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LTN planters overturned and set on fire by vandals on the first day of trial

Planters in Rochdale’s low-traffic neighbourhood, part of a six-month trial which had ‘area-wide support’, are the latest target of vandals

Vandals have targeted LTN planters in Deeplish, Rochdale on the first day of their installation, overturning and setting them alight.

The traffic filtering scheme was introduced by the Rochdale Borough Council as a part of the Milkstone and Deeplish Active Neighbourhood in February this year, on a six-month trial period.

The new planters had been installed for just a day when a few people decided to take matters into their hand and indulge in arson.

Following a consultation in 2021 which received “area-wide support for highway changes”, the council decided to implement the measures on a trial basis.

This is not the first time vandals have used fire to get rid of LTN filters. Last year, a ‘civil war’ ensued in Oxford as bollards and planters were repeatedly targeted, when half of the planters and bollards were ripped out in less than 24 hours of their installation, with people using power tools to cut them down.

A few months before this in March, another road user rammed it off the road where it was stopping motorists drive past a primary school.

Moreover, anti-LTN groups on Facebook have previously threatened arson, which became a reality in July, when a group of hooded men set fire to the bollards in Iffley, Oxford at night, melting them down to a black gunk of metal.

Rochdale’s episode seems to have been in more than one location. On the Facebook post with the video, with people commenting similar incidents happening in Ashfield Road and Durham Street nearby.

The post, as expected, drew reactionary comments from people who couldn’t hide their joy at the act. “We need to find and thank the hero what has done this” wrote one person, while another commented: “Reaction is good its time we take over the country back”.

A few people also argued that the Active Neighbourhood was the latest step in locking them in “the 15-minute prisons”.

Schemes like these have been labelled as ‘controversial’ by some in other parts of Greater Manchester, with Manchester Evening News reporting that modal filters in Longford Park, Stretford were ‘incredibly divisive’ for the community. However, in the council’s consultation, a majority of the public voted in favour of the low traffic network.

There were quite a few, though, who expressed their shock and concern at the event. A Manchester photographer wrote on Twitter: “This is shocking, but has happened elsewhere. Please hope Councillors and Rochdale Council stay strong. Near me similar happened nr [sic] Longford Park. Thankfully the trial was allowed to happen & residents backed it. Now all is settled and those roads are no longer rat runs.”

> Anti-LTN vandals won't intimidate us, says Chris Boardman

Similar events took place in Levenshulme, Greater Manchester as well, with drivers literally ramming the planters down. Thankfully, they were swiftly repaired by the community and bolted down.

Teething problems, or initial hostility towards filters, is widely documented, and is evidenced by the fact that these vandalism acts take place very soon after the bollards or planters are installed.

Tom Jeff commented on Facebook: “What you need to understand is that it'll take a couple of weeks for these changes to become widely known, after which point the fuss will die down. Local residents will appreciate the improved safety and much quieter streets. The vandals will go elsewhere (you don't think these are the only laws they break do you?) and life will return to normal. Except it'll be more pleasant.”

“No matter how much vandalism these criminals cause, as they're speeding around your residential roads, the council will just keep spending your money repairing the damage they cause. Until finally, they're made permanent.”

Amidst all this mess, Harry Gray from Salford, Manchester perhaps provided a fresh breath of sanity: “If you feel like telling Rochdale council how angry you are a small minority of thugs can destroy a scheme that the many are in favour of. Send them an email here: highways [at]”

Adwitiya joined in 2023 after finishing his masters in Journalism from Cardiff University, with a dissertation focusing on active travel. He's currently living in Cardiff and for the most part moans about the abruptly ending cycle lanes, if he's not cursing the headwind. Adwitiya also covers local and national politics for Voice Wales, and sometimes dabbles in topics related to science, tech and the environment. Cycling became a part of his life just a couple of years ago, and now he can't think of a single reason why anyone would drive if they could cycle. He usually uses his bike for commuting, but he also loves excursions on the Taff trail, however never underestimate his ability to find an excuse to watch something on GCN instead.

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