Vandals in Oxford were caught on camera as they turned to arson in a late night attack, setting fire to a bollard in a low-traffic area restricting traffic for motorists.
Drivers destroyed 20 bollards in less than three weeks – with vans and cars driving over the barriers, one vandal ripping a bollard out of the ground and using it to push it aside.
A vandal set fire to the bollard on Howard Street, east Oxford, after 11pm on a Sunday evening in July.
Show video footage of local residents shows drivers intentionally destroying barriers erected for the Least Traffic Neighborhood (LTN), including a DPD delivery driver, a taxi and several vans and cars.
A spokesman for DPD told MailOnline: “It is unacceptable behavior and the local depot is investigating this particular incident. We have reminded all drivers in the area to respect the Low Traffic Neighborhood Initiative and drive the route accordingly.’
Local taxpayers have now had to pay £100,000 to replace the destroyed plastic bollards with steel bollards to thwart would-be vandals, as Oxfordshire County Council condemned the “unprecedented level of vandalism”.
The steel bollards will continue to allow emergency services to access the road if necessary.
A vandal who set fire to a bollard in a low-traffic area on Howard Street, east Oxford, after 11pm on a Sunday evening in July
Video footage of residents shows drivers intentionally destroying barriers erected for the Limited Traffic Neighborhood (LTN), including a DPD delivery driver (pictured).
The plastic bollards installed to create the low traffic areas are now being replaced with steel bollards at a cost to Oxfordshire County Council £100,000
Josie Proctor, a driver, cyclist and mother who lives on Howard Street, said she was concerned children who cycle to school could end up in car accidents after the bollards were destroyed.
She said: “My main concern is that by destroying bollards they are putting vulnerable road users at risk, such as children driving to school, as they don’t expect a car to speed towards them where they expected a filter. I’ve seen so many near misses that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.
“I realize that the LTNs are a contentious issue. Protesting is one thing, but these mindless thugs have cost taxpayers £100,000 to replace barricades with steel bollards and many hours of police and council worker time that could be put to better use.
“We have given the unedited footage, with license plates and faces visible, to the police so they can fight this crime and get some money back into the public purse, as well as deter others and make the streets safer.
“We are very pleased that councilors are now installing steel bollards which will be much harder to destroy, but we would like to see some official cameras showing those breaking the rules and the thugs destroying and endangering public property, could catch and fine lives.’
“We ask the vandals, as neighbors to one another, to respect the process and help ensure everyone who walks and bikes on these roads is safe.”
Elizabeth Mills, 71, who lives in the low-traffic Divinity Road neighborhood, said: “I’m ambivalent about the LTNs; In some ways they make my life better and in other ways more difficult. However, what really pisses me off is the vandalism. I just don’t think people should go around breaking the law because they disagree – call me old fashioned, but I don’t!’
Oxfordshire Liveable Streets residents group have contacted DPD to urge them to investigate the matter and are urging all taxi companies to respect the LTN regime currently in place.
The plastic bollards were originally installed after consultation with the emergency services to reduce the time required to dismantle the bollards in the event of access by the police, fire brigade or paramedics.
Drivers destroyed 20 bollards in less than three weeks – with vans and cars driving over the barriers
The plastic bollard on Howard Street was routinely stopped to allow cars to drive over it
A citizen breaks a bollard to allow a car to drive through the blockade
While vandals have destroyed and damaged bollards in the systems, the LTNs have proved popular with local residents and the rest of the city, according to a YouGov poll, with a majority backing the LTNs two-to-one.
Some residents have also shown their commitment to the LTNs by acting as “human bollards” to stop motorists and van drivers from continuing to drive through the areas illegally.
A number of locals took matters into their own hands to protect cyclists, pedestrians and children from violating drivers and shared a video of the actions on social media, which generated 35,000 views.
Robin Tucker, Chair of the Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel (CoHSAT), said: “One thing that we should not forget is that the criminal acts we are seeing here are being committed by a small number of evil criminals. A minority of people resist these measures, and an even smaller minority of these people commit these acts of vandalism.
“It’s worth remembering that an independent poll conducted by YouGov found that Oxford residents support low-traffic areas by a majority of two to one.”
Nearly six in 10 people living across Oxford support low-traffic neighborhoods like the ones being built in East Oxford nearly six months ago, about twice as many as opposed.
A poll conducted by YouGov on behalf of Oxfordshire Liveable Streets showed that 56% of respondents supported LTNs, while just 29% opposed it.
The data also showed that all age groups supported the LTNs, with younger residents (aged 18-34) supporting them by a large majority, while older people (over 55) also supported them, albeit by a smaller majority (49%). up to 44%). ).
The LTNs are slightly more popular among men than women, with 60% of male respondents supporting it compared to 52% of female respondents. In both genders, only 29% of women and men were against LTNs.
Men in a van try to avoid the LTN bollard on Howard Street, east Oxford, in June
On the subject of the new steel bollards, Oxfordshire Councilor Andrew Gant, Cabinet Member for Highways Management said: “This is a pivotal moment for the LTN process to proceed in East Oxford.
“The ongoing damage has cost both City Council and Thames Valley Police a significant cost in time and money, with potentially serious consequences for people’s safety.
“Damage to the bollards and the continued use of quiet neighborhood streets as thoroughfares not only pose a risk to road user safety, but also affect the quality of monitoring data, which could delay the decision to trial.”
Rob MacDougall, Chief Fire Officer, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service added: “The Fire and Rescue Service is aware of plans to replace the existing plastic bollards with steel bollards for the East Oxford LTNs. Emergency services can still remove these metal bollards to gain access if needed.
“When the existing bollards were damaged by being run over or vandalism affecting the locking mechanism, it cost us valuable time trying to gain access.”
A bollard on Barnet Street (left) in Oxford was melted down by a group of hooded arsonists in July. A bollard on Howard Street (right) was also damaged
A hooded gang working traffic-calming bollards were spotted in Oxford in July as mounting public backlash against the scheme reached “another level” in the city.
By July, the trial that began in May of three Least Traffic Neighborhoods (LTNs) in Divinity Road, the St Clemens and St Mary areas had already proved divisive.
And by that time the council had already spent £12,000 to replace or repair street furniture such as bollards and planters that had been destroyed.
Thames Valley Police have been contacted for further comment.
https://www.soundhealthandlastingwealth.com/health/oxford-vandals-turn-to-arson-in-attack-on-low-traffic-neighbourhood-bollards-hated-by-local-drivers/ Oxford vandals turn to ARSON to attack low-traffic neighborhood bollards hated by local drivers