This report was presented to Eynsham Parish Council by Cllr Dan Levy, Oxfordshire County Council, in February 2022.
I am writing this prior to the County Council meeting on 8 February at which the budget for 2022-23 will almost certainly be approved. Despite it not being officially signed off as I type, I can confidently confirm some important details contained in it which will affect the Eynsham Division.
Big Budget items
Some of the biggest items in the budget are the major infrastructure plans: replacement of the bridge over the railway and river on the Oxford bypass, HIF1 (a new road to support the housing project near Watlington and Didcot) and our very own A40 HIF2 project.
Unfortunately, the previous administration signed up for each of these without considering the inevitable cost and time overruns that occur with major projects. Consequently, although the HIF bids have funding from central Government, any cost overrun may well have to be paid for by the County Council, which in turn could impact on other, better projects. The cabinet member for finance in the previous administration recently said in a public meeting that they hadn’t expected inflation so had assumed it would all be ok!
More ‘green’ travel options in the Parish
The HIF2 A40 project will go to planning committee within the next few months. As you may know I have been very critical of the whole project, but we’re going to have to make the best of it. There is still work to do to iron out some of the flaws and make improvements, but the plans will go ahead.
There is money in the budget to conduct a feasibility study for a potential railway between Witney, Eynsham and Oxford. This is a conscious first step towards making the railway a reality and is fantastic news.
There is also preparatory work being done for creating a cycle path from Eynsham along Lower Road to Hanborough station. This is also fantastic news, as it is very much needed. The cycle path will allow people from Eynsham and Salt Cross to reach the transport hub at Hanborough without driving and in safety. The County Council has applied for funding from the Government to support active travel schemes and a similar path from Botley to Eynsham is on the list of possible uses for the funding if we receive it.
The County Council continues to prioritise active travel. The small zero emissions zone in central Oxford prevents the use of non-electric vehicles within a few streets, and this has led to a boom in the use of cargo bikes. Not only do they keep you fit, they’re nifty for negotiating some of our old knotty lanes and alleyways.
In other places we have had to make some difficult choices to encourage active travel. There will be a continuous cycle route on Woodstock Road to encourage people to use their bikes to travel, including to numerous local schools. Parts of the route will take cyclists onto the main road which will result in the removal of some of the bus lanes. This is regrettable, though the impact should be minimal as only a small amount of Woodstock Road currently has any bus lane.
Sewage issues and demonstrations
Our Sewage Treatment Works continue to be in the news, unfortunately. South Leigh’s plant is out of operation and sewage is being taken by lorry to Cassington. The Sewage Treatment Works at Cassington has been filmed apparently putting untreated or partially treated sewage into the Thames, even when it wasn’t raining. Aston continues to have problems with the pumping station.
I was encouraged to see a number of local residents at the recent demonstration in Port Meadow that was calling for Thames Water to invest in infrastructure and stop polluting our rivers. One of the local MPs made an impassioned speech – unfortunately it wasn’t our MP. I will continue to have a dialogue with Thames Water who, to their credit, recognise that there is a problem and have been more responsive recently following local sewage flooding.
As ever, please contact me with any issues, comments or suggestions you may have. You can reach me on email@example.com or by phone on 07852 748362.