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Nick Ferrari returns to Mini Holland on LBC, 19th August 2021

On 19th of April 2021 Nick Ferrari on his LBC Breakfast Show asked for phone-in comments on a report that Harrow Council had become the first borough council in England to withdraw plans for road closures following public pressure and recommendations from its traffic panel. More than 2,000 people signed an online petition against the plans in Stanmore, suggesting that closing key roads would “funnel traffic through the Broadway”.

The conversation moved on to the massive unpopularity of these so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) including Waltham Forest's "Mini Holland" scheme (which was ridiculed) and the cynical way in which councils manipulate "public consultations" to obtain the answers they want. The controversial Mini Holland scheme was introduced in 2015 to block off many roads in Walthamstow Village and surrounding are with the stated aim of encouraging more people in the area to abandon their cars and start walking and cycling, and to make the road safer for non-motorised users. Waltham Forest was a major borough that fitted the criteria set out by the GLA to make it eligible to bid for funding under the 'Mini Holland' scheme (later re-branded "Liveable Neighbourhoods"), and won the award of up to £30 million towards implementing the changes.

Nick Ferrari and many of the people phoning in to the April Breakfast Show thought that, to put it delicately, with that kind of money on the table the Waltham Forest Council was, shall we say, keen to present a favourable image of the scheme to the press and its electorate. Consultation forms were worded in such a way that any box people ticked could be and was interpreted as expressing approval of the scheme. And let's face it, Waltham Forest is a borough in which rejection of a planning application as a result of public pressure is virtually unknown. The scheme went ahead, and spread to almost the whole of the borough, until, to the council's amazement, it was discovered that closing practically all the minor roads made the couple of remaining main ones greatly more congested and polluted. Who would have thought it? In the meantime the general principles behind the scheme had spread to other London boroughs and beyond, and only much later did people begin to realise that the situation was a little more complex than they thought, and not alone was concentrating all the traffic and pollution on a few major roads a pretty dumb idea but roads are needed for fire, ambulance and police movements as well as essential services such as the lorries that empty the bins, the minibuses that provide mobility for the disabled, and the vehicles that make deliveries to the less mobile residents as well as shops and other businesses. They are not just a playground for private car owners out for a jaunt, sounding their horns in the spirit of Toad of Toad Hall.

Events have now caught up with the discussion on the April Show and the first borough has actually agreed to dismantle the road blocks and abandon its LTN ambitions. On his August 19th phone-in (no longer available on the LBC "Catch Up" website) Nick Ferrari returned to the topic to ask for comments on the decision of the London Borough of Ealing to dismantle its LTN scheme in response to a resident referendum, and despite having milked motorists of more than £2.8 milllion in fines for infringements of the LTN regulations. Perhaps you are beginning to see some off the reasons why the schemes are so dear to the hearts of so many London and other boroughs.

Could this constitute a precedent for dismanting other LTN schemes in response to public demand? Will Waltham Forest Council eventually decide to listen to its electorate? Will pigs learn how to fly?

The video is an edited version of Nick Ferrari's August 19th phone-in accompanied by a collage of newspaper headlines about Mini Holland and other LTN schemes.

Mini Holland – A Discussion

View the following video for background information if you haven't been following the debate from the beginning. This documentary was made in 2017, when the scheme was in its infancy. Our thanks to Walthamstow Community Video Workshop for permission to reproduce it here.

To learn more about the Video Workshop visit its YouTube channel.

Mini Holland – a Discussion

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