BUSES will continue to use Queen Street in Oxford after senior councillors approved a plan.

Both county and city councils had initially wanted to pedestrianise the street ahead of the Westgate Centre's reopening in October 2017 following a £440m revamp.

But transport secretary Chris Grayling told the county council it had to allow buses down it as part of an 18-month trial. That ended in April.

At a meeting this afternoon, the county council’s cabinet agreed to continue allowing up to 30 buses to travel along Queen Street every hour because changes could have had ‘negative impacts’ on public transport and passengers.

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Yvonne Constance, the council’s cabinet member for environment, praised ‘exceptional’ bus drivers who had ensured there have been no reported accidents on the street since the trial started.

However, other councillors said while they supported buses using Queen Street, they worried more about the conflict between pedestrians and cyclists there.

John Sanders, who represents Cowley for Labour, said his wife and fellow councillor Gill Sanders had been hit by an errant cyclist on the street three years ago.

He said he supported building a special cycle lane along the street or ‘frequent cycle enforcement purges’ to prevent accidents in the future.

Mr Sanders added: “[Accidents] just keep happening. Just because no one’s been killed or seriously injured it doesn’t mean they should be able to continue.”

The council said it wanted buses to continue in part because of the ‘very low likelihood that the remaining buses in Queen Street prevent Westgate visitors from continuing their journeys into the rest of the city centre’.

But there was a slight disagreement between cabinet members Lawrie Stratford and cyclist David Bartholomew over the role cycling should have in Queen Street alongside buses.

Mr Stratford said a ‘few’ cyclists who were ‘misbehaving’ were being a ‘pain in the bum’ in Queen Street, not ‘phenomenal’ bus drivers.

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Mr Bartholomew argued ‘cycling in cities has got to be the way forward’ and that similar infrastructure used in Amsterdam could be adopted here to improve the way people get around.

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company’s managing director, welcomed the county council's decision.

He said: "I’m pleased the county council has taken a pragmatic view to keep Queen Street open to maintain efficient bus access to key streets in the city centre.

“If Queen Street had been closed to buses, they would have had to have travelled an extra 149,000 miles per year, increasing journey times and negatively impacting on the city’s air quality.

“We will continue to work with the city council and county council on how to balance public realm improvements with maintaining excellent access to the city centre for buses and other sustainable modes.”

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said it is a welcome change from 2007, when 96 buses used Queen Street every hour.