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Exeter traffic scheme axe meeting postponed

Part of the controversial LTN scheme in Exeter (Image courtesy: Guy Henderson)

Eight out of 10 people say they don't want it

Exeter’s controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme could be suspended in the face of overwhelming opposition.

But council officers say they are still sifting through responses from local people before signing off their final report.

Councillors had been due to meet next week to discuss the future of the LTN scheme in Heavitree and Whipton, and would have been recommended to suspend it based on the responses so far.

But the meeting, due to have taken place on Monday 20 May, has since been postponed.

When it does take place on a date to be announced, councillors will hear the results of the public consultation in which - so far -  80 per cent of more than 24,000 people have come out against the scheme.

A council spokesman said: "The consultation only closed last week and while the majority of responses were provided online, we are still awaiting some postal responses to reach us.

"An initial report had been produced examining the consultation responses received so far (most of which were online responses), but making it clear that it was an incomplete report.

"We have asked members of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) to give us extra time to analyse the results (both online and postal responses) to ensure that members have sufficient information to make an informed decision. The committee meeting has been deferred to Monday 3 June and so the report will be available online by Friday 24 May to ensure councillors have time to digest the report."

The LTN was introduced as a trial, aiming to cut traffic and pollution in busy residential streets. But there has been strong opposition ever since it was first set up in 2023.

There have been protests at every council meeting since the scheme began.

Opponents say it has simply moved traffic and pollution elsewhere, while the restrictions on car movement have affected the elderly, the young and people who are disabled.

Some journey times in other parts of the city have increased as a result of the extra traffic.

The preliminary report to the HATOC says: “It is recommended that the experimental traffic regulation orders associated with Ladysmith Road/Park Road, St Marks Avenue, Hamlin Lane, Whipton Lane and Vaughan Road are suspended as soon as is practicable.”

It says a new study has highlighted the project’s ‘disproportionate negative impact’ on people with protected characteristics such as disability and age.

Anger over the scheme has boiled over, and there have been confrontations between angry motorists and supporters. The report to next Monday’s meeting says the behaviour of some drivers who routinely ignore the restrictions is completely unacceptable and places other road users, particularly those who are vulnerable, at increased risk.

It also points out that vandal attacks on bollards, planters and signs have contributed to pushing the overall budget for the LTN project above its original £190,000. The budget will have to be increased to £250,000.

In her report, the county council’s director of climate change, environment and transport, Meg Booth, says the consultation shows ‘a significant level of opposition’ to the trial.

She says there have been ‘significant increases’ in traffic on boundary roads such as Polsloe Road and Hill Barton Road, although vehicle speeds have reduced. Buses on boundary roads have been delayed, although walking and cycling has increased inside the trial area and traffic volumes have been reduced.

She goes on: “However, given the adverse impacts that have been identified for those people with protected characteristics and in consideration of the Equality Act 2010, the recommendation is to suspend the trial.”

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