This is London, not Amsterdam! Trader’s road closures anger

Glass shop owner says deliveries have been made almost impossible due to traffic shutdown

Friday, 6th May — By Charlotte Chambers

Ron and Sue Lear with Fred the Pug-Shih Tzu cross with Lincoln Mardell

Ron and Sue Lear – and their dog Fred – and Lincoln Mardell at Islington Glass in Caledonian Road

A SHOP owner who has run his business for more than 40 years successfully delivering glass and mirrors across Islington and beyond says he can no longer go further than half a mile from his shop as it takes hours to get anywhere due to traffic restrictions.

Ron Lear, who runs Islington Glass in Caledonian Road with his wife Sue and son Ross, claimed that deliveries that used to take less than an hour are now are taking up to four hours since Islington Council introduced its low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN).

As a result, he only delivers to customers less than a mile away or has to charge them up to £160 for a pane of glass that sometimes costs a quarter of that price.

“Years ago they’d leave us alone if they saw we were carrying glass – it was health and safety – now they slap a ticket on you and get you to fight it,” he said.

Under LTNs, traffic is banned from side roads in order to promote active travel like walking and cycling. There are currently seven LTNs in Islington with plans for more.

Mr Lear warned that because driving had become such a nightmare, more than half the businesses that used to deliver products and items to his shop no longer come – and said it was an issue facing lots of businesses.

“They only come from Tottenham [but now] they don’t want to touch Islington – they’ve had a ticket for going into an LTN and they’ve said they’re not coming back.”

He also complained that traffic and pollution on main roads had increased as a result of forcing all the traffic off side roads.

Mr Lear’s assistant, Lincoln Mardell, who called LTNs a “silly middle ground”, said: “The whole policy is more virtue signalling nonsense that doesn’t solve anything pretending to be green.

“London is a working city, it’s not a tourist spot, and it needs to exist. It’s not a beautiful hamlet – it actually works.

“And you can’t just have a one-stop solution that might work in Amsterdam or Berlin and say that’s going to work here because London’s always been working.

“Behind every arch there’s a yard or somebody working and they’re the same, they’re in the same boat as us. So by making a seven-minute journey [to Highbury] 25 minutes, don’t tell me it’s making it greener. It’s just stupid.”

Islington comes third out of 32 London boroughs for the highest number of LTNs, with only Hackney and Waltham Forest having installed more.

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We want to ensure our streets work for everyone, including Islington’s fantastic local businesses.

“People-friendly streets are designed to encourage active travel, by making it safer and easier to walk, cycle and use buggies or wheelchairs.

“All of the changes ensure that every property that was accessible before the scheme was implemented, remain so.”

They added: “We engage with businesses at all stages of the process of rolling out new people-friendly streets neighbourhoods – before and after trials are implemented, as well as during the consultations – to ensure that their voices are heard.

“Studies suggest that those who walk or cycle to shops spend more than those who drive – indicating the positive impact that the trials can have on businesses in Islington. But we know these are significant changes for some and we are determined to work with local businesses to make sure they work for them.

“The council has hired a dedicated Local Economy Officer to provide support, gather feedback and give advice to local businesses, where needed.

“We would be happy to meet with Islington Glass to see how we can make changes to help them.”

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