Plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street have caused Westminster council’s Tory leadership and their Labour opponents to defy Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, and have given birth to a single issue party to fight the local elections this Thursday.
Westminster’s cabinet member for Oxford Street, Daniel Astaire, has now told officials to bring a halt to the pedestrianisation plans — a complete U-turn from his predecessor Robert Davis who stood shoulder to shoulder with Sadiq Khan in support of pedestrianising the street and diverting traffic around it.
At a full council meeting Astaire said: “TfL and the Mayor are the main proponents of the changes to the street, but it belongs to the council and the decision rests with us.
“I have informed them — much to some surprise — that detailed work on a scheme is to be stopped. They had even wanted to appoint an artist to design street concept art, but I have stopped this too. At present there is no scheme nor a proposal which is acceptable to the council.”
He said Westminster could only back a plan that addressed the concerns of residents. Astaire warned that any legal move by TfL to take control of the street could take four years, reported the Evening Standard.
The arguments over Oxford Street have seen the departure of two Tory councillors in the West End ward. Paul Church who criticised the way the council was run has refused to stand again, and Glenys Roberts who was deselected and now says she will back the single-issue party the Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street.
At a hustings held in Soho, the three Labour party candidates contesting the West End ward said they are against the Labour Mayor’s plans to pedestrianise Oxford Street.
Pancho Lewis, Patrick Lilley and Caroline Saville said they “could not support these proposals” until a long list of residents’ concerns are resolved, reported the West End Extra.
Both Labour and Conservatives are under pressure from the Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street party which is fielding one candidate in each of the three wards: West End, Marylebone High Street and Bryanston and Dorset Square.
In the West End Ward only The Green Party’s Minne Fry and the three Lib Dem candidates — Florian Chevoppe-Verdier, Sophie Taylor and Alan Ravenscroft — support Oxford Street pedestrianisation.
The plans have divided active transport campaigners. Living Streets and the London Cycling Campaign backed the plans but former cycling commissioner for London Andrew Gilligan said the plans were a disaster for cycling.
Candidates standing in Fitzrovia for the Westminster City Council Elections on Thursday 3 May 2018
Marylebone High Street Ward Candidates
Angel, Cheyenne – Labour Party
Barr, Alistair Graeme – Liberal Democrats
Bott, Iain James – Conservative Party Candidate
Byrne, Andrew Donaldson – Liberal Democrats
Dunn, Michael John – Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street
Johnston, Barbara Irene – Labour Party
Kettle, Florence Amelia – Labour Party
Nardi-Hiebl, Stefan – Liberal Democrats
Polanski, Zack – Green Party
Rowley, Ian David – Conservative Party Candidate
Scarborough, Karen Toni – Conservative Party Candidate
West End Ward Candidates
Barnes, Timothy Patrick Logie – Conservative Party Candidate
Chevoppe-Verdier, Florian David Jean Gaetan – Liberal Democrats
Fry, Minne – Green Party
Glanz, Jonathan – Conservative Party Candidate
Lewis, Pancho – Labour Party
Lilley, Patrick Eamon Joseph – Labour Party
Ravenscroft, Alan Watson – Liberal Democrats
Saville, Caroline Louise Ruby – Labour Party
Su, Hillary – Conservative Party Candidate
Taylor, Sophie Amanda – Liberal Democrats
Whelan, Ronald – Campaign Against Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street
See also: Marylebone Association: Latest News on Oxford Street. Soho Radio: The Soho Society Hour.