Eating throughout the divide: ‘Most issues he stated had been anecdotal, whereas I used to be attempting to current stats’

Eating throughout the divide: ‘Most issues he stated had been anecdotal, whereas I used to be attempting to current stats’

Leon, 42, Oxford

Occupation Coordinator at a meals charity

Voting document Labour “after they have a real leftwing candidate, in any other case I register a protest vote”. Not a fan of Keir Starmer

Amuse bouche Leon was as soon as referred to as up on stage at a Derren Brown efficiency. “He ‘learn my thoughts’ – however I labored out how he did it”

John, 69, Oxford

Dining across the divider John

Occupation Retired IT director for the NHS. Now a marketing consultant

Voting document At all times Labour, “aside from after we went to conflict in Iraq”. Additionally not an enormous fan of Starmer

Amuse bouche John was as soon as on the entrance of the Each day Mail. When the paper printed an image of the Liberal Democrat politician Chris Huhne as a scholar on a demo, a long-haired John was beside him

For starters

Leon The place was very nice. I had dal and rice and a few attention-grabbing aspect dishes like a coconut sambol. We had a dialog about toxicity in politics and social media. I made the purpose that it’s the offended “anti” voices on any challenge that are inclined to register on-line; he stated it’s the antis and the passionately professionals.

John I had lamb meatballs, curried prawns, flatbread, a glass of wine. It was actually good. We talked about our lived expertise, our jobs. I instructed him about my youngsters, however we primarily targeted on low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

Leon It was a pleasant shock to search out we had been each lefties and shared some broader worries. I feel there are two fairly totally different varieties of individuals in Oxford who’re anti-LTNs: the individuals who have been inconvenienced by them, and the individuals from exterior who’re attempting to create a story of authoritarian management – they’ve co-opted it into their tradition conflict.

John We aren’t all anti-vax conspiracy-theorist weirdos within the space I dwell. It’s individuals who assume independently, who assume it was undemocratic and are apprehensive about attending to hospital.

Dining across the dividers Leon (left) and John

The massive beef

John I dwell in a highway that has been blocked off at one finish. It does trigger disruption – it’s tougher to park. I don’t use the automobile an infinite quantity, however I’m combating it as a result of I feel LTNs are unfair and unsuitable. LTNs will not be inexperienced – they create longer journeys for most individuals, they create air pollution they usually transfer visitors from the wealthy areas to the poor areas.

Leon Most issues he stated had been anecdotal – “I’ve talked to individuals they usually’re telling me this” – whereas I used to be attempting to current stats. There was an unbiased examine at one college exhibiting that 90 youngsters are not coming by automobile. Air pollution is drastically decreased, plus there’s the security facet.

John For those who’re not a laptop computer warrior working at dwelling and also you do an actual job the place you must look after individuals or paint homes, this scheme doesn’t work. The individuals pushing these schemes are typically white center class; the individuals on the receiving finish typically aren’t. It significantly impacts the Asian inhabitants, who typically take aged kin to the mosque.

Leon I empathise, however I’m going for the largest variety of individuals benefiting. He wouldn’t settle for the air pollution argument. The one approach to change driver behaviour is to remove roads.

Dining across the dividers Leon (left) and John

Sharing plate

Leon We agreed that public transport is essential to chop down on automobile journeys and to enhance the setting, and about the price of residing disaster, and never being significantly pleased with Labour.

John On LTNs, we agreed that the council had achieved it poorly – that the communication wasn’t good, that we wanted fewer slogans and extra speaking.

Dining across the dividers Leon (left) and John

For afters

John The concept of the 15-minute metropolis is that every one important amenities must be inside a 15-minute stroll of your own home. I’m sceptical of the viability within the UK. It’s not like Holland, with the planning construction. Oxford is a very outdated metropolis.

Leon I see his level. So it would imply we gained’t find yourself with the perfect answer. Will it’s a 20-minute or a 25-minute metropolis? With improved walkability and cyclability, that’s nonetheless a greater consequence.

Dining across the dividers Leon (left) and John


Leon I went with the intention that I didn’t need to have an argument. I used to be there to have a respectful dialog and pay attention. He agreed, and I feel we succeeded. It was refreshing.

John Speaking is best than not speaking, even should you don’t agree. He listened, however I don’t assume he heard. I’m unsure I might essentially have Leon as a bosom pal sooner or later.

Leon We shook arms, it felt like on good phrases. We didn’t swap numbers.

Leon and John

Further reporting: Kitty Drake

John and Leon ate on the Coconut Tree in Oxford

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