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Planned pedestrianisation of London's Oxford Street scuppered by Westminster Council

Joseph Delves
8 Jun 2018

Council torpedos plan citing largely positive public consultation. 'This will be seen as a betrayal,' says Mayor Kahn

Westminster council has withdrawn support for the proposed pedestrianisation of Oxford Street in London, effectively killing off the idea. The news was revealed in a letter sent to residents on Thursday 7th June, following a public consultation, by Conservative Council leader Nickie Aiken.

'We believe there is a very strong democratic mandate that the pedestrianisation scheme that was under consideration is not what local people want,' Aiken said in the letter.

'As a result, Westminster City Council has taken the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street off the table for good.'

Citing the recent local council elections as evidence of public opposition, the decision was taken despite the majority of public responses to Transport for London and Westminster City Council’s two consultations being in favour of some form of pedestrianisation.

The announcement comes just months ahead of the planned changes to the UK’s busiest shopping street. They had been scheduled to be implemented in December in order to coincide with the opening of the new Crossrail line.

In a statement, Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed his anger at the unexpected announcement.

'This will be seen as a betrayal for the millions of Londoners and visitors to our city who would have benefited from making Oxford Street a safer, healthier and better environment,' said Khan.

The Mayor himself was elected with promises such as 'making London a byword for cycling' and that he'd 'triple' the length of segregated cycle superhighways in the capital, but has so far delivered very little.

His objection to the scrapping of the pedestrianisation scheme, although justified, comes in contradiction to his own approach to making London a better place for those not in motor vehicles.

'All the main mayoral candidates agreed on the need for the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street at the last election, as did Westminster Council until now,' Khan added.

'This project was a good example of political parties putting politics aside, working together to improve our city for everyone.

This now poses a real threat to the future of Oxford Street, which could not be worse timed, coming on the same day House of Fraser announced they will be closing their Oxford Street store.'

Questions about the viability of the scheme had previously been raised. Particularly due to the lack of parallel routes that could serve as alternatives, once traffic was removed from Oxford Street.

With the local council promising to come back with fresh proposals after the summer recess, Khan appeared unlikely to let the issue rest, describing the matter as 'too important for our city to walk away from.'

Although without the agreement of the Council he’s unlikely to be able to force the matter.

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