A consultation event on bringing in an ‘active neighbourhood’ to part of Oldham has led the council’s deputy leader to say the proposal 'will not happen in its current form'.

But Oldham Council criticised people for trying to disrupt the sessions and for ‘intimidating’ council officers and stressed the proposals for Chadderton North and Westwood are still under consultation.

Transport for Greater Manchester planners hope the scheme – which would see motor traffic restricted in some areas through the use of bollards or cameras – will make the area safer for walking and cycling by cutting rat running.

The plans would mean that, while all the area could be driven to, it would not be possible to use it as a cut-through.

A consultation meeting on Tuesday afternoon was disrupted by shouting and officers had to implore people to sit down, with more than expected in attendance.

Council deputy leader Cllr Abdul Jabbar, who represents Coldhurst ward, told those gathered the scheme would not happen in its current form – but could barely be heard over a large amount of shouting at the event.

Cllr Jabbar received applause for saying the scheme wouldn’t happen but later admitted that the proposals would only be cancelled if the next planned consultation events showed a similar sentiment towards the plans.

He also admitted that road traffic around a school in the area was ‘chaos and dangerous’ in its current form.

ALSO READ: Oldham Tories criticise plan to stop rat-running drivers.

An estimated 200 people turned up to the first of four consultation events planned for Tuesday.

The second event, with around 15 people, was much calmer but residents did still share concerns.

The Oldham Times: A map of the access zones planA map of the access zones plan (Image: Oldham Council)

Some residents raised concerns as to the volume of traffic in the area and pavement parking.

‘People feel that it’s being imposed upon them’

Many expressed their dismay at the event – leading Cllr Jabbar, who said he had never had a meeting like it in 35 years as a councillor, to come out against the plans – after originally having an ‘open mind’ towards them.

Cllr Jabbar said: “We can’t have a situation where we’re doing something and people feel that it’s being imposed upon them – what they don’t want is the bus gate and the filtering of the traffic.”

The Oldham Times: An example journey if the access zones are implementedAn example journey if the access zones are implemented (Image: Oldham Council)

Part of the plans include creating ‘school streets’ – which restrict motor traffic outside schools during pick up and drop off plans.

Cllr Jabbar said he had visited Burnley Brow school recently with council officers.

Speaking with a council officer at the event, Cllr Jabbar said: “When we visited Burnley Brow, you were right – it was chaos, and it was dangerous.

“But that period only lasted 30 minutes from school beginning and school ending time.

“People are saying we are taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Cllr Jabbar said: “I think we can still come up with measures that will reduce traffic flow, will possibly make the roads safer, and hopefully make roads quieter, so you can still achieve that objective.”

Council criticises attempts to ‘intimidate’

A council spokesman said: “Oldham Council has always been open about our proposals to introduce an active neighbourhood in these two areas.

“We totally understand some people will be opposed to what they have seen and heard.

"But we have to stress these are only proposals at this stage.

“The final scheme will be shaped by what comes out of the consultation, which is still ongoing.

“That’s why we urge everyone with an opinion to take part so their views can be taken into account."

They added: “Last year we carried out some early engagement in the community but we were limited in what we could do due to Covid.

“Since launching the consultation, and to ensure as many people as possible have been made aware of our plans, we have leafleted houses and businesses in the areas.

“We have also set up a specific webpage, used social media, shared information via newsletters and also issued a press release which has been covered by local and regional media.

“The large turnout at the four community sessions show people are aware of the plans.

“Unfortunately a number of people attempted to disrupt the sessions and intimidate officers.

“That is not on - they are stopping other people finding out information and having their say.”

Oldham Council encouraged anyone with an opinion on the scheme to respond to the consultation on its website.

Paper copies of the consultation packs which include the leaflet, survey and a paid return envelope can be requested at active.travel@oldham.gov.uk.

The consultation closes on Friday, November 4.