Oxford Street “off the table” says Westminster

The leadership of Westminster Council have without warning, announced they are taking the current proposals to remove motor traffic from Oxford Street “off the table for good”, despite lending their support to the previous public consultations.

Westminster Leader Cllr Nickie Aiken said: “doing nothing to improve the area is not an option either” and that Westminster is “working on our own proposals to improve the Oxford Street district and will share them with residents, business and visitors for discussion in the early Autumn.”

However, there is no guarantee that Westminster’s plans will be as transformative for the area as those advanced by the Mayor, or that any plans at all will come forward. And by taking the plans to remove motor traffic from the street off the table, Westminster Council’s leadership have pretty much guaranteed that when the Elizabeth Line opens this December, bringing thousands more people to Oxford Street, the situation there will get far worse than it is currently.

As a result, LCC and Living Streets have issued a joint statement condemning the actions of Westminster Council’s leadership, in full below, asking them to rethink their stance and the Mayor to take all appropriate action.

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets statement

Living Streets and London Cycling Campaign jointly condemn Westminster City Council leaders for walking away from their previous support for a traffic-free Oxford Street.

The leadership of Westminster Council has announced that it will no longer support plans to make Oxford Street traffic-free. Living Streets and the London Cycling Campaign condemns this irresponsible action and call on Westminster’s leadership to see sense. Unless they do, Oxford Street will remain one of the most polluted and congested major city locations in the world – an embarrassment to London at a time when forward-looking major cities are prioritising walking, cycling, public transport and smart logistics

Whatever Westminster’s leaders do and say, a transformation of Oxford Street will happen – because it has to. London cannot accept its iconic shopping street continuing to be so dominated by motor traffic that it is failing businesses, failing pedestrians who are suffering far too many collisions and injuries, failing those seeking to cycle in safety to and through the area, and failing with illegal pollution levels that damage the health of those visiting the area.

We call on Westminster’s leaders to engage constructively and rapidly to move forward plans for radical change to Oxford Street and the wider West End – to plan and build a city centre and iconic shopping destination fit for their residents, but also for all Londoners and visitors. This necessarily means removing motor traffic from Oxford Street and prioritising walking and cycling throughout the area. Anything less will be failing London – and indeed the image of the whole UK.

We call on the Mayor to use all available and appropriate measures to ensure a scheme for Oxford Street moves forward rapidly, and that other projects Westminster Council leaders are opposing or obstructing – such as Cycle Superhighway 11 – now move forward without delays or dilution.

Further, we believe that the Mayor should only fund Westminster Council’s own projects if they ensure the borough is progressing towards the Mayor’s Transport Strategy aims and objectives.

This doesn’t need to be the end of the story. A motor traffic-free Oxford Street is possible. We call on the leaders of Westminster Council to reverse their decision and once more look to the future and not the past.

Here is the full statement by Westminster. And here is LCC's previous blog on a cycling ban on Oxford Street, parallel cycling provision and the broader area.