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Has Oxford Street pedestrianisation failed?
7:44am Saturday 17th August 2013 in News
IT WAS a scheme designed to make one of Southampton’s busiest streets more cosmopolitan and pedestrian-friendly.
But instead it is now being claimed that the £800,000 works in Oxford Street have resulted in a free-for-all and the road becoming “the most expensive car park” in the city.
Former city council leader Royston Smith, whose administration approved the scheme in 2011, says motorists are parking all over the expensively improved street surfaces, causing issues for businesses and their customers alike.
The council says the work has been carried out exactly as first planned under the former Conservative leader’s administration, but Cllr Smith disagrees and says the authority must to do more to look after the site.
After the scheme was approved in October 2011, pavements were widened and brought level with the section of Oxford Street between Terminus Terrace and Latimer Street.
But while Cllr Smith says it was always intended to completely pedestrianise the street, officers say it was designed to offer a “shared space environment”
allowing a mutual use between pedestrians and motorists.
Improvements to the street’s junction with Bernard Street, which were part of the original scheme, were postponed due to a lack of funds.
Cllr Smith says he has had complaints from business owners throughout the street who say that the situation has led to a “free-for-all” where cars are competing for space with restaurant, bar and cafe customers trying to enjoy a bite to eat or a drink on tables laid out on the pavements.
He said: “I know what our instructions were when the project started, and they were not to leave Oxford Street as a free for all.
“I have raised this issue to council officers on a number of occasions and nothing has been done. I reported a sign post on the footpath which was damaged by a motor vehicle over a year ago and still no repairs have been carried out."
“The question people are asking and I agree is, "Is this a good use of £800,000 of public money if the council are not going to look after it?"
David Riley, co-owner of the London Hotel, said: “We were led to believe it would be pedestrianised.
“The current situation is offputting, taxi drivers and vans can be the worst, they often mount the pavement and ignore the signs, but there’s no-one here to do anything about it.”
And Scoozi owner Alfredo Ndoci said: “The worst thing is when cars go outside the restaurant and they blow smoke at the customers who are sat outside eating. Cars are turning around tables – it is ridiculous.”
A council spokesman said: “The area is regularly enforced by the city council's parking enforcement scheme.
“We will continue to monitor the situation.”
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