VEHICLE BANS in parts of Oxford city centre are set to continue despite protests from local businesses, shadow Transport Minister John Redwood and the BBC's Top Gear programme, NCE has learned.
Sources at Oxfordshire County Council have confirmed that they will push ahead with plans to ban cars and buses from another shopping street in the city, despite recent criticisms that the policy was killing the town centre.
Following closure of the High Street to cars during the day and full pedestrianisation of a neighbouring shopping street on1 June, the authorities plan to fully pedestrianise another main shopping street in a further attempt to persuade drivers out of their cars.
Local traders, who have formed a pressure group called Rescue Oxford (ROX), recently published the results of a questionnaire in which 80% of firms in Oxford claimed the policy was damaging their businesses.
ROX claimed that businesses had been losing up to £3M a month since the restrictions. Pressure to rethink the Oxford Transport Strategy (OTS) intensified after attacks from shadow Transport Minister John Redwood and a critical profile of the policy on Top Gear.
A review on 28 January of the controversial policy is only expected to 'fine tune' it. Oxford County Council director of transport David Young said: 'We want to address the concern of the retail and business community about some of the operational and trading difficulties that certain aspects of the Oxford Transport Strategy have caused. We have identified a number of refinements.'
Options include reviewing loading bans, increasing the parking time limit from two to three hours and abolishing parking charges in the evenings and on Sundays.