‘Our roads, our say’ – Exeter low traffic neighbourhood protesters urge county chiefs to ‘stop the block’

Protesters angry at new Low Traffic Neighbourhood roadblocks imposed on residential areas of Exeter have demonstrated outside County Hall.

A controversial new Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in Exeter is causing misery for local residents and delaying emergency services, Councillors have heard, writes local democracy reporter Guy Henderson.

Dozens of protesters greeted members of Devon County Council when they turned up for their meeting at County Hall in Exeter on Thursday (September 7).

Exeter

Protesters rallied outside County Hall, Exeter.
Photo: Guy Henderson/LDR.

Banners were unfurled and passing drivers hooted horns as people objecting to road closures in Heavitree and Whipton, in Exeter, made their presence felt.

One protester wearing a clown’s wig addressed drivers from the pedestrian crossing to the building, while another briefly blocked the road leading into the car park.

Inside the council chamber, a succession of speakers outlined their objections to a scheme they say is damaging businesses and delaying emergency services, as well as causing disruption to journeys.

Exeter

Protesters demonstrated outside County Hall, Exeter.
Photo: Guy Henderson/LDR.

Devon County Council says the LTN creates a safer and more attractive environment for walkers and cyclists by keeping through-traffic out of residential streets.

Four ‘modal filters’ – planters or bollards – have been installed to prevent access by all vehicles, as well as four ‘bus gates’ that can only be used by buses, emergency vehicles and certain other exempt classes of vehicle.

Changes have been introduced in Ladysmith Road, St Marks Avenue, Hamlin Lane, Whipton Lane and Vaughan Road, among others.

But protesters say the scheme does more harm than good, and they fear the Exeter trial scheme will be the first of many.

Matthew Rowberry, who chairs the Heavitree Traders Association, said: “Traders are fully committed to low emissions, but this LTN is a step too far.”

He said the council’s consultation process was flawed and based on out-of-date information, and there had been a lack of engagement.

He went on: “This farcical solution will have catastrophic effects on trade within Heavitree and Whipton. Numerous customers say they will no longer come because of the blockages.

“In my whole life as a Devonian, I have never experienced such a situation where so many have been forced to give up so much to benefit so few.”

Trader Joe Bolton said the blocked roads had affected his sweets delivery business.

“This council is here to represent us,” he said. “This community has spoken. The bollards are not wanted, they are not helpful and they should be removed.”

Mr Bolton also claimed that a first responder had been seriously delayed in attending a recent emergency inside the LTN area.

And objector Angela Martin added: “Pollution has not been reduced. The only change is that for some of us who need to drive, life has become a misery.”

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