Save Our Safer Streets Newsletter

5 December 2023


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

Today is a big day. We've just asked a judge to decide if Tower Hamlets council can legally go ahead with their decision to rip out our safer streets in Arnold Circus, Columbia Road and Old Bethnal Green Road. We are doing this as a last resort to keep our cycle lanes, pocket park and seating and cleaner air.

What we're doing and why

We're taking the council to court because we think they broke the law when they decided in September to rip out our safer streets. We have tried every other way we could think of to get them 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. If you want the safer streets to stay, the only option now is to back this legal fight.

What we stand to 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 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.

The specifics of the 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.

How much we need to raise

It will cost us £45,000 to:

  • Make the case to the court that a judge should look at this case
  • 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.

Who is backing us

Over the year and a half we've been running this campaign, thousands of people have spoken up in support of keeping our safer streets.

  • 3094 people signed our petition
  • At least 58% of local residents and 80% of local businesses asked the council to keep safer streets in the consultation earlier this year
  • The local NHS Trust and GPs said they want to keep the scheme to protect everyone’s health
  • The local police said the scheme should stay to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve road safety
  • Transport for London told the council they should keep the scheme to make it easier to walk, wheel and cycle and to enable public transport improvements on Hackney Road - and then withheld funding from the council.
  • 86 local schools wrote to the council asking them to listen and prioritise children's health and safety.
  • This amount of support shows we are fighting for a hugely important cause. We just need to keep going - and now the courts are our best and only chance of keeping our safer streets.

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

Speak to 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.

Speak to local businesses

Ask a local shop to put up a poster or put one up in your flat or house if it's visible from the street. We've been to lots of local businesses already. But if you know someone who hasn't got one up, please tell us and we can get a poster to you to give to them.

Follow and share

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

Thank you to everyone for all the support you've given this campaign so far. We are going to keep fighting and it is great to know you're all behind us.


Contact Save Our Safer Streets

We're keen to engage with as many Bethnal Green residents as we can and if you have questions we'll reply where we can. Please contact us via email and join us on Facebook or Twitter.