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Council stands firm against vandals and votes to keep low-traffic neighbourhoods

Since introduction last year, the Oxford low-traffic scheme has been targeted by a vocal opposition, including one incident which saw a bollard set on fire

Oxford's low-traffic neighbourhoods are to be made permanent after a vote by Oxford County Council yesterday.

The scheme has been in place in various parts of the city since March 2021, but has been blighted by vandalism, described as a "civil war", with planters rammed out the way, and even one recent incident which saw a bollard set on fire and melted into the road. 

Oxford County Council says it heard a wide range of views from the public before councillors voted to keep the scheme, with improvements — including considering ANPR cameras — to be made by spring 2023.

The BBC reports that last week the council received a petition with almost 6,000 signatures asking for the traffic-calming scheme to be ended.

In comments from the public, heard yesterday, a volunteer St John Ambulance driver told the council it should provide "unfettered access" to essential workers and blue badge holders, a concern that would presumably be addressed by replacing bollards — removed in emergency using a key — with number plate-reading cameras.

Last month, firefighters in the city were delayed by a bollard which would not unlock as it had been damaged by vandals.

However, addressing the vocal opposition — which included the taxi industry and some local businesses — Cllr Charlie Hicks said the majority of people wanted to keep the scheme.

"The common fear is that it pushes traffic onto the main roads, but that doesn't happen long-term," he said.

A local mother told the meeting the scheme had made the school run go from "being a terror to a joy".

Council stands firm against vandalism

The opposition to the scheme has not been limited to criticism in Tuesday's council meeting, with repeated vandalism overshadowing the scheme's trial period.

In March, a bollard preventing motorists from driving past a primary school was replaced following vandalism, but was then rammed off the road less than 24 hours later.

> LTN bollard replaced after vandalism disappears less than 24 hours later

The acts of vandalism have continued into the summer, with a similar story in May when vandals targeted LTN bollards and planters less than 24 hours after another trial was introduced, prompting claims of a "civil war" on Oxford's residential streets.

'Human bollards' including a Liberal Democrat councillor, Andrew Gant, stepped in to block the road after the bollard preventing unauthorised drivers access at one end of Howard Street was vandalised "six or seven times".

In the most shocking case, at the start of this month, hooded vandals set the Howard Street bollard on fire, inadvertently making the road impassable by melting it into the road.

Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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swldxer | 1 year ago
1 like

It's St John Ambulance - not " St John's".

andystow replied to swldxer | 1 year ago

swldxer wrote:

It's St John Ambulance - not " St John's".

You have an extra space after your opening double quote.

hawkinspeter replied to andystow | 1 year ago
andystow wrote:

swldxer wrote:

It's St John Ambulance - not " St John's".

You have an extra space after your opening double quote.

I can't see it

Secret_squirrel replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago

One hopes they aren't giving the views of one volunteer driver of a Fete wagon the same weight as the local NHS ambulance service regardless of how they are spelt. 
In fairness to SJA they do a brilliant job just shouldn't be sticking their nose into this debate. I also suspect the "driver" was acting in a private capacity. 

Rendel Harris replied to Secret_squirrel | 1 year ago

Secret_squirrel wrote:

In fairness to SJA they do a brilliant job just shouldn't be sticking their nose into this debate.

Totally agree with both clauses of that sentence, the St John service gave me very valuable and much-needed assistance many times during my inglorious rugby career and I still have a standing order to them twenty years after I retired in both recognition and gratitude, but they don't drive blue light ambulances so a volunteer driver's opinion is no more pertinent than that of any other citizen.

chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 1 year ago
1 like

I think it's hidden behind a tab - or is that an en quad?  It's hard to tell from here.

eburtthebike | 1 year ago

Well done to the councillors for not giving in to the petrolhead terrorists, and I hope that their stand against the tiny minority (phallically challenged perhaps) that cannot tolerate losing their dominance on the roads and are hell bent on reinstating it.

tigersnapper replied to eburtthebike | 1 year ago

Fully agree.  Councillors who have the guts to make their constituents lives more pleasant.  There was a comment in the article about pushing the traffic onto the main roads.  Isn't that what the main roads are for?

Patrick9-32 | 1 year ago

Some people really hate the places they live being pleasant don't they....

Pyro Tim replied to Patrick9-32 | 1 year ago

It's mostly not the people that live there, its the ones who want to drive through. Same story for all ltns

fwhite181 replied to Pyro Tim | 1 year ago

Almost by definition - LTNs don't prevent car access, just through traffic. If you're trying to get to a destination within an LTN they will cost, at most, a couple of minutes (although I suspect that's not even true, since the absence of through traffic in residential roads will probably make access easier). The only people 'inconvenienced' are people rat-running.

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