CONTROVERSIAL plans to close off more streets to through-traffic have been approved as councillors push through a proposal for a new Low Traffic Neighbourhood in East Oxford.

Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, made the delegate decision to approve the LTN scheme covering a swathe of the city, with bollards to be placed on side roads off Iffley Road, Cowley Road and St Clements in March.

Ms Leffman said on approving the controversial scheme: "We need to do this if we want to be in line with what we said at COP26 and if we want to be in line with what our Government wants.

"It is vitally important that we take these steps and I recognise completely that there may be some people that will be very disappointed."

The scheme has been extremely divisive since its first round of consultation. The first consultation revealed that while the majority of respondents gave a resounding ‘thumbs down’ to the proposals, the majority of respondents who actually lived in the streets affected strongly supported the scheme.

Last week, Oxford City Council called on the county council to defer the decision and not install the East Oxford LTN until more robust transport links were in place.

Ms Leffman said the county council would continue to work with bus companies and taxi drivers across the city to improve links.

During the Highways Management meeting, several householders and councillors spoke both in favour and against the LTNs.

One resident, Peter McIntyre, who has lived in the area for more than 40 years said that installing the East Oxford LTN would be a "car crash for democracy".

Mr McIntyre said that the council had not conducted a ‘meaningful consultation’ and accused the council of "greenwashing" – dressing up unpopular decisions under the guise of environmentalism.

He said the LTNs would create "privileged and non-privileged2 areas of the city and would create "extra pollution" on arterial roads.

Councillor Jemima, who represents St Clements ward, said there was an "overwhelming desire for the LTNs".

Danny Yee, an active travel campaigner for cycling campaign group Cyclox, said: “Without these LTNs there is no way to enable active travel from and in East Oxford.

“There is currently no accessible cycling route from East Oxford and Headington – the Divinity Road LTN and Quickway [cycle path] will provide this.”

Allison Hill, chair of Cyclox, added: “We urge you to approve LTNs in East Oxford, with the looming climate emergency, it’s an urgent priority for the county.

“Not one of these will work alone, but with conjunction with others.”

Qasam Mohammed, general manager of taxi firm Royal Cars also spoke at the meeting. He said: “We have been keeping Oxford moving since 1991.

“At this point it must be noted that the taxi industry is the most experienced of the roads in Oxford and our opinions should be heard when talking to stakeholders. We oppose the current scheme and believe it only serves a minority and causes chaos.”

Mr Mohammed said Cowley Road was the ‘heartbeat of the economy’ and the East Oxford LTN would harm that.

Emily Kerr, who is an advocate for car sharing, said that when cycling around the city with her three children, she frequently found herself scared of "aggressive drivers and pavement parkers ".

Ms Kerr, who is a governor at Meadow Lane Primary School, said the East Oxford LTN was needed to improve safety for the hundreds of school children. She added: “People have the right to get around the city safely.”

LTNs are a traffic calming scheme that looks to reduce congestion and traffic pollution.

An LTN trial is currently underway in Church Cowley, Temple Cowley, and Florence Park – the decision on whether this LTN will be installed permanently will be made in February 2022.