Oval LTN Catches Local Businesses Unaware: "No consultation or communication whatsoever"
The Big Taste, owned and run by proprietor Khalid, is a popular Oval restaurant serving home-cooked Caribbean and African dishes. But the Oval Triangle 'Low Traffic Neighborhood' (LTN) has seriously hit the business, putting its viability into question. We spoke to Khalid about his worries over the way the LTN has been implemented.
With deliveries stretching from their base on Brixton Road to Vauxhall Bridge and even the new American Embassy at Nine Elms, Big Taste is a local success story, having carved out a niche over the last decade in South London's competitive catering scene. But the business has been side-swiped by the new Oval Triangle LTN, which severely restricts access for his delivery drivers, and means he cannot deliver to many of his loyal customers in and around the LTN area.
A lack of meaningful consultation means the LTN design inadvertently impacts businesses like Big Taste, whose delivery times are longer and more uncertain, and many of whose clientele are now simply inaccessible. "We do need at least, out of the 5 or 6 streets – at least give us one street so that we can go across. They’ve closed all 5 streets – starting from Oval all the way up to Stockwell, so we cannot go. Stockwell we can’t turn right – so we have to go all the way to Union Road and then come back again. Its mental." And accessing the LTN is, if anything, more difficult: "imagine if I have a delivery on Fentiman Road which let's say it is [at number] 100, which is on this side, now we have to go all the way around to get there and then to come back again. When we could drive, we could get there in like 5 minutes – now its half an hour". These slower delivery times are life-threatening for a business which relies heavily on customer loyalty and repeat orders. "The people who are ordering, we can’t deliver on time – so they stop ordering. The word will get around. They will order from somewhere else."
Khalid is supportive of environmental efforts. He recently bought a new electric scooter for food deliveries: "I'm for greener cities, I have an electric bike because it’s a motorbike but its electric , so it can’t be any greener than that. Its 100% electric...it's got no engine but because its got a license plate its classed as a motorbike so I cant go with that. Trying to be green but I can’t win. There’s no point spending 15 hundred pounds on an electric bike which is 100% green but I cant use it to go across [to deliver the LTN], so that’s my 15 hundred wasted."
But he is exasperated at what he sees as the Council's short-sighted approach to local businesses: "how do they expect us to pay all their bills? We have rates to pay, if I’m 30% down are they going to give me 30% discount on my rates? Don’t think that’s going to happen". Without a change of course, he is clear that the future looks bleak: "if I'm going to have to pay money out of my own pocket to run my business [how long] am I going to be here? I can take a loss [for] maybe for 3 weeks, 4 weeks".
"Business is now down by at least 30-35%, I think its gonna get worse!"
This is the first in a series of first-person interviews with people affected by the Oval Triangle 'Low Traffic Neighbourhood'. If you would like to speak about your experience of the Oval Triangle LTN, please use the contact page of our website: https://www.oneoval.co.uk