MAJOR proposals including traffic filters and a zero emission zone have come under fire after a consultation was launched.

Oxfordshire County Council rolled out a consultation on its Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan (COTP) on Monday, with the public able to take part until October 3.

The proposed schemes, of which there are 22 in total across central Oxfordshire, include three major proposals for Oxford – traffic filters, a workplace parking levy and a zero emission zone.

Traffic filters, such as bus gates, and a zero emission zone, include charges for those that use them – something which has been criticised during the current cost of living crisis.

READ AGAIN: Major consultation on more than 20 transport schemes launched

Oxford hotelier Jeremy Mogford, who founded High Street’s Old Bank Hotel and The Old Parsonage Hotel in Banbury Road, and chairs the Oxford High Street Association, told this newspaper: “We want to see a massive response, one way or the other.

“There’s a lot of different emotions flying around with LTNs [low traffic neighbourhoods] and there’s a lot of people who are already complaining with the measures already in place.

“These new measures will bring additional costs, which will chip away at people’s ability to pay their bills and costs.

“I don’t think these measures are necessary – it’s the whole infrastructure at risk, including delivery drivers and builders.

“What we have is people making decisions that don’t live in the city centre or spend much time in the city.

“We’re being dictated to by councillors who don’t live here.

“There’s a lot of scepticism that consultations are a token gesture – the last time round, the majority were against the bus gates and it was postponed until now.”

Oxford Mail: Jeremy Mogford, chair of the Oxford High Street Association. Picture: The Oxford CollectionJeremy Mogford, chair of the Oxford High Street Association. Picture: The Oxford Collection

The six new bus gates are proposed for Hollow Way, Hythe Bridge Street, Marston Ferry Road, St Clement’s, St Cross Road, and Thames Street.

In October 2020, the county council dropped plans for two new bus gates with a survey revealing many residents were against or unsure about them.

Liam Walker, the county council’s shadow cabinet member for highway management, said of the COTP: “I welcome this bold travel plan, some of which started under the previous Conservative administration, but the county coalition is failing to address the serious issue around the cost of public transport.

“With household budgets as tight as they’ve ever been, the council needs to look at working with providers to reduce these costs or they will not see an increase in usage.

“It’s a bold plan but I think this highlights the coalition’s war on motorists hidden under some pretend climate change agenda.

“Perhaps their future plan will consist of checkpoints on the ring road with pro-LTN campaigners tasked with stopping private cars entering the city all holding a Gandalf staff.

“Oxford is slowly being shut down by these pretend eco-warrior councillors and my message to businesses in Oxford is get out whilst you can and instead come relocate to the beautiful rural Oxfordshire countryside.”

Oxford Mail: Liam Walker at the Oxford Parkway park and rideLiam Walker at the Oxford Parkway park and ride

A decision on the draft plan, which has been developed as part of the county council’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP), is scheduled for the autumn.

The LTCP aims for a net zero transport system by 2040 and includes a ‘Vision Zero’ policy – that being the elimination of deaths and serious injuries from road traffic collisions.

Plans across the county are now being drawn up, with the COTP the first.

It covers the city and immediate areas including Botley, Cumnor, Eynsham, Kennington, Kidlington and Wheatley.

The draft plan aims to achieve a zero emission bus network, a safe cycle network to ‘rival the best in Europe’, and the promotion of ‘20-minute neighbourhoods’ where ‘everything people need for their daily lives can be found within a 20-minute walk’.

Oxford Mail: A zero emission zone pilot scheme launched in Oxford, in February. Picture: Ed NixA zero emission zone pilot scheme launched in Oxford, in February. Picture: Ed Nix

Robin Tucker, co-chair of CoHSAT (Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel), spoke out in support of the COTP.

He said: “We’re pleased to see a plan that recognises you can’t do nothing and let climate, health and traffic problems pile up.

“We like the plan’s comprehensive, inclusive approach, with better choices for walking, cycling and buses, and for linking them together, and we’re excited by ideas for making St Giles’ and Worcester Street car park into attractive public spaces.”

Andrew Gant, the county council’s cabinet member for highway management, added: “Effective public transport is key to many of our priorities as a council and ensuring we provide options that are accessible, reliable, faster and greener is essential to providing our communities with real travel choices.

“But to make public transport, like taking the bus, an attractive option for people, we need to reduce congestion. Four full buses can remove half a mile of traffic from our roads.”

To take part in the consultation, visit:

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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