The Liberal Democrat leader of Oxfordshire County Council has called on a councillor to resign for diverging from the Conservative Party's low traffic neighbourhood policy.

In an apparent show of support for Tory policy, Liz Leffman has called on the shadow cabinet member for highways Liam Walker to resign for not defending the policies of "previous Conservative administrations" at the 'Free our streets' event on March 9.

The meeting, which included debates about traffic filters and LTNs, took place at Wesley Memorial Church and was organised by Reconnecting Oxford.

Mr Walker has made no secret of his opposition to LTNs and apologised for Tory policy nationally for enabling the controversial schemes to take place.

Ms Leffman's comments appear to be a retaliation for Mr Walker's stinging criticism of East Oxford Labour MP Anneliese Dodds who has faced calls to resign over criticism that she has repeatedly failed to listen to constituents' concerns over LTNs. She has denied the allegations. 

LTNs, which block through-traffic on residential streets, have been introduced in parts of Cowley and East Oxford. The county council's traffic filter plans will see the installation of enforcement cameras on six roads to prevent drivers crossing the city centre at key times.

The LTN scheme was only been made possible because of central government funding.
Ms Leffman told the Oxford Mail that she and Labour councillor Liz Brighouse were calling for Mr Walker to resign with "immediate effect" because his "views do not reflect the policies of the previous Conservative administration or of the national Conservative Government".

She added: "Mr Walker pledged to remove traffic management schemes in Oxford, many of which were introduced by the previous Conservative administration.
"Councillor Brighouse and I have asked the leader of the opposition, councillor Eddie Reeves, to clarify whether Conservative policy has changed but have not received a reply."

In the initial email sent to Mr Reeves, Ms Leffman said Mr Walker "misrepresented the results of consultations conducted on traffic measures".

Ms Leffman was invited to take part in this debate, alongside councillors Andrew Gant and Duncan Enright, but all chose not to attend. 

READ MORE: Oxford MP 'prioritises national issues' over LTN concerns

In responding to calls for his resignation, Mr Walker said: "I was pleased to take part in the public meeting in Oxford to discuss the impact that the coalition's damaging bus gates and LTNs plans are having or likely to have on Oxford.

"I am surprised to hear the leader of the council has made a complaint about me attending this meeting and for giving my views on these issues.

"I am also very surprised the leader found time to watch the YouTube video of the evening but didn't find time to show up to the meeting.

"I'm not going anywhere, and I will continue to highlight to residents of this great county why they need to vote this coalition of chaos out at the next election."

Mr Walker said he appreciated his comments "may not have aligned with government policy" but was proud that his party "has a broad church of views and sometimes we differ".

Oxford Mail: Mr Walker was invited to speak at the debate (sitting on the far right)Mr Walker was invited to speak at the debate (sitting on the far right) (Image: Ed Halford)

During the debate, Mr Walker apologised to the public for the government's "mistake" in providing funding for LTNs and ANPR cameras.

Mr Walker was also very critical of Oxfordshire County Council's decision to spend £8 million on 20mph road signs and he demanded that automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras in the city were removed.

Leader of the opposition Mr Reeves backed Mr Walker and said: "Liam and I have been working together on bringing to light the council's decision to withhold vital data from its public consultation on traffic filters in recent weeks.

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"That is what this confected dispute is about: Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors are running scared of the Conservatives. 

"A Conservative-run council would be doing things very differently. Liam has made that abundantly clear.

READ MORE: Oxfordshire councillor blasts council for 'political attack'

"Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green councillors should be looking to themselves and mending their high-handed ways instead of throwing mud against the wall in the hope that some of it will stick. 

"Taxpayers are paying them to do a job. They should get on and do that, starting by getting out from behind their Zoom screens and actually listening to Oxford's small businesses, public services, community groups and religious organisations, many of which have raised real - and increasingly pressing - concerns about the way these policies are being handled." 

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: "The council did not withhold vital data from its 2022 public consultation on traffic filters.

"Council officers provided accessible summary information during the consultation. 

"After the consultation, a more detailed transport modelling report was published alongside other information to support the council’s decision making.

"The report provided further detail but it did not alter the overall conclusions set out in the summary provided alongside the survey. 

"The decision was taken to only provide accessible summary information during the consultation as too much technical detail can reduce response rates; and for an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO), the main opportunity for people to gauge any impacts and give their views is during the six-month consultation period once the trial has started.

“As part of an internal review this month, the council’s monitoring officer concluded that the information provided during the 2022 traffic filter consultation was sufficient and appropriate, and the consultation complied with the Gunning Principles – a set of best practice consultation standards. Residents can read the council’s traffic filters fact check webpage for more details.”