This is an editorial opinion piece which was recently published in The Oxford Times, sister paper of the Oxford Mail.

As the evenings start to get lighter, people across Oxfordshire are starting to get some respite from what has been a very dark and challenging period.

Outdoor seating is once again being used for after work drinks, even if the price of a pint has jumped, and parks are once again full of children playing football late into the evening.

However, the soaring energy bills and high food prices have not disappeared.


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The cost of living crisis is still hitting businesses and customers’ pockets and at times it seems as if the country is trapped in a never-ending inflationary spiral.

This week, a request made by The Oxford Times under the Freedom of Information Act, revealed that Oxfordshire County Council’s priorities may not be aligned with those it represents.

After a short consultation, which ends later this month, the cabinet member for highway management Andrew Gant will need to make a decision on replacing Low Traffic Neighbourhood bollards with ANPR cameras.

The request found that these cameras are set to cost up to £336,000 for six, with each camera costing around £56,000 each.

After the public were told earlier this year that their council tax bills would be hiked by nearly five per cent to respond to increased pressures on basic services, this expenditure will cast doubt in people’s minds as to whether their council is in touch with their day-to-day concerns.

Issuing fines to motorists for driving down their own roads when they are struggling to make ends meet sounds Orwellian but is also impractical.

A householder who lives in Littlemore, where these new cameras are likely to be installed, said no exemption had been made for his registered disabled father.

If you’re disabled, then you can’t easily hop on a bike or walk down the road.

For Ian Yeatman’s father, not having the ability to drive down the road without facing a fine is a severe restriction on his freedom and independence.

The council said exemptions to these fines are still being considered as part of the consultation, but surely the council debating which group of their constituents to fine is a very clear sign that its priorities are in the wrong place.

Unfortunately, this additional expense of replacing bollards with expensive cameras is not the only cash the LTN scheme has demanded.

At the end of last year, our reporters found the council was forced to spend £100,000 replacing the plastic bollards with steel ones after they were repeatedly vandalised.

The ANPR cameras will mean the emergency services don’t have to perform as many practice drills on how to remove the bollards, but surely the issues they pose to fire engines should have been thought about more carefully in the first place.

The people of Oxfordshire have braved the worst of the winter weather and have navigated the sky-high energy bills, though, we fear, there is further gloom ahead with growing frustration that their representatives’ concerns are out of sync with the impact of the cost of living crisis.

Please note: Oxfordshire County Council has contacted us in response to this article with the following comment regarding income raised from ANPR cameras.

The council comment states: "Any income raised from penalty charges will be used to cover the operating costs of the cameras and to fund other transport measures like encouraging active travel.

"Ideally only those who are exempt will travel through the sites."