Pedestrianisation Scheme Protests Continue
Angry residents of Henley-on-Thames are the latest in a growing list of protesters complaining about the actions of local councils who are out-of-touch with their real needs.
"Councils appear to feel it necessary to introduce unwanted schemes to pedestrianise large areas of Britain's towns and cities, and to otherwise obstruct and hinder access by motor vehicles," said ABD spokesman Mark McArthur Christie. "But they have lost touch with reality - the people who elect them and pay council tax and business rates have had enough."
The protesters in Henley complain that this ill-thought-out scheme divides the town into two, hinders access, drastically increases the time and distance required for necessary car journeys, and has already damaged local businesses. Recent demonstrations by hundreds of residents were avoided by councillors and as a result campaigners stated their desire not only to reverse the scheme but to remove from office those responsible for introducing it.
Residents in two Gloucestershire towns, Stroud and Cheltenham, have suffered similar fates. In Stroud, the ghost-town effect caused a rapid re-think and reversal of a costly scheme which was ruining local businesses, while in Cheltenham taxpayers are up in arms about a 'Noddy Train' which patrols their roads and pedestrianised areas at a cost of £600,000 per year.
McArthur-Christie continues: "These schemes are often justified on the basis that they 'put people first', yet they discriminate against more than 70% of the population who use or have access to a car. One minute pedestrians are shoppers, the next want to drive a car, and their treatment then changes dramatically for the worse. Environmental and health justifications for these schemes are entirely spurious, as the ABD has often shown."
Local people dislike and oppose these schemes because:
- Local businesses are hit hard through reduced access for customers
- They are about political correctness, not local wishes or proper long term town planning
- They use the legitimate needs of pedestrians and cyclists as an excuse to obstruct cars
- The majority of shoppers prefer flexible, reliable, low-cost and green cars
- Bus routes are preserved, retaining high levels of particulate pollution (128 cars = 1 bus, NetCen)
- Congestion fears are exaggerated: non-motorway traffic levels are static and the growth in teleworking will lead to reductions in traffic
Mark McArthur Christie concludes "Local politicians must realise that their job is to serve their electors and not control them. If they want people to use public transport, they must make it as good as the car, rather than pursuing their current policy of making the car as expensive and inconvenient as public transport."