Cowley Road restaurant owners have criticised Oxfordshire County Council  for “ignoring” concerns about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and their detrimental impact on business.

The owners of Chinese restaurants Rice Box and Jin Jin told the Oxford Mail they felt "disrespected" and “abandoned” as no councillors from Oxfordshire County Council have addressed their fears about the loss of customers.

They are worried about the lack of customers on Friday and Saturday evenings and have grave concerns the actions of far-right activists at the anti-LTN protest on Saturday “overshadowed” the genuine issues small business owners are facing.

Zhen Hua Jiang, the owner of Rice Box, said the LTNs were to blame for his restaurant being regularly empty on weekends and councillors had not paid his business a visit.

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Mr Hua Jiang said: “Councillors have never come down and spoken to us about LTNs.

“The LTNs stop people from coming into Cowley Road because all the roads are blocked off.

"People have to take a big detour and 40 per cent of business has been lost.

“We have been ignored.”

Mr Hua Jiang said the LTNs had created a new reality where delivering food to customers was extremely difficult and their chef was often left with nothing to do at weekends.

He explained: “Delivery drivers have been forced to take different routes to get to their destinations.

“Friday and Saturday evenings used to be heaving but now they are just empty.

“The chef is often standing in the kitchen with nothing to cook.

“The impact of the LTNs on top of the cost of living crisis has resulted in a treble hit on our business.

“Even many of our regulars have given up coming here because they do not want the hassle of going in a circle to get here.”

Oxford Mail: Mr Hua Jiang on the left in the Rice Box.Mr Hua Jiang on the left in the Rice Box. (Image: Ed Halford)

The East Oxford LTN scheme was installed in May and it aims to reduce through traffic and encourage more enviornmentally friendly forms of transport.

The anti-LTN protest on Saturday saw far-right activists descend on the city centre, and conspiracy theorist Piers Corbyn was also in attendance.


Mr Hua Jiang said he did not want their legitimate concerns about the LTNs to be drowned out by these activists who do not represent the views of independent business owners.

He said: “I think the far-right did overshadow the protest because people were more concerned about them as opposed to the LTNs."

Cowley Road traders recently produced a business impact survey which revealed the “sheer scale of harm” inflicted on them by the LTNs.

The survey was conducted during the day on 3,7,10 and 11 October by two Cowley Road business owners, a representative from the Manzil Way mosque and an Oxford Business Action Group representative.

Their survey found that eight shops have since closed where LTNs and the loss of parking was a major factor and 153 shops have been affected directly or indirectly through the loss of customers.

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Traders from St Clement’s road and Cowley Road have said they are either “ignored” or receive a generic “fill in the consultation” when they reach out to the council.

Vicky Huang - owner of Jin Jin for four years- said the traders on Cowley Road had been “abandoned” as councillors made no efforts to consult them before the LTNs were introduced.

Ms Huang said: “We have been abandoned.

“I don’t think they are respecting us because I didn’t see anyone come to talk to us before they were introduced.

“I’m losing £3,000 a week and I’m struggling to pay rent because of the LTNs.”

Oxford Mail: Jin Jin Chinese restaurantJin Jin Chinese restaurant (Image: Ed Halford)

Ms Huang no longer accepts takeaway orders because it takes too long to deliver food to customers, and she was receiving too many complaints that customers were receiving cold food.

She explained: “We have had to stop using Deliveroo.

“In the past four years, we used our own riders for Deliveroo but since the LTNs were introduced the traffic has been so bad my drivers couldn’t get inside Cowley Road.

“All my drivers asked for an increase in wages because it was taking so long to drop off deliveries.”

Ms Huang said her sales were down by 40 per cent and she could not believe Oxfordshire County Council had chosen to “block off” Cowley Road.

Many traders have said they felt the traffic measures are racist, as 87 per cent of Cowley Road traders are first generation and English is not their first language.

Traders who speak out against the LTNs can be on the receiving end of a toxic backlash, and Ms Huang did not want to be photographed due to the fear that customers who sympathise with the traffic measures could boycott her restaurant.

Jeremy Mogford, chairman of the Oxford High Street Association and an Oxford Business Action Group member, has campaigned very strongly against the traffic filters which will be installed as a trial on six roads in Oxford in 2024.

Oxford Mail: Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here Sign up to Ed Halford's free weekly Politics newsletter here (Image: Newsquest)


These filters will be located on St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clements and Hythe Bridge Street, Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way.

The hotelier, who owns Old Bank Hotel in High Street and Old Parsonage Hotel in Banbury Road, said: “We are now hearing the first repercussions of their policy to introduce LTNs and introduce traffic filters.

“We are seeing the effect of their first implementation which is the LTNs on the Cowley Road.

“There is a steam-rolling of their vision for the centre of Oxford which is taking precedent over what we as businesses might think.”

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Mr Mogford’s hospitality group, The Oxford Collection, has contributed as much as £5,000 towards a Go Fund Me appeal which is raising funds to mount a legal challenge to the traffic filters.

Mr Mogford said he understood why businesses were fearful of the repercussions of expressing their views on the LTNs and traffic filters.

He said: “I know a lot of businesses are frightened about the repercussions of expressing their views and I know Oxford University colleges are frightened about expressing their views about the traffic filters.

“They are scared of the repercussions from their students who may disapprove of their thinking.

“I feel like I should speak out and I’m very happy to debate with anyone why I feel as I do and why other businesses feel the same way.”

Mr Mogford said it was not right that councillors who did not live in the city were dictating Oxford’s traffic policy.

He added: “It is councillors from outside Oxford who are legislating for what is going to happen in the city and that is wrong in itself.”

A spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “We have received and continue to receive a breadth of feedback including concerns and recommendations in relation to the LTNs including from residents, business owners and visitors to the city.

“Although the online consultation on the east Oxford LTNs has now closed we encourage people to continue sharing their feedback with us. This feedback will contribute to the reporting that will be presented to cabinet for decision later in 2023.”