REVEALED: The cost of the East Oxford LTNs

·6-min read
So far the East Oxford LTNs have cost £165,000
So far the East Oxford LTNs have cost £165,000

An Oxford Mail investigation has revealed the true scale of the cost of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in East Oxford, with politicians divided over whether the price is justified.

On June 7, the Oxford Mail sent a freedom of information request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to Oxfordshire County Council.

The request asked how much it cost for the council to implement the LTNs in East Oxford and, within this, how much it cost to install the bollards including the labour costs of building and installing them.

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Oxford Mail: The East Oxford LTNs were installed on May 20
Oxford Mail: The East Oxford LTNs were installed on May 20

The East Oxford LTNs were installed on May 20

The county council’s response revealed that, while the figures are not finalised, the current expenditure for the LTNs in East Oxford is £165,479.

Alongside this, the construction cost per filter location, including bollards, planters and signs, is around £7,500.

However the council notes the exact cost of each bollard varies depending on location and other factors.

The East Oxford LTNs trial was extended to the Divinity Road, St Clement's and St Mary's areas on May 20 with planters and bollards blocking some roads to all through traffic, apart from emergency and waste collection vehicles.

The traffic measures have been controversial, with the county council admitting it spend £12,000 in less than a one month replacing vandalised bollards.

Oxford Mail: The county council has been forced to spend £12,000 replacing and repairing the bollards
Oxford Mail: The county council has been forced to spend £12,000 replacing and repairing the bollards

The county council has been forced to spend £12,000 replacing and repairing the bollards

Independent city councillor for Temple Cowley, Sajjad Malik, called the figure a “waste of tax payers money” and said those in authority should be “held accountable”.

He said: “[Oxfordshire County Council] have not given people any alternatives, just closing the road and telling people to change up their lives is not the alternative.

“They should have sorted the local transport system out first before they closed the road and then this money would be justified in my point of view.

“I think they have wasted so much money.”

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Oxford Mail: Councillors are divided over whether the money has been well-spent or not
Oxford Mail: Councillors are divided over whether the money has been well-spent or not

Councillors are divided over whether the money has been well-spent or not

On the other hand, Labour county councillor Damian Haywood, who represents Iffley Fields & St Mary's, said the sum is “excellent value for money”.

“We are spending a tiny percentage of a grant that was given to us by central Government. The effects it is having on East Oxford in terms of making roads safer, hopefully improving air pollution and all the different factors, for that amount of money the benefits are so great compared to the cost.”

Mr Haywood added: “I see £165,000 well-spent on something that could potentially be transformational for the division I represent.”

The Labour councillor went on to say that, irrespective of the cost of the bollards, it is “completely unacceptable” for people to vandalise them.

Mr Haywood’s perspective was mirrored by Chris Jarvis, leader of the Green Group.

Oxford Mail: The LTNs have been controversial since they were implemented
Oxford Mail: The LTNs have been controversial since they were implemented

The LTNs have been controversial since they were implemented

The Green councillor, who represents St Mary’s, said the vandalism is causing more money to be unnecessarily spent on the LTNs, as they have to be replaced or repaired.

“I would encourage people doing that to think about the cost on the council,” he said.

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Mr Jarvis added: “From mine and the Green’s perspective we have consistently supported the trial of the East Oxford Low Traffic Neighbourhoods.

“While on paper that figure might appear to be high, the reality is that a significant portion of that is coming from direct Government funding which is ring-fenced for active travel schemes. That money being spent is not there to replace other council services, it is specifically for that purpose and the money would not exist if it were not for the scheme.”

Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds has previously said while she supports LTNs “in principle”, she is “increasingly concerned” about the ways LTNs are being introduced without priorities being made for bus services.

In April, she wrote a letter to Oxfordshire County Council leader Liz Leffman stating that, without bus prioritisation, the East Oxford LTNs will "worsen congestion" and "negatively impact bus uptake" in the area.

When asked about the £165,000 cost of the LTNs, the Labour MP said: "I will continue to argue against a stop-start transport funding system, where different pots of money are only provided on a very short-term basis.

"I have written to the Department of Transport urging them not to adopt this approach, which appears to have meant that decisions about different transport interventions have not been as linked-up as they should have been.

"My position continues to be that, while I support LTNs in principle, I remain concerned about their introduction now, given the impact on bus services which have already been slashed across the city and which continue to struggle."

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said: "While the costs of implementing the east Oxford LTNs have not been finalised, as we continue to make modifications, the current estimate for works is £165,479. On average, each of the 14 filters cost £7,500.

"However, the exact cost depends on the width of the road, as this impacts the size and number of planters and numbers of bollards. The cost per site includes installing planters, bollards, temporary traffic management and signage, as well as labour costs.

"Additional traffic management and advance signage across the wider area, and repairs made to vandalised items, are also included in the overall cost to date. The east Oxford LTNs were funded by the government’s Active Travel Fund and as such had money ringfenced for their implementation and delivery.”

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Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

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