HEAVY traffic is producing potentially lethal toxic fumes in New Hinksey, residents claim.

The group says traffic in Abingdon Road and Weirs Lane has become worse since Oxford’s High Street was closed to cars in 1999.

Figures by Oxford City Council show pollution is close to the limit set by the local authority, but is improving.

Peel Place resident Sue Smith, 65, said she was diagnosed with bronchitis and asthma about three years ago, believing her conditions are linked to the traffic.

Mrs Smith said: “You don’t usually go your whole life not having asthma and then suddenly get diagnosed in your 60s.

“I feel we’re a neglected area and I’m very angry about what’s happening here. You just have to walk around and it’s horrible – the air just feels dirtier.

“It really is playing with people’s lives and it’s a silent killer.”

Weirs Lane resident Gloria Webb, 66, has had asthma for 25 years, but believes it is getting worse.

She said: “I’ve lived in the area for 44 years and I’ve noticed a big difference in the traffic. From my front door you can just smell the fumes of the traffic. My GP says the only way I would get better is if I move out of the city.”

Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) executive director Jamie Clarke, 39, lives on a narrowboat in Weirs Lane and says he can “taste” the pollution.

The father-of-two cycles with his eldest daughter Polly, six, to St Ebbe’s Primary School each day and is worried she breathes in fumes.

He said: “It’s noticeable around rush hour, especially in the summer, where you can really taste the pollution and it’s unpleasant.

“Weirs Lane and Donnington Bridge are packed nose to tail with cars.”

Oxford City Council leader Bob Price, who serves the Hinksey Park ward, said the only solutions included closing Donnington Bridge to traffic, preventing cars travelling northbound from turning right into Weirs Lane or reducing cars’ emission levels.

The city council aims to keep nitrogen dioxide levels under 40 microgrammes per metre cubed (ug/m3).

Air quality monitoring last year showed levels were 40ug/m3 on Abingdon Road south of the Weirs Lane junction, 35ug/m3 on the northern side of the junction and 29ug/m3 in Weirs Lane.

City council spokeswoman Louisa Dean said pollution levels were improving, adding: “Air quality generally improves significantly as you move away from these hot-spot locations, and residents in this area should not be unduly concerned.”

Oxfordshire County Council would not comment about the residents’ claims about closing High Street.