Five arrested after mass protests against 15 Minutes City in Oxford, UK

Five people were arrested during a mass protest in Oxford, England on February 18. There, thousands marched against the popular idea of ​​controversial traffic filters, low-traffic areas (LTNs), and 15-minute cities.

Thames Valley Police said in a statement that “a series of demonstrations” had been held against “proposed traffic filters in areas with low traffic and in the city”.

A video shared on Twitter showed a steady crowd of people of all ages marching and holding signs For traffic filters, LTN, and 15 minute cities. dense crowd I could see them gathering peacefully in public places. A sign that says “Say no in 15 minutes” City Ghetto” can be seen. Another sign in the large crowd, seen via footage captured by Rebellion News, read: “You are the carbon they want to cut.”

“The demonstration proceeded peacefully, with large numbers of people estimated at around 2,000 gathering in the city to express their democratic right to demonstrate,” police said. said.

The statement noted that “significant policing efforts” were being conducted “to ensure the safety of all in attendance while also attempting to limit disruption to the public.” Thames Valley Police reportedly did not specify the number of officers involved. oxford mail.

Chief Superintendent Colin Payne, who is in charge of policing the protests, said he was “satisfied that the demonstration ended without any serious incidents or major disruptions”, adding that people were “mostly in compliance with the law and protesting peacefully”. Thank you for exercising your right to .

Oxford restrictions

Oxfordshire County Council, including the City of Oxford in November 2022 approved the trial of “Traffic Filter” to help ease urban congestion and reduce air pollution.

Therefore, from 2024, 6 traffic filters imposed on some highways Restricting access for private motorists between 7am and 7pm around the city of Oxford, with fines for violations.

All areas of the county will continue to be accessible by car, but private motorists must obtain a permit valid for 100 days per year to pass the filter.

“Traffic filters are not physical barriers of any kind, nor are they physical road closures. They are simply traffic cameras that can read license plates,” the county and city council said. Said.

“If a vehicle passes the filter at certain times of the day, a camera will read the license plate and (if you do not have an exemption or residence permit) you will receive a fine by mail” . In the face of notice and not paid within two weeks, it will increase to £70.

According to the council, anyone can get through all the filters at any time by bus, bike, taxi, scooter or on foot, and that “exemptions will be given to caregivers, blue badge holders, businesses and emergency services.” increase”.

Oxford in addition to traffic filters Impose 3 LTNs in 2022 It also plans to impose six more LTNs to cover the city in 2024. Bollards have been reported to be installed on some roads to discourage driving.

An LTN is an area where vehicular traffic cannot take shortcuts through residential areas. according to To the prefectural assembly. “This will create quieter and safer streets and help residents feel more comfortable when traveling by bike, wheels or on foot. You may have to find another route instead of going through the streets.”

Separately, the City of Oxford hasLocal Plan 2040‘ will have an impact on the city’s development over the next 20 years. This is in line with his concept of a 15-minute city, also called a walkable city, where basic amenities are accessible in 15 minutes on foot or by bicycle.Bristol, Canterbury, and Sheffieldalso proposes a plan that reflects the concept of a 15-minute city.

Such “15-minute city”-style plans differ from traffic filters and LTNs, but protesters at the Feb. 18 demonstration said restrictive traffic policies were part of the 15-minute city concept. Yes, and that’s what he says he’s aiming for. Restricting people’s movements under the guise of enhancing people’s quality of life and improving air quality.

protesters air concerns

A male protester denounced traffic filters, saying: rebellion news: “It’s essentially restricting people’s right to move. To get around the block, you have to pay the government. And that’s going to kill small businesses, kill tourism, and go crazy.”

A female protester said it was important for her and her friends to join the February 18 protests. Before this gets out of hand…just restrict people’s freedom of movement. “

“Ultimately, we are not given a choice,” another protester told the outlet. We should be able to move, we shouldn’t be fined or limited to what they want us to do.”

Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson Paul Smith said: wrote in the email “Everywhere in the city is accessible by car,” he told the Associated Press, adding that “no one needs a permit from the county council to drive or leave the house.”

Drivers without permits can still travel throughout the city without fines, Smith said, but “will have to take an alternate route or drive around the ring road to avoid traffic filters. There may be,” he pointed out.

Oxfordshire County Council leader Liz Refman and Minister for Travel and Development Strategy Duncan Enright issued a statement in December 2022, calling for widespread misconceptions about the city’s traffic filters. denounced the information.

“I want to be clear that we are not planning a climate change lockdown or any kind of lockdown,” Lefman said, where people would be confined to their homes.

“We’ve had a lot of comments about filters dividing communities and preventing people from visiting loved ones,” Enright said. You can, try to avoid inner city roads as we all know that they suffer from severe traffic jams, delay buses and are dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. ”

A girl who took part in a protest in Oxford share A hypothetical scenario in which a traffic filter policy is challenged. “Let’s say my friend lives in Zone 3 and I live in Zone 1. For example, if I go to my friend’s house in Zone 3, my parents [would] They usually pick you up by car. It only takes 10 minutes.

“So you have to go around the ring road and back into town? [If so], takes 30 minutes, creates much more pollution and leaves a much larger carbon footprint. Is it safe to walk home?

“…then they’ll say, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it…we have a thousand cameras that track you down the street and track you until you get home. Just remember Please, it’s for your safety.… No cameras can stop anyone trying to attack me.I want to be safe, but I give up my freedom and privacy to get it. Not quite ready.”

She also didn’t provide any evidence, but claimed that her 15-minute neighborhood would soon become “a facial recognition zone for digital identities.” She added, “We all know where this is going…these are the first steps in a dystopian reality from 15 Minutes Neighborhood.”