Florence Pugh's dad blasts LTN 'dictators' after his café closed

Florence Pugh’s father blasts LTN ‘dictators’ after he was forced to close his Spanish café due to low traffic neighbourhood scheme despite his Oppenheimer star daughter bailing him out

The father of Hollywood star Florence Pugh says ‘stupid’ low-traffic neighbourhood schemes should be scrapped and claims the policy helped lay waste to one of his cafes in Oxford.

Clinton Pugh, who owns businesses on the city’s busy Cowley Road, has accused Oxfordshire County Council of acting like ‘dictators’ by imposing LTNs and ignoring local opposition.

He spoke out as Rishi Sunak ordered ministers to review the proliferation of LTNs and the blanket imposition of 20 mile-an-hour zones after the Tories narrowly won in Uxbridge because of the ULEZ policy being pursued by Sadiq Khan in outer London. 

Mr Pugh, whose daughter Florence is fast becoming one of Britain’s biggest stars in Hollywood, has castigated LTNs, adding: ‘The losses have been so high that I have lost a site.’ 

He says 1.2miles of roads in Oxford have been ‘blocked’, causing congestion, pollution and damage to the local economy.

‘It drives all the traffic on to the ring road. We can’t all ride bicycles. It has become more difficult to get here, people just don’t come. You can’t get staff, they can’t get home or they have to have taxis. The cost of these things is just astronomical and people don’t want to work. Tradesmen can’t come because it takes too long to get here’, he said.

Actress Florence Pugh’s father Clinton blames low-traffic neighbourhood for the closure of one of his Oxford cafes

Florence Pugh with her parents Clinton Pugh and Deborah Mackin at the premiere of ‘A Good Person’ in New York in March

Mr Pugh says that LTNs and the pandemic have contributed to the closure of one of his businesses

Campaigners insist LTNs improve air quality, lower crime and reduce traffic in residential streets. Mr Pugh says that claims that pollution is lowered are false. 

He said: ‘Why is it ok for residents to park their cars here but nobody else can get here. Why do it all at once. It’s just not thought through properly. It’s really stupid. They’re acting like dictators. This is the problem. They’re asking for our opinion – but they’re not listening’.

Energy Minister Andrew Bowie said today that the LTNs could be scrapped if they are making it harder for people to work and travel at a time when the economy is struggling.

The schemes implemented by local councils are designed to boost cycling and walking by selectively closing off roads to motor traffic. But critics say they simple move traffic problems to other areas.

Mr Bowie told ITV’s Good Morning that the Government remains committed to ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2030. But he added: ‘That is the aim of this Government and we remain committed to that but we also recognise there are huge cost-of-living pressures on the people in Britain right now which is why we must do more to support those people and which is why we think that where they are not working or where there is not local support low-traffic neighbourhood projects should be looked at again.’

Rishi Sunak has ordered ministers to review the proliferation of LTNS and the blanket imposition of 20 mile-an-hour zones.

Future guidance on clean air zones is already under review following controversy over Sadiq Khan’s plans for a massive expansion of the £12.50-a-day Ulez tax on older cars in London.

Ministers are also considering a big expansion of funding for filling in potholes, as they seek to make support for the motorist a key dividing line with Labour at next year’s election. Town centre parking will also be examined.

Rishi Sunak has ordered ministers to review the proliferation of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20 mile-an-hour-zones

The review will examine local support for Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and 20mph zones

A Tory source said: ‘We are looking at the idea of a new deal for the motorist. Labour are vulnerable on this stuff because they do not understand how ordinary people live – when you look at how they act in power, whether it’s London or Wales or Oxford, they just want to penalise drivers at every turn. We have an opportunity here to stand up for those people.’ 

The Prime Minister yesterday told drivers he was ‘on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them’.

LTNs were designed to encourage more cycling and walking. But they are unpopular with many motorists who have found themselves barred from driving on familiar routes and forced onto traffic-clogged main roads.

A Government source said: ‘We want to have a healthy balance when it comes to active travel schemes – being supportive of increasing the choice for walking and cycling, but doing it in a way that doesn’t penalise motorists.’

The review will examine whether schemes are supported and what impact they had on the local economy and emergency services. 

A source said that if councils refused to remove ‘particularly egregious’ schemes, then the PM would consider changing the law so ministers can order their closure.

The move follows a backlash against Labour in the Uxbridge by-election where opposition to the expansion of Ulez by the London mayor was a major issue.

The review will also examine 20mph zones. The low speed limit zones are commonplace in towns and cities, but are being rolled out in rural areas, such as in Cornwall.

A Parliamentary question this month revealed that research by the Department for Transport has found the zones cut average speeds by just one mile an hour. A Tory source said ‘the impact of these things is very questionable.’

Ministers believe that Labour would wage war on the motorist in government. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is plotting clean air restrictions across his whole 500-square mile domain. 

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham (pictured) is plotting clean air restrictions across his whole 500-square mile domain

In Labour-run Oxford, officials are looking at barring motorists from driving from one part of the city to another unless they travel out to the ring road.

In Wales, the Labour administration has scrapped most major road building schemes and is due to introduce a 20mph default speed limit in residential areas.

During a visit to Wrexham on Friday the PM said the national imposition of a lower speed limit ‘doesn’t make sense’ and should be restricted to ‘appropriate’ areas ‘for example near schools’. 

Mr Sunak told the Sunday Telegraph he was ‘alarmed’ by Labour’s ‘quite anti-motorist’ stance.

He said: ‘I just want to make sure people know that I’m on their side in supporting them to use their cars to do all the things that matter to them.’

Meanwhile Labour’s trade spokesman Nick Thomas-Symonds said that the party supports ‘well-planned’ LTNs and that he was ‘staggered’ by the PM’s decision to conduct a review. 

The Local Government Association said a national review of LTNs was ‘unnecessary’ as councils are ‘best placed to make decisions’.

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