New Exeter ‘low traffic neighbourhood’ road blocks are hit by vandals as police investigate and council promises ‘more robust’ bollards

Police are seeking the vandals who daubed graffiti and moved controversial new traffic bollards in Exeter, while the county council has hit back with warnings it will ramp up the blockades.

** Warning: Contains images of offensive/graphic graffiti **

Devon County Council has promised to respond with ‘more robust’ bollards after vandals destroyed key parts of a controversial new traffic scheme in Exeter, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

Police are investigating the removal of traffic bollards placed in Heavitree and Whipton as part of a contentious project to cut traffic in residential streets.

Damaging the bollards is a criminal offence, they say. Replacing them costs more than £200 a time.

A Devon and Cornwall police spokesman said: “We are aware of a number of incidents where traffic bollards have been removed or damaged in the Heavitree, Whipton and Polsloe areas of Exeter.

“We are also aware of a number of social media accounts encouraging such action.

The local neighbourhood team is carrying out enquiries and working with local authorities in relation to the matter.

“Officers are warning the public that causing damage to the bollards is a criminal offence and urging anyone who witnesses such incidents to contact police.

“One incident of criminal damage has so far been reported to police.”

Exeter

Vandals target Exeter’s roadblocks in Heavitree.
Photo: George Poundlander.

Police were called at 11.50pm on Tuesday, August 8, after two bollards were cut down and removed in Hamlin Lane, Exeter.

Officers are seeking the suspects, described as aged around 16-18, and wearing black clothing and caps, plus balaclavas. They were both on bicycles.

Reports have appeared on social media of ‘balaclava-clad’ teenagers on bikes striking in the dead of night to remove bollards.

Supporters say the so-called Low Traffic Neighbourhoods cut air and noise pollution, as well as reducing the risk of accidents. But the Exeter experiment, which began this month, has prompted angry protests and a social media campaign to reverse the initiative.

Opponents say blocked roads mean longer journeys, congestion and delays in emergency vehicles getting to incidents.

Exeter

The road is completely blocked off to motorists – prompting anger from some motorists.
Photo: George Poundlander.

Exeter

Vandals daubed graffiti on road blocks.
Photo: George Poundlander.

A county council spokesman said: “If there are further incidents of vandalism, we may have to install more robust, vandal-proof measures but we would ask the local community to please work with us and provide feedback via the statutory consultation.”

Police say they are aware of incidents in Heavitree, Whipton and Polsloe, as well as some social media accounts encouraging action.

They said one incident of criminal damage was reported to them on Tuesday night where two bollards were cut down and removed in Hamlin Lane.

Officers said the suspects were about 16-to-18 years old, wearing black clothing and caps and balaclavas.

The scheme has divided opinion sharply in Exeter. The city’s Green Party posted on social media: “We urge Devon County Council to hold its nerve and see the Heavitree and Whipton active streets trial through. Many people welcome changes which make their streets safer and less polluted.”

And Cllr Carol Bennett (Green, Heavitree) said that once established, low traffic neighbourhoods become very popular.

Opponents, however, are planning to protest at County Hall, in Exeter.

  • Anyone with information to help the police investigation can report it here, or call 101, quoting crime reference 50230217738.

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