TWO new bus gates planned for the centre of Oxford are facing a delay until next year.

The gates are camera-guarded areas of road where only buses can pass without being fined, and adding new ones to the city have caused a huge public debate.

One would be placed somewhere between Hythe Bridge Street or Worcester Street, and the other would be placed somewhere on South Parks Road.

Oxfordshire County Council, which is responsible for looking after all the roads in Oxford, had originally planned to roll out the two gates by the end of summer.

READ AGAIN here about where the new bus gates would be, or see the map below

Now, an Oxford University webpage detailing the move to return to the office after home working through the early days of lockdown has revealed a timetable for the bus gates' roll out.

On the webpage titled 'Return to on-site working - travel updates', it says the bus gates will go before Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet. its most senior councillors, for a final decision in January next year, followed by work in March 2021.

The 'anticipated programme' would need to go out to a statutory consultation, a kind of public survey, for something called an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order first, and it appears that this is what will be discussed in October's cabinet meeting.

At the time of writing, the university webpage says responses to a consultation on the bus gates say 45 per cent of people against them, 35 in favour, and 15 per cent in favour with concerns, leading to the delay.

It says: "In terms of the bus gates, more than 7,000 responses were made to the consultation (the most for a transport consultation exercise), 75 per cent of those from people within Oxford or nearby settlements and around 5 per cent from business/other organisations. Headline from the responses is that 46 per cent are opposed, 35 per cent thought they were a good idea and 15 per cent thought they were a good idea but were concerned about the details.

"Consequently, Councillor Yvonne Constance has decided to delay the project. Cabinet will now not decide whether to approve the scheme in mid-October, but instead decide whether to proceed with the Statutory consultation necessary to implement the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). This now means if approved, bus gates would not be implemented until mid to late Hilary term 2021."

Oxford Mail:

An Oxford Bus Company bus in the city

The webpage also used to include a line which said 'The City Council are opposed to this delay', in reference to Oxford City Council, which has been lobbying the county for the new bus gates.

This line has now been removed from the webpage.

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A county council spokesman said cabinet was due to discuss the 7,200 responses to a summer consultation on the new bus gates.

He added: "A clear, transparent and democratic process will now follow. The overall results of the consultation will be presented to the county council’s cabinet on October 13 along with a recommendation for a way forward by officers which takes into account the consultation responses and other considerations."Should cabinet members decide to proceed with the scheme, there would then be a legal requirement to draw up detailed plans for further consultation on the two proposed bus gates.

"Taking into account the response to that further consultation, should it take place, a final decision about whether to introduce the two bus gates would then be made by the council in January 2021."

Meanwhile, Tom Hayes, the deputy leader of Oxford City Council said the council would be disappointed if there were a u-turn on the gates as a result of the delay.

Mr Hayes said: “We strongly support the principle of the city centre bus gates to achieve cleaner air and less congestion, space for cycling and a stronger economy.

"As a funder of these bus gates and partner to the County Council, we’d be very disappointed by any u-turning on these bus gates.

"More than 7,000 people responded to the consultation which this City Council secured for Oxfordshire. 50% of respondents described the bus gates as ‘a good idea’ generally versus 46% who said the proposals were ‘a bad idea’ generally.

"Any u-turn would involve the County Council asking the citizens of Oxfordshire to back bus gates, only to go against the majority and reject their own proposals."