London Cycling Campaign)
At the same time as the Mayor of London released his full letter to Cllr Nickie Aiken, leader of Westminster Council, Transport for London (TfL) have published its consultation report on the Oxford Street scheme. Both documents make clear the fury London’s Mayor has for the actions of Westminster Council leaders in taking Oxford Streets pedestrianisation plans “off the table”.
Alongside our partners at Living Streets, we fully support the Mayor’s moves to tackle Westminster’s decision here. As Joe Irvin, Living Streets, says: “something must be done and soon, before a dire situation becomes worse”.
The decision to halt the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, and then to call a Judicial Review on Cycle Superhighway 11 has harmed flagship active travel projects in the Heart of London, and we are pleased to see that the Mayor isn’t taking this lightly.
The Mayor writes to Westminster
From the letter, Khan writes: “You made this decision unilaterally with no attempt to compromise. This is not partnership working and is at odds with the development of the proposals over the last two years”.
Resident concerns about displaced traffic into surrounding areas (see below for TfL’s consultation data and response to this) are dismissed: “our joint work showed that the concerns about traffic displacement would not have materialised and my team were willing to discuss changes to our proposals that still delivered a transformed district,” writes Khan.
The Mayor writes that the core concerns any scheme must answer are:
- visitor experience
- economy (“the West End is home to 100,000 jobs and generates income to the Treasury upwards of £2bn per annum”)
- air quality
- crowding (due to the Elizabeth line “Bond Street station alone is expected to see 70,000 more entries and exits each day”)
- road danger (“on average one person is killed and 60 people are injured in road traffic incidents each year” on Oxford Street)
- protection of the public (“our proposals included measures to protect the significant numbers of people using Oxford Street, including from attacks using vehicles”).
The Mayor not only says any scheme must deal with these issues, but that funds won’t be forthcoming from TfL for anything other than a full scheme: “I will only be willing to commit funds to proposals that meet the challenges outlined and deliver what is needed… I have already invested more than £8m in good faith in this project. I note that your Cabinet report proposes to use a further £400,000 of TfL Local Implementation Plan (LIP) funding to develop what would seem to be a draft strategy for the area, without in fact delivering anything on street. I note there has been no prior discussion with TfL about the proposed use of these funds… given the extensive funding already spent on design, no TfL funding of any sort is to be used without prior discussion and agreement.”
Finally the Mayor says he expects Westminster to reveal plans by “the end of September”: “I believe this is a reasonable timescale for you to assess your options and there is a need to move quickly in the context of existing safety risks and the Elizabeth line’s full opening in December 2019.”