'Human bollards' face off against angry drivers in Oxford

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image copyrightOxford Pedestrians Association
image captionOxford Pedestrians Association is protesting at the lack of working rising bollards in Oriel Square

Protesters acting as "human bollards" to block drivers passing through a prohibited street say they were abused, threatened, and driven at.

Oxford Pedestrians Association (OXPA) protested at the lack of working rising bollards in Oxford's Oriel Square.

Three campaigners stood at the spot for an hour, and said about 70 vehicles attempted to pass through illegally.

Oxfordshire County Council said it was aiming to get the bollards operational but had to carry out some tests.

Regular traffic is prohibited from driving through the square between 07:30 and 18:30 BST.

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According to OXPA, the bollards and traffic cameras "have been broken for around four years, and cars have become accustomed to driving through, knowing they will not be stopped or fined".

A spokesperson wrote on Facebook that at the start of the protest on Saturday afternoon they were "immediately confronted by drivers from all sides, who revved towards us and demanded we move so they could break the law".

"When we refused, they first tried to argue 'legitimate' reasons (e.g. "I'm picking up my child", "I need to go to the pharmacist"), and when that didn't work they became livid.

"Many argued that they had urgent reasons to pass, but then decided to sit in their cars threatening us for the entire hour-duration of the protest rather than find an alternative route."

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They said drivers "blared their horns for minutes on end, swore at us" and that one drove at a protester "forcing her out of the way so that he could pass".

The council said the rising bollards and cameras required a "robust broadband system to work coherently together".

It said it was testing the available internet bandwidth over the next two weeks, and would order new broadband connections if required.

It added: "Motorists must obey all signs and refrain from driving into prohibited areas at specified times. Failure to do so could result in enforcement by the police."

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