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Mayor of London says his relationship with Westminster Council has been ‘shattered’

Political squabbling continues over Oxford Street shake-up as Sadiq Khan withdraws funding

14 December, 2018 — By Tom Foot

The Oxford Street pedestrianisation plan was supposed to be finished before Christmas 

THE Mayor of London has warned that a working relationship with Westminster Council on the future of Oxford Street has been “shattered” after he pulled funding out of the project.

Sadiq Khan has written a stinging letter to the council leader criticising a £150million plan to transform the shopping district and has also withdrawn £43million of funding be believes would be better spent on cycle super-highways out of central London.

The Extra understands that despite the row the Mayor will still receive a talking Christmas e-card from council leader Nickie Aiken this year.

It is the latest escalation of political squabbling between the two authorities that began when the council backed out of a joint plan to pedestrianise Oxford Street in April.

Sadiq Khan

The decision was taken in a pre-election panic when the concept of making the street car-free appeared to be having a toxic impact on the Conservative Party’s push for re-election.

Residents’ associations had said the scheme would force traffic into neighbouring streets, and fielded candidates in key Conservative-held wards.

Since the collapse of the pedestrianisation project, tit-for-tat spats between the authorities have been common. In the summer the council took Mr Khan’s Transport for London (TfL) to the High Court after it attempted to start working on the CS11 cycle superhighway from Swiss Cottage to the Oxford Circus, before the council had agreed how the scheme would work around Regent’s Park.

Now the council has come up with its alternative plan for Oxford Street.

Council leader Nickie Aiken

In his letter to the council leader, Mr Khan said the row “shattered any confidence I have in a positive working relationship with the council on the future of Oxford Street”.

The council’s consultation on major changes to Oxford Circus, Marble Arch and Cavendish Square is in its final week but there is still time to have a say.

The scheme includes 90 different projects across 85 locations in the Oxford Street district but does not propose pedestrianising the famous shopping street.

The Mayor’s letter said: “By maintaining two-way traffic, the pavements of Oxford Street will remain overcrowded, a situation that will only get worse when the Elizabeth line opens.”

He also said the scheme could leave Oxford Street open to a terrorist attack from “hostile vehicles”.

Council planning chief Cllr Richard Beddoe said: “We’d never play fast and loose with the safety of anyone on our streets and to suggest otherwise in relation to our plans for Oxford Street is plain wrong. It’s encouraging that over two-thirds of those we’ve consulted to date support our ambitious approach to breathe new life into Oxford Street with more leisure, hotels and new office space to complement an amazing retail experience.”

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