OXFORD University has welcomed congestion-busting measures in the councils' Connecting Oxford proposals and called for a workplace parking levy to be extended across the whole city.

The city and county councils are considering a raft of congestion-busting measures including workplace parking charges and more bus-only lanes - known as bus gates.

Proposals include plans for a workplace parking levy (WPL) for firms based in the city's 'eastern arc' but the university said it would make more sense for the levy to be citywide.

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While the university backed the WPL, it expressed reservations about the extra bus gates, warning that its catering contractor could be forced to travel an additional 41,000 miles a year.

Oxford Mail:

The official response has been published in the university's Gazette magazine, and it is broadly in favour of the proposals, while expressing some reservations.

The university said 'in summary' it strongly supported the proposals, adding: "Oxford’s existing transport network is wholly inadequate.

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"The roads are congested, causing harmful air quality, carbon emissions, long and unreliable bus journey times and hostile, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Oxford Mail:

"This makes the city less attractive a place to live and work for students and staff at all levels. It also makes it more challenging to operate the university’s logistical systems (eg library, pharmaceutics/healthcare, waste disposal, catering and security) in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

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"The unrestricted movement of private vehicle traffic in Oxford has created unhealthy, dangerous, car-dominated streets and vehicle-clogged, unwelcoming public spaces."

Oxford Mail:

The university's submission claims Oxford’s bus fares are 'expensive' in comparison to London and discourage their wider uptake.

It added: "Free parking at the park-and-rides and substantially lower bus fares should be funded by the Workplace Parking Levy."

The university said it supported the WPL but suggested it should be extended to cover the whole of Oxford‘s employment area within the ring road and the major employers just outside the ring road including Oxford Science Park, the BMW Mini plant and Unipart Logistics at Cowley.

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It added: "The WPL should also cover all organisations offering commuter parking with no minimum threshold in order to maximise funding for investment in the necessary transport improvements."

Oxford Mail:

According to the consultation response, a WPL could cost the university an estimated £213,000 a year – double this if the levy was extended across the whole city – so it added it would 'welcome a role in the 'governance of how the county council will spend the funds'.

While the university is urging the citywide implementation of a WPL, it has expressed reservations about the introduction of additional bus-only lanes, known as bus gates.

Possible locations for new bus gates include Worcester Street and Marston Ferry Road.

The response added: "There are genuine hygiene issues with moving large volumes of prepared food by cargo bike and the proposals as they stand would require our catering contractor, Compass, to travel an estimated additional 41,000 miles and 1,360 hours a year."

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The university has requested that its 'operational vehicles' are exempted from, or given the opportunity to purchase permits allowing access through, the bus gates.

It added: "Not all goods and services can be delivered by cargo bike or out of working hours. This request would

likely include fleet vehicles operated by University Security Services, Facilities Management and Bodleian Libraries

with key contractors including catering."

Oxford Mail:

"To support the proposals’ air quality and carbon reduction aims, all vehicles would be electric."

The university concluded: "We strongly support the county’s plans to develop more details on the Connecting Oxford proposals through a business case during 2020.

"The proposals are very focused on commuting, but freight movements, the school run and leisure also account for large amounts of private car trips."

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The consultation for Connecting Oxford finished on October 20 and the councils received more than 3,000 responses.

A county council spokesman said earlier: “The councils are currently analysing over 3,000 responses received which includes over 10,000 comments.

“This feedback will be reported to county and city cabinets in January 2020, when a decision about the next steps will be made.”

The existing camera-enforced bus gate in High Street allows access to buses, taxis and emergency vehicles only between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

New bus gates could be positioned in Worcester Street, Oxpens Road/Thames Street, Marston Ferry Road, Hollow Way and South Parks Road/St Cross Road.