Local authorities should consider scrapping low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) where they are unpopular, the transport secretary has suggested.

In an interview with the Telegraph, Mark Harper, the transport secretary, said a large number of LTNs were introduced during the pandemic due to a lack of consultation and he said now was the time for local authorities to reflect on them.

Mr Harper said to the newspaper he had brought funding for projects which banned cars to an end, as they should not be about “making it difficult for motorists”.

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Oxford Mail: Transport Secretary Mark HarperTransport Secretary Mark Harper (Image: PA)

Where LTNs have not been popular and have pitted cyclists against motorists, the transport secretary has suggested councils look at their schemes again.

He told the Telegraph: “For local authorities who have got schemes that weren’t popular, were very controversial and aren’t very well supported, then it would probably be wise for them to look at them again.”

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In the interview, Mr Harper reveals he fears the LTNs have put people off cycling and walking and risk stirring up opposition to the broader aims of net zero.

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

He said: “One of the things that struck me with some of the way those schemes was delivered, is that they then set up a group of people that were opposed to cycling and walking.

“Setting up different groups of people against each other is a very unhelpful thing to do.”

Oxfordshire County Council is running a six week consultation on the LTNs in East Oxford and this started on June 5 and finishes on Thursday, July 20.

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The LTNs were first introduced in Church Cowley, Temple Cowley and Florence Parks in February 2021, and were later installed in Divinity Road, St Clement’s and St Mary’s in East Oxford.

The council has proposed changes to their LTNs, which would include installing automatic number plate recognition cameras instead of bollards on Divinity Road, James Street and Magdalen Road.

Oxford Mail: Cabinet member for highway management Andrew GantCabinet member for highway management Andrew Gant (Image: Ed Nix)

In addition to this, the council’s proposed changes include adding a traffic restriction at the St Clement’s end of Jeune Street and making the street two way south of the restriction.

The council’s cabinet member for highways Andrew Gant has said the trial of the East Oxford LTNs was disrupted by vandalism and this had made it “harder” to assess the impact of the trial.

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He said: “We have encouraged people to share their views with us throughout the trial of the east Oxford LTNs.

“I’m pleased we are giving people another opportunity to offer detailed feedback.”

However, LTNs have been extremely controversial with some businesses in the area, with Cowley Road traders informing the Oxford Mail on numerous occasions that their concerns had been “ignored” and they “were not properly consulted”.

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About the author 

To sign up to Ed's weekly Politics newsletter, click here: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/newsletters/

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.

Ed’s weekly politics newsletter is released every Saturday morning.