A BARRIER at the end of the main shopping street through Jericho will be removed, after 18 months of hotly contested debate.

The experimental roadblock at the south end of Walton Street will be removed in May 17, after a traffic order for its use expires.

Plans to replace it with a more comprehensive series of traffic calming measures and diversions were also turned down by Yvonne Constance, Oxfordshire County Council's cabinet member for transport and the environment.

At a meeting yesterday, Ms Constance said she hoped a long term scheme could be agreed to replace the barrier, after funding was found to carry out research into it.

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But she added: "There must be a way to share the burden in the Walton Street Jericho area. I do see that as a difficulty but not insurmountable.

"There may be a fairly simple scheme. I had every hope the funding would deliver one, I am sad to say it has not done so."

If Ms Constance had approved plans to replace the barrier with a new Low Traffic Neighbourhood for Jericho and Walton Manor, this would have included four main changes to the road layout in the area.

Yvonne Constance of Oxfordshire County Council, with Tom Hayes of Oxford City Council. Picture: Ed Nix

Usually LTNs use bollards to turn through-roads into cul-de-sacs to stop people taking shortcuts through them, but in Jericho, bans on turning a certain way down roads would have been used.

This would have included a ban on turning right from Beaumont Street up into Walton Street, and a ban on turning right out of Walton Street onto Worcester Street.

Council officers Robert Freshwater and Naomi Barnes had recommended not going ahead with these plans and ripping out the barrier after conducting a survey of residents.

This found that while 27 per cent of residents felt 'positive' about the plans, 62 per cent felt 'negative'.

However, when asked why they were negative about the plans, 22 per cent of those who said so added they did not think it was a 'proper LTN scheme' and a further 9 per cent thought proposals did not go far enough.

TIMELINE: How the Walton Street barrier was installed, who loved and hated it, and why

During the meeting, a host of Jericho residents, councillors and traders made clear their concerns or support for the barrier and replacement scheme.

There were also six written statements sent to the council, five in support of the plans and one against, but these were deemed 'too long' to read out.

Saleh Elmasri of the Opera Cafe said: "When we signed up as businesses in the area we invested years of our lives and years of our careers and thousands and thousands of pounds. And we made that decision that based on the demographics of the area we shouldn’t be disadvantaged. We relied on the history of Walton Street t hat has been thriving with trade for decades and shouldn’t change, and we see no reason it should now."

But Kai Pischke, a student at Somerville College who lives near Walton Street said: "There are many students on Walton Street. This is an area that lots of residents care about.

"It would be really horrible if the crowded streets got even more crowded."

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