There are calls for senior members of Oxfordshire County Council to resign after a report revealed the authority’s anti-traffic measures delay ambulances responding to life-threatening calls.

The council’s own report analysed the impact of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in East Oxford and Cowley on South Central Ambulance Service’s response times and found the street barriers could cause delays of 35-45 seconds to response times for life threatening, emergency, and urgent calls in the city.

READ MORE: Oxford LTNs cause delays to life threatening calls
Oxford Mail: The Oxford Mail has repeatedly asked the council to disclose the impact of LTNs on ambulance response timesThe Oxford Mail has repeatedly asked the council to disclose the impact of LTNs on ambulance response times

Eddie Reeves, leader of the Conservative opposition on the council, demanded the resignation of Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highways management, and Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel, accusing them of failing to release the report in an “open and transparent manner”.

He said: “Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors have serious questions to answer.

"This vital information should have been released in an open and transparent manner, rather than being buried at the back of a long consultation document that most members of the public will never see.

“Leaving aside the tragic human cost, the financial cost alone to our NHS trust is given as at £650,000 and would be as high as £10 million if LTNs were expanded across our NHS area.”

Oxford Mail: LTNs in East OxfordLTNs in East Oxford (Image: Ed Nix)

Both Mr Gant and Mr Enright have failed to comment individually.

The council has stressed that the data is based on a re-routing of the vehicles rather than allowing emergency services to take the bollards down.


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)

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The report’s modelling used the ambulance service’s response data from May to November last year and found LTNs could cause 45 second delays to vehicles responding to life threatening cases in East Oxford.

A 40 second delay is a significant delay given that the average response time target for life threatening calls is seven minutes.

In Cowley, the research showed that life-threatening calls were still delayed by three seconds and emergency calls by six seconds.

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Sajjad Malik, independent city councillor, said the “cat was now out of the bag” and he accused the council of going ahead with traffic measures which left “emergency services struggling to cope with services due to LTNs”.

He said: “All along, the county council and Mr Gant have been playing with people’s lives and it’s about time they concede and remove the LTNs completely.”

The report concludes the impact of LTNs on the ambulance service’s response time for life threatening calls is sufficient to have a “cost implication” of £650,000.

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The Optima Predict event simulation platform was used to come up with these findings and this platform assesses the impact on response time of introducing LTN filters against a baseline of the prevailing response time.

The county council is holding a six-week consultation to gather views on proposed changes to the LTNs in East Oxford.

The LTNs on Divinity Road, St Clement’s and St Mary’s were originally introduced on a trial basis and Mr Gant said he was pleased the council was giving residents “another opportunity to offer detailed feedback”.

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: “The east Oxford low traffic neighbourhoods were introduced on an experimental basis in May 2022, and the trial is on-going.

“The council has been gathering and analysing the first year’s worth of feedback to understand the trial’s impact and to help inform future decision making.

“We have listened to this feedback and are proposing some changes which could be introduced if the council decides to continue with the LTNs.

“Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) is being proposed as a result of ongoing engagement with the emergency services.

“A six-week consultation opened this week to gather views on the proposed changes and understand east Oxford LTNs’ impact since new bollards were introduced in March.

“Modelling emergency services response time delay using simulation forms part of the monitoring and evaluation of the east Oxford LTNs.

“The simulation is based on re-routing the vehicles rather than allowing emergency services to take the bollards down.

“A snapshot report, which includes simulation data on response times, became available in May.

“Full analysis is being undertaken over the summer and will be published to support the cabinet decision, expected in October, on whether the LTNs should become permanent.”

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Green city councillor Emily Kerr backed the LTN traffic filters and pointed to the county council’s wider strategy which is aimed at reducing ambulance response times.

She said: “Emergency services have been consulted on the effect of the East Oxford LTN trial – which forms part of the wider Oxford traffic strategy – and as a consequence, tweaks to the existing scheme have been proposed.

“These are expected to help response times.”

Ms Kerr said the council’s officers had made efforts to engage with residents before the six proposed changes, which are included in the consultation, were confirmed. 

Praising the proposed changes, Ms Kerr said: “I think they seem like pragmatic tweaks to the scheme, but we need to see them in place and with real-life data before we can draw any firm conclusions.”

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Ed specialises in writing political stories for the Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times. 

He joined in the team in February 2023, after completing a History undergraduate degree at the University of York and studying for his NCTJ diploma in London.

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