A COUNCILLOR is calling for the controversial low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) to be ‘abolished’ from Oxford after it was found data used to justify them was ‘incorrect’.

The Department for Transport (DfT) admitted earlier this week that the Government data which supposedly showed a rise of traffic on smaller roads was ‘significantly over-counted’.

Across the UK, the data showed that miles driven on minor roads rose by just under 10 per cent rather than the 26 per cent originally suggested.

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Now, councillors are calling for the bollards, which sees the prevention of through traffic, via planters or bollards, making neighbourhoods quieter, to be removed despite the initiative being made permanent in Cowley in July.

Independent city councillor for Temple Cowley, Sajjad Malik, said: “My thoughts are the LTNs should be abolished straight away.

“If the figures are fabricated there needs to be an enquiry. If it’s the wrong data, the whole scheme is fabricated and it should be abolished.

“They need to go back to the drawing boards and start again. It should be instant relief for people living in East Oxford to remove the LTNs.”

Amir Steve Ali, who ran as an independent candidate in May’s Oxford City Council elections, said the LTNS are ‘dividing communities’ and now is the time for local MPs to express their thoughts on the initiative.

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He said: “Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds must declare if she's against or in favour of LTNs. She has been quiet regarding the inaccurate data and those responsible for supplying inaccurate data must be held responsible.

“Businesses have been affected because of these LTNs and its dividing communities so why hasn't Ms Dodds been around these affected areas in Oxford and asked residents and businesses how they feel?

“Members of public are suffering with this injustice and as an MP she can easily raise these issues in the Parliament - I expected more from her.

“Oxford is already being destroyed and it will only get worse when traffic filters and the bus gate comes in the near future.

“Whether she can achieve removing LTNS or not, at least put in the efforts otherwise declare you’re in favour of traffic filters.”

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, introduced the bollards as a trial in East Oxford in May after the Government produced a report which found increased traffic on resident streets from 2009 to 2019.

It then allocated £225 million in emergency funding for councils to encourage walking and cycling.

The authority said the data was not a ‘key influence’ in the decision to implement LTNs.

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A spokesperson for the authority said: “The DfT’s national estimate for increases in traffic between 2009 and 2019 was not a key influence in Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to implement the experimental low traffic neighbourhoods in Cowley and east Oxford.

“The decision was informed by a breadth of factors including localised traffic counts on the city’s roads, air quality concerns and high traffic congestion on a constrained road network.

“The intention of the LTNs is to rebalance traffic and prioritise the safety and health of local residents and vulnerable road users in an area with busy through roads and a number of schools.”

Despite the controversy, some members of the public agree with the council saying LTNs make streets ‘safer’ and the air is ‘less polluted’.

Ivon Asquith, of Minster Road, said: “I have been a resident in the Divinity Road area for 35 years. The LTN scheme has transformed the quality of life in this area.

“The streets are safer. There are far fewer cars and they go more slowly. The air is less polluted and thus healthier.

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“The area is quieter. Social life is enhanced by neighbours being able to walk around more freely. It is easier as well as safer to cycle and to walk, so people are making less use of their cars.

“On a practical note, it would be helpful if the Council could use bollards which cannot be removed or run over, as is constantly happening at present.

“Residents are having to act as human bollards which is dangerous.”

Speaking to The Telegraph, a DfT spokesman said: “The figures used at the time were based on the most accurate data available.”

In a letter to the county council in March, Ms Dodds said: “I do support LTNs in principle. However, I have become increasingly concerned about the sequencing of their introduction in Oxford and the impact of this on those who rely on buses, especially in our estates.

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“I am concerned that continuing with the roll-out of LTNs now, before bus prioritisation measures have been put in place will worsen congestion on arterial routes used by buses in Oxford.

“I share your concerns about the impact of air pollution on Oxford residents, and the contribution that car travel makes to the climate crisis which demands urgent action.

“However, I am concerned that bringing in these LTNs right now will drive support down for sustainable transport measures.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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