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Mayor of London Ken Livingstone is threatening a showdown with Barnet Council to try to prevent its policy of ripping out road safety features from spreading across the capital.
Mr Livingstone is blocking hundreds of thousands of pounds from Barnet's annual £5million grant from Transport for London (TfL) which is earmarked for the reconstruction of speed tables after road resurfacing. Barnet's policy has simply been to not replace the tables and so Mr Livingstone says it is not entitled to keep money designated for traffic calming.
His action is seen as an attempt to strangle Barnet's no humps' policy at birth after Enfield and Richmond-upon-Thames began following its lead.
"Barnet's transport agenda is recklessly anti-public transport, anti-pedestrian and anti-cycling," said Mr Livingstone. "Barnet has become a laboratory experiment for some very ill-thought out policies."
But Barnet Tory councillor Brian Coleman, who championed the policy, is unrepentant. "TfL stands for Taliban for London. I wish Ken well on his parenting leave. He can carry on looking after his baby and I'll look after Barnet's traffic. Britain is backing Barnet," he said.
Enfield has begun ripping up speed humps, saying it is adopting a more creative' approach to traffic management. Humps are also going in Richmond, where cabinet member for transport Mark Kreling said: "I quite agree with Mr Coleman that main routes need to be freed up."
After Temple Fortune in Golders Green was stripped of kerb build-outs in November, members of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents' Association (HGSRA) commissioned a report by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).
Ken Murrell of the HGSRA said: "The RoSPA report says the scheme is a nonsense. There used to be 16 crossing points, now there are seven."
A RoSPA spokesman said traffic-calming schemes, including speed humps, had reduced accidents involving children by 70 per cent.
A TfL spokeswoman said: "TfL is withholding payments for some schemes while it checks whether the schemes accord with the Mayor's transport strategy and TfL funding criteria.
"For example, Barnet has spent our money reconstructing' speed tables. We need to check that they haven't, in fact, been removed."