September 10th, 2021 by James Goudie KC

Local authorities are subject to a network management duty. Section 16(1) of the Traffic Management Act 2004 imposes a duty upon them not only to manage their road network, but to do so with a view to achieving objectives which include securing the expeditious movement of traffic upon the network. The duty is subject to reasonable practicability, and is elaborated upon in Section 16(2). In Trail Riders Fellowship v Devon County Council (2013) EWHC 2104 (Admin) the Court held that the highway authority had been entitled to make a Traffic Regulation Order prohibiting motor vehicles from using part of a road where that was expedient in the interests of road safety.

In HHRC Ltd v Hackney LBC (2021) EWHC 2440 ( Admin) Dove J says, at para 42, that the terms of Section 16 provide the authority with broad parameters within which to act consistently with the duty, that the objectives of Section 16 are broad, and qualified by the need to act, as far as reasonably practicable, having regard to the local authority’s other obligations and Policies. There is also statutory Guidance from the SoS.

Dove J, at paras 45-50 inc, rejects a complaint that Hackney had breached its network management duty by adopting an Emergency Transport Plan (ETP) to respond to the emergency constituted by the impacts of the Covid pandemic. Hackney had been justified in implementing temporary and experimental measures designed to promote walking and cycling.

PSED, consultation and air quality challenges were also rejected. dove J observes, at paras 61 and 62, that the issue of air quality is clearly a material consideration, but, given the urgency it was lawfully open to the Council to impose Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and thereafter undertake traffic surveys and monitoring.

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