It was an issue which caused plenty of argument, plus scuffles and sabotage.

It wasn’t war, just a row about whether two roads in East Oxford should be shut to through traffic.

On one side were residents who wanted peace and quiet, and cyclists demanding a safer journey; on the other were drivers who wanted a quick route to their destination.

Oxford City Council had decided to put up barriers in Divinity Road and Southfield Road as an experiment.

Oxford Mail:

Divinity Road

But as soon as they went up, supporters and protesters lost no time in expressing their views.

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Hundreds of cyclists signed a petition in favour of keeping the barriers, arguing that they had made life a lot safer for them.

They were backed by many residents, who said the two roads had become overloaded and dangerous with too much traffic.

But the closures in 1985 were opposed by many motorists, some of whom used bolt cutters to saw off the barrier locks and let themselves through.

On 20 occasions, council workmen had to fit new locks, at a cost of £10 each.

Other opponents of the closures mounted public demonstrations in St Clement’s and at The Plain roundabout.

Motorists were greeted with banners saying ‘Toot to stop road closures’ – and many did, creating an enormous din. Even cyclists rang their bells and pedestrians shouted support.

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The demonstration in the snow at The Plain ended in scuffles between protesters and a resident, whose sick daughter was woken by the noise. One of the banners was torn and police were called to restore peace.

Oxford Mail:

Cyclist Clare Grey with resident Alan Crossley

Alan Crossley, who lived in Southfield Road, was one of a group of residents who collected signatures from cyclists in favour of the closures.

He accused those who had damaged the gates of flouting the law and refusing to give the experiment a fair chance.

Mr Crossley said: “I object because this is an experimental scheme which is being sabotaged.

“It is a question of principle. If the council tries an experiment, how can you start breaking the law by chopping up what they put there?"

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He said he supported the experimental scheme because it reduced traffic in roads which had become overloaded and dangerous.

He said he was angry when someone cut through the metal fastening on the Southfield Road barrier, which had to be repaired, wasting even more money.

City engineer David Butler was philosophical about the continual damage, suggesting it had been expected.

“We arranged for a daily patrol from the outset, for the duration of the experiment,” he said.

Divinity Road and Southfield Road had long been a popular route for people driving between Headington and East Oxford.

It saved them the arduous journey down Headington Hill, through St Clement’s and along Cowley Road.

Often there were long queues waiting to negotiate the Plain roundabout.

The journey was often equally long in the opposite direction, particularly at peak times.

Although there was a 30mph limit in both Divinity Road and Southfield Road, many families living there claimed traffic travelled much faster, particularly on the downhill stretch of Divinity Road.

Oxford Mail:

Southfield Road

Many of them argued that the closures made life a lot safer for them.

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The petition in favour of the barriers staying where they were was organised by the Divinity Road Residents’ Association, which said that the sizeable cycle group should have a say before the council decided whether to keep them.

Parts of East Oxford are still experiencing traffic problems today.

Oxfordshire County Council is expected to paint double yellow lines along Rymers Lane, Florence Park, after drivers started ditching their vehicles on the pavement when a Controlled Parking Zone in Cricket Road was introduced nearby last month. This caused queues and reported incidents of road rage at peak times, while residents feared for the safety of children walking to St Gregory the Great Catholic School.