London mayor urged to use powers to ban traffic from Britain's top shopping street

Xinhua
London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday was urged to use his powers to ban all traffic for Oxford Street, hailed as Britain's number one shopping street.
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Department store chain House of Fraser's flagship store on Oxford Street in London on June 7, 2018.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Thursday was urged to use his powers to ban all traffic for Oxford Street, hailed as Britain's number one shopping street.

The call at the meeting of the London Assembly, came after Westminster City Council confirmed that they do not support the full scale pedestrianization of London's famous Oxford Street.

The assembly approved a call on the mayor of London to look at the costs and wider benefits of the pedestrianization scheme and to be robust in pursuing the traffic-free scheme.

The assembly said it believed Khan should consider using his powers to pursue the pedestrianization scheme if needed.

Assembler member Caroline Russell said: "If London is going to be a modern, world-leading city we need streets that are safe, comfortable and welcoming for walking and cycling. The backsliding on plans for Oxford Street is really disappointing. London's main shopping street mustn't be left clogged with pollution and vehicles -- a less and less pleasant place to go.

"All the studies show that pedestrianization actually helps shops by creating a public space where people can browse, hang out with friends and get around safely and comfortably. The Mayor already has legal powers to fulfil his manifesto pledge of transforming Oxford Street. He should use them".

Another assembly member Florence Eshalomi said: "At stake is the health and wellbeing of Londoners who are being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic air. If Westminster Council remains unwilling to come back to the table, the mayor should use his power to urgently remove the toxic air-polluting vehicles from Oxford Street."

The Leader of Westminster City Council, Nickie Aiken, said: "Westminster City Council is hugely ambitious for Oxford St and we will do everything we can to ensure the district's long term success in the face of a challenging and ever changing economic and retail environment.

"We can confirm that the council does not support the full scale pedestrianization of Oxford Street and believes a rethink of the whole strategy is now required. It was clear through two public consultations and recent council elections that local people do not support the pedestrianization proposals.

"We must future-proof Oxford St and the surrounding district so it remains the pre-eminent shopping district in the UK and maintains its crown as the nation's high street. The news that the House of Fraser will be closing their Oxford Street store only confirms our view that we all have to work harder to help the retail industry to grow and evolve, not simply stand still or just focus on traffic."

Aiken said Westminster City Council will in the fall release details of its own proposals to improve the Oxford Street district.


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