“I conclude that the decision-making processes … were seriously flawed, and the decisions were not a rational response to the issues which arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.” – Mrs Justice Lang
A joint action by the LTDA (London Taxi Drivers Association) and UTAG (United Trade Action Group) has seen a ruling against TfL and the Mayor of London, concluding that the infamous ‘London Streetspace’ scheme is unlawful. The scheme has been quashed and the failures considered so severe that a leave of appeal has been refused.
The entire Streetspace for London scheme has been quashed as being unlawful, the associated Interim Guidance for Boroughs has also been quashed, and an individual ‘Streetspace’ scheme on Bishopsgate has also been judged as unlawful, and must now be reversed.
It means that all of Camden’s and TfL’s COVID traffic schemes – including the Euston Road cycle lanes – could now be reversed as having being implemented illegally.
Multiple grounds of judicial review were upheld, crucially finding that TfL and the Mayor were in breach of the Equalities Act 2010. This suggests that despite the experimental nature of the scheme and precedent to forgo consultation, the recent judicial review claim against Camden is also likely to succeed.
Mrs Justice Lang stated: “the decision-making processes for the Plan, Guidance and A10 Order were seriously flawed, and the decisions were not a rational response to the issues which arose as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic … I conclude that the Mayor acted unlawfully in making the Plan and TfL acted unlawfully in issuing the Guidance“
The judgment echoes almost exactly the sentiment of communities all throughout Camden, London, and the country.
Mrs Justice Lang held that the Streetspace scheme as a whole was in breach of the Equalities Act 2010, as not having had sufficiently rigorous regard to the impact of such measures upon those with protected characteristics, including the disabled and the elderly. Turning to the Bishopsgate scheme, it was concluded that the Equalities Impact Assessment ‘was inconsistent and irrationally underrated the risk,’ and that: ‘most worryingly of all, the EqIA read as if its purpose was to justify the decision already taken.’
It was also stated that if it could be demonstrated that the Streetspace scheme had caused a disproportionate downturn in income for taxi drivers, the scheme could be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mrs Justice Lang also held that the Streetspace scheme was irrational, and that the justification for these measures was ‘not evidence based’ and was ‘mere conjecture, which was not a rational basis upon which to transform London’s roads’. It was judged that the measures implemented ‘far exceeded what was reasonably required to meet any temporary challenges created by the pandemic’.
A leave of appeal was refused, due to there being no reasonable expectation that an appeal could be successful. Accordingly, the ‘London Streetspace’ scheme, associated guidance, and individual Bishopsgate scheme must now be ‘quashed’, or entirely reversed and made null.
Angela Clarkson of UTAG said: “this judgement is not only an overwhelming victory for the Taxi trade but also for the elderly and people with impaired mobility who rely on us for accessible transport. Taxis are not a luxury for those who cannot cycle, walk or use other forms of public transport, but a necessity.”
TfL has already begun proceedings to appeal.