’t have a starting point.”
Images above: protestors gather outside of Ealing Council to protest controversial LTN schemes
‘Ever-growing numbers’ of walkers and cyclists, says pro-LTN group
Better Ealing Streets, a group who supports the LTN schemes released a statement prior to the protest:
“Since the introduction of the LTN schemes to reduce journeys by car, we have seen ever-growing numbers of residents walking and cycling locally, which is not only better for our personal health, but for our community and the planet.
“This is why the Conservative government, Labour’s London Mayor and councils run by many parties, including our local Labour council, continue to fund and support them.
“While there may be some who oppose LTNs, every serious independent study has shown the schemes have a majority support – and that support grows over time. “
“Removing LTNs would just cause more congestion, more air pollution and make our roads more unsafe.”
The LTNs are still part of a trial period and as such Ealing Council has a consultation under way, where residents can make their voices heard.
Rupa Huq joins protest
Ealing’s MP Rupa Huq commented on the protests on Twitter. She has been sceptical of LTNs in the past. She has criticed the lack of consultation with residents, querying the benefits for areas which have already been considered to have low air pollution and central Government’s role in the implementation process.
— Rupa Huq MP (@RupaHuq) April 24, 2021
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