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HomeNewsPoliticsA thousand voices cry out against Dulwich LTNs

A thousand voices cry out against Dulwich LTNs

An estimated 1,000 people protested Southwark Council’s refusal to remove the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Dulwich following a public consultation in which two thirds of people asked for them to be removed.

The protest, which occurred last Saturday October 16, saw the huge crowd converge on the main junction in Dulwich Village, and included disabled people who have been particularly affected by the introduction of the LTNs.

Since their introduction in March 2020, LTNs have been a significant source of controversy across London. Southwark Council cites government guidelines on improving air quality and safety for pedestrians in key areas, but many residents complain that the system simply diverts these issues elsewhere, and discriminates against those who rely on vehicles to get around.

In the council’s survey, more than 3,000 people in Dulwich – between 64 and 69 per cent – said they wanted the system scrapped, compared with just 800 who wanted to keep them.

Speaking at the protest, Clive Rates, of Dulwich Alliance and chair of the Dulwich Village, College Road and Woodyard Lane residents’ Association said: “What we have here is a disaster.

“A handful of roads have become pollution-free, while others, already illegally polluted, are shouldering their traffic.

“These road closures have dislocated people’s lives and forced them to make longer journeys and generate ever more emissions. This makes climate change worse, not better.

‘They promised us ‘traffic evaporation’ – it never happened. Traffic evaporation! The only thing which has evaporated around here is support for Southwark Council!

Picture: Richard Aldwinckle

“We are here to demand that Southwark remove these road closures and come up with something that actually works.”

Marianna Kavanagh, founder of One Dulwich, a group of residents and traders in the area, shared some stories of locals who wished to remain anonymous.

Among these stories, an 83 year-old widow reported that the extra driving she has to do for her regular GP appointments – much of it sitting in near stationary traffic – upsets her, and at times has driven her to tears.

“It has split Dulwich in two, and has led to real unhappiness, hostility and bitterness between people,” the widow said.

On Sunday October 10 2021, two men on mopeds attacked a café after being told they couldn’t drive through the Calton Avenue LTN.

Another resident who works as a carer for their mother also reported that the unpredictable traffic often leaves them in tears as they try to get their mother to various appointments.

Meanwhile, spokesperson for Dulwich Alliance and One Dulwich Richard Aldwinckle reported the results of the protestors’ own survey, which they state found that: “Over 95 per cent of traders here in Dulwich Village, and a similar percentage of shops and businesses in Melbourne Grove, Grove Vale and Lordship Lane, say the LTNs are causing them huge problems and threatening the future viability of these roads as shopping centres.”

One of the main justifications for the LTNs provided by the council is that 77 per cent of people stated that improving air quality on roads is a priority.

It is worth noting that this does not necessarily equate to 77 per cent of people wanting LTNs – just that they view air quality as a priority.

LTNs are also a significant form of income for Southwark Council. As reported by the News at the time, in the first seven weeks of Dulwich Village’s LTN, Southwark Council issued an enormous 22,424 penalties.

Even if each of these paid the cheaper earlier fee of £65, Southwark Council would have made £1,457,560 in those first seven weeks.

Southwark Council has made a number of adjustments to the Dulwich LTNs in response to feedback, as reported on their website.

These include reducing the timings on the traffic restrictions, so that they are in line with school street timings, and changing the timings on the cameras.

Additionally, Southwark Blue Badge holders have been made exempt from the LTNs, as have emergency vehicles travelling via Derwent Grove and at Calton Avenue, Court Lane and Dulwich Village junction.

Apparently responding to the changes, Clive Rates stated in his speech: “Tweaking the timing of one-way camera restrictions an hour here and there will make hardly any difference.”

Cllr Catherine Rose, Cabinet Member for Transport, Parks and Sport, said to the News: “This was never a ballot, and there are strong views on both sides of the argument.

“Restricting traffic and parking is not popular, but it is necessary.

“The government has made it clear to councils that it wants to see us bringing in measures that increase walking and cycling, and we know that air quality is a major concern for Londoners. Too many people on busy roads have poor air quality.

“Our temporary measures in Dulwich have had an extraordinary impact in increasing active travel and reducing car use, and so we want to maintain those changes. Dulwich is also an area with the highest levels of car ownership in the borough.

“As a highways authority we must maintain a safe road network, not only for cars, but for pedestrians, bus users and those cycling. I want my role to be about delivering streets for people, better public transport, more buses and train services improved for the whole borough.”



  1. Can’t wait until may. I want to vote these b****** out! I know they are frightened of losing because they are making adjustments. I have see these adjustments. Including some cameras removed and signs replaced with red ones stating one must not go down these lanes.

    But these are temporarily measures, if we elect them back in they’ll put them back or introduce something worst. They must not be allowed back in.

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