FOLLOWING misinformation published online and on social media and attacks by climate change deniers, we have put together an explainer to clarify what Oxford’s ‘traffic filters’ are and how they are going to work.


What happened?


Yesterday staff and councillors at Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council said that have been subjected to abuse ‘due to inaccurate information being circulated online’ about traffic filters.

The councils said that they are working with Thames Valley Police to report the most extreme abuse, as they take the wellbeing of their colleagues seriously.

They also said that misinformation has also resulted in both councils receiving numerous calls and social media messages from worried residents.

It comes after the scheme became the focus of multiple attacks by climate deniers, including Piers Corbyn, who showed up at the county council meeting where the decision was made, and Fox News commentator Steve Milloy.

There were also articles published on climate change conspiration websites, including Watts Up With That, which published an essay calling the measures ‘a climate lockdown starting in 2024’ - which then went viral. 

Steve Milloy, who was also a member of Donald Trump's presidential transition team, shared an Oxford Mail article with his Twitter followers, where he called the measures the ‘first climate lockdown’.

He said: “Oxford (UK) to introduce first climate lockdown. City will be divided into six neighborhoods and residents locked down in them - no traffic in or out - on a rotating basis.

“Plan approved on November 30.”

You can read a piece about the attacks here. 


What did the councils say?


Both councils have confirmed multiple times that the traffic filters are not going to be physical barriers and that are not going to physically divide the city. 

The scheme is also being introduced as a trial, with the possibility of changes to it to improve it. 

A joint statement released yesterday said: "The traffic filters are not physical barriers of any kind and will not be physical road closures. They are simply traffic cameras that can read number plates.

"If a vehicle passes through the filter at certain times of the day, the camera will read the number plate and (if you do not have an exemption or a residents’ permit) you will receive a fine in the post.

"Residents will still be able to drive to every part of the city at any time – but in the future, during certain times of the day, you may need to take a different route (e.g. using the ring road) if you want to travel by car." 

You can read the full statement and FAQs from the council here. 


What traffic filters are exactly


The traffic filters work in exactly the same way as the existing traffic cameras in High Street, and are widely used in cities across the UK to manage congestion and support public transport.

The measures will be implemented starting from January 2024.

These filters would be located on St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clements and Hythe Bridge Street and would operate seven days a week from 7am to 7pm.

Two more filters would also be located on Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way and would operate from Monday to Saturday.


Was there opposition to the scheme?



While the county council said that the measures are designed to "reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer", some businesses have contested the decision to introduce the trial as they said it would affect their trade. 

Read the latest piece about opposition to the scheme here. 


Are there people and organisations in favour of the scheme?


Also yes.

Supporters of the scheme said that it will make walking and cycling easier and reduce car dependency in the city, while also making roads safer. They also said it will reduce pollution and improve 'active travel' in Oxford. 

Read the latest piece about people supporting the measures here.


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This story was written by Anna Colivicchi, she joined the team this year and covers health stories for the Oxfordshire papers. 

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