Enfield Lib Dems back call in of Bowes LTN decision, slamming Council for severe data failures & deciding based on 'wishful thinking'

Lib Dem Councillor Ayfer Orhan and Council candidate Matt McLaren prepare to march against the new Edmonton incinerator

Following the call in signed by Liberal Democrat Councillor Ayfer Orhan of the decision on New Year’s Eve to make the Bowes LTN permanent, tomorrow night’s meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee will review Council Leader Nesil Caliskan’s verdict on the matter.

Liberal Democrat Cllr Ayfer Orhan (Ponders End) earlier this month signed the ‘call in’ put forward by the Community First group on Enfield Council (containing Lib Dem, Green and independent Councillors) arguing that the decision, sneaked out by the Council on New Year’s Eve, to make the Bowes LTN permanent was manifestly flawed because the report on which the decision was based failed to evidence its conclusions with robust data and instead relied on opinions and ‘wishful thinking’.

Specifically, the call in signed by Cllr Orhan stated: ‘The comprehensive list of factors referred to in the decision statement have not been defined. There is a lack of any evidenced-based assumptions, or provision of the models used to independently verify the statements contained within the report, which therefore fails to provide measurable criteria for reaching the conclusions that have been presented. Instead, the report relies upon opinions, hopes and wishful thinking of a change in behaviour.'

Commenting in advance of tomorrow night’s Oversight & Scrutiny Committee meeting, Liberal Democrat Councillor Ayfer Orhan (Ponders End, Enfield), said:

“I am astonished that the Council appears to be basing a decision which potentially makes life more difficult for thousands of local residents on nothing but hopes and wishes despite having 18 months to gather concrete data to support their view. For those that have actually read the report on which this decision was based, it is abundantly clear that there is no robust evidence-base for continuing the so-called Quieter Neighbourhood scheme in Bowes.

“Data included in the report is clearly affected by both the pandemic and the petrol shortage last Autumn without these impacts being properly accounted for and, in their response to the concerns of myself and Community First colleagues, officers have now confirmed that they cannot conclude from the evidence provided that the Bowes LTN has succeeded in having any positive effect whatsoever on emissions and air quality in the borough.

“Meanwhile, local residents are being gouged at every turn (including the recent disgusting case of a mental health worker being hit with a penalty despite responding to an immediate risk of suicide) all so millions can be raised in a desperate attempt to cover the Council’s shortfalls.

“Liberal Democrats believe in policy action to improve air quality and urgently address the climate emergency, but if the Council’s Labour administration really wanted to tackle these issues then they would stop trying to implement divisive LTNs on the basis of extremely poor consultations and wholly insufficient evidence and instead immediately withdraw their support for the new, enormously expanded Edmonton incinerator as well as commissioning an urgent impact assessment of its likely emissions on the borough’s air quality.”

Commenting on the call in of the Bowes LTN, Liberal Democrat Council candidate Matt McLaren (Winchmore Hill, Enfield), who lives on a main road bordering the Fox Lane LTN, said:

“The response on this from Council officers smacks of the ‘we must do something, this is something, therefore we must do it’ style of decision making that has so often been highly damaging in the past.

“Liberal Democrats in Enfield are firmly of the view that both carbon emissions contributing to the climate emergency as well as dangerous particulate and nitrogen dioxide pollutants must be reduced in our borough. But we also believe in evidence-based policy and the Council has just admitted that it cannot be shown from the data that the Bowes LTN has succeeded in actually doing this.

“Moreover, at the (informal) Environment & Climate Action Scrutiny Panel last week, Council officers admitted that they have so far failed to gain any meaningful data on the differential impact on air quality of traffic displacement from one area to another.

“I myself live on Green Lanes and see first-hand the increased traffic congestion following the introduction of local LTN schemes. Given that a recent independent study into London’s various LTNs concluded that Enfield’s schemes seem to only have been introduced in the more affluent areas, leaving the less affluent areas facing higher traffic; I am deeply concerned that rather than allowing toxic emissions to be dispersed across a wider area we are concentrating them onto the families living along main routes which, on the whole, tend to be less well-off areas.

“With their policy basically boiling down to clean air being only for some (and only in the more affluent areas), where is Enfield Labour’s commitment to social justice on this? We all want to encourage walking and cycling but families who live on roads like mine can’t even step outside their front door without inhaling toxic levels of car exhaust fumes, let alone go for a walk!”

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