Sadiq Khan’s letter to Cllr Nickie Aiken
Click here Cllr Nickie Aiken letter Jul 18
Our views on this will follow shortly…
The Future of Oxford Street
I am writing to update you about our plans to improve Oxford Street and the surrounding district.
As you know, two consultations have taken place in the past twelve months and after listening carefully to what local people have told us, we can now make Westminster City Council’s position absolutely clear.
What is very apparent is that the majority of Westminster residents who responded to the consultations did not support the proposals to pedestrianise Oxford Street. We also know that in the recent council elections, local people also essentially rejected pedestrianisation through the ballot box. Therefore, we believe there is a very strong democratic mandate that the pedestrianisation scheme that was under consideration is not what local people want. As a result, Westminster City Council has taken the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street off the table for good and we have informed the Mayor and TfL of our decision.
However, we do think that most people, ourselves included, feel that doing nothing is also not an option. We need to make the street and surrounding roads safer for everyone to accommodate the increase in people coming into the West End via the Elizabeth Line, which opens later this year. We also need to future-proof the Oxford Street District in a rapidly changing business and retail environment. We need to make sure that the experience of visiting Oxford Street and the surrounding area is fit for the future to ensure it maintains its crown as the nation’s high street for many, many years to come. Today’s news that House of Fraser will be closing their Oxford Street store only reaffirms our view that we have to help the retail industry to grow and evolve in line with changing consumer behaviour.
In doing this, we must also ensure that residents’ quality of life is enhanced with any improvement plans, with local amenity and cleaner air the absolute priority. For example, we want to continue to work with the Mayor of London, as many of the ways air quality can be improved are within his gift, such as the reduction in buses and introducing cleaner taxis. We will also ensure that the street and surrounding district is accessible and easy to navigate for everyone.
Moving forward, the council will now work on completely new proposals and come back to you after the summer break with some thoughts as to how we can proceed with improving the Oxford Street District. We also give you our absolute commitment that we will keep you informed at every stage and try to engage with as many people as possible throughout this process.
Only by working together can we help to ensure that we deliver a transformation of Oxford Street and surrounding district that is as inspiring for those who live, work and visit the area now as well as for future generations.
If you would like to be kept up to date with future Oxford Street updates could you please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to register your email address. If you have any questions please also direct them to Robin.
CLLR NICKIE AIKEN Leader of the Council
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.