Pledge to listen to people on future transport schemes

Plan to open up debate on low traffic neighbourhoods

New low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) will not be considered in Oxfordshire until people have had the opportunity to make their views known.

Members of Oxfordshire County Council’s new Cabinet have promised to listen to the opinions of as many people, groups and businesses as possible on LTNs – areas where through-traffic is prevented so that residents can enjoy a quieter neighbourhood and feel safer when they walk or cycle. While setting out the transport ambitions of the Oxfordshire Fair Deal Alliance administration, Cabinet members said future LTNs would only be considered after as many people as possible have had a chance to make their views clear.

Two LTN consultations are currently running and remain open for people to have their say:

  • The statutory consultation for the experimental traffic regulation orders for Cowley LTNs covering Church Cowley, Temple and Florence Park. This runs until 19 November 2021.
  • The consultation for East Oxford LTNs covering Divinity Road, St Mary’s and St Clements areas, which runs 8 - 29 June 2021.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “While nearly everyone welcomes the measures to reduce through traffic on residential roads, the implementation of experimental LTNs has been controversial, not least because they have the potential to set neighbouring areas of the city in opposition to each other, and to force more traffic on to the main roads just as pandemic lockdowns are easing, but before all of us feel confident to use public transport.

“We are aware of very legitimate concerns from parts of the community and that is why we want to listen and devise something that works for everyone. We will not implement any more experimental schemes before this is complete and we have heard from people across the city, and from those beyond the city who work and travel there, about the best integrated measures to improve travel.

“Our alliance is already committed to listening to everyone and designing the changes we know we need to make together with our city and district council colleagues, with businesses, and with our county residents. We are investing in and accelerating plans to improve consultation and adopt ways of working that make sure every perspective is heard.”

Other transport ambitions of the administration include:

  • A determination to make walking and cycling easier, alongside better bus services and access to expanded railways – and to work on a truly integrated transport network for Oxfordshire and Oxford.
  • Accelerated work to introduce new ways of working with partners including a bus partnership.
  • Investment in ways to involve everyone in this discussion, including a new digital platform to gather ideas at an earlier stage from everyone. This will include reaching out to people who may feel excluded from previous conversations such as local businesses, those living and working in outlying areas of the county and city, people who need to drive for their work or caring responsibilities, and people with particular needs such as those with disabilities, young families, and those on lower incomes.

Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Development Strategy, said: “Our ambition is to improve the ways we get around the county and city, and make our streets safer and healthier places to live and work.

“In the future, we know we will need better, safer ways to walk and cycle, with better bus services, reducing cars on the road to leave more space for those who need to drive – for example for work or business reasons, or to care for those who need it. Our railways too will be expanded to provide a great, safe and affordable option for longer journeys. Between now and 2030, when petrol and diesel vehicles will no longer be sold, we need to do more to prepare for the switch to electric vehicles.”

Councillor Dr Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change Delivery and Environment, said: “We know it is not possible to please everyone all of the time. But we also know that change in the way we get around is essential, and that there is a way to build a better county and city through making the right changes.

“If we can help people walk and cycle safely, offer excellent affordable and quick bus services, and link to an expanded rail network in Oxfordshire, we will help the health of residents, the efficiency of businesses, and reduce our carbon use to save the planet at the same time.

“We believe change comes from people, not from top-down programmes. We won’t get everything right first time, but together we can build a county in which we all feel a sense of belonging, in which our voices are heard.”