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​MP calls out "criminal behaviour" after local councillors receive faeces in their mailbox for implementing LTNs

Death threats were also sent to an MP and his loved ones by the anti-LTN protestors, who is asking people to “calm down”

Exeter City Council's trial of low-traffic neighbourhoods has been been subject to much controversy and vandalism in recent months, however, things went up a notch when the protestors resorted to filling councillors' letterboxes with faeces and sending death threats to not only the Exeter's Labour MP, but also his loved ones.

MP Sir Ben Bradshaw has asked the "overzealous" protestors to "calm down" and put an end to "abusive and alarming criminal behaviour".

The Heavitree Active Streets trial began on August 3 within areas of Heavitree and Whipton as part of an 18-month trial. The scheme, which is now in a statutory six-month consultation period, includes four modal filters using bollards or planters, as well as four bus gates to allow access to local residents, buses, and emergency vehicles.

> Masked youths rip out new LTN bollards in Exeter – then flee by bicycle

However, a week after the trial began, masked youths ripped out the bollards — and then fled using bicycles. In response, police had warned that removing such barriers constitutes a criminal offence, adding that they are monitoring anti-LTN groups on social media.

While some residents have aired our their concerns about the LTN, it seems that the protestors have decided to traverse a different route. Besides the death theats and putting faeces in the letterbox, one Exeter councillor who supports the traffic calming measure said that he's had the tyres of his bicycle slashed.

Magdalen Road and Denmark Road junction, Exeter (Google Maps)

Magdalen Road and Denmark Road junction, Exeter (Google Maps)

Exeter's retiring MP Sir Bradshaw, who's a cyclist and has previously spoken out in favour of the council's attempts to improve the environment, told DevonLive that he received an email a couple of weeks ago which referenced the LTN and included serious threats to him and his loved ones. An Exeter man has been cautioned following a police investigation.

> Exeter cyclist reports 14 motorists who went down pop-up bike lane

Bradshaw said: "Any MP will tell you that receiving death threats is unfortunately part of the job. It just struck me how idiotic it was over something like this, but it's much worse for local councillors.

"They have been subjected to appalling abuse and defamation on social media and elsewhere. These are people who stand for election for office and dedicate an awful lot of time for very little, if any, financial return to serve their local communities.

"It's not acceptable to be subjected to this sort of behaviour. Even ordinary people who speak up publicly or on social media in support of the scheme are abused and threatened.

"I have been getting increasingly concerned about the tone of some of the discussions and debates around the active travel scheme. It's a local authority issue and an issue for local councillors but I’ve had a death threat over it. I think it illustrates how some of it has gotten completely out of hand with increasing criminal damage and other aspects of it.

"I would call for people to just calm down and use their voices and the powers of democracy without resorting to this behaviour."

A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: "A report of malicious communications on September 21 was investigated by officers and, as a result of this, a man from the Exeter area received a police caution."

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

While LTN vandalism and extreme actions by those in opposition to the measures are far from being uncommon, the news of the Exeter incidents come after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was accused of seeking to exploit division over LTNs and deepen the rift between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, after ordering a review of the schemes by charity CyclingUK.

After an interview with the Sunday Telegraph where Sunak claimed that "the vast majority of people in the country use their cars to get around and are dependent on their cars", Cycling UK CEO Sarah Mitchell insisted that people want to reduce their dependency on motor vehicles and that interventions such as LTNs enable to do just that, and that it was “lazy to label LTNs as anti-car.”

> Rishi Sunak’s ‘Plan for Motorists’ will “rob people of choice” and force them to drive, say cycling and walking campaigners

She said: “Rather than attempting to pit drivers, cyclists and pedestrians against one other through divisive rhetoric, and turning low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) into a political football, the government should be celebrating their popularity and success.

“Evidence shows LTNs are overwhelmingly popular, and their support only increases once they’ve been implemented and people see the benefits.

“It’s lazy to label LTNs anti-car, people want to be less car dependent. Liveable neighbourhoods give people the opportunity to drive less and cycle more, consequently enjoying cleaner air, safer streets and less traffic and congestion.”

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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13 comments

Avatar
LordSandwich | 9 months ago
1 like

"...masked youths ripped out the bollards — and then fled using bicycles." I can't quite get over the irony of that! 🤣

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ubercurmudgeon | 9 months ago
3 likes

These anti-LTN people, like all reactionaries, consider themselves to be "the voice of the silent majority". So presumably they reckon they're posting "the faeces of the silent majority" and "the death threats of the silent majority" in the letterboxes of liberal, elite, wokerati, communist, world-government intellectuals.

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bugsplatterbeast | 9 months ago
7 likes

You know all it takes is for the government to raise the price of petrol/diesel to a tenner a gallon & most motorists will be ditching their cars & taking up cycling. My father never owned a car & yet as a famiky we didn't suffer, in fact we were all healthier for it as we walked & cycled everywhere as a family.

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chrisonabike replied to bugsplatterbeast | 9 months ago
0 likes

You've got at least 3 forces fighting against that being effective.

First some or all aspects of people's current daily routine would need to change if they couldn't afford their car trips. Work, care responsibilities, obtaining provisions and social functions - because we have cars we do choose jobs 20+ miles away or live in places with no shops. Often the alternatives for these longer journeys (bus, train) just don't exist, or would be unworkable with their current timetable.

Second - assuming people felt distances *were* cycleable there's a gap between today's volume of motor traffic and the future reduced volume. Most people simply won't cycle on many UK roads where speeds are high and/or there are many vehicles.

Third - motoring generates enormous profits (or influence) for some people. And a lot more people have jobs which are more or less directly dependant on motoring. The first task is persuading politicians to take on all those interests (and force change on the public!) when they know that their opponents (of every party) will immediately say they're on the side of those others.

I agree with the idea - currently motorists are subsidised by the taxpayer when all sums are included. There is also a lot of low-hanging fruit - eg. journeys of a couple of miles or continued "convenience" car use in cities. But unless the fuel suddenly runs out or we're all broke for another reason any politicians seriously pushing up fuel prices will just get run out of office.

We're so car-dependent and it's baked in to our built environment. It will take a lot of time and better provision of alternatives to budge people. They just don't see an alternative. At the least we need a network of adequate cycle infra, improved public transport, changes to how we get our food and provision of amenities AND probably many people moving closer to places they access regularly eg. work.

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LordSandwich replied to bugsplatterbeast | 9 months ago
2 likes

bugsplatterbeast wrote:

raise the price of petrol/diesel to a tenner a gallon

Well, at 160p per litre it's around £7 a gallon, so it's pretty close, and most people aren't budging. That's probably about £30 per tank extra, which is a bit of a squeeze, but a lot of people will just groan and put up with it, because the alternatives to driving are still worse a lot of the time.

You can't just squeeze motorists and expect that to work; you have to create better infrastructure such as protected cycle lanes and more public transport.

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peted76 replied to LordSandwich | 9 months ago
1 like

I wholly agree.. whilst we (here) all want people out of cars where at all possible, raising fuel prices just hurts the poorest and puts people into strife. We need to level up other transport options and normalise safe travel and health benefits of cycling and walking with joe public, the recent bus trip cap of £2 per journey is exactly what we need, but unless something changes it's not sustainable in the long term. Train fairs are 5x the price they need to be to get people out of their cars and I can't justify why our trains are so much more expensive then our neighbours (the bad news here is that a lot of trains are at capacity).

As far as making drivists 'pay' for this, I agree, but it need not be at the pump, it should against size, weight and emissions of the vehicle. Reduce the size of cars on our roads and there will be more space for everyone. 

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wycombewheeler replied to peted76 | 9 months ago
0 likes

peted76 wrote:

 Train fairs are 5x the price they need to be

Train fares are very variable. I got the train to Newhaven from London for only £6. No one will ever convince me they can drive that Journey for the same price.

Meanwhile £30 for a return to London from home, noA journey of only 42km each way. 

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chrisonabike replied to peted76 | 9 months ago
1 like

I partly agree.  On one hand the issue is clear (to some...) and there is a proven model, working in several other countries that we can import.  The difficult thing is that our infrastructure / amenities, our routines, many jobs and our culture / though processes are shaped by our high level of motor transport (motornormativity).  We're not unique in this regard, but we're still going in the direction of more driving.

Many people think the current UK situation is problematic and some think it's unsustainable.  There seemed to be some vague political agreement on this also - until the Conservatives suddenly saw political capital in saying they'd do the opposite and Labour decided they couldn't afford to risk rocking the boat.

So to remedy the current situation (absent some new technology to kick the can further down the road) unfortuately that does mean we need to decrease motoring, to make it less convenient and to make drivers bear its full costs.  We're human, so any change is likely to seem a "loss" and that is extremely salient.  Also for many people things "work" for them (we're all used to "what is") so doing something different looks both arbitrary and unnecessary.

Merely reducing the size of the cars isn't going to cut it (although that wouldn't hurt anyone, except the manufacturers...).  We need a lot more "pull" (towards other modes / reducing the amount we travel) but because motoring is so ingrained that alone won't work.  We also need quite a lot of "push" (motoring being less convenient / people paying the full costs of this activity).  People aren't voluntarily chosing the other options that we've made less attractive!  But increasing costs too quickly will just increase resistance because people simply don't see they have alternatives, or they feel their lives would be "impossible" without so much driving...

Sadly - if we start this process at all in the UK (I'm not sure we have yet) - it's the work of generations.  They managed a lot in NL in one generation but that is because they started with much higher level of usage of other modes than we have (especially cycling).  Also this happened when the issues were very stark (a rapid increase in motoring, combined with a serious increase in deaths, especially children, plus economics / geopolitics eg. an oil crisis).  They also managed to get support from top to bottom of society.

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Cugel replied to LordSandwich | 9 months ago
0 likes

LordSandwich wrote:

You can't just squeeze motorists and expect that to work; you have to create better infrastructure such as protected cycle lanes and more public transport.

No need to create a better infrastructure for cycling, buses, walking and the like. The already extant roads are very good for these and would be ideal if they weren't infested with millions of badly-driven and polluting cars that most of the drivers can't really afford but currently have to.

Imagine a political will to hand back the roads to far less dangerous, far less expensive and far less polluting transporters - bikes, buses and railways. Is it possible? Certainly - Britain used to be like this around 75 years ago, with far less cars, far more buses and railways and a lot of people using bikes for their everyday transport as well as their leisure.

Is it likely? Not a chance, given the state of today's politics and its ownership by big business, finance capitalism and the New Model Aristocracy of very rich loonies of the intensely self-centred little skinbag variety.

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David9694 | 9 months ago
6 likes

great to see the type of behaviour this government encourages - see also 

Speed cameras have been chopped down by vandals

The poles, across the border in Cornwall, were installed at the start of this year at the request of local residents.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/speed-cameras-been-chopped-dow...

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hutchdaddy replied to David9694 | 8 months ago
0 likes

Bladescummers.

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Car Delenda Est | 9 months ago
5 likes

Anyone want to bet on whether the media report on this?

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hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
11 likes

Completely normal adult behaviour in a modern democracy

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