City business owners tired of being ‘ignored’ over traffic measures

LTNs (low traffic neighbourhoods) are among the measures which have been slammed by traders for increasing congestion and reducing the number of customers for business owners in east Oxford.

Businesses are fighting hard on the back of the Covid pandemic and cost of living crisis but they fear measures such as the zero emission zone (ZEZ), traffic filters and a workplace parking levy could have a damaging impact.

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Klontian Meta, manager of the Love Coffee chain in Oxford, said: “The LTNs have meant my stores are less busy than before.

“All of us want to protect the planet and rest of world but I don’t think Cowley Road is going to save the rest of the world.”

A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said the LTNs are designed to work with other measures to improve public transport, walking and cycling, making travel easier in Oxford.

He added: “We continue to monitor the LTNs and evaluate their impact.

“The traffic filters trial, starting this autumn, is designed to reduce traffic, make bus journeys faster and make walking and cycling safer as part of the county council’s vision for improved travel across Oxfordshire.

“Traffic filters are also intended to help reduce local air pollution and improve the health and wellbeing of our communities.”

It comes as former Liberal Democrat city councillor, Tony Brett, took to social media to say he would no longer be shopping at the Goldfish Bowl Store in east Oxford after seeing an Independent Oxford Alliance (IOA) poster outside.

Mr Brett said: “That will be a sure way to stop me supporting that shop and move to buying all my aquarium supplies much more cheaply online.

Oxford Mail: The controversial exchange.The controversial exchange. (Image: Other.)

“I want to support local businesses, and I do, but not if they are supporting those campaigning against safety and clean air.”

Independent MP candidate for Oxford East and Cowley Road trader Amir Steve Ali, who had uploaded the photo of himself outside the store with the posters, said he was “shocked” to hear Mr Brett’s comment.

Mr Ali added: “I believe everyone is entitled to freedom to choose which political party they want to support.

“Tony Brett should publicly apologise for his unfair comment.”

Oxford Mail: Amir Steve Ali Amir Steve Ali (Image: Ed Nix)Mr Brett clarified when approached he had “no objection to anyone standing for election, independent or party-affiliated”.

It comes after county councillor Damian Haywood faced a backlash last year after he refused to support businesses which have “publicised their hatred” towards Oxford’s controversial Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs).

He was accused of “criticising” struggling businesses with one trader telling him “shame on you.”

The banners, put up by Independent Oxford Alliance (IOA) candidates, are proclaiming May 2 ‘Independents Day’ as traders in east Oxford say they will be supporting the candidates after becoming disillusioned with mainstream parties.

A spokesman for the IOA, which launched in November as a “cooperative” of independents, has said the party is not explicitly against LTNs, which were introduced with the intention of preventing traffic from taking shortcuts through residential areas and making streets safer for walking and cycling.

Oxford Mail: East Oxford LTN.East Oxford LTN. (Image: Ed Nix)

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The IOA has been embraced as a party of choice by many objectors to the scheme with its view that “a large majority of people in Oxford do not feel their views have been considered”.

Oxford Restaurateur Clinton Pugh, who has been widely critical of the LTN policies, said: “Everyone should not be voting for national parties.

Oxford Mail: Clinton Pugh.Clinton Pugh. (Image: Photo: Oxford Mail)

“I certainly don’t support the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens.

“I completely support the independent candidates, obviously if they are true to helping make a difference.

“All of us business people are struggling to survive.”

Several businesses in east Oxford have agreed to display the IOA posters on their shopfronts, including a large banner for St Clement’s candidate Sal Naqvi in Cowley Road at the site of a former stationery store.

Oxford Mail: 'Vote Sal Naqvi'.‘Vote Sal Naqvi’. (Image: Contribution.)

Mr Naqvi said: “The businesses are being very helpful in terms of getting the posters out.

“As for optimism at the door, I’m getting a good response.

“My plan is to get as many posters out as possible.”

When questioned about planning permission for the posters, it was suggested by Rose Hill and Iffley ward candidate David Henwood that shop owners had given permission and the banners were only temporary.

Mr Henwood added: “Clearly it is going to upset opponents but they are designed to do that.”

Oxford Mail: 'Independents Day'.‘Independents Day’. (Image: Contribution.)

Other parties in Oxford are continuing their campaign with Labour leader Susan Brown saying the party’s vision for Oxford is “underpinned by our values of fairness and equality and our campaign to tackle climate change”.

Oxford Mail: Susan Brown.Susan Brown. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

Liberal Democrat leader Dr Chris Smowton said: “Liberal Democrats are campaigning the old-fashioned way, by knocking on doors and speaking to voters.

“The reception so far has been fantastic, and I’m looking forward to a strong result for our candidates.”

Green group leader Chris Jarvis added: “Green Party councillors, candidates and campaigners have spoken to thousands of residents in the last few weeks about the future of our city and how they want to make it even better.

“The Green Party in Oxford has a strong track record of holding Labour to account on the city council and have a strong team of candidates standing in this year’s elections.”

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