A DECISION about whether a Jericho street will stay closed to through traffic has been deferred.

Oxfordshire County Council put a barrier in place on the south end of Walton Street last year to carry out roadworks.

But after it had finished the works, it kept the barrier in place with an Experimental Traffic Order to prevent 'rat running': where commuters use residential roads to make cross town journeys.

Closing Walton Street to traffic has divided the community in the street and neighbouring areas, with some in favour of it, and others against the decision.

At a meeting yesterday (Thursday, July 16) the county council's cabinet member for the environment, Yvonne Constance, deferred a decision on whether the barrier would become a permanent feature or would be removed.

At the meeting, she heard from Jericho residents and businesses about what the effect of the Walton Street closure had been on their lives, and what they wanted to see in the future.

Patrick Davey of St Bernards Road told Ms Constance that some of the traffic which used to run along Walton Street now came through neighbouring roads.

Mr Davey said: "The Walton Street closure lead to an additional 500,000 to 750,000 cars a year in St Bernards Road.

"This is cars on top of what we already had, on top of our fair share we took Walton Street's fair share, which was unfair indeed."

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He called for a low traffic neighbourhood plan to be introduced for Jericho, which would help to reduce the number of cars in the overall area.

Jamie Hartzell, a spokesman for the group Stop Choking Jericho also advocated for a low traffic neighbourhood which would cover both Jericho and nearby Walton Manor.

He said: "Traffic is like water: block it in one place and it will pas on somewhere else."

Oxford Mail:

Yvonne Constance listened to the concerns of residents

Bernadatte Evans, representing business owners on Walton Street, said traders had faced a 'double blow' of the road closure, followed by the coronavirus pandemic.

She said cars needed to be allowed to access Walton Street in some way because Jericho was a destination shopping area, used by people travelling from outside Oxford.

Ms Evans said not all customers would 'accept the inconvenience' of having to use park and ride stops to travel to the area.

Pip McAllister or Jericho Connections said the council needed to consider reopening the road to gather data about air quality, car numbers and business earnings and compare them against the affect of the road closure before making a permanent decision.

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Cabinet member Ms Constance said plans for a temporary bus gate on Worcester Street south of Walton Street which are currently being considered would also have an affect on traffic in the area.

According to Ms Constance, a decision on the future oft the Walton Street closure will be made in the next six months after the council talks to residents and businesses about what they want to see happen there in the future.

A low traffic neighbourhood is a scheme which uses filters like bollards and plant pots in the road to slow down cars in residential areas, and discourage commuters from using them as a quick shortcut.

Oxfordshire's 'flagship' low traffic neighbourhood is currently being introduced in Cowley.