There are calls to overturn Oxfordshire County Council’s decision to install traffic filters preventing most motorists crossing the city centre, following revelations that key traffic study results were concealed from the public.

Opposition councillors have demanded a “morally dubious” council consultation be scrapped and re-run after it emerged that a report showing the scheme would fuel congestion was held back until the consultation period ended.

The report showed traffic congestion would increase by 62 per cent on Woodstock Road and by at least 10 per cent on Botley Road.

The leader of the opposition, Eddie Reeves, and councillors Liam Walker, Donna Ford and Ian Snowdon have called on Chief Executive Dr Martin Reeves to provide further public consultation and said the council’s decision must be “urgently investigated”.

READ MORE: 'New traffic filters in Oxford will greatly increase our misery'

Pressure mounted on the council and Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highway management, after requests made under the Freedom of Information Act showed the council promised Oxford’s six traffic filters would go ahead six months before a public consultation began.

The traffic filters, equipped with cameras, are due to be installed next year. They aim to prevent through-traffic in the city centre at peak times and would be enforced with fines.

They would affect St Cross Road, Thames Street, St Clement’s, Hythe Bridge Street, Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way.

Documents reveal, however, that bus journey times are unlikely to improve, with the bus gate in Marston Ferry Road, specifically, making no difference at all.

In a letter sent to Dr Reeves on March 7, Eddie Reeves reiterated concerns that the traffic filters decision was made in “bad faith”, questioned the consultation timetable and urged the council to come clean about its decision, so “public trust in the council and its consultations can be restored”.

Mr Reeves accused the council of “conspiring” to ensure residents and businesses were not fully informed in the consultation.

The traffic data was only released on October 21 – eight days after the consultation officially closed.

He said the “moral validity” of the consultation was now in serious doubt, and his calls for a re-run were supported by businesses and Oxford residents.

READ MORE: Oxford Traffic filters: Major details hidden from public

Speaking exclusively to The Oxford Times, Mr Reeves said: “The council’s new chief executive must now intervene as a matter of urgency to restore public trust in county hall and the consultations it runs.

That means re-running the consultation with all the data openly and honestly disclosed or explaining, for the avoidance of doubt, how the council took its decision in good faith”.

He said it was now critical that an “independent review of the decision making process must be conducted and published in full so that members of the public know whether senior councillors were implicated”.

He suggested a no confidence motion in the council could be looming as he said “all bets are off as to whether the current cabinet can continue in its current form”.

Oxford hotelier Jeremy Mogford, owner of Old Bank Hotel in High Street and Old Parsonage Hotel in Banbury Road, backed the call for a re-run of the consultation, labelling the previous exercise as “incredibly vague and long winded with most questions very difficult to answer properly”.

He added: “The consultation must be more user friendly and much shorter. It should contain all the information necessary for people to make an accurate judgement. All data must be published.”

Mr Mogford also called for “detailed consultation with individual businesses, cultural venues, professional organisations and colleges” which has been found to be lacking.

Previously the Oxford Times reported, Cowley Road businesses such as Rice Box and Jin Jin have felt “ignored” by the county council, as Mr Gant has failed to speak to them about the detriment LTNs have been causing to their profits.

Elaine Tilley, who has lived in Littlehay Road for more than 40 years, said it was only right for the traffic filters consultation to be re-run as the consultation process was “incredibly short”.

She said: “I don’t feel like we were ever consulted very much at all.
“I think the consultation processes have been incredibly short and a lot of people don’t really know how to respond; especially when they lack the data.

“I think there are a lot of voiceless people.”

READ MORE: Was Florence Pugh dad right saying LTNs damage Oxford trade?

Patrick Clacy, owner of ‘And So to Bed’ in St Clement’s, said he feared the impact of traffic filters, having suffered from the effects of LTNs which he said “caused bottlenecks” and “havoc”.

He said Mr Gant had not listened to his concerns when he voiced them at a meeting of St Clement’s business owners.

He added: “I brought this up with Andrew Gant and he didn’t have anything to say on it.”

Mr Clacy said the LTNs and traffic filters were all part of the council’s “hidden agenda to make Oxford a completely pedestrianised city” and since they had introduced their traffic experiments “rush hour traffic” has only got worse.

He said the council was more concerned about being seen to be listening as opposed to genuinely engaging with small businesses.

Duncan Enright, county council cabinet member for Travel and Development Strategy, said: “We rely on the professional and expert advice of our county officers, who guide our decision making, and the view of the council is that the decision is sound”.

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said:"The county council believes last year’s traffic filters public consultation and decision making process to implement a trial was sound.

"Our monitoring officer is undertaking a review to check procedures were followed correctly.

"The information provided enabled almost 6,000 people to give their views. After the consultation, changes were made to the traffic filters proposal based on people’s feedback.

"Consultation is one part of the decision making process and feedback is reviewed alongside other information when decisions are made in the council’s public meetings.

"The filters will be implemented as a trial, as part of an experimental traffic regulation order, after works to improve Oxford Station are completed by Network Rail in late 2024.

"To support the trial, there will be a six-month consultation where anyone will be able to give their views on how the filters are working.

"During the trial, monitoring data will be published as soon as possible so respondents will be able to draw on both measured data and their own experiences when giving views on the scheme.

"This will help us to understand the impact of the filters in real time so we can adapt our plans during the trial, where needed, and, together with consultation outcomes, this will help inform the decision on whether to continue with them."