... as her father hits out at traffic scheme for ‘ killing his cafe business’
THE father of Hollywood star Florence Pugh is embroiled in a row over a controversial traffic scheme he claims is killing the three restaurants he runs.
Clinton Pugh, 64, says Oxford’s ‘low-traffic neighbourhoods’ (LTNs) policy is wrecking livelihoods.
He faces being fined thousands of pounds for putting up signs protesting about the scheme to remove parking spaces and close roads to cars to encourage people to walk and cycle.
One at his restaurant Cafe Coco – where Little Women star Florence once worked – described it as ‘an ill-thoughtout traffic experiment’.
He has refused to remove it, despite the threat of enforcement action.
Oxford City Council wrote to Mr Pugh on January 13, stating that his sign broke planning rules. If it was not taken down within 28 days – by February 10 – he was told he could be fined £2,500.
In response, he has put a banner over it, emblazoned with, ‘ Censored!’, ‘ So much for democracy!’ and ‘1984?’.
He said takings at his firms – Cafe Coco, Kazbar and Cafe Tarifa – plunged after the scheme came in last May.
All three businesses are on Cowley Road, which is at the centre of the zone targeted in a trial by Oxfordshire County Council’s anti-traffic measures.
The LTNs have faced furious opposition since being introduced, with bollards installed to close roads being ripped out, run over and set on fire.
Planters used to cut off streets have been covered in graffiti and their plants pulled out in protest at trade being hit and drivers having to take detours.
Mr Pugh insists he is not against ‘a greener, cleaner Oxford’, but claims the measures have gone too far by cutting off vital trade, leaving businesses fighting for their futures.
He said takings at Cafe Coco, which opened in 1992 and has been frequented by superstar musicians from local bands Radiohead and Supergrass, plunged by 25 per cent when roads were closed.
He insisted his sign and banner were ‘just telling the truth’ about how the environmental initiative was strangling firms that need passing drivers, adding: ‘I could do without this stress. Closing the roads has meant people just aren’t coming. They say it takes too long.’
Referring to the threat of council action, he said: ‘It’s disgusting. I’m upset, I’m tired, I’m worried for my health. They’re just going to destroy my 31 years of hard work.’ Mr Pugh posts photos of his daughter helping out in his restaurants when she comes home.
His three other children – Game of Thrones actor Toby Sebastian, 31, actress and voice coach Arabella Gibbins, 37, and actress Rafaela Pugh, 19 – also all worked in them, too.
Now he claims he faces having to sell them, adding: ‘I’ve been fighting for the small independent businesses on Cowley Road. The little guys that daren’t say anything. They’re destroying livelihoods. I don’t know how long I will survive.’
The city council said: ‘Following a complaint from a member of the public, Oxford City Council wrote to Mr Pugh about the unauthorised advertisement displayed on the building. Such an advertisement requires planning consent.’
Oxfordshire County Council said: ‘East Oxford LTNs have been introduced as a trial. Feedback will be taken into account when the council decides whether to continue with the LTN later this year.’
‘I don’t know how long I will survive’