Head of low-traffic district council accuses disability activists of ‘mansplaining’

A key intersection in Dulwich Village has been closed off with planters to become a low-traffic neighborhood - Mike Kemp/Getty Images

A key intersection in Dulwich Village has been closed off with planters to become a low-traffic neighborhood – Mike Kemp/Getty Images

The head of the council behind the beleaguered low-traffic district (LTN) claimed that disability activists who had asked for blue badge holders to be exempt were “mansplaining”.

The brawl broke out at a key junction in Dulwich Village, an upscale south London suburb that was closed off by planters to become an LTN during the first Covid lockdown.

Disabled drivers with blue badges have since been banned as councilors prioritize cyclists and pedestrians to “create a greener environment for all”.

Two residents opposed to the “ideological” and “discriminatory” scheme last month forwarded a petition from 600 residents to Southwark Council calling for blue badge exemptions.

“They feel trapped in their homes”

Clive Rates, one of the residents responsible for the petition, told councilors to “come to Dulwich and talk to people” who “feel trapped in their homes” thanks to congestion on border roads where cars are being moved to with disabled children at school age forced to use detours.

He asked: “Is it really a benefit to society that vulnerable and disabled people feel like they can’t leave their homes?”

This prompted a visibly angry Cllr Catherine Rose, cabinet member of Southwark Streets and Clean Air Council who oversees the LTN, to shout: “Have you finished explaining these issues to me yet?”

“That’s what you’ve been doing for the last five or ten minutes,” she said in a raised voice. “Thank you very much, I’ve spoken to thousands of people.”

At the December 6 meeting, Mr. Rates was joined by petition co-organizer Tristan Honeyborne, who warned Cllr Rose: “Don’t let ideology stand in the way of common sense and compassion.”

They pointed out that the council’s Equality Impact Assessment assumed blue badge holders would have access, and during the council’s consultation on the intersection redesign in August 2021

Mr Rates told the Telegraph: “Cllr Rose’s attack on me is in line with how local residents, TFL officers and others challenging the Dulwich LTN bankruptcy have been treated.

“Both she and Council President Williams refused to address our petition and the discrimination it revealed, and showed contempt for the 600 mostly local residents who signed it and the vulnerable people we tried to help.”

A £6.6m fine was imposed

This came after Cllr Kieron Williams, leader of the Labor Council, accused the couple at the start of the meeting of having a “broader agenda”, which they denied, asking them: “Clive, did you stand for local elections to be Conservative? candidate, are you Tristan?

LTN businesses in Dulwich racked up £6.6m in fines in 2021 alone.

They were introduced in London boroughs as part of the government’s Covid-era ‘green transport revolution’, but cycling lobby groups and residents have clashed over evidence that they are increasing, not reducing, air pollution.

Last week The Telegraph revealed how hundreds of locals from five groups of Dulwich residents threatened to sue Southwark Council for “imposing” another LTN on them.

Cllr Rose said in a statement that some separate LTNs in Dulwich would allow Blue Badge holders but the new equality impact assessment would “fully consider” their needs.

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