Legal bid launched to remove Crystal Palace road blocks

A community group has officially lodged legal action against road-blocking measures implemented by Croydon Council around Crystal Palace, as a public consultation on the controversial scheme officially opened for feedback.

The Open Our Roads campaign group, which sprung up in opposition to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme at Crystal Palace, confirmed it has filed an application for a judicial review of Croydon Council’s decision to implement road closures in the area.

It came after a protest earlier this month against the road closures – intended to push local residents towards using greener methods of transport such as walking and cycling – was reportedly attended by more than 600 people.

In a statement released by Open Our Roads, the applicant of the judicial review, local businesswoman Eliska Finlay, said: “We believe Croydon Council acted unlawfully with the decision to close our roads in Crystal Palace, Upper Norwood and South Norwood”.

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“Amongst other failings, Croydon Council did not undertake the necessary impact assessments, nor did they consult key stakeholder groups such as residents, businesses and people with protected characteristics before implementing the LTN.”

“We felt we had no other choice but to seek legal justice for the residents of Croydon and Bromley who have been negatively impacted by Croydon Council’s woeful mismanagement of the traffic network and its neglect of its legal duties as a local traffic authority.”

Bromley Council – who have been named as an interested party in the review – has previously raised the prospect of their own legal action against their neighbouring authority.

Explaining the move, council leader Colin Smith said: “Bromley Council is fully supportive of the Open Our Roads movement locally and remains in very close  contact with their senior organisers on the Bromley side of the Border in particular”.

“After significant discussion following receipt of legal advice from an eminent legal expert in the field, we decided that the best way of moving matters forward, to maximise the chances of obtaining our joint preferred outcome, namely seeing all of the recently introduced street paraphernalia being removed, was by acting as an ‘interested party’ on Open Our Road’s own legal action and that is what we have done,” he said.  

“If a majority of local people now vote to remove the scheme, the barriers can all be gone by Christmas and I would urge them to do so.

“I can’t think of a better Christmas present for the whole of Crystal Palace, Anerley and Norwood personally.”

It comes as Croydon Council opened a month-long consultation on whether to change, keep or scrap the controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) measures on Friday, three months after the planter boxes were installed.

Croydon’s cabinet member for sustainability, Cllr Muhammad Ali, encouraged residents to have their say on traffic in the area.

“The temporary Low Traffic Neighbourhood was introduced because over a period of years residents expressed serious concerns about the volume of traffic in their area,” he said.

“So as a council we have now developed a number of options and progressing with our consultation as planned. I would encourage as many people as possible to participate let us know their views.”

According to Croydon Council, the authority was keen that the consultation take place when residents can better judge the effects of the temporary LTN after the removal of scaffolding and traffic signals which had been present on Church Road after a vehicle crashed into properties.

“Transport for London confirmed that the scaffold was a major contributor to increased traffic congestion in the area, and we are very pleased to hear from residents that the situation has improved since Sunday,” Councillor Ali said last week.

The  consultation is set to run until December 4 and can be accessed at croydon.gov.uk/streetspace

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