Opponents of Enfield Council's cycle lanes proposals have initiated legal action aimed at stopping implementation of plans for cycle lanes along the A105.
The Save Our Green Lanes campaign last week served the council with papers in connection with its application for a High Court judicial review of the way the council has conducted consultations about the scheme, which envisages the creation of continuous cycle lanes between Enfield Town and Palmers Green.
Costas Georgiou, Chairman of the Green Lanes Business Association and a leading member of Save Our Green Lanes, has accused Enfield Council of not providing some key documents during the consultation process. The documents were eventually made available, but Mr Georgiou says that subsequently the council failed to "engage with people in a meaningful way".
In parallel to the legal challenge the campaigners are collecting signatures for a petition addressed to the Mayor of London, requesting him to "stop TfL from imposing an unworkable cycle lane scheme on Enfield".
The role of judicial reviews
Judicial reviews do not look at the merits of a public authority's proposals - in this case, whether or not the cycle lanes proposals are a good or bad idea. Their function is instead to decide whether or not the process by which the authority reached its decision was lawful, including whether or not relevant parties were properly consulted. If Save Our Green Lanes were to win their case, Enfield Council would either have to rerun the consultation or simply abandon the scheme.
The Waltham Forest judicial review
In 2015 anti-Mini Holland campaigners in Walthamstow applied for a judicial review of Waltham Forest Council's scheme for cycle lanes and road closures. Like the Enfield campaigners, E17Streets4All asserted that the consultation process had not been carried out lawfully. Their challenge was rejected by Mr Justice Holgate, who was quoted as saying that there was “no merit whatsoever” in the challenge, the parties had been able to make their concerns known and the issues raised had been given careful consideration. E17Streets4All was ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.
Not a foregone conclusion
While in outline the two cases are similar, there will inevitably have been some differences in the way the two councils have carried out consultation, so the same outcome is not a foregone conclusion.
Even if the Council wins, the court case is likely to prevent work starting this summer - the Waltham Forest case took some four or five months to resolve. And even if costs were awarded against Save Our Green Lanes, they would probably not cover the council's total expenditure on legal support. The only surefire winners are the legal profession.