‘Pointless exercise’: Mediator will be summoned for LTN disputes

Oxfordshire County Council is endorsing the research project, led by the University of Oxford, to provide a discussion space for those with opposing views on low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

LTNs were introduced in east Oxford in May 2022 with the aim of making streets safer but they have since proved controversial and been blamed for increasing congestion.

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The project will “bring together two citizens from different sides of the LTN debate to enable each participant to listen to the other’s point of view”.

Oxford Mail: LTN in east Oxford.LTN in east Oxford. (Image: Ed Nix.)

Some have slammed the efforts as a “pointless exercise” but others say they will be watching the results “with interest”.

Independent Temple Cowley ward councillor, Sajjad Malik, said: “It’s another pointless exercise which the council hopes will give them a couple of brownie points.

“It has been loud and clear that the county council is not listening to the public.

“They will just tick a box saying they supported this scheme.”

Oxford Mail: Saj Malik.Saj Malik. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

Speaking on LTNs specifically, Mr Malik added: “It’s a class war.

“There is not one single LTN in north Oxford.

“We are fighting against ideology not the facts and figures.

“The facts and figures are all against it.”

Oxfordshire County Council has confirmed the research project is being led by the University of Oxford.

A spokesman added: “The county council is aware and supports the aims of the project which may provide valuable insight into differing views in our communities.”

Oxford Mail: Anti-LTN protesters,Anti-LTN protesters,

The exercise is being headed by “qualified mediator” Becks Sutton as part of a new community engagement method called Listening Exchanges.

A research team from the Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanisation (GCHU) has been awarded funding by the university to explore the idea.

The pilot project will run from March to July 2024 and more detailed information is to be shared in the coming weeks.

Green councillor Emily Kerr, who represents the St Mary’s ward in Oxford, said: “I’m a great admirer of GCHU’s work and will be watching the results of this with interest.

Oxford Mail: Emily Kerr.Emily Kerr. (Image: Oxford City Council.)

“Their previous work back in 2022, the citizen’s jury on transport, was really interesting.

“I think the key question is how to scale any results. We know this type of discussion can be really useful for the people directly involved but how can we scale that across the city?”

A trader in east Oxford, who did not wish to be named, added: “There isn’t much point in having a dialogue. The damage is already done.”

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