Today (Wednesday 5th January) the new Cabinet Member for Transport at Oxfordshire County Council, Cllr Duncan Enright, made a decision on the future of the Burford HGV ban that has been in place since August 2020 as part of an experimental trial to reduce the number of HGVs travelling through the town.
At the meeting representations were made by those in favour of the scheme, particularly from Burford Town Council and those against which consisted mainly from neighbouring communities that have been impacted by the displacement caused from the trial as well as local hauliers.
Cllr Liam Walker, county councillor for the Hanborough & Minster Lovell division, addressed the meeting virtually to share the concerns raised on behalf of residents in his division.
He said, "A quick visit to Leafield village for example and you will see clear evidence of the devastation this scheme is causing to that small community. Verges ruined, roads crumbling, HGVs stuck passing one another outside the village primary school and numerous visits from Thames Water to fix damaged pipes in verges that have been driven on. Likewise, the same can be said for Crawley parish which sits right at the bottom of the Windrush Valley with narrow roads running through it and has the same daily issues we have seen in other villages impacted by this restriction."
Cllr Walker added, "Burford sits on a major A-road which is designed to take freight traffic but with this scheme in place we are seeing HGVs pushed down single-track roads to go about their business of delivering. We can clearly see in the report that displacement has taken place with the data showing an increase in Crawley, Leafield and Witney in particular."
In support of the work of HGV drivers Cllr Walker said, " Let me be clear, HGV drivers are not bad people ladies and gents. We have seen more recently their importance during the pandemic to get medical supplies around the country, keeping our supermarkets shelves well stocked, and getting fuel to fuel stations. Restrictions like this that offer no immediate diversion does nothing but add travel time, mileage, and increasing air pollution in places like Bridge Street and West End in Witney which is already part of an air quality management area."
Cllr Walker concluded saying he supported option A recommendation that has been set out in the report to the Cabinet Member by officers at the county council. This recommendation stated: Approve officers to consider the costs and benefits of developing area wide restrictions across Oxfordshire including close working with neighbouring authorities, as part of the county wide freight strategy, as soon as practicable. Noting any future approval of area wide weight restrictions would likely see existing environmental weight restrictions revoked subject to consultation.
Cllr Duncan Enright concluded the meeting by going through the options set out in the report and then made the decision to approve option A of the report as set out above. This now means that the Burford trial will come to an end this February.