Prepping & Survival

Oxford County Council Forges Ahead With 15-Minute Prison Plans By Installing “Bus Gates”

This article was originally published by Rhoda Wilson at The Daily Exposé.

Oxford, UK, was one of the first to announce a scheme where car owners will be fined for driving outside of their local area.  The first low-traffic neighborhoods (“LTNs”) were introduced in Church Cowley, Temple Cowley, and Florence Park areas in March 2021.  These LTNs are collectively known as the East Oxford LTNs.

Despite receiving a backlash to their unpopular plans, the council is pressing forward.

“Work starts today (26 February) on Oxford streets to prepare for six traffic filters as part of a trial approved by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet in November 2022,” Oxfordshire County Council announced. 

To stop prohibited vehicles driving without a permit, the traffic filters or “bus gates” will be monitored by automatic number plate recognition (“ANPR”) cameras. “Residents in Oxford and some areas just outside the city will be able to apply for a permit allowing them to drive through the traffic filters on up to 100 days per year,” the council said.

Despite an overwhelming objection to the measures, in February 2022, Tim Bearder, the then-cabinet member for highways, recommended making the LTNs permanent. However, Bearder delayed deciding to make them permanent because “it wouldn’t be right for one individual to make a decision in that context” and said it was “appropriate” for its cabinet to make a decision instead.

After the conclusion of a consultation held in May 2022, the council stated that “a decision on whether to make the trial scheme permanent or remove it will be made by the county council’s cabinet in late 2023.”

The council’s overarching plan with the LTNs is to divide Oxford into six districts with strict rules on how often motorists can drive outside their neighbourhood.

In October 2022, The Sunday Times summed up Oxfordshire County Council’s proposed plans: “Oxford’s 150,000 residents will be allowed to use their cars as much as they like within their district and will be given free permits allowing them to drive to other districts on 100 days a year. If they exceed this limit, they will be fined, possibly £70 a journey or a day.”

Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, insisted the controversial 15-minute neighbourhood plan would go ahead “whether people liked it or not.”

Further reading:

The LTN “trial” comprised motor vehicles and motorbikes restricted access by road bollards and planters.  These physical barriers were placed in the Divinity Road, St Clement’s, and St Mary’s areas of east Oxford, a road in each of the LTN areas. According to the council’s website, “If the east Oxford LTNs remain in place and the use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras is approved, the cameras will enforce restrictions that are currently enforced using planters and bollards.”  It continues:

The council claimed it would conduct a full analysis of the impact of the east Oxford LTNs which was expected to be published in October 2023 to support the cabinet decision on whether the LTNs should become permanent.

On the council’s webpage ‘Consultation documents’, there is no report – except for a snapshot monitoring and evaluation report dated June 2023 which provides a partial evaluation of the effects of the east Oxford Low LTNs since their implementation on 20 May 2022. Neither could we find a “full analysis” by searching the website for “LTN impact,” “LTN assessment” or “LTN evaluation.”  However, reporting on the council’s decision, cycling news outlet Road linked to THIS report by Bill Cotton, Corporate Director Environment & Place, to the cabinet.

In October 2023, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet agreed to continue the controversial traffic measures in Divinity Road, St Mary’s, and St Clement’s.  The cabinet consisting of Liberal Democrat and Green councillors also decided that ANPR cameras would replace the physical barriers in Divinity Road, James Street, and Magdalen Road. ANPR cameras are sometimes referred to as “traffic filters” or “bus gates” and are part of the Central Oxfordshire Travel Plan and Oxfordshire’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan.

Further reading: Additions to technocrats’ surveillance toolkit: Microfliers, human-computer networks and AI

Meanwhile, as Road reported, the LTNs had become the epicenter of what some have described as a “civil war” in Oxford and the subject of protests, vandalism, arson attacks, and television documentaries.

“Oxfordshire County Council’s plans are ill-thought out, they’re making a huge mistake, they’re devastating people’s lives, they need to be stopped and fast,” Clinton Pugh said in early 2023.

Pugh is one of the many independent business owners in Cowley Road that the council is cutting off with LTNs. Cowley Road runs along all three of the “trial” LTN areas.

With their ill-conceived plan, the council has inhibited customers and deliveries to these independent businesses.

“Considering hardly any of the councillors actually live in Oxford, they’re not the ones that are putting up with this horrendous situation they’ve created,” he said.  “They’re actually going to try and make things worse by introducing bus gates now which, of course, when that segregation happens.”

Together: “Oxfordshire County Council’s plans need to be stopped & fast” – Clint Pugh, entrepreneur, 16 January 2023 (2 mins)

Little more has been heard about Oxford’s LTNs until a post on Twitter on Sunday.

To which a user who is either paid, ignorant, or brainwashed responded:

And another one:

Yesterday, Oxfordshire County Council announced: “Work starts today (26 February) on Oxford streets to prepare for six traffic filters as part of a trial approved by Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet in November 2022.”

Oxford is disregarding lessons learnt in London.  In 2021, it was announced that seven of London’s LTNs were to be scrapped after they were found to increase local congestion and caused “no material change in air quality.”

As reported by Daily Mail, the then Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously announced the scheme – which plans for 200 LTNs across the country – is to receive hundreds of millions of pounds as part of the Government’s so-called “green transport revolution.”

The LTNs were brought in during the COVID shutdown in 2020 to redirect traffic away from residential areas, which involved installing cycle lanes, closing off roads to through traffic, and widening pavements.

However, a year after being introduced, seven out of the nine LTNs in Ealing had “no data available on whether there has been an impact on walking and cycling,” according to a report.

Ealing Council even discovered an increase in traffic on one road within the Acton LTN, as well as an increase in cars traveling on its boundary roads. While five of the seven LTNs did inevitably experience a reduction in traffic on residential streets inside the scheme, “increased congestion” was created on nearby streets.

According to the Daily Mail, the damning report challenged the Government’s repeated claims that LTNs are a popular idea among the public.

 



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