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County Councillor report for April 7 Apr 2022 (OCC Updates) Cllr Dan Levy has the latest on road building, active travel, parking enforcement and more

This report is being written before the County Council meeting of April 5th. We are in a period of “purdah” leading up to the District Council election in May, during which the County and District Council public announcements will be fewer and more restrained.

Covid

As you may have noticed Covid has not gone away. Rates in Oxfordshire continue to rise. A high proportion of my councillor colleagues have had it in recent weeks. It is regrettable that the government has made it much harder for people to test to see if they have Covid, including people who want to test before visiting vulnerable residents. All we can do is continue to be careful, wear masks in crowded places, and act as though the government hasn’t withdrawn the formerly sensible advice.

Road building

There are a number of very big issues at County Hall at the moment. The Fair Deal Alliance has tentatively given the go-ahead for the HIF1 scheme in the south of the county, subject to the government and Homes England guaranteeing any cost over-runs, and with an expectation that the new road will prioritise buses over cars. We have also agreed to keep progressing the possible move of Oxford United to near Oxford Parkway Station, subject to a lot of work on protecting the green belt and minimising car usage.

HIF 2, which is the scheme that we know about most, as it is the A40 changes, will now go to planning later than the April planning meeting that was expected. There have been lots of comments and objections, including from each of the parish councils on the route, and from me. The Shores Green junction application is also likely to come up later in the spring, and I am sure will have an effect on traffic flows in the area.

Cycling, active travel

Tragically, two people on bikes have been killed in recent weeks by HGVs, in areas where the cycling infrastructure was inadequate. In each case, at Parkway Station and at the Plain, cycling advocates and councillors had demanded better infrastructure, but been rebuffed. The Plain was redesigned in 2014, and changes demanded by cyclists were rejected as they might have slowed bus and coach movements. Parkway was opened without proper bike access. That is why it is so important that we get cycling facilities that protect vulnerable users.

You may have seen the new lane between Hanborough and Bladon – still not good enough, but a huge improvement. It will be joined by a Lower Road path, to be funded out of the Section 106 contributions from the Garden Village. There should be some news coming out shortly about Oxfordshire’s share of Tranche 3 of Active Travel funding, and I am hopeful that the news will be good. On a less good note for those who cycle from Eynsham to Oxford, the Oxford North junctions have clearly been designed to slow cyclists, and I am working, along with my colleague who is the County Councillor for the area, to get them redesigned.

Parking enforcement

As predicted last month, notice has been given to WODC by OCC that its contract to deliver on-street parking enforcement will end in 12 months, so that enforcement can be done properly. It certainly is not done well at the moment, despite council tax payers subsidising the £400k loss that WODC makes on parking enforcement each year. That is perhaps one of the reasons why Council Tax from WODC increased by a higher percentage than from OCC. A reminder that there will not be a change to the off-street parking, including the carparks in Witney, which remain entirely under the control of WODC, and there are no plans by any of the parties, to the best of my knowledge, to charge for them.

Harris's CornerEynsham has some traffic issues close to home. It would be helpful if the Parish Council could consider whether there might be some parking restrictions in key places. Extensions to the double yellows in places like the Acre End Street / Station Road junction, and the Acre End / Mill Street junction for instance might make it safer, and possibly protect the Jolly Sportsman from its regular bashing. Conduit Lane remains shut – the County Council is still awaiting approval from WODC. It is taking far too long – despite regular requests from your county and district councillors. All I can do is tell you I am trying, and getting angrier.

SEWAGE: Locally, I have had meetings with Thames Water, once again, to protest about their dismal performance. South Leigh sewage treatment work remains shut, after more than 6 months, with all sewage going by tanker to Cassington. Despite video evidence to the contrary, TW claim that Cassington is working fine. I will keep trying!

AND FINALLY, the first Ukrainian refugees have arrived in West Oxfordshire. I am sure we will be welcoming, as we are to all newcomers to the area.

Dan Levy

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