Exeter council leader stalls the immediate removal of the city’s now-scrapped low traffic neighbourhood road blocks

The leader of Exeter City Council has called for a ‘sensible solution’ to the scrapping of the hated low traffic neighbourhood road blocks – resulting in some staying in place until the school summer holidays.

Exeter’s controversial Active Streets traffic experiment has been scrapped, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

Some of the regulations stopping traffic getting through parts of the city will be suspended straight away. Others will stay in place until the school summer holidays.

Cllr Rob Hannaford (Ind, Exwick and St Thomas) said the phased approach was a ‘fudge’ but Cllr Phil Bialyk (Lab, Exwick) said lessons had been learned and a compromise could be made.

“I think this is a sensible solution,” he said. “It is time for healing.”

A boisterous public gallery at County Hall heard arguments for and against the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods trial, which has seen restrictions placed on some roads in the Heavitree and Whipton areas since August last year, stopping through-traffic in a bid to cut pollution and make the roads safer.

Exeter

A packed public gallery at the County Hall meeting.
Photo: Guy Henderson.

A hybrid committee made up of Devon County Councillors and members of Exeter City Council voted to end the trial early amid huge public protests.

Heavitree estate agent Lyn Burgoyne said her business had been badly hit ‘almost overnight’ when the Active Streets Trial began, but climate scientist Professor Richard Betts of Exeter University said council reports advising the scrapping of the scheme were based on ‘poor quality analysis’.

Members of the city’s highways and traffic orders committee (HATOC) heard arguments for and against the experiment.

Objectors say the trial scheme merely moved congestion and pollution elsewhere, and roads on the fringes of the trial area are experiencing jams and delays.

More than eighty per cent of more than 24,000 people who responded to consultations came out against the scheme.

A report to the committee recommended stopping all the experimental traffic regulation orders as soon as possible.

But members agreed an amendment that the Hamlin Lane, Whipton Lane and Vaughan Road closures should be suspended within weeks. St Marks Avenue and Ladysmith Road will wait until schools have closed for summer at the end of next month.

Wooden planters in the road will stay in place to slow traffic, and discussions will be held with schools and community groups to discuss the way forward.

Exeter

Campaigners at Exeter’s Ladysmith Road bus gate.
Photo: Caspar Hughes.

Chairman Carol Whitton (Lab, St Davids and Haven Banks) proposed the amendment and said lessons must be learned from the trial. “It is not for politicians to inflict harm on the most vulnerable in our society,” she said,

Cllr Lucy Haigh (Ind, Heavitree) was elected to the city council last month after campaigning against the project. She said: “I and many thousands of others believe this experiment is failing in many areas and should be suspended.”

Cllr Peter Holland (Con, St Loyes) told members: “This is a moment in time when you can make a difference for thousands of people.” And Cllr Alison Sheridan (Con, St Loyes) added: “‘To right this terrible wrong, action must be taken’

But Cllr Tess Read (Green, St Davids) urged: “If not this scheme, then what? That’s what we need to explore.”

Exeter

Archive image of LTN protesters at County Hall, Exeter.
Photo: Guy Henderson.

Cyclists hit out at a report recommending Exeter low traffic neighbourhoods are scrapped