East Oxford low traffic neighbourhoods made permanent by Oxfordshire County Council

ITV Meridian's Wesley Smith reports from Oxford.

'Controversial' low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in East Oxford have been made permanent following a vote by councillors.

Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet decided that three LTNs will remain following an 18 month trial.

The cabinet approved the replacement of the bollards in Divinity Road, James Street and Magdalen Road with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.

Exemptions have been approved for emergency services, waste and postal vehicles, taxi and private hire vehicles going through these roads.

Bollards and/or planters will be introduced at the junction of Jeune Street and St. Clement’s, and Jeune Street will be made two-way south of the restriction.

When the zones were first introduced it led to protests taking place, with bollards run over, burned and even stolen.

Today, protesters gathered to express their concerns over the LTNs.

One resident said: "I have lived in Oxford 75 years and they are destroying it. People are stopping coming to Oxford."

  • Protesters gathered today to express their concerns over the LTNs

An LTN is an area where motorised traffic is prevented from taking shortcuts through a residential area.

This, Oxfordshire County Council says, creates quieter and safer streets where residents may feel more comfortable when making local journeys by cycling, wheeling or on foot.

All roads remain accessible, but drivers may have to find alternative routes instead of cutting through some streets.

The county council has previously admitted the LTNs were controversial, but insisted things will improve.

Members of the public were asked for their feedback on the trial but some people have said the consultation process was undemocratic.

  • Watch the full interview between ITV Reporter Wesley Smith and Cllr Andrew Gant

Cllr Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport Management, said: “I don’t accept that characterisation. Democracy has many, many facets. I have received, my cabinet colleagues have received, many many hundreds of emails. The vast, vast majority of them from people who just love the LTNs and the real transformation to their lives and what you have to do as a politician when people talk to you is listen to what they say and then make a choice. 

“So if I get three emails from people who say ‘I oppose the LTNs because it was convenient for me to drive down this residential street’ and one from somebody who says ‘I like the LTN because my children now feel safe playing outside their house'. Am I entitled to give more weight to the one than the three? I say yes I am because that’s what politics is here to do - is to deliver a better city, a better life, a safer environment for that family.”

He added: "I recognise that there remain concerns. As a council we are prioritising measures to reduce bus journey times. We have also heard from businesses operating in a complex commercial environment, and residents struggling with difficult personal circumstances. However, an increase in dangerous congestion with no plan for change helps no-one."

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