Those opposed to a new travel plan for central Oxfordshire – including traffic filters – have been challenged to come up with alternatives.
This comes as Oxfordshire County Council proposes to bring together 22 actions in its Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan, including three major interventions in and around Oxford city centre.
It is part of the council’s plan to cut car trips by a quarter by 2030, deliver a net-zero transport network by 2040 and eradicate road fatalities or life-changing injuries by 2050.
Six new traffic filters, which close off routes to private cars during operational hours, are proposed on St Cross Road, Thames Street and Hythe Bridge Street in the city centre and on St Clements, Marston Ferry Road and Hollow Way.
A workplace parking levy – an annual charge to businesses for staff parking spaces at their premises – and the widespread extension of the city’s zero emission zone (ZEZ) are also included.
The filters, in particular, have proved controversial, and Councillor Liam Walker (Con, Hanborough & Minster Lovell), the shadow cabinet member for highways, last week referred to the consultation on the entire plan as being “lengthy and confusing”.
He asked: “Why is it not possible for residents to simply agree or disagree with the plan?”
Councillor Duncan Enright (Lab, Witney North & East), the county’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, argued solutions and alternatives are required to deal with the issues involved rather than a referendum-style verdict.
He said: “There are many and varied ways you can comment on the Central Oxfordshire Transport Plan, but if you disagree with it as a whole, what do you put in its place?
“The whole point of a consultation is not to have a binary switch, yes or no; it is to elicit the best ideas and input from various different people’s circumstances.
“We want to hear from people who are living within the city. We also want to hear from people right across the county in the context of their work and their lives.
“This is a multifarious plan, and it is important that we recognise we need a plan. We must have priorities against which we can bid for and prioritise our future funding and policies.
“This is an important plank of that. Not having a plan is not an option. Yes or no is not a very valuable way of feeding back. People feeding back in as many ways as possible is what we are after.
“Luckily, so far, the consultation is going very well in terms of that.”
The consultation ends on Thursday, 13 October, with council officers set to make revisions based on public feedback before putting it forward for approval by the county’s cabinet – the ruling group of Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green Party councillors – during the autumn.