Two large traffic-reduction schemes will remain in place despite claims they are causing major problems for residents.
Labour councillors rejected a call to remove the Bowes and Fox Lane low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) until a consultation shows they are supported by a majority of the public.
The LTNs, rolled out last year in a bid to stop rat-running and improve air quality, involved closing several road entrances using bollards and similar measures.
During a full council meeting yesterday (Thursday), Tory councillors called for their removal, claiming they had failed to improve air quality and caused congestion and pollution on surrounding roads.
But Labour said the schemes would benefit public health and the environment, pledging to improve the LTNs in response to feedback from residents.
Speaking during the meeting, shadow cabinet member for climate change Cllr Maria Alexandrou (Conservative, Winchmore Hill) listed a range of problems she claimed were caused by the LTNs.
“Congestion has overwhelmed Enfield, with traffic forced onto the main arteries of the Enfield road network,” Cllr Alexandrou said.
“Roads are now too dangerous to cross, and people are less inclined to walk. The increased pollution and travel times – and consequently delays to bus journeys and the emergency services – are maximising the very matters LTNs were supposed to prevent.”
Cllr Alexandrou claimed the LTNs had been introduced “without proper consultation or engagement”. She said the council had failed to provide readily available paper copies of consultation documents, which stopped those without digital access from taking part.
But Cllr Ian Barnes (Labour, Winchmore Hill), the council’s deputy leader and chairman of the climate change task force, defended the schemes.
“The main beneficiaries of LTNs are all residents of the borough, but in particular our children and young people,” he said.
“We have to change our thinking and see that our future must lie in cleaner air and a stable climate. It is a challenge for all of us – but one we must meet head-on for the sake of future generations.”
Cllr Barnes said the schemes would help tackle obesity and make streets safer for children going to and from school.
He added that designs for the Fox Lane scheme had been changed in response to public feedback before it was introduced, and a “live consultation” was now underway. The Bowes LTN followed “years of campaigning for an LTN” and a “perception survey” he added.
Community First – an opposition group formed last year by four councillors who quit the Labour Party – backed the Tories’ call to remove the LTNs.
Cllr Daniel Anderson (Community First, Southgate Green), a former deputy council leader and cabinet member for environment, who helped introduce the Cycle Enfield scheme, said LTNs “tackle the symptom and not the underlying cause of traffic”.
Cllr Anderson blamed “intensifying unaffordable housing developments” for increased traffic on London’s roads and said the car would “remain a necessity for many people – particularly in the absence of adequate alternatives”.
Cllr Stephanos Ioannou (Conservative, Southgate) criticised the council for having an enforcement vehicle with its engine idling issuing fines to drivers who travel through LTN barriers. He said the council had so far raised more than £1.2 million in LTN-related penalties.
But Labour councillors continued to defend the schemes. Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) said she had listened to “passionate views” from residents on both sides of the LTN debate and would “see if we can amend the schemes to work for local areas”. She added that she was proud to be part of a council taking action to tackle climate change.
Chairman of the environment forum Cllr Katherine Chibah (Labour, Bowes) said climate change posed an “existential threat” – and with 39 per cent of Enfield’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from roads, the “best option is to try to encourage alternative modes of travel where possible”.