An open letter to the Mayor of Hackney

An open letter to the Mayor of Hackney

How Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) impact people with mobility problems.

I am a 63 year old Stamford Hill resident. I have mobility issues – I suffer from spinal stenosis, asthma, diabetes and fibromyalgia. I rely heavily on my car, as I can only walk short distances and I cannot use public transport at the moment because I am very vulnerable to Covid. In fact I can rarely use public transport even without Covid, unless it is more or less door-to-door.

Since Hackney LTNs have been put in place, I have personally been affected very much by the increased traffic at Upper Clapton, Lower Clapton and right around the borough. A journey across Hackney, to the A12, takes over an hour now to cover the four miles, where previously it would only have taken around 20 minutes. Having to sit in traffic for extended periods of time causes me back pain, muscle stiffness and exacerbates my asthma.

I can no longer go from one place straight to another, as I would have done previously, as I have to sit for so long in traffic that I need to go home to use the bathroom before I can set off to my next destination. An unexpected result of your policies.

I have been caught several times in traffic gridlock at the Lea Bridge roundabout and have witnessed ambulances and police cars trying to get through without success. Without a doubt this is placing those being transported to hospital in need of emergency treatment, at great risk.

Constant heavy traffic on Amhurst Road, Pembury Road and Graham Road is shocking. I really feel for those who live in social housing along those roads, who are now unable to open their windows due to high pollution and noise from frustrated motorists. I have a friend who lives on Northwold Road who has two autistic young sons. She cannot open her windows, due to traffic congestion and it is seriously affecting her children. There are schools along these major roads, whose pupils must also be affected by the fumes from stagnant traffic?

Delivery drivers, small businesses, cab drivers, buses, carers trying to reach their clients are all affected by these measures. Some areas are no longer serviced, as it takes so long for tradesmen and delivery drivers to reach them.

I read just today of a cab driver who, had to drop an elderly lady – on crutches with a broken leg – a five minute walk away from her home, as he was unable to get to her house, now in an LTN.

I think very few people, motorists or otherwise, would dispute the need for reduced pollution in the borough, but these measures have increased pollution outside of the LTNs. Children in these areas are more at risk of pollution! A scheme which was supposed to make life safer for cyclists has only increased the danger for them!

This whole scheme was ill-thought through, poorly implemented, lacks consultation and for so many residents is a complete disaster.

One may be forgiven for thinking it is only serving to increase congestion in Hackney deliberately, so that ULEZ can be extended throughout Hackney, thus making cash cows of motorists yet again!

Instead of closing off roads, why not offer motorists discounts to switch to electric cars? Many of your constituents are unable to walk more or jump on a bike! It’s time you took their needs into consideration. We are taxpayers too.

Yours, a very disgruntled former Labour voter of Stamford Hill.

Hackney council meeting report-back

Hackney council meeting report-back

Hackney council debate on ‘reversing the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods scheme’ 

On 21 October Hackney councillors debated a motion calling for  the ‘Reverse the failed Low Traffic Neighbourhoods Scheme and consult residents properly’ proposed by Cllr Odze. Jon Carp was one of many Hackney residents who watched the debate via Zoom. Every single Labour councillor voted against the motion. Here’s Jon’s reaction.

I wrote the following and emailed it to all Hackney councillors. So far I have not received any responses, not that I really expected to.


A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, or in this case, a borough, typically through elected representatives.


A form of government in which one person or a small group possesses absolute power without effective constitutional limitations.


Congratulations to all of you.

Last night’s council meeting was a truly great advertisement for local government and inclusive representative democracy! It was dry, boring, stilted, humourless, joyless and towed the Labour Party line completely.

No attempt was made at debate other than from the Conservatives – you Labour lot just trotted out the same tired old garbage – prepared statements and irrelevant so-called “facts” doctored to fit your agenda. You clearly had no intention of listening with the possibility of maybe being swayed. Obviously whipped by Berk & Mare (murderers of Hackney’s streets) to unquestioningly follow your party’s line.

One minute here and two minutes there – just long enough to trot out your little section of mantra to your approving colleagues.

I’m frankly disappointed and disgusted that none of you managed to show the slightest empathy for the many adversely affected by your selfish policy – you could have done that even if voting against the motion. Even a little well faked sympathy and sincerity wouldn’t have gone amiss. Many of you Labour lot actually seemed pleased to be voting against the motion – one in the eye for the opposition and stuff the voters! Smug indifference is the phrase that comes to mind.

Let’s consider a few facts.

  • A big play is made by many of you that one of the main aims of your agenda is a reduction in pollution levels, on the face of it a laudable ambition.
  • Modern black cabs are electric – no pollution – but banned from passing through the blocks.
  • More cars are now electric and even more will come into use in the future. No emissions but still banned from going through the blocks.
  • People are responsive to change when they are encouraged or incentivised. Promoting zero emission vehicles by exempting them from the blocks would reward those who “go green”. Banning ALL vehicles is collective punishment.

Oodles of stick but a total famine of carrots.

Why should people go to the considerable expense and inconvenience of getting zero emission cars if they then still get punished the same as those with fossil fuel cars? In the meantime, vehicles are funnelled into fewer main roads creating pollution and congestion hotspots – exactly what your collective policy professes fo reduce. It’s obvious how this works, not that I’d expect any of you to publicly admit it. You can’t put cameras, regular or ANPR, on all the minor roads. You can on the main roads. So, force all the traffic onto the main roads. Create local pollution and congestion hotspots. Monitor those.

Collate the results as “evidence” of an increasing problem. Put in the cameras. Introduce congestion charging. BINGO! Huge increase in revenue for LBH and TfL.

No real reduction in pollution or congestion – you’ve just used that as an excuse to open up a new and very lucrative revenue stream and used covid as the excuse to rapidly push through without consultation what you know full well you would never get past the electorate if you were to plainly propose it rather than burying it in vague statements about green policy. You constantly trot out the spurious argument that 70% of residents either don’t own a car or don’t have access to a car – depending on whose statement you read. That’s meaningless without context. Does it only mean people on the electoral register? Does it include all residents including children, the elderly and the disabled?

In terms of access to a car, how do you calculate it? A multi-adult family might only OWN one car, but all members may have access to it be it as drivers or passengers. People have access to taxis, Dial-a-Ride, buses and so on. These are all vehicles. Are they factored in? They certainly don’t have an exemption from passing the blocks. In any event, if it really is true that only 30% of residents own a car, they are hardly the cause of all of the traffic. Most of it must be through traffic. Again, you could get residents on side by allowing all vehicles with a CPZ parking permit to pass the blocks.

The problem is that the great vision of Berk & Mare is not the elimination of pollution or congestion – it’s one of getting rid of vehicles entirely – and that’s why there are no exemptions for residents and/or zero emission vehicles. It’s a win-win for LBH. You can say that you want to get rid of vehicles but you know you can’t do it so you devise schemes that will try to inconvenience some vehicles off the roads while taxing to the hilt those who must continue to use them. Some businesses have or are about to cease trading; delivery companies are increasing their charges or refusing to deliver to certain areas because of the additional delays involved in getting around the blocks. Who is this helping? Certainly not the residents or the businesses. If there was any less edifying display to discourage anyone from wanting to go into local government or engage in local democracy, last evening’s charade was it in spades!

You should all be ashamed of yourselves – claiming to represent all of Hackney’s residents when in fact you only represent those whose views coincide with your own and your party. I’ll lay odds that when congestion charging comes to Hackney, those of you who own cars will be able to get a full exemption by claiming that they are used for council business. It is indeed true that while all Hackney residents are equal, some Hackney councillors are more equal than the rest of us.

Labour – for the privileged few, not the many!


They’ve got us over a barrel

They’ve got us over a barrel

They’ve got us over a barrel

A local businesswoman explains how Hackney Road closures are threatening the very existence of the family business.

We have worked on the Islington-Hackney border and have lived in Hackney for 25 years. We have a small family-run wine business selling boutique wines to restaurants. We also now have an online service, as all our restaurants closed in March for Lockdown and are still operating at minimal capacity.

The road closures in both boroughs, along with the closure of London’s bridges and the taking out of bus lanes to make cycle lanes has meant that the time taken to pick up our wine in Barking and Tilbury -where it is kept in a government bonded warehouse – has trebled. (We pay all the duty on it when the wine leaves the warehouse – currently £2.24 per bottle for still wine and £2.86 for sparkling). We collect this tax for the government and pay it immediately, whether or not we ourselves have been paid – which means that we cannot store it long-term in a non bonded warehouse.

Our driver is in pieces. Delivering locally is becoming almost impossible. On top of this we pay £30 per day to Transport for London for the privilege of driving in London, which sometimes makes it absolutely not cost effective. Our van is Diesel. It is the one recommended by TfL about three years ago and fitted to Euro 5 emissions standards. Last year we were informed that we now needed Euro 6 fittings but that it is not possible to upgrade our van to this. The only alternative would be to buy a brand-new van. They had a scheme in place for micro businesses to get  help with this but we , like most, were over the threshold so lost out again.

After three years of Brexit uncertainty, followed by Covid-19, we are not in a position to buy anything at all, and certainly not in a position to employ more than one driver and more than one smaller van. Police checks ensure that we must use a two-tonne van for weighty deliveries to remain legal and safe.

A new electric 2t van at £75k will only do 30 miles before needing an eight-hour recharge. Only the very wealthiest companies such as DHL can afford this option.

Everyone in our office cycles, walks and uses public transport to work and at the weekends. Far from being anti-cycling or anti-walking – we have always been champions of both – and  our business depends on supporting the many farmers who may not have  survived without us and our support for  their environmental endeavours.

Currently we are only one of thousands of companies who find themselves in a similar position. We are demonised, referred to as ‘rats’ on rat-runs (i.e. the only routes available since, previous road closures deliberately set out to create havoc), then asked to effectively pay to pollute. TfL are not honest about the revenue-raising they are enjoying from making people who are already in trouble, pay more for less, while doing nothing to decrease the emissions. In fact, emissions are far higher along the roads where one lane ensures endless idling. Journey times have almost trebled across London, and Hackney is now at a standstill.

As ever, the biggest companies will find ways to absorb the costs, pricing smaller London based businesses out of the market. This also comes at a time when business rates have never been higher and the whole hospitality sector is struggling to survive. If things do not change, we are all looking at a city run by the very rich for the very few. We will lose our small independent restaurants, bars, retailers and businesses – not in a matter of years, but in a matter of months. The idea that we should live in zones from where we do not venture, is contrary to everything that is great about London. It is a huge, wonderful melting pot of cultures and communities, villages and centres of excellence. The attitude of the small group of salaried fanatics, with no experience or knowledge or appreciation of business is threatening our existence. They will not stand the test of time, but in the interim, they are damaging the infrastructure of our great borough and our city

Of course, we all want to find ways of lowering pollution fast – but we need joined up thinking and proper investment if small businesses are to survive. We also need consultation and fresh ideas. Simply punishing the very heartbeat of the city is not a solution, either for the environment or for the population.

A few suggestions:

To get this into context, we are fully supportive of finding ways to lower emissions and are constantly making suggestions – such has helping business to make changes in the way of grants or interest free loans to change their vehicles, to operate street sharing and night delivery incentives, or setting up delivery hubs which are government bonded allowing us to use smaller vehicles or even bikes for local deliveries.

It falls on deaf ears. They have realised that it is all too little too late and feel they have no choice in order to protect our planet.




Life on Graham Road

Life on Graham Road

Gridlock on Graham Road 

Local resident Annette Harada Rosenau on how Graham Road has changed since the introduction of Hackney council’s road closures.

These photos show scenes from outside my home on Graham Road on the 18th September – during the morning school drop off, at lunchtime, and the afternoon pick up. I didn’t even photograph the evening rush, as that’s a given! It never abated, in both directions, all day – not just peak times. It’s a polluted, gridlocked mess. I can’t even open the windows on the street-facing side of my flat.

I’ve sent these and a strong, lengthy email to the Mayor, various councillors, and the Streetscene consultation email (the addresses of which a few people kindly shared on posts over the last couple of days).


The numerous buses that travel up Graham Road are at a standstill; I cannot think this gives anyone any incentive to catch buses now through Hackney. Drivers are regularly making u-turns to trying and find alternative routes – putting cyclists at risk in a number of instances I’ve witnessed. There has also been a noticeable increase in noise pollution from more horns being blasted by angry drivers.

Blocking off so many roads does not magically help achieve fewer cars on Hackney’s roads. Many of these vehicles are buses, lorries, delivery vehicles, tradespersons’ vans, etc – all which presumably ‘need’ to be on the road. But they have no choice but to use Graham Road now, as all other routes are being blocked off, preventing them from going about their business.

I understand the desire to encourage local residents to use cars less and use other modes of transport, such as walk or cycle etc. I’ve been a Hackney resident for 15 years and I, like many others on here, already do the right thing by walking / scooting / cycling to school, the shops, the parks etc – and yet we are being punished. We are the “collateral damage” it appears; sacrificing us for the sake of making some other roads quieter. It stinks (quite literally). Additionally, one would reasonably assume many of the cars/vans/trucks driving along Graham Road are not even local to Hackney, so the whole “getting locals to use their cars less” point is essentially moot.

The traffic should be shared fairly amongst all residents and all streets of Hackney. Let’s keep up the fight, we cannot let it continue.

This is was first published as a post on the Horrendous Hackney Road Closures Facebook group. We are grateful to Annette Harada Rosenau for allowing us to republish it here. 

An open letter to Cllr Jon Burke

An open letter to Cllr Jon Burke

Road closures don’t add up to safer cycling

An open letter to Hackney transport chief Cllr Jon Burke from a resident and cyclist.

Dear Jon,

part of me believes that you are a career politician, trying to do the right thing for the environment. But, the fact that you so readily disenfranchise so many people and discount the hardships suffered at your hands – only speaks of your privileged world view.

Yes you may come have from a minimum wage Liverpudlian background but clearly you’ve lost touch. Somewhere along the way you have forgotten that as a councillor, your actions can cause harm as well as good for a huge amount of ordinary, working people. I understand the motive of environmental action because I’m on that side of the movement too. I’m a cyclist and part of the XR movement. You might be surprised how many of us are against you.

The reason why? True environmental action has results, whereas your plan is just greenwashing. It takes scant evaluation of the road closure scheme to see why: 

Do the road closures represent viable cycling corridors for people commuting? No.

They are by no means a direct route to anywhere. 

Do the road closures result in less pollution? No.

They’re mostly in already low traffic areas, used by locals to access arterials, schools, medical facilities and petrol stations (yes the odd “rat runner” uses them too, but not many). It’s pretty obvious any local pollution reductions is just relocated from one area to another, putting peoples lives in danger (where’s the benefit?). Additionally locals are now forced to drive further and longer, just to reach major roads, and vice versa, so fuel consumption and pollution increase.

Do the road closures reduce traffic in Hackney? No.

The closures have reduced traffic by small amounts on insignificant roads, but on the roads that people actually use to get to work or hospital, or to care for someone in need, the traffic has become ridiculous!

Do the road closures make cycling safer? No.

According to the London collision map, only a small amount of cycle Vs vehicle accidents happen on the roads that have been closed. By far the greatest amount of accidents happen on the major roads where you have failed to install dedicated cycle lanes. Why do cyclists choose do use these routes despite the danger? Because they are commuters with no time for scenic journeys through Hackney.

Do the road closures make sense? No.

Many of the closures are located adjacent to existing cycling routes, that cyclists actually prefer and offer more direct routes (like cutting through Hackney Downs).

Do the closures pose a safety risk? Yes.

Over a recent weeks main road congestion has dramatically increased to the point that even when using any available space, emergency vehicles have been trapped by traffic that have now where to move to. This will cost lives (we’ve all witnessed this and it’s getting worse. How have you missed it?). With all this in mind the residents of Hackney, rightly assume that his is just eco-political puffery and greenwashing.

Do these road closures result in additional foot traffic for local retail? No.

The vast majority of these closures are located nowhere near retail areas.

You claim that this is just an adjustment period. But that by no means detracts from the fact that it’s a badly thought out scheme for hackney roads and has been applied as cheapskate alternative to proper cycling infrastructure. It’s either that or your world view is so myopic, you can’t see what is right in front of your face.

The idea of “15 minute cities” sounds great on paper, but when you apply it to a road network established in the 1700s that meanders from village to village, with no direct access to major highways then it falls rather short of being practical. People don’t move to London and live where they work (unless they become a career politician). People live where the do because it’s what they can afford with access to transport routes, whether that be by train, car or bike.

The nature of London, is as network of connected villages; as such each village has an obligation to each neighbouring borough to provide effective transit through or else the whole system falls into paralysis. The actions of Hackney council have a flow-on effect to neighbouring boroughs. So, much like a river when you block off road tributaries the overall volume of traffic on larger courses will increase to breaking point. You’ve stated that the current Hackney council policy is targeted towards out-of-borough vehicles, but by penalising them you have also penalised the residents of Hackney.

Keep in mind that Hackney has a smaller than usual vehicle ownership, so the people you are hitting the hardest are those who really need a vehicle, being elderly or disabled (or their carers), trades people and other working class who have no other choice for their livelihoods, than to drive. What you have a achieved is the opposite of the design – you have not freed us of traffic – the traffic is now apocalyptic!

I’m a cyclist but if I want to rent a Zip Car for an important reason, I can bank on an hour drive, just to get out of the neighbourhood. What’s more, as a cyclist, I’m somewhat offended that this has been done in name of cycling, on streets that already presented no issue in regards to safety or pollution. Additionally you are treating Hackney as an Island – it’s not. As a resident, each neighbouring borough is a vibrant part of the overall culture that makes living here great. For those of us that can cycle or walk they are still in reach. For those that cannot, you have now cut them off from life long relationships of huge importance.

I get that you want to convert Hackney into a lasting eco-cycling hub. But this is not Amsterdam. If it was Amsterdam the council would have first invested in thousands of miles of dedicated cycle routes and not just closed a bunch of roads, patted themselves on the back and then arrogantly ignore the outcries of the citizens. Like you, I wish to see a greener hackney (and London). But please, quit this charade – remove these stupid barriers and invest in genuine cycling infrastructure that encourages people to cycle safely, whilst still enabling residents with a genuine need of vehicles to continue using them without hours of gridlock. You keep pretending that this scheme is working. It’s not.


Ben Eady