Opps – Oxford Street consultation report withdrawn after responses were not counted

The Fitzrovia News  – report by Linus Rees 

A report analysing the responses to a consultation on the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street has had to be withdrawn after it was discovered Transport for London gave out an incorrect email address for respondents to use.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

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.

Something has recently changed in the “transformation” saga

WESTMINSTER COUNCIL’S EIGHT PLEDGES ON OXFORD STREET

The latest leaflet from Westminster Council, signed off personally by the Leader and the Deputy Leader, contains some surprising announcements.

Westminster Council, we are told: “initially supported the Mayor’s proposal to consult on the proposed pedestrianisation of Oxford Street West…”. We think it went a little further than that. Only last November we were presented with a major leafleting campaign and a JOINT consultation document on “our proposals to transform Oxford Street”, signed on behalf of Westminster Council, the Mayor, and TfL.

So now, apparently, only the consultation was supported by Westminster, not the proposed closure to traffic, and that only because, although WCC have ownership of Oxford Street; “…the Mayor could invoke powers to take over the street should he wish to do so”.

This hardly sounds like the most solid foundation on which to embark on one of the biggest road projects ever undertaken by WCC; a joint consultation that was apparently only joint because the Mayor was holding a gun to Westminster’s municipal head, threatening to take over the Street if WCC did not toe the line. Well, it is unfortunate that we could not have been told this prior to the consultation — it could have put a rather different perspective on things.

What accounts for this change of heart? Maybe it’s something to do with the record breaking 20,000 people responding to the consultation, and maybe many of them did not respond in the desired way? But this is guesswork for no one is permitted to see the response figures. Whatever the reason, the new leaflet tells us that if the now, non-joint, pedestrianisation scheme is to be implemented, it will be, and note the capitals:
“ONLY on the basis that a number of safeguards are incorporated into the plan. These safeguards are what we call “Our Eight Pledges”…”

Well, at least Westminster have finally got the message that there is a great deal wrong with this scheme, joint or not. But the problem now is that most of the “Pledges” are not within Westminster’s power to enforce and, on past performance, the Council will be unable to honour the few that are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So let’s look at them a little more closely:

OUR PLEDGES TO YOU – City of Westminster

1 We will ensure pollution levels will reduce across the district.

How we will deliver this for you:
As well as initiatives such as the ultra-low emission zone for central London only two bus routes using the greenest vehicles will run through the district, a reduction of almost 100 buses an hour running at peak times. We are monitoring air quality at 100 sites across the West End.

WE SAY: UNWORKABLE – Bus numbers can, and are being reduced without closing Oxford Street. How 18 buses per hour running through the adjacent roads and approximately 40 buses per hour running to redirected stands, 24 hours a day, plus many hundreds of additional taxis, lorries and vans per hour will reduce pollution levels is not explained. As for the ULEZ-WCC have precisely no say over how this is operated. Equally it has no control on TfL deciding later on it needs to push more buses through the area, once it finds that 2 extra routes are inadequate.

2 We will ensure traffic won’t rat run down narrow residential roads

How we will deliver this for you:
We will carefully design the scheme to avoid creating congestion elsewhere. TFL is in- vesting in advance traffic signal technology to allow them to better manage traffic de- pending on different conditions at any given time and we are working to improve road user information so people can make informed journey choices before they travel.

WE SAY: UNWORKABLE – WCC is unable to carefully design anything to avoid congestion, only TfL can do this; and even they really only have control over the buses. The only way TfL can control the rest of the traffic is to jam it up somewhere else using its “advanced traffic signal tech- nology,” i.e. impose large numbers of slow moving queues on the alternative roads and an inevitable increase in congestion and rat running along the rest.

3 We will ensure that pedestrianised areas and surrounding streets will be effectively managed at all times
How we will deliver this for you:  

Uniform officers will have the powers they need for effective enforcement to tackle unlicensed or antisocial activity both day and night security including antiterrorism measures will be well-designed and proportionate and keep people safer.

WE SAY: DOUBTFUL – Just look at the evidence we have of Westminster’s enforcement abilities to date; it is an abject list of failures: Leicester Square; Trafalgar Square North, free-for-alls for amplified buskers and all forms of illegal street activity; Pedicabs, 10 years of totally ineffectual tough talk and no action mean that these third world rickshaws continue to blight our streets; Shisha Smoking joints, unlicensed, noisy, smelly, disturbing residents late into the night; professional begging gangs — all ply their trades openly and unhindered. WCC’s effective management is ineffective, and anyway they have no money to manage anything that does not bring them in revenue, e.g., parking.

4 We will make sure the Oxford Street must remain accessible to all

How we will deliver this for you:
The new Elizabeth line will be step free and some new bus stops will be situated within one block of any traffic free section of Oxford Street and as close as possible to any pedestrianised area. We will also be looking at a new local mobility scheme along Oxford Street to further boost accessibility. Taxis will be able to drop off and collect passengers at the rear of some stores and on each of the side roads.

WE SAY: UNWORKABLE – The tube is not an option for many, for reasons of health, mobility, or cost. The Elizabeth Line may be step free, but the chances are the station at the other end of the route won’t be, so where does that leave accessibility? Bus stops as close as possible, in most cases, means 200-300 metres away. Moreover, most will need to change buses at least once even to get that close. The dismembering of the bus service will also badly affect many shop workers, and the army of night workers who rely on an effective night-time bus network, when the tube is closed. And once in Oxford Street, there will be no choice for all but to walk. The majority cannot afford taxis, and those that can will want to go somewhere less polluted and easier to get to.

5 We will ensure deliveries will be properly controlled and not cause greater local inconvenience
How we will deliver this for you: 

Recent surveys have shown that there are very few shops being serviced from the front via Oxford Street. Our plan is that the maximum distance to a loading bay will be no more than 50 metres. We will use all our enforcement powers to make sure delivery rules will not be flouted.

WE SAY: UNWORKABLE – Our recent surveys have in fact shown that approximately 45% of shops have no option but to be serviced from Oxford Street; even TfL put this figure at 35%. The 50 metre distance to a loading bay is ridiculous, that wouldn’t even get to the junction of the nearest side street from most shops, never mind the nearest bay. It will be a disaster for all but the major stores with rear and side loading bays, particularly if WCC make it even worse by then restricting loading on the side streets, the only place they will have left. Yet if they do not, residents’ lives will be made a misery with the noise of revving lorries and countless metal loading trollies being wheeled to and from the shops. Given WCC’s record on enforcement, this is anyway the most likely outcome. Closing Oxford Street will result in massive disruption either way.

6 We will make sure the night time traffic should not unduly increase disturbance
How we will deliver this for you:

Buses and taxes will be some of the quietest available so that noise levels throughout the area will largely stay unchanged or decrease for the most part with current plans. We will be monitoring noise across the district making all data available and develop mitigation measures including changing the scheme should that be required.

WE SAY: IMPOSSIBLE – Westminster has no grounds for making this assertion. TfL have not even done any traffic modelling to assess the consequences of closure at night and WCC have failed to address the question of why Oxford Street should be closed overnight at all, given the disproportionate amount of disruption which would be caused to residents and businesses. It will guarantee that the 500 vehicles an hour that presently use Oxford Street through the night will be forced to find their way through residential streets. The quietest available buses are by no means quiet enough, the taxis will be the same taxis; and they are not quiet, particularly at night, when there is a drop in ambient noise levels. If WCC really think that running all these extra buses, taxis, lorries and vans through our streets will not dramatically increase noise levels they should spend less time with the TfL modellers and get out a bit more. In addition, passengers will be waiting for buses in residential streets, instead of on Oxford Street itself, bringing with them noise and anti-social behaviour.

7 We will ensure that there will be adequate safe and quiet cycle routes through the area
How we will deliver this for you:

We are developing proposals for a high-quality East-West cycle route to the north of Oxford Street. This network would compliment new facilities coming to the area.

WE SAY: UNWORKABLE – Cyclists are to be banned from Oxford Street with the rest of the traffic, turning the adjacent streets into noisy, polluted, congested, servicing points for Oxford Street. WCC realises that even they cannot put cycle routes down them as well. Previous attempts to find an East-West cycle route have failed because the streets of Marylebone and Fitzrovia are unsuitable. So any cycle route that is eventually designated, will be nowhere near where the cyclists actually want to be; and given all the other constraints, it is extremely unlikely to be “high quality”.

8 We will ensure resident parking bays will be protected.

How we will deliver this for you:
Our plan is that there will be no impact on the amount of resident, disabled and motorcycle parking currently available.

WE SAY: POSSIBLE – Finally, at point 8 we reach something that Westminster Council actually has within its power to promise. But with the huge pressure on all other forms of kerbside use that closure will put on our side roads, even that will be a herculean task to honour. Further they need to go beyond simply protecting this parking, it would need to be properly enforced, and the likelihood of that is very low.

 

Oxford Street consultation is now closed

The 2nd Oxford Street Consultation is now closed. You can read the formal response submitted by Better Oxford Street here:

BETTER OXFORD STREET RESPONSE

BOS SCHEDULE 1 – BUSINESS SUMMARY

BOS SCHEDULE 2 – SHOPS SURVEY 

You can read 28 other Organisations responses submitted here: 

MAYFAIR RESIDENTS GROUP RESPONSE

FITZROVIA NEIGHBOURHOOD ASSOCIATION RESPONSE

MARYLEBONE ASSOCIATION RESPONSE

BLOOMSBURY ASSOCIATION RESPONSE

WEST END COMMUNITY NETWORK RESPONSE

NEW WEST END COMPANY RESPONSE

MARYLEBONE LOW EMISSION NEIGHBOURHOOD RESPONSE

MARYLEBONE FORUM RESPONSE

ST MARYLEBONE SOCIETY RESPONSE

FITZWEST RESPONSE

PADDINGTON RESIDENTS ACTIVE CONCERN ON TRANSPORT RESPONSE

LONDON TRAVELWATCH RESPONSE

LONDON ASSEMBLY TRANSPORT COMMITTEE RESPONSE

WHEELS FOR WELLBEING RESPONSE

LONDON CYCLING CAMPAIGN RESPONSE

BRENT CYCLISTS RESPONSE

BT INLINK UK RESPONSE

SUSTRANS RESPONSE

ROAD HAULAGE ASSOCIATION RESPONSE

LTDA RESPONSE

LONDON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY RESPONSE

MARBLE ARCH BID RESPONSE

BAKER STREET QUARTER BID RESPONSE

BRAG RESPONSE

HEART OF LONDON BUSINESS ALLIANCE RESPONSE 

WEST END VOICE

TRANSPORT FOR ALL RESPONSE

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS RESPONSE

Take action: help keep Oxford Street open

TfL’s consultation on closing Oxford Street runs until 3 January 2018. – TAKE ACTION TODAY

Please take just one minute to send a message to the Mayor of London, TfL and Westminster Council that removing public transport & cyclists from Oxford Street results in shifting pollution, congestion and accidents is Not the answer for the West End!

Three simple steps to help:

  1. Open TfL’s consultation survey
  2. For Question 1 (Do you support our proposals for the transformation of the Oxford Street district?), tick “NO”

In the comment box you can tell him (if you want to) why it’s a bad idea for congestion, air quality, accidents, bus passengers, cyclists, residents, school children, disabled access, business delivers…

  1. Click continue and fill out your details – and you’re done!

Support us on social media and join our mailing list

CLOSURE OF OXFORD STREET – THE WEST END DOES NOT WANT IT!

66% – of Local Residents opposed/concerned – Why are they being ignored?

76% – of Businesses opposed/concerned – Why are they being ignored?

The Mayor plans to close Oxford Street to ALL traffic. For 24 hours a day.

In his manifesto Sadiq Khan said he would:- “Work with Westminster Council, local businesses, Transport for London (TfL) and taxis, to pedestrianise Oxford Street. I will start by bringing back car-free days, and possibly weekends, before moving towards full pedestrianisation. Our eventual ambition should be to turn one of the world’s most polluted streets into one of the world’s finest public spaces – a tree-lined avenue from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch.”

He has also stressed that this should only be done if there is no detriment to surrounding residential areas.

Despite the results of the first consultation, this gradual development has now turned into a headlong rush to pedestrianise the street all day, every day, with no solutions to the damage threatening residents and businesses or to the myriad accessibility issues.

Elsewhere, the world’s major cities give attention to traffic calming and pollution reduction in their residential areas, directing traffic to the major commercial roads. Even here in London, the “Mini-Holland” schemes to be found in outer London do the same. But with Oxford Street, Mayor Sadiq Khan wants to do the opposite: remove the traffic from one of central London’s few major east-west routes and push all the traffic, the congestion and pollution into the surrounding residential areas. Areas that already have major problems with too many vehicles and pollution levels way above EU recommended safe levels.

What sort of reality does the Mayor live in where he thinks that all this traffic should be taken out of an almost 100 per cent commercial area and pushed through its surrounding residential streets? Shifting congestion, pollution and road safety issues rather than tackling them is unacceptable. The scheme also creates a public realm management challenge at a time when there is no budget to tackle enforcement issues of antisocial behaviour. Westminster Council currently struggle to manage the existing public realm in Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street would a free for all, for buskers, illegal street traders and other forms of antisocial behaviour.

And why hasn’t he listened to the message that came through loud and clear from residents and small businesses, schools, hospitals and many of the area’s stakeholders from the first consultation?

The majority of those that live and have businesses in the West End are against this scheme* – if this had been a referendum it would have been thrown out then. Instead it is being pushed through to the detriment of the wider West End. The people who know the area, who know the consequences of these hasty and ill thought out proposals, don’t want it.

THE PROPOSALS

This consultation is fuelled by many untested and unevidenced assumptions:

  • That “transformation” of Oxford Street can only be achieved by full closure.
  • That pollution in Oxford Street can only be solved by full closure.
  • That footfall on Oxford Street is increasing, whereas the figures show that it is declining.**
  • That pedestrianisation will increase the footfall and the retail take.
  • That Crossrail will result in huge extra numbers in Oxford Street.***.
  • That users of Oxford Street, particularly those older and disabled, those that work there, indeed those that shop there, do not want to be able to get a bus there.
  • That traffic, once Oxford Street is closed, will simply evaporate and not run though the streets nearby.
  • That businesses actually want it, whereas many will have huge problems in getting goods to their stores.
  • That the huge amount of additional enforcement that will be vital in the wake of pedestrianisation, particularity through the night, will actually happen.
  • That residents will not be affected by all the shops and businesses having to be serviced from the small streets surrounding Oxford Street.
  • That these proposals can be pushed through without significantly affecting other existing and approved major road alterations including the Baker Street Two Way Project and, the Tottenham Court Road Scheme, which already will be removing significant road capacity.

THE CONSEQUENCES FOR SURROUNDING AREAS

The proposals as currently set out will have the following consequences for the surrounding areas:

On TfL’s current figures approximately 350 buses (hybrid/diesel engined) will run through Marylebone, each day and through the night, complete with bus stops where there is no room for them and idling areas where there is no space for them. The rest of the well established east-west bus routes are to be either curtailed or diverted at considerable disadvantage to the many passengers who rely on the current routes to and through Oxford Street.****

All other traffic will be displaced through surrounding local neighbourhoods of Marylebone, Fitzrovia, Mayfair and Soho. That includes: vans, lorries, taxis and pedicabs. After 7.00pm it also includes not only all the taxis but all the private vehicles and non black cab traffic that fill Oxford Street through the night. It means that all Oxford Street shops, stores and offices will need to be supplied and serviced through the surrounding residential streets.  And we are told that this will improve the wider area!

THE BENEFITS TO OXFORD STREET

During the day Oxford Street will be open to amplified buskers, traders, pavement artists, clowns, jugglers and beggars; such as we already see in other pedestrianised areas in Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square.

Westminster Council has neither the funding nor the will to control those relatively small areas. What chance is there that they will be able to police a mile of pedestrianised road?

The only “transformation” will be to a higher level of tackiness than can be presently imagined.

The scheme, as has been acknowledged, will increase the likelihood of terrorist hostile vehicle attacks, as recently seen here and in other cities. The proposed way to stop this is to have vehicle safety barriers at all junctions crossing Oxford Street, unsightly, ungainly and of course a major problem for any vehicle access, from emergency services to road cleaning.

At night things will be even worse with an extremely long, empty un-patrolled street open to roaming gangs and the sort of anti-social and illegal behaviour that the police and the council find difficult to control even under the present conditions of easy access.

THE COSTS

Finally, not only do these proposals threaten to severely damage and undermine some of London’s finest historic conservation areas, and to do so without any good reason, but they are extremely expensive. TfL estimate they will spend in the region of £60 million to implement full closure, with an ongoing servicing obligation of many million pounds a year.

Transformation of Oxford Street? More like mutilation of the areas surrounding Oxford Street.

Reduce the pollution in Oxford Street by reducing buses and emissions NOT by pushing it all through the surrounding areas.

For interviews or more information contact communications via: contact@betteroxfordstreet

Notes for Editors

Better Oxford Street – is a campaign for a better Oxford Street, not a closed Oxford Street

Better Oxford Street is a not for profit residents and business group formed and supported by The Marylebone Association, the Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, Charlotte Street Association, Mayfair Residents Group, Residents’ Society of Mayfair and St James’s, all members of the West End Community Network. The area covered has a total residential population of approximately 42,000 and circa 470,000 business employees.

Better Oxford Street, 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN Web  www.betteroxfordstreet.org  Email contact@betteroxfordstreet.org  Twitter@BetterOxfordSt

Notes/Sources

*48 per cent of local residents are unequivocally against, 18% have concerns only 29 per cent support the proposals put forward by Mayor Sadiq Khan and pushed for by campaign group Living Streets. Residents say they are strongly against buses being diverted along parallel roads and taxi ranks being placed in side streets.

Businesses are even more opposed to the scheme: 60 percent are unequivocally against, a further 16 percent with concerns, and only 19 percent are fully in favour of the scheme. This figure puts most businesses at odds with the New West End Company which is in favour of the proposal albeit with some reservations.

Nearly 50 percent of all respondents either oppose or have concerns about the proposals and only 43 percent support the transformation of Oxford Street and are comfortable with the changes that would be necessary to make it possible, according to the consultation report.

So only 29% of local residents and 19% of businesses owners actually supported “transformation” without reservations.

Source: TfL Consultation Report September 2017 page 28

** “Footfall is in decline, particularly in the western section of the street.”  – New West End Company

Source:- New West End Company’s response to the WCC/TfL consultation on the transformation of Oxford Street June 2017 https://newwestend.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/170811_Oxford-street_NWEC-response-to-consultation.pdf

*** In 2007 160 million passengers used the four Oxford Street tube stations.

In 2015 161 million passengers used the four Oxford Street tube stations.

A 0.1% rise in passengers meanwhile London’s population grew 13% over the same period. London growth does not translate into increased journeys into Oxford Street.

Source: Marble Arch, Bond Street, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road Station entry/exit data from TfL

****London Buses propose removing most existing west/east bus routes to Marble Arch or Oxford Circus. The existing bus route network that runs along Oxford Street has 8 routes at 75 buses per hour. This will be slashed to 2 routes, the 139 and 390 which will be diverted along Wigmore Street at 18 buses per hour day time and night services of 8 buses per hour.  This will curtail a well established bus route network, with easy access/interchange- for the many users who cannot use the tube network. The 2 diverted routes are not easily accessible to Oxford Street, and make it hard to get to interchanges between bus routes – at Marble Arch/Park Lane. This will disadvantage many, but again particularly those vulnerable passengers, the elderly and disabled who will no longer find these routes viable.

Better Oxford Street Campaign calls for consultation response opposing pedestrianisation

TfL have now launched their consultation on Oxford Street pedestrianisation. The weight of their guidance on the subject appears to lean heavily in favour of closure, if not 24 hours at least for most of the day, opening late evening to allow for deliveries at night time, so that it can be claimed as “partial closure”.

This is to all intents full closure and will have a drastic effect on Marylebone in terms of congestion, pollution and local amenity. It is simply shifting Oxford Street’s problems elsewhere.

The Marylebone Association, together with all the West End Amenity societies, whilst supporting traffic mitigation on Oxford Street is against its full or partial closure. We have had 10,000 copies of the flyer below printed for distribution in the West End area via the Marylebone Association, Soho Society, Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association, and the 2 Mayfair Societies. As Marylebone is on the front line with regard to the first stage of the proposed closures we will be looking to distribute about 5000 of these in our area.

Every individual response to the consultation matters so we would urge all to engage, and please ensure that the pdf below is distributed as widely as possible to everyone you know in the area.

We are looking for volunteers to help with distribution of the flyers within Marylebone so please contact contact@betteroxfordstreet.org directly if you are able to help with this, indicating how many flyers you require.

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