PLANS for two bus-only stretches of road in Oxford city centre have been shelved for the foreseeable future.

The traffic control measures, known as bus gates, were planned between Hythe Bridge Street and Worcester Street, and between South Parks Road and St Cross Road on a temporary basis.

The bus gates were intended to stop traffic jams in the city centre and free up road space for buses to move more quickly after lockdown ended.

But Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet, its most senior councillors, decided to scrap the new gates when they met yesterday (October 13) because of the results of a survey carried out in the summer.

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Cabinet member for transport and the environment Yvonne Constance said she did not think the bus gates should go ahead: 'Not at this time, not this process, and maybe not at these sites.'

However, the cabinet remains committed to a scheme called Connecting Oxford, which could see the two bus gates revived alongside three others on a permanent basis, as well as other measures to reduce traffic across the whole of Oxford.

Her fellow cabinet member David Bartholomew said going ahead with the temporary bus gates if they were unpopular could jeopardise Connecting Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

Oxford's High Street bus gate

Cabinet members unanimously agreed to scrap the temporary gates, and referred to their email inboxes being filled with messages from people worried about them.

They also referred to a survey carried out by the council over the summer which had more than 7,200 responses.

The survey found 46 per cent of residents were against the bus gates, 35 per cent were in favour, and a further 15 per cent were in favour but had reservations about them.

A large host of public speakers queued up to make their support or objection to the bus gates heard at the virtual meeting.

Read again about where the two new bus gates would have been here (as well as where current bus gates are)

First among them was Oxford City Council's Labour deputy leader Tom Hayes, who said the bus gates were a 'matter that must be grasped' by the county council to reduce congestion on the city's roads, and called on the cabinet to be brave and go ahead with the congestion-busting plan.

Mr Hayes said: "Access restrictions are the only way to bring about faster, more reliable and consistent bus travel. Indeed, we sought to achieve that in the short-term with these city centre bus gates – at a time when the bus companies really need our support."

He also said the survey the county council carried out had a flawed design, because it split the pro-bus gate vote into those definitely in favour and those who wanted more information, but did not do the same for those against the bus gates.

Several other speakers also spoke in support of the gates, including representatives of Oxford's pedestrian association, and campaign group Oxfordshire Liveable Streets.

But the weight of opinion at the meeting appeared to be slightly against them, with more politicians, business owners and residents expressing their reservations.

Among them was Kawsar Shah of Jericho Traders Association, who said he 'could not recall a more fraught time for traders' due to the effects of Covid, and said it was the wrong time to bring in the bus gates.

This article has been updated to correct the percentage of people who disagreed with the bus gates to 46 per cent; and to correct a quote from city councillor Tom Hayes 14/10/20