Mayor and TfL acted 'unlawfully' over Streetspace scheme

Taxis outside Liverpool Street Station. Credit: PA

The High Court has ruled that a section of the Streetspace for London Plan was unlawful in the manner it treated licensed taxi drivers.

Within the plan, taxis would have been banned from parts of Bishopsgate in central London in order to introduce measures to alleviate slow bus speeds and to improve the area's safety record.

The blueprint said it would "prioritise people walking and cycling" during the pandemic, with part of the plan to stop taxis using two sections between 7am and 7pm on weekdays.

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

Mrs Justice Lang described Transport for London and the Mayoral office's decision-making process as “seriously flawed”.

Justice Lang also acknowledged the scheme would impact those requiring door-to-door travel, such as the disabled or elderly.

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association 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 judgment for London’s hard working taxi drivers and the passengers who rely on them.”

TfL sought permission to appeal the judgment, but were denied on the grounds that there was “no real prospect of success on appeal”.

Mayor of London spokesperson said: “We are very disappointed by the court’s ruling and are seeking to appeal this judgment. This route has long suffered with a poor safety record and slow bus speeds, and the scheme aimed to tackle these issues, reducing road danger for vulnerable road users and improving the flow of bus traffic.

"Our temporary emergency Streetspace measures are vital to help support both walking and the huge increase in cycling we’ve seen since the pandemic began, reduce the risk of a damaging car-based recovery and enable social distancing and much faster journeys on public transport, reducing the risk of infection. We mustn’t get through one public health crisis only to face another caused by congestion and toxic air pollution.”

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.

 “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. These schemes will stay in place pending our appeal."