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Road block planters set alight hours after scheme to encourage public transport launches

Hours after the launch of the Active Neighbourhood trial, in which roads were blocked to encourage people to not drive, planters placed in the way were set alight by fed up residents

Planters used to block a road as part of a new trial to encourage people to use public transport were set alight hours after being put in place.

The Active Neighbourhood trial was launched on February 6 in the Deeplish and Milkstone area of Rochdale.

Traffic filters prohibiting vehicles from using certain roads, by putting planters with 'road closed' signs on them, were installed last Thursday as part of these plans.

Hours after they were put in place videos were shared showing vehicles driving on the pavement to go around them.

Shortly afterwards emergency services were called when some were set alight and forcibly removed from the road.

Businessman Mohammed Yousuf, said he believes many residents support the plans but have concerns at how suddenly the road closures were implemented.

He said: “Why block everything all at once

“Most of the community were aware of it being introduced but they weren't aware how many would be closed at once.

“It added 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.

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

"They have managed to get it paused for now so we can reach an agreement again and proceed from there.

The majority are for the scheme but not in the way it was done here, they shouldn't have blocked every street on the same day.

"A lot of people felt they were not involved in the consultation before so it's good news that they're going to get the community together where we can sit and talk it through, that's what people want.

“People want something done to address the problems the scheme was hoping for but they want it done right."

The 'violence and threats' have been condemned by the council, who cleared up the debris on Friday morning, reopening all affected roads.

The council later announced that the active travel trial this was part of has been paused after the action.

Another resident added: "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."

Milkstone and Deeplish councillor, Shahid Mohammed, worked through the night to address what had happened.

He said: "I have been in contact with senior officers at the Council and spoken to them about the events of last night in Milkstone and Deeplish.

"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.

"The damage is being cleared by the Council and Police are investigating. Because of this, the Active Neighbourhoods trial has been paused while we assess and review the next steps."

A spokesman for Rochdale Borough Council said: "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."

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