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Council blames technical legal error after agreeing to quash experimental traffic order

The London Borough of Camden has agreed to quash an experimental traffic order in one of series of legal battles between councils and those opposed to the blocking off of streets.

The council has blamed a minor technical legal error for the need to rescind the order.

Landmark Chambers, whose Leon Glenister acted for the claimant, said Camden made the order last November covering the Haverstock Hill area.

It would have led to works to increase cycling capacity and removed a significant amount of resident parking.

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The claim was brought by local resident Amit Shah, who was concerned about the adverse impact on disabled and elderly residents and local businesses.

Mr Shah’s claim centred around the lack of engagement with local residents and businesses prior to the order being made.

He argued that Camden failed to follow updated statutory guidance from the Department of Transport, which required engagement with local residents and businesses prior to an order being made, and that the scheme was in reality permanent and not as the council claimed an ‘experiment’.

Camden felt the technical legal error found arguably did not materially impact the scheme and that a court could ultimately agree with it but thought it was not in the public interest to spend more money on fighting Mr Shah’s challenge.

A Camden spokesperson said: “We have brought in over 100 emergency transport schemes across Camden in response to Covid-19 to make our streets as safe as possible and to encourage walking and cycling.

“We’ve had to do this at unprecedented pace as that’s what the Government asked us to do, but despite this pressure, none of our many schemes have been challenged, with the exception of Haverstock Hill.”

The spokesperson said that the Haverstock Hill scheme followed the published guidance at the time but the council had looked again at how it introduced them and had included further public engagement in the process.

“Due to a minor technical error in the order for the scheme, we are looking at the Haverstock Hill plans again,” the council said.

“This will allow us to follow the new engagement process, focus on all of our schemes and concentrate on fighting the pandemic without the distraction of the litigation, irrespective of its merits.”

Councils have closed streets in many urban areas using the orders to try to encourage walking and cycling - rather than driving - while the pandemic reduces public transport usage.

Last month the taxi trade won a case against the mayor of London Sadiq Khan over a lack of consultation on the closure of a road in the City of London to traffic.

Traders in a Bristol street have threatened legal action over the proposed closure of a road.

Mark Smulian

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