Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets

by Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets

by Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition
Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition
Case Owner
We are a group of Tower Hamlets residents who want to keep and improve the newly built pedestrian-friendly streets in Bethnal Green, Wapping, Bow and Brick Lane.
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pledged of £75,000 stretch target from 1438 pledges
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Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition
Case Owner
We are a group of Tower Hamlets residents who want to keep and improve the newly built pedestrian-friendly streets in Bethnal Green, Wapping, Bow and Brick Lane.
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This case is raising funds for its stretch target. Your pledge will be collected within the next 24-48 hours (and it only takes two minutes to pledge!)

Latest: June 30, 2024

Court hearing confirmed for 20 and 21 November

After some to-ing and fro-ing with the court, this is just a brief update to say that the court has told us that our hearing will take place on 20 and 21 November 2024. 

We and our lawyers are co…

Read more

Please help fund our legal campaign, fighting to keep safer, healthier, friendlier streets for all in Tower Hamlets.

What’s the issue?

On 20 September 2023, Lutfur Rahman, the Executive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, decided to rip out all the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Tower Hamlets, including the only segregated cycle lane in Bethnal Green and safer walking and wheeling routes.

This directly disregards expert evidence and the clearly stated views of the local community. If this decision is implemented, it will set the most destructive precedent possible in the UK and have far-reaching and damaging consequences. 

“Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets” is, as of December 2023, seeking a Judicial Review in the High Court in order to quash the decision by Tower Hamlets. SOSS needs to raise £45,000 to cover our expected legal costs up to the conclusion of a judicial review hearing, which builds on the £35,000 already raised which has enabled all the legal work to date.

Whats the background

Since 2021, changes to residential street layouts in Bethnal Green, Wapping and Brick Lane have reduced through traffic and made them safer, healthier and friendlier places to be. Introduced as part of a scheme called “Liveable Streets”, these interventions are also commonly known as LTNs. In a borough where over 70% of residents don’t own a car, many people are finding their lives quietly transformed. Children can walk to school more safely, breathing cleaner air. Elderly and disabled people are coming out of their homes and using the new parklets and community spaces to chat with neighbours. And some are beginning to change their habits to walk more, get on a bike, or use public transport instead of driving.

But these changes are under threat now that Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets has decided to remove all the LTNs in Tower Hamlets. This is despite two public consultations (in 2022 and 2023) showing strong local support for keeping the streets in Bethnal Green and Brick lane as they are. The results of the most recent consultation from February 2023, showed that 58% of local residents preferred the status quo, and over 75% of all respondents favoured keeping the current schemes.

The street layouts were installed in 2020 and 2021 at a cost of over £2 million. The September 2023 decision will cost the council at least a further £2.5m and is not currently budgeted for. Bart’s Health Trust, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, local schools, local GPs and 82% of businesses have all supported ‘Option 2’ or keeping the schemes as they are, given the improvements to health and safety and reductions in anti-social behaviour.

In Tower Hamlets, we are facing the loss of much-loved and much safer, cleaner shared spaces before they’ve even had the chance to bed in, and this decision also risks setting a dangerous precedent across the UK, encouraging other local authorities to rollback of important progress towards encouraging healthy urban lifestyles.

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition is a group of Tower Hamlets residents who want to keep and improve the schemes. It includes the Better Streets for Tower Hamlets group and the grassroots community group “Save Our Safer Streets”. Save Our Safer Streets is an informal grassroots group, which has demonstrated that it represents a diverse and large number of people in Tower Hamlets on this issue, by gathering hundreds of local signatures for open letters to the council, more than 3,000 local signatures to a council-vetted petition and with more than 500 different people contributing money to the crowd-funder for this legal campaign as of November 2023. We hope you share our mission of protecting our safer streets and community spaces, as well as tackling pollution in our cities: this is a local cause with global echoes.

"There were lots of cars here, it was noisy and dangerous for vulnerable people. Look at it now! I want to keep it like this. It's precious, like a diamond." – Saciido

Old Bethnal Green Road:



Columbia Road:

Arnold Circus:

"Just as we're getting used to the new street, they want to change it back, but they need to talk to us." – Mehraj

Why legal action?

Our main aim since we started in July 2022 has been  to get Tower Hamlets council to listen to residents’ views on this issue and develop proposals for any improvements with the community. If that had happened, then  the mayor, cabinet and council would have understood  the huge benefits the new street design has brought to so many people and it would have improved its proposals before reaching a decision. All along, we have  kept the option of legal action open in case the politicians refused to listen to the people who live and work on these streets. 

Since July 2022 we have been proactive in engaging with the council on behalf of a growing community across Tower Hamlets. For a summary of the developing legal campaign, have a look at the ‘updates’ tab on our Crowd Justice page. And more generally, this is what Save Our Safer Streets has been up to:

Now the council has taken its decision, against the overwhelming evidence, our final option is to bring a claim for Judicial Review at the High Court. We are asking a judge to rule whether the Mayor of Tower Hamlets broke the law in the way he decided to rip out safe walking and cycling infrastructure in the area. If the judge agrees with us, then the 20 September 2023 decision would be quashed. Ultimately, agreeing the best way forwards for the streets and communities in Tower Hamlets will always be a responsibility of the council and not the courts. However, nobody is above the law and it is also the council’s responsibility to follow due process.

Call to action

We need your support to help us raise £45,000 to cover our expected legal costs up to the conclusion of a judicial review hearing.

What are we trying to achieve? 

Our legal team, led by David Wolfe KC, has asked Tower Hamlets Council to stop the implementation of its decision, re-consult and retake its decision on the future of the scheme but Tower Hamlets has rejected that request. So we are now going to ask a judge to quash the decision, based on our arguments that the decision was against the law in several ways: the Mayor did not follow Government guidance on LTNs, approved a flawed consultation and decision-making process and did not give due consideration to the financial implication of spending £2.5 million removing existing LTNs.

It is disappointing that the council continues to ignore strong evidence, and is proceeding to waste a lot of time and money on a legal process, when it could have solved this situation by working with groups like ours across the community on a better process, which would have resulted in a better outcome for everyone in Tower Hamlets. Nevertheless, proceeding to a legal challenge now is the appropriate next step for us to take. There is a three month window after a decision when a judicial review can be requested, so if we miss this opportunity then the council can proceed unencumbered.

Why this is a nationwide issue 

A decision to remove permanent LTNs when they have support of the majority of residents has never been taken by a council before. The national government – even as they express doubts about some LTNs – has been clear that local people’s views are very important. Therefore, if this decision is allowed to be implemented, it would set a destructive precedent and encourage back-sliding by local authorities across the country in relation to walking and cycling infrastructure. It’s an important cause to fight, not just for the residents of Tower Hamlets, but for anyone who cares about making our streets safer, friendlier and healthier, encouraging us all to walk, cycle and use public transport, and addressing the pressing environmental issues of polluted cities and CO2 emissions.

This case is also about how decisions about urban planning and transport policy are made and whether they really include the local communities affected by them. Central Government isn’t taking any meaningful actions on this issue, although they have published a “Plan for Drivers” and announced a review of LTNs. In this vacuum, each local authority's decision-making on active travel infrastructure is going to be important in setting the course for healthy streets in the country.

What are the next steps in the case?

On 6 December 2023, on our behalf, Leigh Day solicitors issued a claim for Judicial Review at the High Court. From this point on, the timetable will be set by the court, but the below dates are our current estimates.

In January 2024, our legal team would need to review and respond to Tower Hamlets’ “summary grounds of resistance” (i.e. the council’s arguments for why our claim doesn’t have merits).

In February/March 2024, there could be a preliminary hearing (called a “renewal hearing”) if the judge requires more information before deciding whether a substantive hearing on the case is allowed.

April-June 2024, our legal team would need to prepare for a substantive hearing (if and when it is confirmed), attend it and deal with post-hearing matters. We currently assume that the legal process would conclude before summer 2024.

How much are we raising and why? 

We are raising, in total,  £80,000, as this is the total cost liability contained within the Discounted Conditional Fee Agreement reached with our solicitors Leigh Day. This document sets out the fixed price commitment for Leigh Day and the barrister team for all the work up to the resolution of a substantive hearing, and it builds on costs incurred to date. Our ongoing fundraising target is £45,000, which relates to future expected costs. This builds on the £35,000 already raised, which has enabled all the legal work to date – with the legal team in place since summer 2022, we have been able to block the council from rushing through its proposals and we have lodged papers seeking a Judicial Review within the court’s deadline. The legal team has done a huge amount of work pro bono, most notably between the second consultation in January 2023 and the council’s final decision in September 2023. 

A full breakdown is:

Solicitor and barrister fees from August 2022 to 20 September 2023 - £7,540

Independent transport assessment of the officer report which was published in advance of the 20 September decision - £2,880

Initial advice from barristers after 20 September decision and sending the pre-action letter on 26 October £8,400

Solicitor and barrister fees to prepare file claim in High Court plus court fee - £15,154

Total spent to date £33,974

Review of “summary grounds of resistance” and filing a reply plus capped liability for Tower Hamlets Council’s costs - £14,600

Renewal hearing (if needed) and preparation for the hearing, if it is granted, the attendance at the substantive hearing itself and follow-up matters - £28,200

CrowdJustice fees including VAT - Approx. £3,200

Total expected future costs for legal campaign - £46,000

Thank you for considering this and for any donations you are able to give!

Want to know more? 

Please go to the Save Our Safer Streets website, where you will find a news archive, stories from local people, evidence, press articles etc.

Or follow us on social media:

Twitter / X: @SaveBGStreets

Instagram: @SOSSBethnalGreen

Facebook: Facebook group

In the event that we are left with any unused funds they will be redistributed as per CrowdJustice terms and conditions.

Thank you for considering our cause,

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Update 17

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

June 30, 2024

Court hearing confirmed for 20 and 21 November

After some to-ing and fro-ing with the court, this is just a brief update to say that the court has told us that our hearing will take place on 20 and 21 November 2024. 

We and our lawyers are continuing to prepare for the hearing and will keep you updated if there are any further date changes or other news. 

We will give further updates nearer the court hearing itself and in the meantime, thanks again for everyone's input to the campaign.

Update 16

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

May 12, 2024

Court hearing delayed until autumn

Our court hearing that was scheduled for 12-13 June has been postponed. We’ve been told  that court availability has changed and so the hearing will now be delayed until the autumn. The new date is TBC, but we know that it won’t be before September, because courts don’t sit in the summer holidays.

While it’s frustrating that we’ll have a longer wait until we get to court and make our case that the council’s decision was unlawful, this delay does mean that the street layouts are safe until the autumn at least. This is two years longer than would have been the case without our campaign. 

What happens after that will depend on the result of the case and whether the mayor realises how important and popular safer streets are in Tower Hamlets. 

We’ll update you again when we have new confirmed court dates.

Update 15

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Feb. 27, 2024

We are going to court on 12 and 13 June 2024 and our legal team is fully funded!

Today we have two pieces of exciting news to share. Firstly, the courts have told us that our hearing for judicial review will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice on 12 and 13 June 2024. Also, as of today we have hit our fundraising target of £75,000, based on donations from 1,126 different people!

Thank you to everyone who has got us to this point. This cause clearly matters to a lot of people and we have been blown away to receive so many supportive comments from people who are joining us in this fight. This campaign is so much stronger for having so many people involved. 

How the funds will be spent:

  • Our legal team should now have all the funds they need to prepare for the hearing, attend the two-day hearing itself on 12 and 13 June 2024, and deal with its consequences. There is also an allowance for meeting some of Tower Hamlets’ costs if we lose. 

  •  If our legal team ends up with any unspent money once all their work on the hearing and its immediate consequences is complete, then two examples of possible uses for leftover money from this stage would be:

    • If we win: to seek legal advice on the implications of the judgment on the council’s future decision-making and any potential appeal from the council.

    • If we lose: to go towards advice on a potential appeal.

The next steps up to the hearing on 12 and 13 June 2024:

  • By 22 March, Tower Hamlets Council and Transport for London (who joined the case as an Interested Party) should send the court their detailed legal submissions plus any evidence they want to rely on. 

  • By 12 April, we have to submit any submissions and evidence we need in reply. 

  • By 14 May, we need to agree all the contents of the hearing bundle with Tower Hamlets and file it with the court.

  • By 21 May, we need to serve our “skeleton argument” for the case. This is the document which summarises the issues, arguments and legal precedents which we plan to use at the hearing.

  • By 28 May, Tower Hamlets need to serve their skeleton argument for the case. 

  • By the day before the hearing, we should know which judge has been allocated the case 

  • 12 and 13 June - hearing at Royal Courts of Justice

  • Date unknown - judgment published

We will keep you updated on the progress of the legal case as it develops and provide updates from our time in court.

Interested in finding out more about what else the campaign is up to?

As we’ve said all along, the legal challenge is part of a wider effort to keep and improve the safer, healthier and friendlier streets in Tower Hamlets.

Now the fundraising is complete for this stage of our fight, as a campaign group we will have more capacity to focus on more proactive activities, such as building a coalition of like-minded organisations, hosting community events, keeping the pressure up on politicians and decision makers and continuing to tell the stories of the diverse range of people who are benefitting from the walking and cycling infrastructure we already have in Tower Hamlets.

If you would like to hear more about any of that and get more involved, then please sign up to our newsletter or follow us on social media: X, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook.

Update 14

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Feb. 21, 2024

A judge has granted us a hearing!

A judge has decided to give our case a two-day hearing at the High Court. 

This is what we’ve been hoping for, but we could never take for granted. 

The headline: a judge has decided that all of our seven reasons for challenging Tower Hamlets Mayor’s decision can be argued in court. Having read all the paperwork from us and Tower Hamlets Council, a judge agreed with our legal team that all of our grounds of challenge are arguable, and disagreed with the council’s arguments that the whole case should be dismissed without a hearing. This is a big step forward. 

What will happen next:

  • Tower Hamlets Council and Transport for London (who joined the case as an Interested Party) now have a month to send the court their detailed evidence. 
  • We will then have a few weeks to submit our own detailed evidence in reply. 
  • In the coming weeks, we should also find out the date for the hearing, which we expect to be in the first half of 2024. 

To get to this point is a huge achievement for our campaign, including the thousands of people who have contributed so far – with money, signatures and all sorts of support. 

What this means in detail: 

  • We will get a chance to argue in court that the decision made in September 2023 to remove the LTNs in Bethnal Green was unlawful. Judges turn down the vast majority of claims for judicial review at this “paper submission” stage, or at least they reject many of the grounds of challenge. The facts of our case and the way our excellent legal team have presented them, mean we have cleared the hurdle at the first attempt and been granted a full hearing directly, rather than needing a preliminary hearing.
  • Our overall funding target is now £75,000 (not the original £80,000). Our legal team had advised us to assume a £10,000 cap to cover the legal costs of Tower Hamlets council in case we lose. But because the Council didn’t ask to amend the cap, the “Aarhus Convention” is going to apply with a £5,000 limit.
  • TfL will also be getting involved. TfL has brought in Charlotte Kilroy KC to represent their position as an “interested party” at the hearing. Again, this is a signal that our challenge matters beyond just our local area. TfL doesn’t spend money on lawyers to intervene in dodgy or very local legal cases. 
  • At some point in 2024 (or 2025) there will be a High Court judgment on whether Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, broke the law. If the judge decides that any of the seven grounds are proven, then their decision is likely to be cancelled. We hope this will lead to a fundamental rethink by the Council, rather than them just deciding again to remove the low traffic neighbourhoods in the borough.

Ultimately, our vision is to save our safer streets, by keeping and improving the good infrastructure that we have. The legal challenge is one very important piece of the puzzle but we have plans for a whole lot more. Watch this space for more information soon. Thank you to everyone who has got us this far and here’s to a successful 2024 which would lead to a better local community for everyone! 

Update 13

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Jan. 18, 2024

1,000+ people have got us 70% of the way there

The status of the crowd-funder

We have now raised £58,500 towards our target of £80,000, so we are more than 70% of the way towards the total and in a stronger position to save our safer streets. 

This is a phenomenal achievement given where we were in September. Every single one of the 1,000+ different people who have contributed so far has been part of building this significant fighting fund. Together, we are getting there through fivers and tenners and bigger donations!

The latest developments in the legal case

Since we submitted our claim in early December, there has been an exchange of legal submissions between our legal team and Tower Hamlets Council’s. This is the normal process by which the council (the defendant) sets out why a judge should dismiss our claim for judicial review and our lawyers (for the claimant) explain instead why the judge should grant us a day at the High Court (also known as a substantive hearing). 

As of 15 January 2024, the court has all the documents in a bundle and we expect a judge to decide in the next month or two whether to grant us a substantive hearing. It is possible that we need to have a preliminary hearing first, or a judge can decide to grant the substantive hearing based on the bundle of documents. 

We will update as soon as we have clarity on the ongoing timetable.

Our plan for raising the remaining £21,500 

Our overall target of £80,000 is based on the expectation that the judge will agree our case justifies a substantive hearing. We therefore need to raise another £21,500 to cover all expected legal costs to prepare for the substantive hearing, have the hearing itself and deal with follow-up matters. This will be the stage when we need the most of the senior barrister’s (David Wolfe KC’s) time in order to land the most persuasive arguments in front of the judge at the High Court.

£21,500 sounds like a lot, but we’re nearly at the point where if every existing donor gave us another £20 (on average) then we’d be home and dry. There are many more people out there who could chip in too, and we have several months to do this. So it’s doable! 

  • If you can, please donate. Even if you've already donated and this time it needs to be less than previously, that’s absolutely fine. All contributions chip away at the overall target and are much appreciated.
  • Please spread the word: sharing links to our website and social media links (Twitter / X, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok).
  • Please get in touch if you have any ideas for us to explore: [email protected].

Update 12

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Dec. 14, 2023

We've raised more than £10,000 in the last week alone – join our fight!

We’re almost 60% of the way there… We’ve raised more than £45,000 from nearly 900 donations!

We’re so happy that hundreds more people have contributed to our legal campaign fund in the last week.

More local people have found out about the council’s terrible plans and have joined our fight to keep our safer streets. And we’ve received donations from further afield too, as people appreciate that this case matters nationwide. 

Here are three comments left by some donors recently:

All the donations so far mean we have enough money to pay for the immediate next step where our barristers will argue why our case justifies a full hearing. 

But we need more to have an actual hearing in court - and that’s the only way to stop the council’s reckless plans and keep our safer streets. Please donate now if you can. 

This matters - the press are paying attention

BBC covered our legal claim on local radio, TV and their website.

The Evening Standard did a full write-up too.

Please share these articles with your friends and family and networks.

The legal challenge is already working

Since we put in our claim, the council has told us in writing that it will not start ripping out the LTN until a judge has heard our claim to hold a judicial review. This means we have delayed the council by at least three or four months, and probably more, in addition to the twelve months that we’ve already delayed them through our campaign.

Transport for London are now officially an “interested party” in the case. This means that they intend to make submissions in support of our claim and it is likely that they’ll fund their own barrister to appear at any court hearing. This is a lot more involved than they usually get  in cases about safer streets and cycle routes… a signal that this case is very important and our legal challenge has a chance of success. 

We still have a way to go to reach the overall target of £80,000 and we need you to join us in fighting to save our safer streets

We are promoting the campaign on social media and through interested groups and we hope this will raise another £10,000 before Xmas.

We are submitting grant applications to relevant organisations like Cycling UK.

But we still need our existing community’s support to get the word out as far and wide as possible… with the current average of £50 per donation, we need another 700 people to make donations to meet our target – some people will give less than £50, some more. Please help us to reach those 700 people!

A reminder of the key links to share

Update 11

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Dec. 5, 2023

We’re taking this fight to court - will you back us?

Today we have applied to the High Court for a judicial review of whether Mayor Lutfur Rahman broke the law when he decided in September to remove our safer streets in Tower Hamlets.

This is a big thing to do, but is the only way to stop Tower Hamlets ripping out our safer streets. And to stop other councils thinking they can do the same without following due process. Can you help us? We need to raise £45,000 now to fight this court case. Please donate if you are able. 

This is the first time any council in the country has decided to rip out a permanent low traffic neighbourhood against the wishes of residents. We can’t let that happen without a fight - for the sake of the whole country. 

Why are we doing this?

The new street designs in Old Bethnal Green Road, Arnold Circus and Columbia Road have made residents’ lives better. With cleaner air, safer roads and less anti-social behaviour. But the Mayor of the borough has decided to spend £2.5million of council money ripping out the cycle lanes, pocket parks, seating areas and planters that were only put in 2 years ago. 

We have tried every other way we could think of to get the Mayor and the council to rethink this decision. We asked to meet the Mayor - he didn’t even visit the area to see the cycle lanes, pocket park, planters or new pavements. We collected 3094 signatures on a petition. We spoke at council meetings. We organised demonstrations outside the council offices. 

We have done everything other than legal action. But we have to fight this destructive decision. For the sake of people in Tower Hamlets, but also for the rest of the country. If we don’t, other councils might think they can make similarly wild decisions. If you want the safer streets to stay in Tower Hamlets and the rest of the country, the best option now is to back this legal fight.  

What happens if we lose?

If we lose this case and the council goes ahead, we will lose: 

  • Cycle lanes along Old Bethnal Green Road - instead this will become a 2 way street with 6000 more cars every day 

  • The extra pavement area outside the Birdcage where people can sit outside in summer and musicians perform - this will become a 2 way street again

  • planters in Arnold Circus that keep late night car bars out

  • Safe and quiet pedestrian routes and crossings for the 1000+ children at schools throughout the area 

  • Seating around Middleton Green where people of all ages gather and chat 

  • Cleaner air for everyone in the scheme and on the boundary roads 

  • At least £2.5million of public money, which could be spent on better housing, schools and help in the cost of living crisis. 

Even worse, this would send a message to councils across England and Wales that they can decide to make streets more polluted, more dangerous and less healthy and ignore evidence and residents’ preferences for safer, cleaner, healthier streets. We cannot let that happen. 

The specifics of the legal case

We think the Mayor went against the law in many ways when he decided in September to rip out safer streets. We believe that, amongst other things, he: 

  • Ignored Government guidance on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

  • Failed to consider if ripping this out is a good use of £2.5m 

  • Followed a flawed consultation and decision-making process 

So we’re asking for a judge to review this decision or in other words a ‘judicial review’. At this stage we are just asking if a judge will hear the case. If they agree it’s worth reviewing, that would likely happen some time in 2024. A very experienced law firm called Leigh Day and a leading barrister called David Wolfe KC are helping us to take the case. This is a great start. 

How much we need to raise

It will cost us £45,000 to: 

  • Make the case to the court that a judge should review the decision and decide if it is legal

  • Prepare paperwork for the actual case if a judge agrees to schedule a date 

  • Represent our case at a hearing

  • Pay court fees 

  • Pay any extra costs if we happen to lose - but of course we’re doing everything we can to win

We think the whole process will take at least six months but we need to raise the money as soon as possible to be able to go ahead with each stage. Please donate if you can

How you can help

The main thing we need now is money to pay the legal bills. Our lawyers are working at a reduced rate, which we’re very grateful for. But it takes a lot of hours and a lot of paperwork to prepare for and win a case like this. Please donate if you can

Tell your friends about the case. See if they can help or if they know any groups that can spread the word. Let us know if you know of any organisation or individual who you think might be able to make a significant donation and who you think we should approach.

Share our content on social media

Follow us on Twitter / X - @SaveBGstreets, Instagram - @sossbethnalgreen or join the Facebook group -  and share our updates with your contacts so they know about the legal case and can support us. 

Other key links to share

Website –

CrowdJustice –

Update 10

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Nov. 2, 2023

We have started our legal challenge against Lutfur Rahman’s LTN decision

Save Our Safer Streets has sent a "pre-action protocol letter" to Tower Hamlets Council. This starts the formal process which could result in a Judicial Review (where a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision made by a public body).

We have taken this step because, having taken advice from our specialist legal team, we believe that Lutfur Rahman’s decision on 20 September 2023 to remove all the low traffic neighbourhoods in Bethnal Green was based on a process which was flawed.

This is not a position any of us want to be in, but we are doing what we can to use the legal system in order to challenge a decision which will put our community’s health and safety at risk.

We have a top legal team, led by David Wolfe KC, which gives us the best possible chance to succeed.

We will decide in November 2023 if we are submitting a claim to the High Court for Judicial Review.

We will need £5,000 more in donations in order to submit that claim, so depending on how the Council responds to our letter, we may ask our community and others to help us raise this money before the end of 2023.

Costs would then go up a lot in 2024 if the claim is accepted and goes to a hearing at the High Court. We would need roughly £45,000 more.

We will fundraise in manageable stages and we will be building on a strong platform, with more than £30,000 already donated by nearly 500 people.

We know all the effort we've put in so far is worth it, but all extra input and support that people can give will make a massive difference as we enter a new phase. 

The way things are looking, we aren’t at the end or even the beginning of the end of the campaign. We’re at the end of the beginning. 

Please join us to Save Our Safer Streets.

Update 9

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 26, 2023

Overview of current status of legal campaign and next steps

Over £10,000 has been donated by nearly 250 people in less than a week since Lutfur Rahman (mayor of Tower Hamlets) took the decision on 20th September 2023 to remove all the safer street infrastructure in Bethnal Green. In addition to the £17,500 we raised in 2022, this means our current total is £28,000, received from more than 400 people. Thank you to supporters both old and new for helping us to hold the council to account on this important issue.

The decision taken at cabinet was so reckless and extreme that it attracted a lot of press coverage and people may be donating to this crowd funder without a full understanding of what is going on, how we got to this point or where this goes next. That’s understandable. It’s complicated!

This update summarises the key points. If you have further questions, please email [email protected] and we’ll be back in touch soon. 

How it started

This crowd funder started in September 2022, because that was when we initially expected the council to rush through its decision after a short and inadequate consultation in summer 2022. We needed to be prepared for a legal challenge to commence immediately.

We appointed leading environmental lawyers, Leigh Day, as our solicitors to advise us on legal strategy and have been working with barristers who are also specialists in this field and whom they instruct on our behalf.

Funds received from this crowdfunder (minus CrowdJustice fees) go directly to them to pay their fees, as well as those of the barristers. CrowdJustice is a dedicated crowdfunding platform for legal challenges, so all backers can be assured that funds are managed responsibly. See the CrowdJustice FAQ for more info.

We raised £17,500 in September 2022 and then paused active fundraising because the council delayed making a decision about Liveable Streets at that time.

Part of the reason the council delayed their decision is because we worked with our lawyers to look at the first consultation from summer 2022. Together, we identified a number of significant flaws in the process and sent a letter to the council as a prelude to a possible legal challenge. We believe these actions forced the council to rethink their rushed and sloppy approach and this directly led to the second consultation in January 2023.

Our ongoing legal work

In the background over the past year, we have been continuing to assess the legalities of the approach being taken by the council. Between September 2022 and September 2023, Leigh Day has sent numerous letters to the legal team at Tower Hamlets Council, covering issues such as the potential grounds for a legal challenge in September 2022, concerns with the consultation process in February 2023 and a letter outlining some of the most obvious flaws in the Officer Report which was used as the basis for the 20 September 2023 decision. Since September 2022, our legal strategy has been grounded in advice from experienced barristers and we now have just added a King’s Counsel to assist our legal team as we prepare for the next post-decision stage.

The finances

As of 25 September 2023, we have spent or committed to spend £16,000 of the £28,000 raised so far. This includes Leigh Day fees, two rounds of barrister advice, expert assessments of the Officer Report and transcription services. At this point we effectively have £12,000 remaining (minus CrowdJustice fees) which is ready to be spent on future expenses. 

The exact amount required ongoing for the next stages of our legal challenge will depend on the strategy settled on and how quickly there is success or otherwise. However, the original information we shared when we started this crowdfunder gives a sense of the amount of funds needed, if there is a judicial review. We would need approximately:

  • £21,000 in legal fees for the submission to the High Court      

  • £18,000 in legal fees in preparation for and undertaking court hearing

  • £11,000 in liability for legal costs of the council and court fees

What happens now?

Our lawyers are reviewing all the evidence and documents that are connected with last week’s decision to determine the best legal approach. They will then provide advice, which will include more up-to-date estimates of expected legal fees ongoing. We will keep posting regular public updates about the legal campaign on our CrowdJustice page and will keep our current donors informed too. 

Due to the confidential nature of the legal advice, we will obviously need to keep our public updates “zoomed out”. There will likely be set-piece moments in the campaign where we are able to share much more detail but we will be keeping supporters as informed as is possible as things progress without compromising any legal cases    .

And finally

In conclusion, we are already in a solid position in terms of our legal support team. We have confidence that our legal strategy is going to be as robust as it can be with expert lawyers who know the details of this case from the beginning. We will continue to be as transparent as possible about our activities. 

We believe this will be a long and drawn-out fight. It will inevitably cost more money than we have so far raised if we are to succeed in this legal case. This might seem like a very local issue, only affecting people in part of Bethnal Green, and not even the rest of Tower Hamlets, let alone more widely. However, decisions such as this contribute to the wider political mood. If unchallenged, they could set a precedent for more backsliding on safe and healthy streets. We therefore need as many people as possible who care about this issue in Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, London, England, the UK, Europe or the world to donate to our cause and to spread the message: Save Our Safer Streets! 

If you would like to know what the Save Our Safer Streets campaign is up to more broadly, then please go to the website where there is a news section and an option to sign up for the newsletter.

Update 8

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 20, 2023

Lutfur Rahman decides to rip out LTNs

Lutfur Rahman has taken the most extreme, undemocratic and dangerous decision available to him this evening. He has decided to rip out all the walking and cycling infrastructure in Bethnal Green. 

This is not the end. We know we have public support for our cause and the overwhelming evidence too. 

With the advice of our lawyers, we will monitor the legality of what the council has done. Our Crowd Justice page is open for donations. The more we receive, the more ready we are to act as necessary to protect our safer streets.

Update 7

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 15, 2023

Mayor of Tower Hamlets to decide on Bethnal Green and Brick Lane LTNs on 20 Sept

Papers published ahead of a decision next week (20 Sept) on the future of the Liveable Streets scheme have revealed that 58% of local residents want to keep the new road layouts in place. The latest council report also shows that air quality has improved both within the scheme and on boundary roads.

The cabinet papers make public the results of a consultation carried out in February - the second in less than a year. Both consultations have found that residents support the status quo. The more detailed 2019 consultation that inspired the scheme also reported strong resident support for the Liveable Streets schemes. However, the 2021 Aspire manifesto committed to reversing them.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman and his Cabinet will decide on the future of the schemes next Wednesday. Alongside the two options offered to residents in the 2022 and 2023 consultations – Option 1 to reverse the schemes or Option 2 to keep them – the papers also include a new option which has been developed by the council behind closed doors.

Under option 3, over 80% of the scheme removals proposed by Option 1 would still be carried out, at an estimated cost of £1.2m which is not currently in the council budget. Bart’s Hospital, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, local schools and 90% of businesses have all supported Option 2 (keeping the schemes as they are), given the improvements to health, safety and reductions in anti-social behaviour.

If the council decided to remove the schemes, it would be the first in the country to do so against the will of residents.

Rob Andari from Save Our Safer Streets said: “Residents have repeatedly rejected Option 1. It’s pretty safe to assume they wouldn’t welcome a decision that delivers 81% of the outcome they didn’t want, under this new, unconsulted third Option 3.

“Lutfur Rahman promised to be a ‘listening Mayor’ - here is his chance to come good on that promise. At least 58% of residents have said they want to keep the current street designs and save the council more than a million pounds.

“We would love the council to spend that money on things Tower Hamlets residents really need, like better housing, more funding for schools and more help during the cost of living crisis. It would be an insult to residents to ignore what they’ve said a third time and to spend their money making the air dirtier and making cycling and walking more dangerous at a time when people need cheap forms of transport more than ever.

“Last year, more than 3,000 local people signed a petition calling on the council to stop, listen and improve its plans. They haven’t stopped, they aren’t listening and they have proposed no improvements to what we already have today.”

With the advice of our lawyers, we continue to monitor the legality of what the council is doing. We need to be ready to act to protect our safer streets.

Update 6

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

March 5, 2023

Nearly 1000 locals sign open letter asking the Mayor to listen

Our open letter to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets asking him to “keep and improve” new street layouts in Bethnal Green and Brick Lane has been signed by 934 local residents, businesses and stakeholders in just seven days.

As our stakeholder response to the second consultation, the letter highlights strong evidence for the benefits of the schemes and points out the financial and human costs of removing them.

Signatories to the letter include nearly 60 business owners and managers, five headteachers and 32 teachers from local schools, 18 medical staff and GPs (including the Chair of Tower Hamlets Local Medical Committee), Respiratory Doctors and Paediatricians from the Royal London Hospital and Bart’s Health and one social care provider - many of the most important stakeholders for the health, wellbeing and economy of the area.

The fact that nearly 1,000 people have signed our letter within a week shows that local people are crying out for a sensible way forward. If the Mayor genuinely wants to make Tower Hamlets a healthy, happy and prosperous borough, then he should listen to what we have been saying since last summer; stop his race to reopen the roads, and work with the community on ways to improve the street layouts for all.

With the advice of our lawyers, we continue to monitor what the council is doing, in preparation for what may become a claim for judicial review of the decision or consultation process.

Click to read the full letter.

Update 5

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Feb. 11, 2023

Campaign update: Save our Safer Streets fights another consultation

We at Save Our Safer Streets have been campaigning hard to stop Tower Hamlets Council from “reopening the roads” for months now. Our efforts have redoubled in the past few weeks due to the council announcing another consultation to rip out low traffic measures. 

As with summer 2022, Tower Hamlets Council are threatening to reintroduce heavy traffic and pollution into residential areas with multiple schools, by ripping out pedestrian-friendly areas, green spaces, and active travel infrastructure. Right now, our focus is on spreading the word about these dangerous plans and campaigning right up until the Bethnal Green and Weavers consultations close on 12th February and the Brick Lane consultation closes on 19th February. 

Our legal team will be ready to respond if the council makes a decision we believe is unlawful. If we are advised that a judicial review is the right next step, we will need to keep crowd-funding to meet the increased legal costs, and we’ll be relying on more public support. We’ve been blown away by how the community has come together to get us this far, so we know we can do it if it comes to that.

We will share further details as soon as we know more. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about what the campaign has been up to recently, check out our website ( and follow us on social media. You can find us on Twitter at @SaveOldBGR and on Instagram at  @sossbethnalgreen.

Thank you again for your continued support and generosity.

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets

Update 4

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Oct. 17, 2022

Campaign secures delay to decision but we're still awaiting detail on next steps

We at Save Our Safer Streets have been campaigning hard to stop Tower Hamlets Council from “reopening the roads”. Most recently, our petition asking the council to slow down and listen to community voices, experts, and data reached a record-breaking 3094 signatures. This success triggered a debate at a council meeting where our petitioners presented the case for keeping and improving the new street layouts. However, we are still waiting for more information from the council about its ongoing decision process. We don’t yet know their plans, but we do know that their timetable leading up to a decision has slowed down.

When the council does make a decision, our legal team will be ready to respond. If we are advised that a judicial review is the right next step, we will need to keep crowd-funding to meet the increased legal costs, and we’ll be relying on your support. We’ve been blown away by how the community has come together to get us this far, so we know we can count on you.

We will share further details as soon as we know more. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about what the campaign has been up to recently, check out our website and follow us on social media. You can find us on Twitter at @SaveOldBGR and on Instagram at  @sossbethnalgreen.

Thank you again for your continued support and generosity.

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets

Update 3

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 29, 2022

Response to Mayor Rahman’s statement about the future of Liveable Streets

First, we want to thank you for your continued support and interest in this campaign. Thanks to over 200 donors, we have raised £17,000 in just under a month. 

We also wanted to let you know that yesterday, on 28 September, Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman made a statement about the future of Liveable Streets. We were pleased to hear some positive new information, such as a commitment to ‘grasp all the issues affecting our residents on both sides of the debate’. However, we were disappointed to hear him repeat many unproven claims about the impacts of the new street layouts. It’s frustrating that he didn’t share the results of the recent consultation either, six weeks after it finished, or give any detail about the ongoing timetable.

Our petition, signed by over 3,000 locals, asked him to take the time to listen. He says that he will, and we hope this means he will truly take all views on board. 

On 5 October, we will present our petition before a council debate. We will be asking the council to publish evidence about the impact of street layout changes and release the results of the consultation. We are calling on them to allow time for a thorough process that looks at any specific issues that need to be addressed, with specific solutions, before reaching any decision.

You can read our statement in full on our website.

We will update this page again when we know about the next steps in our legal challenge, in light of what the council does next.

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Update 2

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 15, 2022

We’ve hit £15k, but we can’t stop there!

We are blown away by the support our community has shown us in the past two weeks, and we want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far. 

It is a huge relief to have met our initial target in such a short time as it means that our preliminary legal costs are covered as well as the claimant’s personal exposure to Tower Hamlets Council and court costs. 

However, we can’t give up just yet! Your donations are still needed to cover our ongoing costs to prepare our claim for Judicial Review. We will know more details about our push on to £35,000 later this month when the council makes its decision on “reopening the roads”.

Check back here for updates on the campaign as we proceed, and don’t forget to keep sharing the word on social media - you can find us on Twitter at @SaveOldBGR and Instagram at @sossbethnalgreen.

Thank you, and let's keep going!

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Update 1

Save Our Safer Streets in Tower Hamlets Coalition

Sept. 5, 2022

Save Our Safer Streets crowdfunder smashes 10k on first day!

This is such an encouraging step forward for community, safety, active travel and the environment. 

We've had a fantastic start, but we need to keep pushing. Tower Hamlets Council will make a decision on 28 September and already have "reopening the roads" in their plans for October.

Massive thanks to all who have already helped us reach almost £11k. That's 70% of our initial target secured by the end of the first day our CrowdJustice appeal went public. This shows how strongly people feel about our safer, healthier, friendlier streets and the need for due process when deciding their future. 

Now we need to keep working towards £15k and beyond. We still hope a legal process won't be needed and that Tower Hamlets Council will talk to us about possible improvements to the street layouts instead of bulldozing them. But if they won't, our legal challenge will be ready. 

We don't want to see such vital steps towards tackling the climate crisis rolled back, and we want other boroughs to see that local communities will fight for this progress. If, like us, you care about tackling pollution in our cities, keeping our streets safe for children and older people, and due process in local government, please help us to spread the word.

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