Clinton Pugh, the father of Florence Pugh, and owner of Café Coco and the restaurants Kazbar and Café Tarifa, has previoulsy hit out at the council over anti-traffic measures damaging trade.

He told the Oxford Mail that the city council had "strangled the life out of Cowley Road" as he unfurled an anti-LTN banner.

But a reader's letter contributed to this newspaper by Martin Stott, a Cowley Road resident, takes a different view on what is causing damage to trade in Cowley Road.

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He believes it is wrong to single out Low Traffic Neighbourhoods as the sole reason for the decline.

The two-year closure of the Tesco store on Cowley Road are among the reasons cited.

This is Mr Stott's letter in full: 

The story 'Businesses fight for survival due to LTNs' is incorrect.

I have lived in and around Cowley Road since the 1970s.

I'm not a car owner. I shop almost every day in the shops on Cowley Road (old fashioned I know!) and I have over the years come to know many of the shopkeepers and restaurateurs, some of whom I count as friends.

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Shops and restaurants on Cowley Road are clearly struggling, but there are many reasons for this, some generic, and some specific to Cowley Road.

Let me mention a few: a 16 per cent increase in food price inflation in the past year; specific food shortages ('let them eat turnips'); energy costs; fuel prices hike; a cost of living crisis exacerbated by all of these things.

This is leading to people being forced to cut back on what used to be considered essential purchases.

Labour shortages are leading, in particular, to to pubs and restaurants having to restrict their opening hours; and a shift since the start of the pandemic away from going into shops.

Instead people are shopping online, a trend that has persisted.

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There is absolutely no doubt that these societal changes have negatively impacted on shops and restaurants on Cowley Road, as they have all over the country.

But there are some more specific local factors too, most notably the almost two-year closure of Cowley's Road Tesco for refurbishment and its reopening coinciding with the introduction of of LTN's last year.

Oxford Mail: Tesco on Cowley Road when it was being refurbished Tesco on Cowley Road when it was being refurbished

Where did Tesco's trade go while it was closed? To the local shops, of course.

The Co-op down the road saw its turnover more than double - and then drop back once Tesco reopened.

Car-borne trade has always been an element of the success of Cowley Road businesses and since the introduction of LTNs the car park behind Tesco has reopened as the building work has been completed.

LTNs have made absolutely no difference to access to that car park which has always been from Cowley Road.

I sympathise with the situation many traders on Cowley Road find themselves in.

But to suggest that their problems are primarily the result of the introduction of LTNs is fanciful.