UK Column News Extra - 29th January 2024

In a special UK Column News Extra, we are joined by Chaka Artwell, better known to his friends as Artwell, an enthusiastic activist from Oxford. Highly knowledgeable about his local council and their activities, Artwell has recently been challenging implementation of the Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN). He describes this initiative as East Oxford’s roadblock and anti-car policy, and he highlights that by shutting off side road connections with the main arterial routes through the city, the council is creating mayhem for drivers and local people alike.

Artwell is also deeply concerned about the loss of wider freedoms in our constitutional monarchy and he sees that Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are frequently to be found at the core of Oxford’s, and other councils’, policies. Supposedly designed to make the lives of local people better, in practice they quickly seem to do the opposite.

Artwell’s upbeat and challenging approach to contentious matters in his city recently made him the focus of an Oxford Mail article, written by politics reporter Albert Tait. In what should have been an article recognising the importance of Artwell’s questions and challenges to unwelcome Oxford Council policies, Tait—or an editor—smeared Artwell and his former hard work as a parliamentary candidate by dismissively calling him a ‘former MP wannabe’ in the headline.

In fact, Artwell had discovered that so sensitive was Oxford Council to his challenges, his e-mails setting out questions that he had wanted to ask at formal council meetings had been ‘disappearing’ into an unmonitored inbox. Without council acknowledgement of his address accompanying his questions, Artwell was subsequently denied his rightful participation as a member of the public in those supposedly democratic meetings. 

Please join Brian Gerrish, Alex Thomson, Mark Anderson and Chaka Artwell in our relaxed UK Column News Extra conversation and learn more about Artwell and the importance of simple local activism in a uniparty world.