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Taxi trade successfully challenge Mayor of London’s Streetspace plan and Transport for London guidance in High Court
London’s taxi trade has won a High Court challenge against Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Streetspace plan, proving to be successful on four out of the five grounds.
In United Trade Action Group Ltd & Anor, R (On the Application Of) v Transport for London & Anor  EWHC 72 (Admin), Mrs Justice Lang held that the plan and a traffic order closing part of the A10 at Bishopsgate, in the city of London, to most vehicles including taxis was unlawful and should be quashed. It was held by the High Court that in making the London Streetplan and the guidance, the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) failed to have regard to public sector equality duty and the legitimate expectation of hackney carriage drivers to travel on London roads and to use bus lanes was breached, and that the taxi drivers were treated irrationally.
Trade bodies representing the hackney carriage industry applied for judicial review of the London Streetspace plan issued by the Mayor of London, and the interim guidance to boroughs and a temporary traffic management order issued by TfL. The plan and the guidance were issued in May 2020 in response to the pandemic, with the aim of both being to facilitate walking and cycling by providing more dedicated road space for both purposes. The traffic management order was made in July 2020 and was due to expire in January 2022. It imposed extensive restrictions on vehicles, other than buses on specified roads in London.
Mrs Justice Lang upheld the challenge on the grounds that the Mayor of London failed in making the plan to distinguish taxis from general traffic and so failed to have regard to the distinct status of taxis as a form of public transport, and the role they play in transporting people with mobility impairments. Mrs Justice Lang further found that the Mayor of London failed to have proper regard to the public sector equality duty and that the Streetspace plan and associated guidance breached the taxi drivers’ legitimate expectation to pass and repass on London’s roads, and to use lanes reserved for buses.
Mrs Justice Lang held that the treatment of taxis in the plan, guidance and A10 Order was irrational, stating: “In my judgment, quashing orders rather than declarations are appropriate because of the nature and extent of the unlawfulness which I have identified, which affects not only taxi drivers, but also their passengers….“The plan, the guidance and the A10 Order all need to be re-considered by the defendants and substantially amended in the light of my judgment.” TfL is seeking to appeal this judgment.
The judgment highlights the need for policy makers considering traffic management orders to carefully consider the potential impact on all existing road users, including taxi drivers and their passengers. The judgment further highlights the need for a rigorous and conscientious assessment of the risks and extent of any adverse impact and how it can be eliminated in order to satisfy the public sector equality duty.