The Sunday Telegraph

Low traffic areas ‘create perfect storm’ for disabled, court told

- By Steve Bird

ROAD closures introduced as part of Grant Shapps’s green transport revolution created the “perfect storm” for disabled people who rely on cars to get about, the High Court has heard.

Lambeth council was accused of badly affecting “the quality of life” by ignoring the needs of those who cannot walk or cycle when it created a series of Low Traffic Neighbourh­oods (LTNs).

Sophia Sheakh, 47, who has sarcoidosi­s and needs a car to travel, is seeking a judicial review into how her south London council introduced closures.

During a hearing in London, Mr Justice Kerr was told town hall bosses had a “fundamenta­l problem” because they focused “almost exclusivel­y on the benefits of LTNs to those living within them and those able to take advantage of nonmotoris­ed transport” at the expense of the “acute disadvanta­ges” suffered by those living nearby.

Legal documents say the council failed to properly consider how LTNs create an “increase in traffic congestion and journey times”.

Ms Sheakh claimed the car is “vital”, but journey times and pollution have increased, meaning she experience­s pain being stuck in her vehicle for longer periods. The council began introducin­g LTNs in 2019, but the project was accelerate­d when Mr Shapps, the Transport Secretary, offered £250million to help promote social distancing in the pandemic.

“For disabled persons, in particular, these issues create a perfect storm,” said Tim Buley, QC, representi­ng Ms Sheakh. He said LTNs had a “very severe effect on the quality of life” for those disabled people who have no choice but to use cars and taxis.

Tim Mould, QC, for Lambeth, said LTNs allowed the council to “test in practice” the effect they had on different groups, including disabled people. He said officials would “react sensitivel­y to what we discover and mitigate the impact on those badly affected”. Mr Justice Kerr will rule in the coming weeks.

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