Westminster Council have announced that they are scrapping plans to introduce ‘temporary’ piazzas at Oxford Circus this autumn, with a view to bringing forward a permanent scheme at a later date.
The Council was previously planning to spend many millions of pounds taxpayers’ money (a figure rumoured to be over £10 million) on the ‘temporary’ scheme, using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order to implement the scheme without any formal consultation with residents and businesses.
The Piazza scheme would have improved the public realm of Oxford Circus and nearby parts of Oxford Street but there were real concerns raised by residents about the impact of traffic diversions on nearby communities that were exacerbated by the lack of proper information, preparation and consultation from the Council.
The Oxford Circus Piazzas were to due to be delivered by the Council department that developed the £6 million Marble Arch Mound and an internal review into the Council’s handling of the Mound debacle is due to report in early October. Labour have previously called for an independent inquiry and a moratorium on new capital spending in the Oxford Street District Project until any review has reported and been acted upon. It is essential that residents and the wider community are properly consulted before any permanent schemes that would have a significant impact on their lives are put in place.
Labour Group Leader Councillor Adam Hug said “Following the mess Westminster Council made of the Marble Arch Mound it is vital that the council gets its house in-order before ploughing ahead with other major projects in the £150m Oxford Street District Project. This screeching u-turn, while necessary, highlights the incompetence and arrogance with which the Conservative run council has operated for far too long.”
West End Ward Labour Candidate Paul Fisher said “Westminster’s high-handed attitude has seen them fail to properly consult with residents about their West End plans or prepare for their impact. It is essential that before new permanent schemes in the West End are put in place that residents are fully consulted.”
Photo by John Salmon under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.