Friday, 21 Jun 2024

Furious locals torch planters designed to block roads as night falls

Road closure traffic planters set on fire hours after installation in Rochdale

Furious residents have made their feelings known by setting fire to planters which had been installed to close roads to cars. The road scheme was part of a pedestrianisation plan and was intended to encourage people to use public transport, and walk or cycle instead of using a car, as well as making the area safer for children.

But just hours after they were installed in the Deeplish and Milkstone area of Rochdale, Manchester, videos were being shared on social media of vehicles driving on the pavement to get past them.

And then once it got dark residents decided they’d really had enough of the “active neighbourhood trial” and set light to some of the planters, and forcibly removing others.

Firefighters were called to put the flames out at around 8pm last Thursday, and the trial has now been paused with a further consultation taking place to “consider next steps”.

Rochdale Borough Council branded the action as “violence and threats”, with a spokesperson for the council adding: “While we understand there may be some strong feelings about the active travel trial on both sides, violence and threats will not be tolerated and the police are investigating this incident.

“The damage has now been cleared by the council and the active travel trial has been paused while we consider our next steps.”

Mohammed Yousuf, who runs a shop in one of the affected roads, told Manchester Evening News that many people had raised their concerns over the sudden road closures to him.

Mr Yousuf said: “Most of the community were aware of it being introduced but they weren’t aware how many would be closed at once.

“Why block everything all at once? It added on at least half a mile for a lot of people’s journeys which must have angered some members of the community.

“I passed it on to the local councillor Shahid and told him it (anger) would only get worse and the police and fire service would have to be involved again.”

Mr Yousuf added: “He agreed we needed to sit down and start again and he worked all night on trying to address what had happened.”

Another resident told the MEN: “I think setting fire to it was too far and dangerous. I can understand why there was concern, I don’t think a lot of people knew roads were going to be closed.

“But something does need to be done about the amount of cars around here it’s a nightmare.”

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Milkstone and Deeplish councillor, Shahid Mohammed, said: “Everybody who knows me, knows how much I care about this area and our amazing community and I understand there are some strong feelings out there about the active travel trial.

“However, while we are always willing to listen to feedback and want to work with the local community, violence and threats cannot and will not be tolerated.”

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