The grand opening of the Waltham Forest's first mini Holland scheme was overshadowed by protesters proclaiming the “death of Walthamstow Village”.

A coffin marked ‘R.I.P Walthamstow Village’ was carried solemnly through Orford Road by campaigners from ‘E17 Streets 4 all’ disgusted by road closures, a perceived increase in emergency service response times and concerned for businesses that rely on access to cars.

Intermittent scuffles, some involving umbrellas, erupted between protestors and mini Holland supporters yesterday (September 14) serving to highlight the division the controversial programme has created in the Waltham Forest community.

Jenny Gandy, 70, of Bakers Arms said she was against the scheme after narrowly avoiding being run over by a motorcyclist who had entered the pavement to bypass a road closure.

She said: “I had to jump out of the way at the last moment. This guy was clearly frustrated at all the road closures and just sped off.

“It was really frightening and that is only going to get worse, no-one is going to stop driving.

“Whoever planned this doesn’t live in the borough. We want the roads back open and for us to be given back our freedom.”

Aarif Gearay, 29, of Queens Road accused Waltham Forest council of “running roughshod” over residents concerns.

“I cycle everywhere but you can’t just say forget motorists”, he said.

“There are disabled people, the elderly, and people with health problems, some who are bearing the horrible rain today to get their message across.

“You can’t just say get on a bike, you have to cater for everyone.

“We elected councillors and they betrayed our trust.

“They don’t represent our views just their own interests, this scheme is a vanity project and it is obvious that it is not working.”

The deputy leader of the council Clyde Loakes, cutting the ribbon in Walthamstow Village, the first stage of the £30 million scheme completed, was bombarded by torrential downpours and boo’s including cries from protesters of “on your bike”.

Cllr Loakes said: “There are clearly people who don’t like the scheme. But we spent six months on consultation which had a high response rate and addressed a lot of people’s concerns.

“These schemes are happening everywhere across Europe and America and I appreciate it is a big change for everyone.

“But we are living in an age where public health issues are increasing rapidly especially obesity and air pollution. More cycling and walking will combat that and make the streets safer for school runs.

“We have got to be thinking of the future, a future where cars cannot dominate every street.”

Delphine Gabarit, 35 of Livingstone Road, said she was ‘all for giving the scheme a go’.

She said: “It needs adjusting, there are obviously concerns around access for emergency vehicles, but there have been serious car accidents in the area.

“We have seen a car completely flip over in Grove Road which is supposed to be in a 20 miles per hour zone.

“I think it is an amazing community building scheme, people can stop and have a chat in the street, and sit outside cafes - it is lovely.

“The protesters reaction is a bit extreme, mini Holland is not the end of the world.”