Brace yourselves for the world’s biggest shopping day

BY Carl Upsall of the Marylebone Association ON November 2, with much hullaballoo, the Mayor of London opened the diagonal crossing at Oxford Circus which, it is hoped, will enab

BY Carl Upsall of the Marylebone Association ON November 2, with much hullaballoo, the Mayor of London opened the diagonal crossing at Oxford Circus which, it is hoped, will enable more pedestrians to cross safely and reduce the congestion on the pavements in that area. This is good news for shoppers, workers and retailers.

The same might also be said for the New West End Company's event on December 5, which is being billed as the World's Biggest Shopping Day. This will be the fifth Shop West End VIP (Very Important Pedestrians) Day. As the press release says:

"From midday on Saturday 5 December, Oxford Street and Regent Street will go traffic free. With over four million square feet of retail space over the two streets set up to welcome and reward Christmas shoppers, Shop West End VIP Day is now the World's Biggest Christmas Shopping Day."

This will mean another day of rerouted buses, taxis and disorientated car-drivers clogging up the streets of Marylebone. Unfortunately for us these events have the support of the Mayor of London and Westminster City Council, despite the unanimous opposition from residents' associations for the surrounding areas.

In another similar initiative in Soho, Cllr Danny Chalkley said: "This initiative gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of pollution in congested roads and encourages people to ditch their cars and use other modes of transport". If that is the objective, we hope that Westminster will take up two of our requests:

1.Measure the air quality impact for Marylebone on "traffic-free" days; and

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2.Scrap free parking in Marylebone for shoppers on Sundays. This is an encouragement of unnecessary car use which clogs the roads, puts strain on residents parking and slows down the bus network.

This summer there was a petition from residents to the Mayor of London requesting that the traffic lights on Marylebone Road be re-phased to allow pedestrians to cross from the north to the south side without being stuck in the central reservation.

Unfortunately the Mayor and TfL have chosen to ignore the request, meaning that the large number of pedestrians emerging from Baker Street and Marylebone stations will continue to be stranded in the middle of one of the most polluted roads in Europe.

q I know that rubbish is a recurring theme in this column, but I would like to appeal to Westminster to reconsider its latest money-saving initiative, which is the introduction of a �20 charge for the collection of up to 10 large items, scheduled to operate from today.

Marylebone, like much of Westminster, has a high proportion of transient residents in rented accommodation.

This leads to a high turnover of furniture (especially mattresses). If these items are collected free-of-charge then there is no excuse, and no incentive, for dumping.

It is almost certain that the introduction of this charge will lead to more fly-tipping in those areas where there is already a problem, and place the burden on local residents to alert the council (who will not be able to charge for the collection).

This is only adding to a problem caused by infrequent emptying of black bins which, once overflowing, attract fly-tipping. If the council wants its Don't Dump campaign to work, it must first make it easier, not harder, to recycle and discard responsibly.