Martin Klute - St Peter's Ward

Klute's response to our 3rd follow up email - received on 30 October 2020

Dear Residents,

It is clear to me that we are not going to agree on the question of LTNs.

There has been significant previous correspondence on this issue, and in particular a very

comprehensive summary of the Councils  position from the leader of the Council, Councillor Richard Watts by email to you on 16th October, which covered all the issues you are raising in clear and careful detail. I don't propose to continue arguing in relation to the issues he responded to you on, as your most recent email continues to re-state points that have already been addressed. And for the avoidance of doubt, the position set out by the leader in the email of 16th is the Councils position, and I support that position. 

I have however also made it clear that where the LTN interventions generate unintended outcomes, such as inadequate road signage and rat-running through Packington Estate, I am happy to work on behalf of residents to get these issues resolved.

The only other point to make is that a survey on LTNs was commissioned at the beginning of October by Greenpeace and was carried out by YouGov. The headline results show a strong level of support for LTNs (see results summary below), and I would draw attention to the neutral way that the questions were asked.

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Regards,

Councillor Martin Klute

Labour Member for St. Peters Ward

London Borough of Islington

Chair: Planning Committee

020 7527 3114 (daytime messages only)

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Our original email sent on 28 October 2020

From: Residents LBI;residentslbi@gmail.com

Subject: LBI Residents concerns with LTNs #3

Dear Councillor Klute

Thank you for your response to our original message of 2 October 2020. We have now had time to review and would like to solicit your personal opinions on a number of LTN related concerns.

Our understanding is that the decision to introduce LTNs across Islington was a collective one of the Council, and presumably you voted in favour.

Rather than a generic, boilerplate response from Cllr Watts, we are interested in hearing from our elected councillor, in your own words, explaining your personal attitudes to the following:

A) do you personally believe that an "experiment" can give results that can form a basis for future actions that affect people's lives if the background conditions surrounding the change being studied are so volatile ( ie a pandemic ) as to make identification of causation of outcomes impossible ? It would appear contrary to the scientific method ?

B) it is clear that the LTNs are not working as planned. One main thrust of their imposition, accounting to the Council's own literature, was as a response to Covid to enable travel. Clearly any increase in walking can easily be accommodated by the pre-existing road arrangements. The major stress on "social distancing " for walkers is undermined not only by subsequent scientific evidence on outdoor transmission ( how many infections resulted from the BLM protests of hundreds of thousands of people ? ) but also on the vast number of people who could walk along existing pavements within a 2m distance.  While cycling has increased a little, that is minuscule compared with the vast accommodation thereof created by new cycle lanes and entire residential areas.

Meanwhile the double supply squeeze created by LTNs and cycle lanes has forced more cars onto already busy main roads, creating avoidable traffic chaos. Do you not feel that it is time to join the local authorities who are abandoning these schemes ? Not every experiment works and this one is causing ongoing hardship.

C) the other main reason for the introduction of LTNs was to reduce pollution. Are you aware that pollution from domestic cars is falling rapidly, and even before the pandemic was forecast to fall more rapidly and much further ? Cleaner engines and the rapid pivot away from diesel has had, and will have, a quantum effect. The introduction of the extended ULEZ zone next year is all that is needed to reduce pollution from domestic vehicles to very low levels. It is facile to trot out misleading statistics about "percentage of pollution from road transport". Residents do not use articulated lorries or double decker buses for their weekly trip to Morrison's. Have you looked at forecasts of the amount of pollution created by residents' cars and how that will evolve even without LTNs ? If not, why not ?

D) from its description thereof, the Council appears to have adopted a somewhat perfunctory and dismissive attitude to its risk analysis of the effects of an LTN experiment upon the lives of the elderly and disabled. Your measures have increased isolation, loneliness and mental health stress by discouraging visits from friends and family and making carers' jobs harder. Since the beginning of the experiment we have increasingly heard disturbing testimonies of the hardships the LTNs are causing in the real lives of the real people being used as some sorts of lab rats. Have you studied these and if so and as a response to them, why have you not cancelled the experiment ?

E) the LTNs also have adverse effects upon small businesses attempting to make a living. The pandemic has increased economic ( and therefore mental health ) stress upon many, but particularly upon sole traders. We have again heard testimony from real people whose livelihoods are being ruined by these cruel LTNs. What do you have to say to these residents at a time when their employment alternatives are very limited ?

F) how do you feel about the fact that the LTNs have ignited a bitter culture war that has poisoned public discourse and divided our community at a time when it needs to come together to fight Covid. This was unnecessary and hugely damaging. Do you not have a responsibility to stop this now ?

Do you want to go the way of Hackney, where division has led to civil disobedience and the Council member responsible openly taunting and abusing his own electorate on social media while declaring that he will not abide by the results of consultations because he knows better ? The member responsible has even used antisemitic tropes when describing the residents of a borough with one of the highest Jewish populations in the UK. Is this what you want in Islington ?

We would appreciate your responses to the above important questions. LTNs risk becoming the defining issue of your current term of office and the battle-ground upon which your next ejection will be fought.

Your response to Covid and its future implications could be so much more impressive, forward-looking and vital to the lives of the residents of Islington, yet you appear to be locked in a bubble of legacy 2019 thinking.

The world has changed and we all need to be prepared to adapt for the benefit of the many. We look forward to receiving your feedback in due course