Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approves the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan and Traffic Filter scheme

Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet approves the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan and Traffic Filter scheme

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Cabinet approved the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan (COTP) and the Traffic Filter scheme at a Cabinet meeting on 29 November 2022.

See Agenda item - Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan | Oxfordshire County Council. and Agenda item - Core Schemes - Traffic Filters ETRO Approach | Oxfordshire County Council for details of each.

There were many speakers at the meeting, including representatives of liveable streets and active travel campaign groups and residents’ and traders’ associations, members of the public and councillors. The list of speakers and links to their speeches can be found here, This is the first Council meeting that HLS spoke at – see here for a copy of HLS’ speech.

It was a very long meeting, which turned out to be perhaps the most eventful and unusual Council meeting to date: repeated heckling from the gallery, a temporary postponement of the meeting to deal with the heckling and a disruptive speaker and Piers Corbyn making an unexpected in-person appearance. The recording of the meeting can be viewed here.

Of the Headington-area Councillors who were part of the Cabinet, Liz Brighouse and Glynis Phillips voted in favour of both schemes.  Mark Lygo voted in favour of the COTP but was the only Cabinet member to vote against the Traffic Filter scheme.

We are pleased that this decision means the Traffic Filters scheme will go ahead (on a trial basis), but, like many groups campaigning for safe and liveable streets, we are disappointed that:

  • The scheme has been watered-down by extensive permits and exemptions and limited operating hours to the extent that it may not be effective in bringing about the travel behaviour change and traffic reduction required to reduce congestion, improve bus services and make the roads safe enough to enable more people of all ages and abilities to cycle/scoot/wheel on them.
  • The HGV exemption in particular seems irrational in light of the Council’s Vision Zero commitment following the recent deaths of four people cycling in Oxford which were all caused by HGVs. However, only lived experience of the scheme will show whether the limited restrictions and operating hours are sufficient, and the use of an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order to implement the scheme will allow for adjustments to be made during the trial if necessary.

The scheme has been delayed until 2024 – it was originally timetabled for summer 2023, and given the dire state of congestion, pollution and failing bus services in Oxford, if anything there is a need to bring this scheme forward (bearing in mind that this scheme has been part of the Council’s publicised plans for traffic regulation since 2015) - see timeline below:

The other core schemes of the COTP – the Workplace Parking Levy and Zero Emission Zone – are still to be implemented and consulted on (see the Council’s COTP brochure

Councillor Tim Bearder expressed some frustration in the meeting about the lack of an implementation programme for these other COTP schemes, and it was agreed that the Corporate Director for Environment and Place must produce a report on this for the January 2023 Cabinet Meeting.  We can hopefully therefore expect to see a timetable for implementation soon.

As mentioned in our previous article about how the traffic filters will affect Headington the Workplace Parking Levy scheme is likely to be more effective and beneficial for Headington in reducing its destination traffic, so we will do what we can to support this, in the knowledge that the big employer institutions in Headington – OUH NHS Trust, Brookes University and Oxford University – also support this scheme.

We will also continue to try to get low traffic neighbourhoods implemented in Headington, particularly as the traffic filters may have the effect of increasing rat-running through the Headington roads and neighbourhoods that were due to be trialled as low traffic neighbourhoods in Spring 2022.

See our previous related articles for background:

Oxford traffic filters proposal: find out more
The consultation on the proposed Oxford traffic filters closes this Thursday, 13 October. If you didn’t catch Oxfordshire County Council’s online Q&A event on the proposed scheme last week, you can watch a recording here.
How will the Council’s proposed traffic filters affect Headington?
Oxfordshire County Council’s consultation on its proposals for 6 ANPR-enforcedtraffic filters in Oxford[https://letstalk.oxfordshire.gov.uk/traffic-filters-2022] opened on 5 Septemberand runs until 13 October 2022 (midnight). These traffic filters are one elementof the Council’s Central Oxfordsh…
Beware the ‘North-East high-traffic superblock’: why Headington needs a traffic filter on Marston Ferry Road
What’s the Marston Ferry Road traffic filter?The traffic filter on Marston Ferry Road is one of six filters proposed in theCouncil’s Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan (“COTP”), and is one of the twofilters proposed on the B4495. The map below shows the proposed locations of the
How can we make the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan work for Morrell Avenue?
Two keys aim of the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan (COTP) traffic filter schemeare to: * prevent private motor traffic destined for Headington (particularly the hospitals) cutting through Cowley, Iffley, East Oxford and St Clement’s; and * reduce pollution levels on St Clement’s Street, whic…
County Council approves plans to prioritise and invest in buses and improve active travel
At its Cabinet meeting on 21 June, Oxfordshire County Council made three key decisions aimed at reducing congestion, prioritising public transport and improving conditions for walking, wheeling and cycling.

(And, going way back…)

Have you heard of Connecting Oxford?
Connecting Oxford is a comprehensive transport plan developed by Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council setting out bold measures to reduce motor traffic, increase active travel and improve bus services across Oxfordshire. It was initially consulted on in 2019 and takes effect from 2023.