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Vandals target LTN bollards and planters less than 24 hours after trial is introduced

The six-month trial in east Oxford has been described as a “civil war” between residents and the council by anti-LTN campaigners

Bollards have been removed and planters vandalised less than 24 hours after a six-month Low Traffic Neighbourhood trial was introduced in parts of east Oxford.

Work to install three new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Oxford, in the Divinity Road, St Clement’s and St Mary’s areas, was completed on Friday.

However, the six-month trial, approved by Oxfordshire County Council in December, has been the subject of protests by opponents of the traffic reducing measures and, like a similar scheme in the Cowley area of the city, has already been vandalised.

According to the Labour councillor for Iffley Fields & St Mary’s, Damian Haywood, half of the bollards blocking vehicles from entering the selected areas have been ripped out since the LTNs were finished on Friday, while residents have used power tools in an attempt to remove the planters.

> Voters targeted on Facebook with anti-low traffic neighbourhood ads 

Amir Steve Ali, a vocal opponent of the LTNs who stood as an independent candidate for St Clement’s at the recent local elections, posted a photo of a bollard that had been ripped out on the Cowley Road and placed in one of the planters.

On an anti-LTN Facebook page, the group’s moderator commented under the photo: “More to come hopefully, hopefully it will the trend to how many can be knocked down or set on fire”.

“People are angry,” Ali said. “The only time people get angry is when people feel there is an injustice that has been done to them.

“People feel like they have no choice but to take action into their own hands. The traffic situation is a total nightmare at the moment.”

Journalist Neil Clark, who has also publicly voiced his opposition to what he calls the “anti-car movement”, praised the vandals for “taking [the] law into [their] own hands” during what he described as a “civil war” between the council and local residents.

However, Labour councillor Haywood, who has faced opposition from within his own party over the proposed LTNs, tweeted his frustration at the attempt to destroy the scheme.

“I am absolutely fed up with a culture that demands we drive everywhere and encourages vandalism to maintain this,” he wrote.

> LTN bollard replaced after vandalism disappears less than 24 hours later 

This latest act of vandalism against LTNs in Oxford comes just over two months after a bollard at the Temple Road LTN, in Cowley, was rammed off the road less than a day after it was replaced due to earlier vandalism.

A decision on the future of the LTNs in Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Park, established in March 2021, is due in July.

Despite the vocal opposition to the schemes in Oxford, many residents have demonstrated their support for the recently installed LTNs.

Green Party councillor Emily Kerr tweeted yesterday that residents have put the vast majority of bollards back in place and repaired the vandalised planters.

Kerr also tweeted this morning that she “spoke to a resident in the new East Oxford LTN last night.

“He said that he’d slept properly for the first time, without being woken up in the middle of the night by speeding cars zooming past. This is a benefit which hadn’t even occurred to me before.”

A resident who lives on one of the Temple Cowley LTNs told the Oxford Mail: “I think it’s quite brave of the council. 

“Something has to change and it’s always a difficult thing. It’s made a huge difference where I live on Oxford Road.

“It’s much safer for children playing, and so many more people are cycling.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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