This is an editorial from the Oxford Mail and Oxford Times politics reporter Ed Halford.

Political ideologies when pursued relentlessly without pausing for reflection can lead to terrible consequences.

This week, the council’s report on the impact of low traffic neighbourhood filters on the ambulance service’s response times in East Oxford and Cowley was released.

The results are very concerning.

In short, the council’s very own modelling found that LTNs can cause 45 second delays to life threatening calls in East Oxford.

At first glance, 45 seconds may seem like a very short amount of time.

In 45 seconds, you can probably have a few sips of tea and frantically switch off your Zoom call microphone after you accidentally left it on.

However, with the South Central Ambulance Service aiming to reach life threatening cases within seven minutes, the figure is actually substantial.

Back in April, journalists at this newspaper pressed the council on the impact of the traffic measures on ambulance response times but they were rebuffed.

Many householders have spoken about seeing ambulances wasting time having to quickly unlock the bollards, but the council has assured us that drills have taken place to make these delays brief.

The issue is that these LTN filters, according to the council’s own data, clearly can delay emergency services reaching destinations when re-routing can waste precious seconds.

Yes, changes have been proposed, such as introducing automatic number plate recognition cameras, but restricting access to roads will only create different problems.

Instead of ambulance crews wasting time diverting around blocked off roads, it is likely they will find themselves struggling to get past traffic clogging up the main arterial roads which run into the city.

Councillors have raised concerns about the impact of LTNs on emergency services, but they have been accused of not caring about air pollution.

Labour city councillor Linda Smith has warned the county council that householders are deciding to not open windows because of displaced traffic queuing down roads.

Oxford Mail: City council cabinet member Linda SmithCity council cabinet member Linda Smith (Image: Oxford Mail)

Another independent city councillor, Sajjad Malik, has repeatedly told this newspaper he was concerned fire engines were facing delays but his worries like others were brushed underneath the rug.

Oxford Mail: Independent city councillor Sajjad MalikIndependent city councillor Sajjad Malik

Ideology has got in the way and decisions which have serious consequences have been hijacked by an agenda which continues to punish those who speak up.

If a business utters a voice of discontent, they fear an impending boycott.

If residents speak up about air pollution, then they are blamed for not converting their diesel car to electric.

The NHS is already experiencing never ending backlogs which have carried over from the Covid-19 pandemic and the report’s finding that the LTNs could cost our health service £650,000 is a cost it simply cannot afford.

Let’s hope that the proposed changes lead to positive changes and greater reflection.

In response to Oxford Mail articles about this report, 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.”