Oxford man uses Freedom of Information bid to challenge city council bus gate plan
A RESIDENT has used a Freedom of Information request to challenge council plans to introduce a bus-only lane close to his home.
As part of Connecting Oxford, a raft of congestion-busting measures are being considered by the councils, including more so-called ‘bus gates’, along with restrictions on side roads.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, residents have a right to request any recorded information held by a public authority, such as a government department or local council.
The existing camera-enforced bus gate in High Street allows access to buses, taxis and emergency vehicles only between 7.30am and 6.30pm and in 2017/2018 over 27,200 penalty charges were handed out to motorists who drove though the restrictions.
This resulted in £288,000 in fines for the county council.
The new bus gates would be in Worcester Street, Oxpens Road/Thames Street, Marston Ferry Road, Hollow Way and South Parks Road/St Cross Road – but it is not yet clear if they would all be introduced at once or individually over a period of time and the public is being consulted on the proposals.
Richard Parnham, of New Marston, submitted an FOI to find out how much research council officers had undertaken before including Marston Ferry Road in the proposals.
He said: “I am firmly opposed to the plan to put a bus gate on Marston Ferry Road – it’s a crucial link road.
“For reasons best known for themselves, they (the county council) decided to consult on a proposal without undertaken the barest bones of preliminary evidence gathering exercise, which might justify this plan.
“This really is a remarkable state of affairs.”
According to Mr Parnham, the council has confirmed in the FOI that no pollution monitoring has been specifically undertaken in relation to plans contained within Connecting Oxford including proposals to introduce further traffic restrictions on Marston Ferry Road and elsewhere across the city.
He added it has also confirmed that no study has been has been undertaken regarding current traffic flows on Marston Ferry Road in relation to ideas to introduce further traffic restrictions in the city, including Marston Ferry Road.
Mr Parnham also questioned the suggestion that a new bus service connecting Summertown and the John Radcliffe Hospital via Marston Ferry Road would not be viable if the bus gate on Marston Ferry Road was not installed, as no traffic modelling has been carried out to back up the claim.