A screeching U-turn on Oxford Street

Friday, 17th September

Oxford Circus drawing2

On hold for now: artist’s impression of the Oxford Street vision

• WESTMINSTER City 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 were previously planning to spend many millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money (a figure rumoured to be over £10million) 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 piazza’s were to be due to be delivered by the council department that developed the £6million 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 are put in place that would have a significant impact on their lives.

Following the mess 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 £150million 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. It is essential that before new permanent schemes in the West End are put in place that residents are fully consulted.

Labour Group Leader

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