Residents and councillors have slammed Sutton Council for ignoring the 'dangers' they say are caused by the council's Low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTN). 

The LTN, a set of road barriers to reduce through-traffic, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures and has received mixed feedback.

The council introduced them as part of a push in the capital to create safer alternative travel options amid the pandemic, with public transport running out a severely reduced capacity for much of the year.

Residents and some councillors have insisted that the LTN, known as ‘Busgate’ in Worcester Park, has created an increase in congestion and pollution, with queues of stationary traffic on adjoining roads. 

Conservative councillor Neil Garratt recently created a graph using data from the London Air Quality Network (by Imperial College), to compare pollution levels before and after the LTN's were implemented. 

It was found that levels of nitrogen dioxide appeared to be higher after the LTN's. 

Your Local Guardian:

He said: "Something changed this autumn to push Worcester Park air pollution through the roof. Closing Browning Avenue looks like the obvious suspect.

"If the Council is making decisions on evidence not ideology, they can't just ignore the pollution data as an inconvenient truth." 

However, Sutton Council says that the conclusion drawn about air quality "is not valid". 

"The Imperial College figures are raw data taken from two of Sutton’s monitoring sites," a spokesperson said. 

"It fails to account for the lockdown period earlier this year when there was around 60% less road traffic." 

Pollution levels haven't been the only issue, as residents and Worcester Park Labour have called on the council to address safety concerns. 

Your Local Guardian:

A spokesperson for Worcester Park Labour, Liz Martin commented: "There was an accident at Busgate involving a pedestrian, and a reversing vehicle recently. Our amazing emergency services attended.

"We have been told that there has not been an accident in that area for around 30 years, yet within a few weeks of the Busgate scheme being implemented, this awful accident occurred." 

She added: "A petition against the Busgate scheme, which has accumulated approximately 3,500 signatures, has however essentially been ignored by Sutton Liberal Democrats.

"Another LTN scheme in a different part of the borough in All Saints Road, was removed swiftly, despite it only having accumulated just over 200 signatures. 

"In the first few weeks of Busgate, FOIs show that there has been somewhere in the region of £300,000 fines issued. 

"Perhaps this is the reason they wish to retain the scheme?"

Your Local Guardian:

A spokesperson for Sutton Council said: "The number of vehicles on the roads across London increased after the first lockdown and as the school run started up again and people began returning to work.

"Pollution levels rose across London as a result, so they cannot be exclusively linked to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

Sutton’s low traffic areas aim to improve people’s health and the local environment. They also offer safer options for walking and cycling, so reducing the need for short car journeys which helps improve air quality.

"Traffic counts and air quality studies for the Worcester Park scheme and Sutton’s other Low Traffic Areas will be released on the council website in early 2021. We are also gathering resident feedback on their own experiences. The traffic measures are experimental and can be adapted or removed at any time during the trial period.

"The Imperial College figures are raw data taken from two of Sutton’s monitoring sites. 

"Comparing those figures with six weeks of monitoring in September and November when traffic levels have returned to normal doesn't tell us anything about the actual impact of the low traffic areas. 

"The use of just six weeks of monitoring data also fails to take into account the impact the weather has on air quality monitoring data. 

"National and regional guidance on air quality monitoring states that a minimum of six months of monitoring data must be used. 

The Council is carrying out air quality modelling. This process uses monitored traffic data to assess actual changes in traffic emissions and translate these figures into roadside concentrations of key air pollutants."

The spokesperson added: "All petitions were heard by councillors at the October 2020 Environment & Neighbourhood Committee.

"The Council is aware of the road traffic collision in Browning Avenue and our thoughts are with the injured woman, her family and all those involved in the incident. 

"We are working with the police to establish the possible causes of the incident and will consider any changes they recommend.

" The Council consulted all emergency services before the scheme was introduced and received no objections about its safety."