Traders across Oxford are being urged to protest against proposals to install six new bus gates, following claims they are 'roadblocks'.

The new bus gates costing £3m, a workplace parking levy, and a wider zero-emission zone are being proposed by Oxfordshire County Council to create a 'sustainable and reliable transport system in the city'.

The council says the proposals will reallocate road space for pedestrians, cyclists and buses, and make travelling without a car 'an easier choice for everyone'.

Read again: New bus gates costing £3m will be 'catastrophe'

But now plans for six new bus gates are up for consultation, which is due to conclude on October 13.

The new bus gate locations are: St Cross Road, Thames Street, Hythe Bridge Street, St Clements, Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way.

Leading traders' organisation Oxford Business Action Group is urging its members to take part in consultations, one on the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan, and a second separate consultation on the bus gates - otherwise known as traffic filters.

Oxford Mail:

Chairwoman Emily Scaysbrook, who runs High Street board games shop Hoyle's, told members to 'voice their concerns in the strongest terms'.

She added: "'Traffic filters' - otherwise known as 'bus gates' or even 'roadblocks', depending on your attitude towards them - are incredibly concerning to us and so it is the second, much shorter consultation that we particularly urge you to respond to.

"We are concerned that in their current design, the introduction of these six traffic filters will negatively impact many businesses, causing closure for many and catastrophically damaging countless others."

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Hotelier Jeremy Mogford, who runs the Old Bank Hotel in High Street, Gees, and Old Parsonage Hotel, and is a founder member of OBAG, said council leaders have made key mistakes in the past - the failure to control 'the explosion of buses in the city' following deregulation in 1986, and allowing the £440m revamp of the Westgate Centre.

Oxford Mail:

Approving the new bus gates would be 'mistake number 3' the hotelier added.

Mr Mogford said: "We are currently witnessing the catastrophic effect it (the Westgate) has had on the original, traditional shopping streets in the historic centre of Oxford.

"Virtually all the branded shops have relocated to the new Westgate, leaving Cornmarket, Queen Street, the Clarendon Centre, the Covered Market, Broad Street, St Aldate’s, the High Street, along with many of the smaller connecting streets virtually abandoned and a shadow of their former selves, bereft of quality shopping with many units empty."

Mr Mogford said the current proposal to install the new bus gates was 'just plain wrong'.

He added: "If they go ahead this will be seen by a very large number of people in Oxford and beyond as a disaster.

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"I predict that the long term, detrimental effect on the economic vibrancy, the feel of the city, will be viewed as a monumental act of self-harm by generations to come. Shops and commerce will continue to close if they are allowed to go ahead, compounding the already sorry state of the retail sector."

Mr Mogford said the closure of vital connecting arterial roads within the city would effectively divide the city into six separate zones.

He said: "Combine the aggressive, seven day and night, car parking enforcement and the prospect of road closures, you are seeing a council-imposed tourniquet, sucking the lifeblood out of our city, ever tightening a noose around the necessary and essential flow of the wide variety of traffic currently linking all areas of the city."

Oxford Mail:

The business leader said central Oxford businesses, colleges and offices were demanding an economic impact assessment of the bus gates from the councils, and questioned if an act of Parliament would be needed to introduce them.

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"Bus gates are the wrong policy, they will only divide the city more and irreparably damage its commercial success," Mr Mogford added.

Some residents claim the new bus gates will not be restrictive enough.

Hazel and Steve Dawe, of Cowley Area Transport Group, said: "Unfortunately, the county council is suggesting an excessive range of exemptions of types of vehicles which will be permitted to go through the new Traffic filters.

"To promote active travel and therefore health, and more bus use, exemptions should be kept to an absolute minimum."

The county council consultation on 'trial traffic filters' says: "We are proposing to introduce them under an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) from summer 2023."

A decision by the council's cabinet is due this autumn.

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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