Wednesday 20 January 2021 11:09 am

High Court rules TfL's 'Streetspace' plan unlawful

The High Court has today ruled that Transport for London’s “Streetspace” plan treated London’s taxi drivers unlawfully.

In her judgement, Justice Lang said that TfL “took advantage of the pandemic” to push through “radical changes” to London’s streets.

Read more: Aviation industry launches fresh plea for government support

The “ill-considered” response to the pandemic saw taxis banned from using bus lanes in order to ply for trade.

Lang added that the “the needs of people with protected characteristics, including the elderly or disabled”, were “not considered” when the plans were put in place.

TfL said that it would appeal the judgement, expressing its disappointment at the ruling.

The case was brought by United Trade Action Group (UTAG) and the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA).

Following the review, the Court has now ordered that the Streetspace Plan, Interim Guidance to Boroughs and the A10 Bishopsgate Traffic Order be quashed.

The Streetspace plan was put in place last May in a bid to make more space on the roads for non-drivers during to the coronavirus pandemic.

The purpose of the scheme was to drive down use of public transport so there was space for essential workers to travel safely.

Before the Open: Get the jump on the markets with our early morning newsletter

It has seen the implementation of bus gates, banned turns and restricted access to streets in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods across London.

In addition, the A10 Bishopsgate order saw only buses and cyclists now able to enter the thoroughfare between 7.00am and 7.00pm on weekdays, effectively excluding licensed taxis from using this key north-south route.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the LTDA, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Judge rightly recognising the key role licensed taxis play in our great City.

“This is an extremely important judgement for London’s hard working taxi drivers and the passengers who rely on them.”

David Matthias QC, lead counsel for the claimants, said: “This judgment is of major importance not only to London’s iconic black cab trade but also to all people living, working or visiting London who are unable to walk significant distances or to cycle.

“In the course of her long and careful judgment Mrs Justice Lang has vindicated all the concerns raised by the taxi trade, both on their own account and on account of the disabled, the elderly and all other people prejudiced by the Streetspace Plan and its impacts throughout the capital.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with the court’s ruling and are seeking to appeal this judgment. Temporary Streetspace schemes are enabling safer essential journeys during this exceptionally challenging time and are vital to ensuring that increased car traffic does not threaten London’s recovery from coronavirus.

Read more: London is lowest-vaccinated region in England despite highest population density

“We absolutely recognise the need for schemes such as our Bishopsgate corridor to work for the communities they serve and have worked hard to ensure that people across London, including those who use taxis, can continue to get to where they need to be.

“We also recognise the need for schemes to be delivered in a fair and consistent manner and have worked closely with the boroughs to create clear guidance for implementing schemes, updating this regularly to reflect what we have learnt. We are now carefully considering our next steps.”