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Judge throws out legal challenge to Hackney low traffic neighbourhoods

Ruling finds that schemes brought in as response to coronavirus pandemic were legally implemented

A judge has thrown out a legal challenge to low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in the London Borough of Hackney.

The High Court action had been brought by HHRC Ltd – the acronym stands for Horrendous Hackney Road Closures – which claims to represent some 7,200 local residents.

HHRC had applied for a judicial review of the decision by the council’s cabinet in September last year to introduce and emergency transport plan (ETP) in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

They argued that the council had “failed to discharge its duty under section 16 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 in approving the ETP proposals” by not assessing the impact of the LTNs on nearby main roads and that “the approval of the ETP failed to properly investigate or have regard to the impact on air quality of the LTN proposals.”

In rejecting those arguments, Mr Justice Dove said: “In the absence of the global pandemic and the bespoke guidance provided by the Secretary of State for Transport to address it, the earlier 2004 guidance might in some instances have supported deploying the time and resources necessary to undertake detailed surveys and traffic modelling to attempt to predict the operation of the proposals.

“However, that was not the situation with which the ETP was seeking to grapple.”

HHRC also claimed that Hackney had “breached its public sector equality duty (PSED) under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 by failing to have due regard in approving the ETP to the impact which its LTN proposals would have upon groups with protected characteristics.”

However, the judge found that the ETP “was designed to provide an overall strategy to provide an overview and assist streamlining progress without by-passing future LTN scheme preparation or the statutory requirements for creating ETOs” [experimental traffic orders].

Referring to an earlier case in which a judge had dismissed an application for judicial review against the London Borough of Lambeth following its introduction of LTNs, Mr Justice Dove said: “I share the view of Kerr J set out in his judgment in the case of Sheakh that it is possible in some circumstances for a form of iterative, or progressive, assessment of equalities impacts to properly discharge the PSED, and whether that is the case is, of course, sensitive to the facts of individual cases (see paragraphs 163 -165).”

> High Court judge rejects challenge to Lambeth LTNs

Finally, HHRC argued that there had been “a failure to undertake any proper consultation on the ETP before it was promulgated in breach of the consultation requirements of the common law.”

Rejecting that argument, the judge said that it was “an agreed position that the specific terms of section 16 of the [Traffic Management Act] 2004 Act do not provide for an express duty to consult in relation to proposals related to the discharge of the network management duty.”

“It is clear that specific guidance in relation to the approach to be taken to the traffic management duty under the conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic were provided in the COVID-19 Guidance,” he continued.

“Whilst the COVID-19 Guidance did not replace the 2004 Guidance, it ‘provides additional advice on techniques for managing roads to deal with COVID-19 response related issues’.

“The approach taken by the defendant reflected the COVID-19 Guidance which had been specifically produced to deal with the conditions created by the pandemic which envisaged that in relation to these COVID-19 related traffic management initiatives consultation would accompany their experimental implementation.

“Having considered the claimant's case in respect of all four grounds upon which this application for judicial review is advanced, I am not satisfied that there is merit in the substance of the claim.

“It is therefore not necessary to proceed to evaluate the defendant's contentions in relation to alternative remedy, delay or discretion as, in the result, they do not arise as I am not satisfied that there is any basis upon which the claimant could be entitled to relief,” he added.

The decision was welcomed by Hackney’s former cabinet member for Energy, Waste, Transport and Public Realm, Jon Burke, who received death threats when the plans were first unveiled last year.

> Hackney councillor sent death threats over support for low traffic neighbourhoods

Hackney, which is home to around 280,000 people, has among the lowest levels of access to a motor vehicle among London boroughs, at just three in 10 households.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Accessibility f... | 2 years ago

The best part about this decision is that the people who object to these road closures now have to pay the legal bill.  And not everyone who pledged to help has paid up.

It makes me sleep very easily knowing these fools will be paying for their selfishness.

Shake replied to Accessibility for all | 2 years ago

I was wondering how much all that cost. The replies to that tweet are great too

iandusud | 2 years ago

Good news. But please note HHRC is not an acronym mail

Rendel Harris replied to iandusud | 2 years ago
iandusud wrote:

Good news. But please note HHRC is not an acronym mail

What do you mean, not Hurk?

iandusud replied to Rendel Harris | 2 years ago
Rendel Harris wrote:
iandusud wrote:

Good news. But please note HHRC is not an acronym mail

What do you mean, not Hurk?

mail But what is a Hurk? 

Pedant warning! I don't know how many times I read people referring to Shimano abreviations such SPD STI etc as acronyms. What words do they think they supposed to sound like? 

brooksby replied to iandusud | 2 years ago

That'd be the HHRC Ltd whose registered office is in Romford?  Pretty sure that's not in Hackney. 

"Bl00dy foreigner activist companies, coming here and mucking with our democratic process..."

eburtthebike | 2 years ago

More great news for LTNs, and whatever we might collectively think about judges and sentencing dangerous drivers, they are stitching up the petrolheads a treat when it comes to LTNs.

wtjs replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago
1 like


Secret_squirrel replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago

The difference is the supporting guidance and legislation for Traffic Management orders is pretty good (and even handed).   The problem with Traffic offences are they start from the position that motor vehicles are somehow a special case and need special treatment.

wycombewheeler replied to eburtthebike | 2 years ago


They are not 'stitiching up the petrolheads'

In reference to the status of the LTNs they are supporting local authorities doing what they are supposed to do.

In reference to legal costs the petrolheads are stitiching themselves up with their vexatious prosecutions

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