Traffic restrictions in Witney town centre become officially permanent on Friday.

Most motor vehicles have been prohibited from High Street and Market Place.

Oxfordshire County Council's legal traffic regulation order, which is effective from January 14, can be seen on their website.

Drivers who contravene the order can be fined.

The measures were brought in as part of Covid regulations to encourage social distancing and were due to expire on January 3 2022.

Oxfordshire County Council ran a public consultation into whether to make the measures permanent which drew 1,313 responses.

Among respondents 50 per cent objected to the vehicle restrictions and 39 per cent supported them. A further 10 per cent had concerns.

The measures will also involve the conversion of the existing 30 minute short-stay parking bays along the western side of Market Square to three hour disabled persons parking places.

In the OCC consultation, 45 per cent objected to the parking amendments and 38 per cent supported them. A further 12 per cent had concerns.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “These measures are in line with our aims to create a transport network that makes active travel – walking and cycling – the first choice for short journeys, encourage public transport, and reduce reliance on car journeys.

“There are a large number of free car parking spaces behind High Street so this measure should not impact significantly on businesses in the area. Indeed, there is growing evidence to suggest that cycle and pedestrian-friendly streets can boost footfall and retail sales, helping to revive traditional high streets and town centres by creating more pleasant conditions.

“Both Cornmarket Street in Oxford and Sheep Street in Bicester used to be full of vehicles, and I doubt anyone would suggest a return to that situation now that they are both pedestrianised. I’m sure that these changes in Witney will be just as popular, although we will monitor the situation to see if any amendments are required in the future.”

Exemptions to the ban will apply to buses, taxis, vehicles loading or unloading, and those displaying a valid blue badge.

A public survey by West Oxfordshire District Council found that the restrictions were supported by the majority.

From a total of 1,346 responses, 64 per cent (846 people) said the extra pedestrian space should be retained while 36 per cent (484 people) wanted the restrictions removed.

Ultimately, the decision was made by the highways authority, which is Oxfordshire County Council, in close liaison with WODC.