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Masked youths rip out new LTN bollards in Exeter – then flee by bicycle

Devon & Cornwall Police warn vandals that removing or damaging road closures is a criminal offence – and say they are monitoring anti-LTN groups on social media

Masked youths have removed bollards restricting access to a new low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) in Exeter – and then fled by bicycle. In response, police have warned that removing such barriers constitutes a criminal offence, adding that they are monitoring anti-LTN groups on social media.

The bollards have been installed as part of an 18-month trial of an LTN that came into force in parts of the Heavitree and Whipton areas of the city last Thursday.

The scheme, which is now in a statutory six-month consultation period, includes four modal filters using bollards or planters, as well as four bus gates to allow access to local residents, buses, and emergency vehicles.

Confirming in June that the trial scheme had been given the go-ahead, Devon County Council said that the changes would “reduce traffic on residential streets and support local people who want to walk, wheel, scoot or cycle.

“All properties within the area will remain accessible by car, but residents may need to use different routes for some journeys,” the council confirmed.

“The scheme has been developed following two phases of consultation with local people and businesses, and further engagement with local councillors and other key stakeholders,” it added.

But Devon live reports that on Tuesday evening, bollards in three locations – St Mark’s Avenue, Hamlin Lane and Vaughan Road – were removed by vandals.

One local resident told the website: “I saw two young lads wearing balaclavas on bikes come along and remove them. I called the police."

According to reports, nearly all of the bollards had been replaced by yesterday morning – but the new one on Vaughan Road was ripped out again just a couple of hours later.

The LTN has been part-funded with money from Active Travel England’s Capability and Ambition Fund, with each bollard said to cost £215 to replace.

Devon County Council has appealed to members of the public to make their feelings known through the ongoing consultation rather than taking matters into their own hands.  

“Devon County Council has been made aware of the vandalism to the temporary bollards in Heavitree and Whipton, and is working to replace these.

“If there are further incidents of vandalism we may have to install more robust, vandal-proof measures but we would ask the local community to please work with us and provide feedback via the statutory consultation.”

A private group called Exeter’s Barricades Activists has been set up on Facebook and within two days had amassed nearly 700 members.

The founder of the group, which uses the slogan, “rebel against Exeter, destroy all barricades,” says in its description: “I think a few too many are fed up with the idea of being blocked in, paying more for fuel to get five minutes around the block, and so many worrying situations that could potentially happen, or already happening. Let's now stand against this as a community.”

Devon & Cornwall Police said that people who cause damage to LTN bollards, including removing them, are guilty of a criminal offence, and that they are aware of groups on social media that encourage such acts of vandalism.

A spokesperson for the force said: “We are aware of a number of incidents where traffic bollards have been removed or damaged in the Heavitree, Whipton and Polsloe areas of Exeter.

“We are also aware of a number of social media accounts encouraging such action. The local neighbourhood team is carrying out enquiries and working with local authorities in relation to the matter.

“Officers are warning the public that causing damage to the bollards is a criminal offence and urging anyone who witnesses such incidents to contact police. One incident of criminal damage has so far been reported to police.

“Police were called at 11.50pm yesterday, August 8, after two bollards were cut down and removed in Hamlin Lane. Officers are seeking the suspects, described as aged around 16 to 18, and wearing black clothing and caps, plus balaclavas. They were both on bicycles.

“Anyone with information which may assist police is asked to contact us via our website, or to telephone 101, quoting crime reference 50230217738,” police added.

In an interview published in the Sunday Telegraph last month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he had ordered the Department for Transport to undertake a review of LTNs, many of which were implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.

> Rishi Sunak accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs as he orders review of schemes

Local authorities across England implemented hundreds of such schemes with the help of government funding provided when Sunak served as Chancellor of the Exchequer under then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who strongly encouraged councils to introduce them as a means of combating air pollution and preventing drives looking to avoid busy main roads from using residential streets as rat runs.

Sunak’s intervention saw him accused of trying to exploit divisions over LTNs, which are generally viewed favourably by the public in surveys, but which attract opposition from a vocal minority, with some opponents vandalising planters and bollards as well as in some cases CCTV cameras intended to enforce restrictions.

When the scheme in Exeter was approved in June, Councillor Danny Barnes, Chair of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC)  and local Devon County Council member for Heavitree and Whipton Barton, said: “More than 2,000 vehicles travel along many of these residential streets every day and this deters local people from cycling or walking.

“We have been engaging with the local people since 2020 and it is clear that from what they have told us that the amount of traffic and the lack of priority for walking and cycling is a concern.

“Previously we introduced humps to reduce traffic speeds at the Whipton Lane/Sweetbrier Lane Roundabout, and modal filters to create quieter streets on Homefield Road and Chard Road.

“Now by trialling these additional interventions we hope to create a safer and more attractive environment for active travel while ensuring that all properties remain accessible by car,” he added.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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60 comments

Avatar
eburtthebike | 11 months ago
5 likes

I can't help wondering why such bollards can be ripped out so easily: surely they should be rather more robust and not capable of being removed by hand?

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 11 months ago
5 likes

Put some of those exploding paint bombs from the cash boxes inside the posts. The morons will get a nice makeover when they try to rip them out. Any car that drives over them will get a new paint job, hopefully all over the windscreen.

Avatar
Gibbo69 replied to Muddy Ford | 11 months ago
1 like

Great idea, they should also add them to bicycles. For when they jump red lights, dont ride on the provided cycle paths which the motorist has paid for in vehicle excise duty.

Avatar
mark1a replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
8 likes

HOUSE!

Avatar
yupiteru | 11 months ago
9 likes

On the 17th September the default 20mph speed limits come into force in Wales.  We have the same sort of morons here as well, who say they will rip the 20mph signs down.

I tried to explain that this would not change the speed limit on the road, but it is a waste of time, these people really are so incredibly stupid it is frightening.

Avatar
Cugel replied to yupiteru | 11 months ago
0 likes

yupiteru wrote:

On the 17th September the default 20mph speed limits come into force in Wales.  We have the same sort of morons here as well, who say they will rip the 20mph signs down.

I tried to explain that this would not change the speed limit on the road, but it is a waste of time, these people really are so incredibly stupid it is frightening.

Stupid and dangerous.

Some will keep on maiming and murdering others, including other speeders of their ilk, as they careen about loonlike in their death-dealing machines.

Others will keep on with the general trend towards lawlessness, since the law service providers are being slowly reduced to a private bullyforce of the rich & powerful whilst those seeming acolytes of Aleister Crowley ("Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law") are spreading their memetic plague to the brains of their antisocial media "friends" in the form of rageful cries about being disallowed their freedumbs (to f things up at every opportunity).

Mind, many parts of Wales away from the degraded urban sinks still contain those people who remain reasonable and considerate. Such attitudes to others have a long tradition in many parts of rural Wales. Cycling about West & Central Wales, I find 99% of drivers to be careful and considerate. In NW England, carloons were legion.

Avatar
quiff replied to Cugel | 11 months ago
8 likes

For a slightly more hopeful view, in the early adoption area in the urban sink of Cardiff, compliance with the 20 zones is pretty good (at least in the daytime). Once you get a critical mass of people abiding by the limit, it becomes quite difficult for the lawless casually to speed.     

Avatar
Gibbo69 replied to Cugel | 11 months ago
1 like

This made me chuckle, the amount of times I've seen cyclist riding on the road when there's a dedicated cycle path right next to them.

Can't be that concerned about they safety if they arnt using the safest option

Avatar
Hirsute replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
4 likes

Getting bored in the summer holidays?
Why don't you play kickball with your friends?

Tell me you know nothing about cycle paths without saying I know nothing about cycle paths.

If the roads aren't safe to use, then remove the incompetent drivers

Avatar
Gibbo69 replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
0 likes

You mean incompetent cyclist's. Cycle paths are there for your safety are they not...

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Hirsute replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
4 likes

You failed to read up on cycle paths.
Piss poor attempt at trolling.

What exactly are you trying to achieve?

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chrisonabike replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
5 likes

Hirsute wrote:

What exactly are you trying to achieve?

Establishing new spelling, grammar and usage?

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neilmck replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
3 likes

Depends if it's the safest option. If it's on the pavement, it isn't the safest option at the speed I cycle at. If it is in the "Door zone" of parked cars then I will stay with the traffic, a friend of mine was killed by someone opening a car door on to the cycle path.

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mattw replied to yupiteru | 11 months ago
4 likes

Judging by the monitoring report, the Welsh trials are doing well.

I'm jealous.

All we have here is a Govt of political cowards trying to save their backsides.

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Gibbo69 replied to yupiteru | 11 months ago
1 like

Willl the lycra clad cyclist adhere to the 20mph speed limits..... yea I didn't think so

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Hirsute replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
5 likes

Since they don't apply, then there isn't a question to answer.

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Gibbo69 replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
1 like

Wonder what happens when a cyclist hits a child whilst exceeding the posted speed limit...

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Hirsute replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
4 likes

The normal - a police investigation.

What else do you think will happen ?

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Gibbo69 replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
1 like

I imagine the different between xar/cyclist hitting a child while above the speed limit would have dire concenques for said child.

If a speed limit is there for said motor vehicle it should be a cyclist also have to abide by said speed limit

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Gloucester_Dave replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
4 likes

Honestly your English is painful to read. Do you keep using 'said' after seeing an old episode of the Bill and think it makes you sound authorative?

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quiff replied to Gloucester_Dave | 11 months ago
2 likes

* authoritative. Otherwise, I'm with you.

EDIT: this article on the subject is a chuckle.

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Devon Lad replied to Gibbo69 | 10 months ago
0 likes

With what would the cyclist monitor the speed they are travelling?  They are not required to fit speedometers and strava type apps can be a few mph out! 

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Rome73 | 11 months ago
12 likes

“I think a few too many are fed up with the idea of being blocked in, paying more for fuel to get five minutes around the block, and so many worrying situations that could potentially happen, or already happening. Let's now stand against this as a community."

it's such a thick sort of brexitty 'argument'. What are the 'worrying situations'? explain what they are. It's just like asking a brexthick person to name all those EU 'laws' they want to scrap. Name them. And then, if you can name half a dozen, explain why they should be deleted. 

Avatar
eburtthebike replied to Rome73 | 11 months ago
1 like

It is completely un-necessary to explain Brexit benefits: they are self-evident.

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Eton Rifle replied to eburtthebike | 11 months ago
2 likes

🤣🤣🤣

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Gibbo69 replied to Rome73 | 11 months ago
1 like

I believe you'll find it's actually lies the councillors are telling to push this through.

Over whelming majority are against the proposals and they still claim its 50/50.

This can be seen I the documents the council provide if you can be bothered to look.

At best it was 57% against 40% for and the rest in a neutral stance.

Also take note that there was no option to refuse it altogether. Wheres the democracy in that eh!!

Avatar
belugabob | 11 months ago
18 likes

“I think a few too many are fed up with the idea of being blocked in, paying more for fuel to get five minutes around the block..."

You could always save the fuel cost, by walking or cycling five minutes around the block - which is the whole point of LTNs, if you think about.
Hang on, that last part is the flaw in my argument...

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Gibbo69 replied to belugabob | 11 months ago
1 like

Tell that to the elderly and incompactitated.

I'm sure they can walk miles to see a doctor.

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Hirsute replied to Gibbo69 | 11 months ago
3 likes

Never heard of a mobility scooter then?

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wtjs replied to Hirsute | 11 months ago
4 likes

First, welcome to the road.cc fishing swamp!

This one is so unbelievably dim, that I suspect it's an irony-laden parody account!

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