The introduction of LTN (low traffic neighbourhood) cameras in Oxford has prompted a taxi group to praise the divisive measures despite concern they are making streets more “dangerous”.

ANPR cameras have now been rolled out in areas of east Oxford and Cowley at six closure points as a replacement for planters and bollards including on Divinity and Magdalen Road.

The Oxford Mail reports that LTNs (low traffic neighbourhoods) were introduced in May 2022 with the aim of making streets safer but have since proved controversial and blamed for increasing congestion.

The cameras, installed in April, mean private vehicles, including motorcycles and mopeds, will not be allowed to drive through the six points without an exemption. If they do they will receive a penalty charge notice.

However, various public vehicles, including taxis and private hire vehicles, are permitted to go through now that the roads are no longer blocked off.

Secretary of the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association, Sajad Khan, said: “The black cab trade has suffered immensely as a consequence of the introduction of LTNs, initially in Cowley back in February 2021 and then in East Oxford in May 2022.

“Even though we are providing a public hire service and 100 per cent of our cabs are wheelchair accessible, our concerns raised at the time of the introduction of LTNs fell on deaf ears unfortunately.

“The trade would like to thank the decision makers including officers and councillor Gant  who made this happen.

“Although it should not have taken over three years to get to where we are now knowing the fact that the trade struggled through the pandemic and the financial crises, but it certainly is a positive development for our trade.”

Some councillors in the city have raised concerns about the cameras in light of the taxi group response.

Rose Hill & Iffley ward Independent Oxford Alliance (IOA) councillor, David Henwood, was sceptical of the cameras for different reasons.

He said: “I’m pleased that the black cab service have been taken into consideration and it has improved how they operate now. The county council should have moved sooner to help this industry.

“But on the whole the cameras are just enforcing the current layout.

“Obviously as an independent I’m against penalising any group including private car owners.

“ANPR cameras are actually making some junctions (such as Newman Road) more dangerous.”

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: “The decision to replace six closure points with ANPR cameras follows public consultations and close engagement with the emergency services.

“Safety audits were carried out for both the Cowley and east Oxford LTNs. Traffic surveys were conducted before the ANPR was implemented and are scheduled to be conducted again soon.

“We will continue to monitor the LTN areas and will review the need for ANPR cameras and exemptions when we trial the traffic filters from this autumn.”

Cowley ward IOA councillor Ian Yeatman said it was “great news that the LTNs are open to private hire vehicles and hackney carriages” but that “mobile traders” and “blue badge holders” were among those still “suffering” from the restrictions.

Source: https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/24400552.oxford-ltn-cameras-divide-opinion-amid-taxi-group-praise/

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