Promises must be honoured on Oxford Street, pedestrianisation is not on!
It’s one of the mayor’s election pledges to pedestrianise London’s Oxford Street.
It is not a pleasant shopping environment.
It’s full of buses and taxis and as a result of the high buildings, pollution doesn’t disperse from the street.
It also has a high level of pedestrian collisions.
Now though, the scheme to pedestrianise Oxford Street is in trouble.
The problem for London Mayor Sadiq Khan is that the road is owned by Westminster City Council.
There has been considerable opposition to the plans from local residents and businesses.
Such was the clamour that prior to the recent local council elections, Westminster City Council shifted its policy away from broadly supporting the scheme to calling the present plans “unacceptable”.
The council has now confirmed it does not think full pedestrianisation is the answer. The plans are going to have to change.
Council leader Nickie Aiken said: “No change on Oxford Street is not an option. However, having reviewed the recent consultation we are persuaded that full pedestrianisation is not the best solution.
“We will make no formal decisions on the future of Oxford Street until all potential options have been fully considered and we have a solution that meets our eight pledges.”
Those pledges mean any plan will have to reduce pollution and prevent traffic going onto residential roads. That could be very difficult to achieve.
The Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street (CAPO) – who caused the shift in the council’s policy – think the project is in serious trouble.
Parts of it were due to be finished by the end of the year. They think that is impossible.
And at the moment it looks like there isn’t a plan at all and it is back to the drawing board.
This project has been talked about for decades and it always hits problems.
The mayor remains optimistic it will happen.
But without consensus from Westminster, a huge cloud hangs over the scheme.
WESTMINSTER Council has shown common sense at last in rejecting the Mayor of London’s and Transport for London’s extreme plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street and disenfranchise residents and regular commuters.
This was both a vanity exercise by the Mayor as well as a cost-cutting one, in which he intended to further cut bus numbers, close down routes, and shorten other routes. Our side streets and attractive squares would have become “bus stands”.
Westminster Council now needs to follow up on its “pledges” of better traffic control and pollution in Oxford Street as well as removing pedicabs, noisy buskers and beggars.
Pedestrianisation is not a social benefit. It would turn the residential street into a tourist walkway and disenfranchise many locals and regular commuters.
With the expediential growth of souvenir shops selling fridge magnets and flags, Oxford Street is looking less and less like an “international shopping destination” and more and more like an austerity-damaged high street.
Change is needed but concreting it over with a few benches and garden centre trees is not the answer.
by ETHAN POD
Oxford Street campaigners urge council: ‘Don’t forget promises’
WestEnd Extra – 11 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot
CANDIDATES for the Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street single-issue party said this week that the electorate had sent a message to Westminster Council Conservatives “not to forget their promises”.
It said that winning seats was “never the primary reason” for setting up the party and that it had “achieved its goal before the first vote was cast”.
Days before the count, the outgoing councillor Danny Astaire told full council that officers had been told to stop working on design work with the Mayor of London and implied that the council was now opposing the plan.
This week, the anti-pedestrianisation campaigners said: “No matter how much pressure the new council may be brought under to again change their minds on Oxford Street, they must stay firm. They own the road, they have said, ‘No’ and they must now be fully aware that their mandate was achieved through the election promises they made and that these promises must be honoured.”
However, council leader Nickie Aiken yesterday (Thursday) did not seem so committal.
When asked whether the council supported the Mayor of London’s Oxford Street plan, she told the Extra “there is no plan”, adding: “The people in the area have spoken. We are at the table so that we ensure their concerns are addressed. There is an awful long way to go before any plan can be introduced. There’s no work going on at the moment anyway.
“We are waiting for Transport for London to come back – we have said they have got to address the concerns brought up by residents. We have eight red lines. We want to look at how we can improve Oxford Street and we want to look at alternatives that make Oxford Street a better place to walk down.”
“Tory U-turn on Oxford Street ahead of poll – Conservatives order officials to stop work on pedestrianisation project” WestEnd Extra 4 may 2018
Sadiq Khan “suffered an embarrassing defeat yesterday when it emerged that Conservative Councillors scuppered plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street after pressure from businesses and residents.” The Times 28th April 2018
Residents in Marylebone, Mayfair, Fitzrovia and Soho are not convinced by the various pledges and assurances given by the major parties concerning the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. The only pledge that they want to hear is the one which promises to work to get rid of the terrible scheme that the Mayor, TfL and Westminster Council propose to inflict on their area. This is a scheme too flawed in its basic concept to be altered by pledges and it should be scrapped before it is allowed to cause havoc on the streets of the West End.
Up until last week local residents were in danger of going into the May 3rd elections without one councillor or candidate from any party who was prepared to categorically speak out against the scheme. Now, however, the residents themselves have taken positive action and formed a party to do just that. This new party is standing three candidates, one in each of the three wards most affected by the scheme.
The party is called CAMPAIGN AGAINST PEDESTRIANISATION OF OXFORD STREET. It is not a political party as its name makes clear. It is a campaigning group. The party has only one purpose in its constitution, only one subject that it is campaigning on, but it is one that will affect the West End more than any other single issue – the proposed pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. The new party’s single purpose is to oppose pedestrianisation and to show that there is a better way to improve the area. It is neither affiliated to, nor does it support, any political party; its stance is above party politics. This is made clear in its motto: “two votes for your party, one vote for your neighbourhood”. In this way it hopes to appeal to those of all political persuasions, because it operates across all political boundaries.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST PEDESTRIANISATION OF OXFORD STREET candidates are standing in the three wards that surround Oxford Street: Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward, Marylebone High Street Ward, and West End Ward. Each of the candidates fielded is a prominent, long-standing, non-political residents’ representative from the local area. They know what residents are saying, they know what residents want, and they intend to give them a voice.
Further details found www.campaignoxfordstreet.com
It is not just missing responses that is worrying about the now withdrawn TfL Oxford Street Consultation reports, it is also the misinterpretation of stakeholder responses.
Take for example the 10 page response from “Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport”.
What they actually said…
“We are in favour of the ‘transformation’ of Oxford Street, provided that good accessibility for all is
maintained. Unfortunately this proposal to fully pedestrianise parts, or all, of the Street (of which
this would be only the first phase) is, in our view, impractical as being incompatible with good
accessibility. However, a proposal allowing two or three buses (say initially hybrid, later electric
mini-buses) might be. We think that implementation of the proposal in its current form will cause:-
• severe damage to the quality of life (including the incidence of pollution) of those living nearby
– through increasing traffic in Wigmore Street and displacing traffic into quieter, supposedly
residential areas both to the north (because of traffic jams in Wigmore Street) and to the south
• damage to the viability of shops in Oxford Street (with accessibility to ordinary shops being
limited far more than that to the big stores)
• problems in the ‘public realm’, such as street entertainment, selling from carts, etc
• security issues, especially at the designated crossing points”
General conclusion …”Both on grounds of accessibility (buses, the mobility impaired) and on the general grounds set out in paragraphs two and three above, we do not think that full pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is practical.”
Full original response: http://betteroxfordstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Final-PRACT-RESPONSE-20-12-17.pdf
How TfL misinterpreted the response from Paddington Residents Active Concern on Transport
“In favour of the proposals providing that accessibility is maintained. Suggested that a limited number of buses should continue to serve Oxford Street and was concerned that in their current form, the proposals would damage quality of life, the viability of businesses and cause disturbance and security issues. Concerned that
the proposals are being developed too quickly. Provided detailed comments about perceived deficiencies in the proposals for bus service changes.”
Page 18 on now withdrawn consultation report http://betteroxfordstreet.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/oxford-street-consultation-report-appendix-b.pdf
Just one example of misrepresenting the responses received.
If you would like to read what TfL are now calling “interim” consultation reports which have now been withdrawn as they were found to be missing responses. You can read these incomplete withdrawn reports here. We found that there are also a few errors in them!
The Fitzrovia News – report by
A report analysing the responses to a consultation on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street has had to be withdrawn after it was discovered Transport for London gave out an incorrect email address for respondents to use.
Last week Val Shawcross, deputy mayor for transport, hailed the results of the consultation as a success and said the plans would create “one of the finest public spaces and shopping streets in the world”.
But celebrations at City Hall were short-lived and on Monday TfL removed the report from its website and issued a statement saying many people’s views went missing.
“This was because we published this [email] address, by error, on our consultation web page as one method of submitting a response. We apologise unreservedly for this,” said the statement.
TfL is now asking people who may have used the incorrect email address to resubmit their response by Friday 6 April.
This major error was only discovered when community groups contacted TfL to ask why their responses were not included in the appendices to the report. They also asked questions about why some of the statistics presented did not add up correctly.
The views of the Marylebone Association and the Fitzrovia West Neighbourhood Forum, which represents residents and business which would be the most adversely affected by the displacement of Oxford Street traffic into their areas, were missing from the report along with an unknown number of other responses.
The Mayor of London’s commitment to pedestrianise Oxford Street is being fiercely resisted by local residents who want congestion and pollution reduced over a much wider area instead of shifting the problems into side streets.
Most people living in the surrounding streets do not own or use private vehicles yet they complain their districts are blighted by a high volume of through traffic and say the Mayor’s plans will make matters worse by adding vehicles to serve Oxford Street.
Cycling groups have also criticised the plans because the thousands of people who use Oxford Street everyday to travel east and west along it will be diverted along a circuit of back streets and along an unknown parallel route some way north of the shopping street.
An email from Westminster council sent to community groups in Fitzrovia and Marylebone, and seen by Fitzrovia News, says the council had asked TfL to remove the report so the missing responses could be traced and other criticisms of the report investigated.
77% WESTMINSTER RESIDENTS AGAINST, OR HAVE CONCERNS, 81% BUSINESS OWNERS AGAINST, OR WITH CONCERNS
The long awaited results of the second Oxford Street consultation which closed over 2 months ago have finally been released. It is now apparent why it has taken so long, because within it is one big, unmissable message for the Mayor – the West End Does Not Want It.
61% of Westminster residents voted against, with a further 16% having unanswered concerns. 68% of businesses voted against with 13% concerned. Indeed only 23% of residents supported it. Businesses were even more damning, giving it a mere 19% support.
Even nationally TfL could only muster 48% for pedestrianisation, with 52% against or having concerns. And this in the face of concerted and co-ordinated campaigning from various pro-pedestrianisation groups, a protracted and one sided media campaign from TfL, including public adverts on 11 of London’s radio stations and the 3 major London papers, posters and roadshows, all offering only the pro-pedestrianisation argument.
These figures torpedo any mandate to proceed with the present scheme. The question has been asked, and the answer is clear: the scheme in its present form must not go ahead. This is a warning to the Mayor and WCC to abandon it in compliance with the will of the majority of those who would have to suffer the consequences. Indeed it is apparent from the lack of endorsement of the proposals, or any recommendation, that there are major concerns, even amongst those trying to push this through.
The Mayor must be reminded what he said last year to the London Assembly:
“Yes, it is of upmost importance to consult with local residents, businesses and those who travel to and through the district”
WCC should also be reminded of the words of the Leader of the Council in November 2017 to the Westminster Amenity Societies Forum:
“I can assure you we are listening…that no matter what anyone may think Oxford Street is not a done deal.”
It is now most important, having had a consultation, that this is not seen to be a done deal pushed thorough in spite of the message sent back from it. It is essential, that having been asked, the voice of the West End it is not ignored, that the Mayor and WCC listen to the outcome of the consultation, and pay attention to it.