Oxford's Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme creates division in the city, county council admits

  • Watch ITV News Meridian's Charlotte Briere-Edney reporting on the scheme.

Oxfordshire County Council has accepted that its controversial low traffic neighbourhoods are creating division in the city and says it'll be, at least, a year before there's any sign of things getting better.

Last week, ITV Meridian revealed that the council had spent £73,000 on fixing barriers damaged by people opposed to them.

For Oxford resident Sarah Lockyear, whose wheelchair allows her to get around the city, the LTNs are a no brainer as they've made navigating inevitable obstacles, much less perilous.

She said: "There's bins, there's random furniture left out and then you can't actually get past on the pavement so often have to get in the road. And then it used to be really dangerous because the road was so busy and now it's quiet."

The council says it'll be, at least, a year before there's any sign of things getting better. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Clinton Pugh, well-known as the father of the famous English actress Florence Pugh, has been running businesses on the Cowley Road for 30 years.

After surviving the pandemic, and now battling rising prices, he says LTNs could be the nail in the coffin.

"Obviously, we had a reduction of footfall. We obviously had a reduction of turnover. We have problems like the plumber came to us the other day, took over an hour to get to us.

"If you cut the blood supply of your arm, unfortunately, the arm falls off. So it really depends if you're deciding that, fine, you want to completely destroy the Cowley Road, you are going to achieve it very quickly!"

  • Multiple consultations have shown clear majorities against the LTNs:

Retiree John Skinner is a keen walker and cyclist but even he has experienced problems getting to crucial appointments.

"When I go to hospital, using the car is now a complete nightmare. And sometimes, you know, I've been coming back with my wife and she's been in pain and it's taken us 35 minutes to do 1.5 mile journey because the chains have forced the traffic onto the main roads and it just gets stuck at peak times."

Cllr Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council, said: "There's been an extremely wide, far reaching and long running series of engagements over all county council policies. But look, there's no point in pretending that it isn't challenging delivering policies which ask people to change what they do, you know, things that they have got used to doing It is challenging.

"Well, I think you'd have to have been living on Mars not to understand that there have been a range of views about them. But, you know, they have clearly delivered enormous benefits"

The council says the real improvements will only emerge when other traffic measures like the zero emission zone expands, and new bus filters come in. But that won't be until 2024.