I hope you have had a good summer and that the disappointing weather wasn’t too disruptive.
Notwithstanding people taking holidays, work at the County Council has carried on. I hope you have noticed that many of the roads have been mended, including the A40 carriageway near Cassington which was severely damaged.
Botley Road in Oxford remains closed to cars at the railway bridge. As was predictable, the work isn’t on schedule, as interesting architectural features have been found under the bridge.
National Rail is now working 24-hours a day to get back on schedule. They announced today (19 Sept) that the Botley road will remain closed throughout the construction period, rather than reopening at all, in order to try to get all the work completed by October 2024 as originally intended.
Stagecoach say their takings on the A40 route are lower than on the normal S1, but I trust they will continue to run both that route and the excellent E1 to Osney.
A quick reminder that at the end of all this we will have a much better station, additional platforms to support the definite route to Milton Keynes and the probable route from Cowley and the much needed route via Eynsham to Carterton. There should also be a bridge which is less intimidating to all road users and to pedestrians.
As you may have heard, following the failure of the project to build a new road in the area of the old power station to secure planning permission (partly because of objections from local parish councils), the Secretary of State has called in the application. It is a very odd situation and more will become clear over time. I am appalled by the attack – not for the first time – by the Government on the ability of local authorities to decide things locally.
HIF2 A40 project
As expected, because of the funding being inadequate to cover the original plan put together a few years ago by the former County Council administration, the plans have been revised to be more modest.
The A40 will remain largely untouched to the west of Eynsham (bar the new access arrangements for Salt Cross, West Eynsham and the Park & Ride). The bus lanes will be built as planned between Eynsham and Wolvercote. The bike lane on the south side of the A40 will be upgraded and there will be no bike lane on the north.
The details of the revised plans are being put together and I will continue to work with officers to make the scheme as effective as it can be. The Cabinet member responsible, in response to my question at Council last week, said OCC are still in discussions with Homes England over funding.
Like my predecessor Charles Mathew, I have said from the start that I don’t think the A40 changes will make things much better, but we will need to make the most of what we are being offered, not least because the P&R is well on its way towards completion. In the meantime, we continue to make progress with the project to restore a railway between Carterton, Eynsham and Oxford – that would really make things better.
Approval has been given for making the Shores Green junction on the A40 (the one to the north of South Leigh) into a four-way junction. This will relieve traffic in Witney. As part of the approval, there will be some new traffic calming measures in South Leigh to prevent rat running. This will be combined with South Leigh’s new 20 mph zone.
It is the start of term. There are a couple of schools in Oxfordshire, but not in our immediate area, that have had to close classrooms because of RACC issues. The failure to invest in infrastructure will always lead to higher cost and disruption in the long run. We have also seen this with Thames Water, where the by now expected problems with sewage have been joined by a series of major freshwater mains bursts – you may have seen one between Cassington and Eynsham over the summer, which was fixed after some length of time and following District Council intervention.
First and Last Mile – a community bus service which links Stanton Harcourt to Standlake, Eynsham and Hanborough – is looking for volunteer drivers. If anyone can help it would be brilliant. And can I remind everyone that this bus service is offering the £2-fare cap even though they are not reimbursed for the shortfall in income in the same way that the big bus companies like Stagecoach are.
As ever, I can be contacted at any time for issues and comment on firstname.lastname@example.org