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Traffic restraint the only way for Oxford


Your feature 'Oxford stays stubborn on road closures despite opposition' (NCE last week) reports the challenges of local traders to traffic restrictions in Oxford introduced last June.

However, it is important to realise that these changes are merely a component of a transport strategy that has been in place since the 1970's when it was recognised that it simply was not possible to accommodate travel demands by buildingnew roads and car parks in Oxford.

Our experience has demonstrated that private vehicle restraint and a buoyant town centre can co-exist; a large increase in economic activity in the city centre has been accommodated without any increase in traffic. Oxford has some of the highest shop retail values outside London and the lowest shop vacancy rates nationally, many millions are currently being spent on major city centre shop redevelopment and expansion schemes.

What is revealing is that although the protesters rail against the strategy, in fact few advocate abandonment. Indeed no credible alternative strategy has been put forward. Certainly the County Council is sensitive to the concernsof the business community and as David Young, director of environmental services, explained, councillors will review the latest trafficchanges with these concerns in mind.

Incidentally, he did notsay, as your report suggested, that overall trade is down - nor is it.

Clearly the conclusions reached in the 1970's are even more true today; faced with increasing travel demands, a growing county and city population and the importance of protecting the special environment of the city, there really is no alternative other than a traffic restraint approach for Oxford.

Roger Williams (M), Environmental Services Department, Oxfordshire County Council, Speedwell House, Speedwell Street, Oxford OX1 1NE

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