Staff were misled into signing anti-LTN petition, says business owner

·3-min read
Missing Bean in Magdalen Road. Picture Marc West/Oxford Mail (2018)
Missing Bean in Magdalen Road. Picture Marc West/Oxford Mail (2018)

Campaigners against the low traffic neighbourhood schemes misled local businesses into supporting their calls to oppose LTNs, claims a business owner.

He said a member of staff was ‘duped’ into signing a petition.

Anti-LTN protesters visited all the local businesses in the Magdalen Road area during their busiest periods, asking them to sign a piece of paper which all local businesses were signing, he said.

In fact, their names were being added to a letter stating their opposition to the LTN trials.

Ori Harup, founder and director of Missing Bean Coffee Roasters on Magdalen Road  said: "Our cafe manager, Vicky, was approached by someone during a busy shift and was just told that she needs to sign this piece of paper and that all the businesses are doing so.

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"She signed without thinking much about it and the next thing I know our business name is on an open letter which we knew nothing about."

Mr Harup, who has moved away from Oxford, said: "I support the LTNs fully. I lived in this area for many years, have a young daughter and many friends with children at school age – it’s great for the community and for our children."

Some businesses have since asked for their names to be removed from petitions.

Mr Harup said: "It's a whole political issue that I wish we were never involved in. After she had mistakenly signed the petition we then ended up receiving quite a lot of online abuse because of it.

"I am personally pro the LTNs. That is me as a person and our company doesn't have a strong stand point on it. We have spoken about it at work and different people have different views."

Cllr Saj Malik who is among the leaders of the opposition to the experimental LTNs said he had never heard of this happening.

He said: "However these people were visited by pro LTN councillors and they changed their statements. It's an old story. To be honest, why would someone who runs a business sign any paper?"

Meanwhile a former Lord Mayor has launched The Magdalen Road Village initiative to raise awareness of the eclectic mix of local shops in the area, which he believes will thrive now that it is more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists.

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Craig Simmons, who lives on the street, and himself ran a small business on Magdalen Road for more than a decade, said: "Small businesses are operating in an extremely challenging environment  post-pandemic with the rise in online retail, pressure from chain stores, supply chain challenges, rising operating costs and now the steep drop off in consumer confidence.

"Enlightened businesses realise that they need to offer something different. The Magdalen Road Village initiative aims to bring traders together with local residents to collectively promote their offer to a wider audience."

The launch was attended by many locals, local residents Cllr Rosie Rawle and Cllr Katherine Miles, and business owners and staff from The Goldfish Bowl, Wild Honey and Magic Café.

The LTNs were introduced in the Divinity Road, St Clement’s, and St Mary’s areas of East Oxford by the county council in May to prevent traffic from taking shortcuts and to create quieter and safer streets.

A consultation runs until at least November 30.

 

 

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