AN experiment which could reduce the number of cars driving on residential streets around Cowley has been given the go-ahead.

Three Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) will be rolled out in Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Park between the end of February and the beginning of March.

The LTNs are the first of their kind in Oxfordshire.

While similar schemes in London and other parts of the country have proved contentious with some drivers, an Oxfordshire County Council chief said they needed to be tested because they had 'too many benefits'.

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Yvonne Constance, council cabinet member for transport, said: "I do believe there is extraordinary support for this. I know it is a new plan, I know it is change, and I know that can be difficult. But I am going to decide in favour.

"There are too many benefits to be gained from a bit of boldness and a bit of determination. Especially as we now have the funding to do it."

LTNs turn through roads in residential areas into cul-de-sacs using 'traffic filters', usually bollards or plant pots.

These prevent drivers from using these roads as shortcuts, while allowing locals to still drive in and out.

The results of a survey released last week showed Cowley residents were largely in favour of the scheme.

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And some residents spoke in favour of the scheme at the meeting.

One of them, Dan Pooley, said the LTNs were not just 'a traffic management strategy,' but 'an environmentally conscious decision made by the community' which would improve air quality and health.

He also argued the scheme would discourage people from using their cars to take up cycling or walking instead and this would 'leave more space on the roads for those who cannot walk or cycle'.

But Sajad Khan, of the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association, argued the new measures would dissuade people from using taxis because journeys would be longer.

He said: "We are already struggling to make a living. These closures will be the nail in the coffin."

Ms Constance also heard concerns about some of the planned filters, including one on the junction of the Oxford ring road and Newman Road near Littlemore, and another on Mayfair Road which could turn surrounding streets into a 'desert island'.

There was also a commitment that a new school streets scheme for St Christopher's School in Temple Cowley will begin at the same time as the LTN.

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The transport chief promised all traffic filters would be monitored closely over the six months of the trial.

She also said traffic on roads surrounding the LTNs would be managed, in case they bore the brunt of cars which could no longer take shortcuts on residential roads.

A website will soon open allowing residents to comment on the LTNs throughout the six-month trial.

Based on their opinions, the LTNs could be changed, removed, or stay the same once the trial ends.

Ms Constance added: "There is one group of people I haven’t heard from today. That is the disabled.

"I do want to tell everybody that this scheme has been designed in a way that doesn’t deny access by motor vehicles to any address in the scheme."

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