Oxfordshire County Council agreed, at its meeting in July, to proceed along the track of getting the Carterton-Witney-Eynsham-Oxford railway built. The next stage is to discuss funding with national government and potential investors. It will not be a short process, but we do have a direction of travel, and one which will, in the end, result in us having the transport facility we desperately need.
There have been significant updates to the development of the A40 over the past few weeks:
Improvements to the Shores Green junction (the eastern Witney junction) have received planning permission. This will turn the current junction, which only has access to and from the east, into a four-way junction. There will be additional measures put in place in South Leigh to try to prevent the new junction opening up additional rat runs.
The outline revisions to the HIF2 plans have now been published. This is the scheme designed to create bus lanes into Oxford from the new Park and Ride in Eynsham. Rather predicably, the grant from Homes England which was intended to pay for this work was insufficient in the face of inflation. The revised scheme omits any improvements to the west of Eynsham, focusing instead on bus lanes inbound and most of the way outbound. This should make the troublesome junctions (at Eynsham and Cassington) flow more freely. There will be bike facilities one side of the road and new bus stops and crossings at key places. This is all still at the outline planning stage and there will now be work done to develop more detailed plans.
My predecessor Charles Mathew and I both pointed out flaws in the Park and Ride / bus lane scheme prior to it being adopted by the previous County Council administration, but now it is happening we need to make it as effective as possible, without using money other than that provided by central Government.
I am sure that there will be a commitment to look at the area to the west of Eynsham, if money becomes available in the future. I wish we had not started from this point, with the Park and Ride and bus lanes seen as the solution, rather than a non-road option, but I am sure that there will at least be a marginal gain for many Eynsham and Cassington residents.
We do need to address the issues on the A40 west of Eynsham, such as the terrible junctions at Barnard Gate and the substandard bike lanes now they won’t be improved as part of HIF2 phase 1.
First and Last Mile, who run the brilliant service from Standlake to Eynsham and on to Hanborough Station, have decided to reduce fares to £2 per single, in line with what other bus companies are doing. Unlike other companies, they are not being reimbursed by the Government for lost income, which is very regrettable. I hope that reduced fares induce increased passenger numbers.
The E1 service to Osney continues to be brilliant, and the S1 via Woodstock Road and H2 to the hospitals continue to be a fantastic resource for Eynsham.
It has become clear that there are issues with the timing of the maintenance of non-motor vehicle paths which are the responsibility of the County Council Highways team (as opposed to those which sit within the countryside service) and with the prioritising of reports on FixmyStreet. You may have seen the press coverage of the issues with the A40 bike path near Barnard Gate.
At the full County Council meeting, we agreed that there should be an accessible register of attendance by members and a record of how we each voted. This seems to be the minimum that residents should expect. Unfortunately, this failed to be supported by the opposition, who stated a number of reasons to object, including the withdrawal of unbooked free parking for councillors at County Hall! It is probably worth reminding residents that meetings are always available to view online as well as attended in person. They can also be watched after the event – unfortunately we don’t offer a highlights service.
As ever, please do get in touch with me whenever I might be able to help via firstname.lastname@example.org.