LTN protesters vow to keep up momentum until consultation ends

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Protesters against the divisive low traffic neighbourhoods scheme are threatening more action to keep up the momentum until the end of the consultation period.

LTN protesters stopped traffic by sitting on the pedestrian crossing by the junction of Manzil Way and Cowley Road last week.

They were protesting against the experimental LTNs in the Divinity Road, St Clement’s, and St Mary’s areas of East Oxford introduced by the county council in May to prevent traffic from taking shortcuts and to create quieter and safer streets.

The consultation is open until at least 30 November.

Fierce critic of the scheme Councillor Saj Malik said: “We have to keep the pressure up until the end of the consultation. I believe the LTNs have been put in against the wishes of the local people. The majority of people in the consultation said they do not want LTNs in this area.”

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Referring to people removing or wrecking the bollards and planters, he said: “All this vandalism cannot be tolerated but people don’t want to end up in a cul de sac and become prisoners in their own street.

“It’s a six month consultation so our job is to keep the pressure up until the end of the consultation to make sure they remove all the LTNs and listen to the local public.

“At the end of the day for any scheme to be successful you need the public on your side.”

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Emotions ran high when some 200 people gathered at the Asian Cultural Centre on Manzil Way last weekend where they debated getting police authorisation to walk along Cowley Road to the Plain.

Plans were also discussed for how to raise money for legal action against the council and to field more independent candidates to stand in the next local elections.

Richard Parnham of Reconnecting Oxford was cheered loudly when he advised the residents to take legal action and “force the council to negotiate”, even taking the case to the High Court if necessary.

One resident said they should also protest on the day the Quickways cycle scheme, which is beginning to take shape in Cowley Road, is introduced.

She said: “We need to protest and we need to keep people’s cars there and stop them from moving their cars. And let them get the police involved. Say to them leave your cars there, where they are. Let’s take all the placards down.

“People have got no parking outside their own houses on Iffley Road. It’s not everyone who’s got a driveway. There are disabled people there. So what we need to do, we’ve got to protest on that day. They can’t arrest us all, they’re not going to have enough people. We need to stop this stupid council in its tracks.”

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One said they needed to get organised against the council and “all the lobby groups that surround them”.

Another said: “I stood as a candidate for St Mary’s. I think we should probably start with the people who’ve stood. We need to get an organised committee that isn’t self selecting but is something that is representative. We need to involve everybody but we do need a small group to actually make this happen.

“We should probably start with the people who stood and the people who supported them. That creates a constituency that can be used.”

Another resident said: “There are streets that have had too much traffic but they have closed off far more streets than were affected. There were problems but not the degree of problems that require road closure.”

He said “more people could be less inconvenienced” by one-way street systems, better traffic calming in the side streets, “there are all sorts of alternatives”.

After the meeting on Sunday, Cllr Malik did not rule out a sit-down protest on The Plain.

He said: “No decision was taken. Once we have formed a committee the future strategy will be decided.”

A spokesperson for the county council said: “In East Oxford, the trial is ongoing, and we would strongly encourage people to engage with our public consultation at letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/east-oxford-ltns-2022.”

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