In response to the A40 public consultation, EPIC supporters and Eynsham, residents turned out in force, on July 12th at Eynsham Village Hall, to grill Oxfordshire County Councillor (OCC) Yvonne Constance on the inadequacies of the A40 plan (https://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/17778133.eynsham-hosts-public-meeting-witney-oxford-a40-upgrades/).
Thoughtful and pertinent questions from Eynsham residents were sent in advance for the Councillor (who is responsible for Highways and Transport) and her technical support person, Raymond Cheung, to help them prepare. Many excellent questions were also taken from the floor in a "Question Time" style, very ably chaired by Gordon Beach, Chair of Eynsham Parish Council. Our own OCC Cllr Charles Mathew was also on the panel and he began by putting forward an articulate challenge to the plan that was ignored by Cllr Constance. As the questioning proceeded, a lot of anger and frustration was evident at the inflexible and repetitive answers provided by Cllr Constance and Raymond Cheung that hinted at the seeming lack of vision and imagination underpinning the plan. With over 200 people in the audience only two openly supported it, the rest were very critical, challenging and vocal! To cap it all, we heard Cllr Constance say, off mike, "This is the plan and it is going to happen!"
Here are some examples of the questions, comments on the answers received and action taken since the meeting.
"What made you think the Eynsham site was appropriate for the Park & Ride?" (Eleanor Chance)
"Because that was the site decided in 2016" (Cllr Constance)
"You say you want to get everyone travelling into Oxford from West Oxfordshire on buses and out of cars. If so, why are you putting the Park and Ride at Eynsham and not at Witney where logic dictates it should be? Your plans will encourage more people to get in their cars at Witney and drive to catch a bus. Isn't it the case that your short-term solution will simply increase car travel?
Any increase in traffic on the A40, which the planned new housing is bound to have, will have an immediate, serious effect on the B4044 and over the Toll Bridge, grinding traffic to a halt for even longer hours each day, with increased local air pollution.
And you have now even stripped users of the B4044 route of the hope of a cycle path. Is it not the case that all plans for the A40 should look at the impact on other routes and prioritise low energy transport?" (Ursula Howard)
"It was very disappointing... no answers to our questions or suggestions. In her introduction Councillor Constance admitted that they knew this was an inadequate solution for the A40 in the short term and did not address the extra demands of house-building in Eynsham and beyond ... It is simply not good enough to say that we have money that we will otherwise lose, so we will spend it doing the wrong thing." (Sue Raikes). [NB: OCC does not have the money yet, as you will see below].
"I asked questions about the real cost of delays in terms of time lost, impact on health etc, which would surely reveal that a more radical approach to take people off the road was justified, and the need for more vision to deal with the declared climate emergency. The astounding answers were that the business case (which is limited in scope) was not yet complete and that we could not afford 'blue sky thinking'. (Sarah Couch)
"I asked Councillor Constance, who is responsible for OCC's minerals and waste strategies as well as highways, if she could reassure Eynsham residents that the decade or more of construction congestion, stress and misery to be inflicted on them by the A40 works and the 'garden village' will not be compounded and extended by allocation of new quarries north and south of the A40 immediately to the east of Eynsham. Since she did not answer the question other than saying that this issue was being handled "sensitively", I have since written to her requesting a clear response. She has not yet replied." (Nigel Pearce)
Having heard the questions and answers at the meeting, Eynsham resident, Ian Wright, wrote to Robert Courts our MP. You can see his letter in the file attached below. You can also look at EPIC's response to the A40 Consultation in the other file below.
Finally, it would be great to hear your thoughts on the meeting and about any actions you have taken! Please contact us at eynsham.me.uk
Enjoy your summer!
The EPIC Team