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Closing London Bridge to vehicles on weekdays is a “step too far”, Logistics UK warned Transport for London (TfL) this week.

TfL is set to ban vehicles from London Bridge from Wednesday (16 September 2020). The ban will be in place from 7am to 7pm on Mondays to Fridays.

The change is part of TfL's Streetspace programme of temporary measures across London which can run for a maximum of 18 months. Where there are opportunities to make schemes permanent, TfL said it would engage with its stakeholders on its proposals and a statutory consultation would be undertaken ahead of any decision.

Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at Logistics UK, said the ban will lead to more congestion and higher pollution levels in the capital.

She said: “Logistics UK and its members have been supportive and accommodating of the government’s plan to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians, but [this] is a step too far.

“The bridge provides essential connectivity into London – suitable river crossings for freight are few and far between – and by banning these vehicles, it forces commercial drivers to take significant detours, which, in addition to reducing productivity, will increase localised congestion and air pollution as traffic clusters to the remaining river crossings.

"As the government continues to encourage local authorities to introduce a myriad of closure schemes, logistics is being funnelled into smaller and smaller areas of London; this does not support sustainable, efficient logistics.”

Chapman called on the government to show more support for the logistics industry, pointing to the key role hauliers played during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“Logistics businesses and their staff were hailed as heroes during the pandemic for working tirelessly to keep the nation stocked with the essential goods it needs. Now, when we need government to support us on our road to financial and operational recovery, it is disappointing it has taken such a destructive measure.

“Many logistics businesses are still struggling with cash flow issues and major disruption to operations; this additional burden – which will drive up costs for companies significantly – could be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back. And by implementing the closure at such short notice, it will cause businesses immediate, serious challenges with routing and scheduling.

“While the closure is a temporary measure, TfL did not consult with logistics businesses on its plans; we will be campaigning to ensure the scheme is not made permanent.

“Poor river connectivity has long been an issue in London; we have been calling for a new crossing to be constructed at Silvertown and, while TfL was granted permission in 2018 for the project, the Mayor of London is now under pressure from local MPs to abandon the scheme. We urge the Mayor to recognise the importance of this new crossing to efficient logistics and stick to his commitment,” she added.