Conservative councillor called out as ‘bully’ for threats of ‘violent demonstrations’ over cycle lanes

Harvey Odze with David Cameron (Photograph: @HarveyOdze/Twitter)

Harvey Odze with David Cameron (Photograph: @HarveyOdze/Twitter)

A Conservative councillor has been chastised by the borough’s environment chief as a “bully” for threatening violent demonstrations in response to the Town Hall’s cycle lane policy.

Cllr Harvey Odze (Con, Springfield) was speaking in response to the Living in Hackney scrutiny commission’s report on its investigation into the borough’s readiness to deliver segregated cycle lanes in some areas of Hackney.

The report, presented to the Town Hall’s 23 January full council meeting, recommends exploring signalled crossings at strategic points in future cycle lanes, as well as consulting Wheels for Wellbeing and the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) in future schemes.

Cllr Odze said: “They want to put segregated cycle lanes along West Bank, which has very low traffic and does not need a cycle lane, and taking out a whole strip of parking in a place where parking is at a premium.

“You’re going to cause riots, literal riots on the streets. I can guarantee you that if you introduce that cycle lane in West Bank, you will have demonstrations outside this Town Hall, violent demonstrations.”

The threat provoked calls of “outrageous” at the packed council meeting, which also saw a motion to reject a no-deal Brexit.

Cllr Jon Burke (Lab, Woodberry Down), cabinet member for energy, sustainability and community services responded directly to Cllr Odze’s words, saying: “We will always put the children of this borough and its most vulnerable residents first, and not you or any of your threats of violence in this chamber are going to stop us, do you understand me? You bully.”

The exchange was brought to an end by the Town Hall’s Speaker, Cllr Clare Potter (Lab, Brownswood), saying: “Enough, members, enough. I am chair – enough.”

Cllr Odze has previously hit the local headlines for labelling the vaccine for human papilloma virus as “21st century thalidomide”, and his belief that climate change is a hoax.

Segregated cycle lanes are designed to protect cyclists from motor vehicles by setting up physical barriers between lane and road, such as kerbs and posts.

Addressing Cllr Odze, Cllr Feryal Demirci (Lab, Hoxton East & Shoreditch), Hackney Deputy Mayor and cabinet member for health, social care, transport and parks said: “The hundreds of people that are killed on our streets in London are not by cyclists but by cars.

“Cars are a danger to our residents and across London, so if Cllr Odze is concerned about road safety, he should be looking to do something about cars on our streets.

“I’m very proud to have overseen a massive transformation in the roads for cycling in the last ten years. Hackney is the best cycling borough in London, if not the country, but I want to make sure it remains that in the future.”

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