A residents and shops group has had to back down over a High Court legal challenge to roadblocks which they say disrupted their lives and livelihoods.
The Dulwich Alliance raised more than £28,000 to mount a judicial review of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the area.
But after a year of research, their lawyer has now advised them that he cannot find any grounds to force Southwark Council to scrap the measures.
The traffic orders which imposed the LTNs were made permanent last month.
Instead it will now put pressure on the main party candidates to renounce LTNs in local elections on May 5. The two Conservative and two LibDem candidates have declared themselves anti-LTN while the incumbent Labour councillors, ******, back their continued use.
In its latest bulletin yesterday the Alliance said: “Southwark council has continued to impose undemocratic and unworkable traffic schemes against the wishes of the majority of residents, local businesses and stakeholders in Dulwich Village, East Dulwich and Champion Hill.
“Our experienced and highly successful QC identified a number of areas in which Southwark council have failed in their duty to local residents and businesses.
“But he has been unable to recommend further legal action. This is due solely to technical legal difficulties. In short, Southwark has ticked enough technical boxes, in spite of the fact that it has paid scant, if any, regard to the needs of the community as a whole, including families and children living on main roads where congestion and pollution have increased, the elderly and disabled, and the local businesses on which we all depend.”
The aliance is now hinting at a more strongly political stance. Its statement said: “We have not so far taken a political position on the implementation of these measures. Several members of our alliance have a constitution that prevents them from doing so. Others do not have a mandate from their supporters. However, we have not ruled this out. In the meantime, we will continue to highlight the positions of all political parties and candidates on the Dulwich LTNs
“The council has to take a consensual and inclusive approach to traffic reduction, not one that is imposed by diktat and which favours some sections of our community at the expense of others.”
Its targets are:
- removing the 24/7 road closures
- improving east-west public transport
- improving inclusion for elderly, disabled and other vulnerable sections of the community
- reducing traffic on residential roads and
- supporting local shops and businesses
Richard Aldwinkle of One Dulwich said: “One Dulwich will be making sure that its 2,100 plus supporters are kept fully informed of what the candidates from all the parties are saying about the Dulwich LTNs in all the wards affected by them, including Dulwich Wood, Dulwich Hill, Goose Green and Champion Hill, and, in the case of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, what their alternative proposals are.
“Dulwich road closures continue to cause serious problems for large sections of the local community. Traffic and pollution continue to be displaced on to roads like East Dulwich Grove and Croxted Road, where families live and large numbers of children go to school. Local businesses in Dulwich Village and East Dulwich are still suffering from a huge loss of trade caused by road closures. And the most vulnerable, especially elderly and disabled residents, and those who care for them, still have to make longer and more difficult journeys on congested roads. We are continuing to fight to have them removed because they are socially unjust, unfair and undemocratic.
“We are pleased for our fellow campaigners in Greenwich, One Greenwich, and for residents there that their council was brave enough to reverse its damaging decision to introduce an LTN in West Greenwich, and accept the need to take the community with them. It is not too late for Southwark council to do the same in Dulwich and recognise it has made a mistake to force this through against the will of two-thirds of people who live and work in Dulwich, who said they wanted the LTNs removed in Southwark’s own public consultation. But with the local elections only eight weeks away, time is running out.”
Southwark council announced the temporary closure of Dulwich Village junction from June 25, 2020 in response to Government advice about social distancing.
The “experimental” traffic order was due to be in place for 18 months until December 29, 2021, during which time the council would decide whether to make the closure permanent. On December 24, the council announced that traffic restrictions in Dulwich will become permanent.
It said the LTNs have led to a 12 per cent decrease in traffic and a 60 per cent increase in cycling.
The Dulwich Alliance includes residents’ associations, shops, businesses, health centres, sports, fitness and dance centres, and campaign groups “working together to create a better and fairer solution to traffic and travel in the Dulwich area”.
It opposes the current and planned road closures and timed restrictions that Southwark council imposed in Dulwich, as “they displace traffic on to residential roads with schools and health centres, discriminate against elderly, disabled and other vulnerable residents and their carers, and damage the livelihoods of local shops and businesses”.