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No through route to City Hospitals from East Oxford

Oxfordshire County Council plans to put in place a final barrier to reduce East Oxford to an enclave for anyone who relies on their car.

Even before the LTNs have been installed across East Oxford, the county has announced it also plans to stop cars from this area driving up Headington Hill or down Marston Road.

There will be no legal route to drive from East Oxford to the city’s hospitals in Headington (Churchill, John Radcliffe and Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre) except via the ring road, a much longer journey on roads likely to be choked with displaced traffic.

The county plan announced in February – 5 traffic filters that split Oxford into a series of separate enclaves where it is impossible to drive from one part of a city to another without travelling by the ring road. The blue area is the workplace parking levy.

Bus gates on key roads

A “traffic filter” bus gate is planned in St Clement’s before the junction with Marston Road – blocking private cars from passing to Headington Hill or Marston Road – or entering East Oxford from those directions. Others are planned for Hollow Way and Marston Ferry Road, with three more in city centre streets, one of which will block the science area.

These measures announced on 18 February 2022 were not included in the recent consultation about “low traffic neighbourhood” barriers (LTNs). They have, however, been a long time objective of the “Liveable Streets” pressure group that exerts an uncanny influence on the county and city council mind-sets.

“Consultation” on this and a number of other measures will take place later this year but the council is already saying they will be implemented in 2023 or 2024

This is not a trial!

It gives the lie to the claim that the LTNs in East Oxford are an experiment and will be withdrawn if they do not work.

In the most recent consultation 73% of respondents objected or had concerns about the Cowley LTN but these barriers have not been withdrawn.

Instead the County Council cancelled the decision meeting due on 24th February at which both sides of the debate were due to speak – including John Skinner, the independent candidate for this ward. The decision will now be taken by the full seven person County Council Cabinet.

This meeting it is likely to be after the city council elections so that the ruling parties do not have to face the electorate after defying the result of their own consultation.

Indeed, John Skinner is predicting that the barriers due to be installed across East Oxford in March or April will also be delayed until after the election.

If all these plans go ahead people living in St Mary’s will only be able to drive along either Iffley or Cowley Roads and exit the area through the ring road. Iffley Fields residents will have the Iffley Road as their only exit route and only away from town.

Those in the rest of St Mary’s will have only the Cowley Road or the Iffley Road, depending on which side of the barriers they are parked.

Zero Emission charges not for the rich

The new County Council plans also included extending the Zero Emission Zone to cover a wider area of the city centre, including Longwall Street across Magdalen Bridge. Unless you live in the area or have a blue badge, drivers will pay £10 a day from next year if they pass through in a car or van which does not have the lowest emission rates – rising to £20 a day in 2025.

They could of course buy a new car – with reduced rates for low emission vehicles like the KIA Soul (£35,000 on the road) or the BMW iX Sport (£69,000 on the road).

In other words, those with money do not face the penalty.

Parking levy could hit schools

A third measure is to extend a workplace parking levy, charging all employers that have more than 11 parking places. With no exemptions announced so far, that would include, for example, St Mary and John School where many teaching and support staff who cannot afford to buy homes in Oxford drive in from outlying towns.

Despite what the council claims, barriers in East Oxford are not an experiment. There are no firm time scales, no set objectives and no criteria for what constitutes success or failure. The ‘experiment’ in Cowley, has attracted a petition of more than 3,000 people to have barriers removed, but has been endlessly extended. However, disastrous the outcome proponents claim they will work if given more time and more restrictions. The only way to change this approach is to vote out councillors who support them.

A key plank of John Skinner’s election campaign is for local meetings to come up with better plans to slow traffic and reduce unnecessary journeys without punishing those who need their cars: real consultation – not a sham process that excludes vital steps and is anyway ignored.

Voice your concerns with John Skinner on Twitter:




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Notes from Your Doorstep 20/2/2022
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