A driving service which transports people with disabilities and/or special educational needs (SEN) will be allowed to go through barriers in the Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood without being fined, according to a new temporary traffic order.  

The LTN, a set of road barriers to reduce through-traffic, was brought in under Covid-19 emergency transport measures and has received mixed feedback. 

The scheme aims to promote active travel such as cycling, walking, and public transport, which many residents support.   

However, traffic has been displaced onto roads outside of the LTN, leaving locals concerned about road safety and air pollution. 

People with SEN children, some of whom must use a car to get around, have reported increased journey times.  

The revised order, signed on September 22, seems to allow dial-a-ride drivers go through two out of four of the camera-enforced barriers in the LTN.  

Dial-a-ride is a passenger service that people with disabilities and/or SEN can use to get around if they can’t use public transport.  

The council declined to provide any details on the move, which some residents heard about through SEN taxi services, and whether any other groups, such as blue badge holders, will also be exempt.

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The traffic order only mentions Manor Lane and Manor Park – it remains unclear whether the changes will apply to the other two camera-enforced barriers in the LTN.  

‘Article 2’ of a traffic order posted in the area, signed September 22, states that “no person shall cause or permit any motor vehicle to enter or proceed in” Manor Lane and Manor Park, where camera-enforced barriers are located. 

But the traffic order states: “The prohibitions imposed by article 2 of this notice shall not apply to any bus or dial-a-ride vehicle and any pedal cycle.” 

The change follows a Lewisham Council announcement last month that it would be making some changes to the scheme in a bid to address problems that have arisen from it. 

The order also states: “Nothing in article 2 of this notice shall apply in relation to any vehicles being used for ambulance, fire authority, or police purposes in an emergency or anything done with the permission or at the direction of a police officer in uniform, or any vehicle authorised by the London borough of Lewisham.” 

In a statement last month, the mayor of Lewisham said the council is “urgently” planning to address issues with the scheme.  

Mayor Damien Egan said the council would speak to residents before making any changes, and reiterated that the scheme is a trial.   

“If we cannot make the scheme work we won’t continue it.   

“But we should take this opportunity to try and make it work because if we can get it right, the benefits will be felt by thousands of residents,” he said.   

The mayor said he was sorry that people are experiencing problems, that he “understands why some people feel frustrated” and that he “shares some of that frustration too”.   

Today (October 2) a spokesperson for the council said: “The council is working on changes to the Lewisham and Lee Green low traffic neighbourhood scheme and we hope to be able to share our proposals soon.

“We know that some residents have very strong feelings both for and against the temporary measures that have been introduced.

“The timeframes to access Government funding and implement measures continues to be very challenging for councils in London, and we are balancing feedback from the community with the need to bring in measures quickly.”