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  • Writer's pictureCllr Liam Walker

Councils must listen when they seek your views

Recently we have sadly seen too many cases where despite objections from residents our local councils have pressed ahead with a decision with a total disregard for the views made by local people. Councillors are elected to listen, and I think it’s time some councillors remembered this important point.

Ignoring the views of those who overwhelming object is in my mind a dangerous precedent to set. Some local councillors are determined to press ahead with their anti-car agenda no matter what people might think. Residents are rightly left wondering what’s the point in taking part in a consultation if the decision makers don’t pay any attention to their views. Oxfordshire County Council consistently use the response that people can share their views on highway schemes via the Let’s Talk Oxfordshire website. This is great and I would encourage everyone to make sure they do but why should residents spend their time doing so if their views are not taken into account. This is dangerous for our democracy and for the decision-making process for approving major projects that cost a lot of money and are paid for through your council tax.

With only 1 in 3 supporting the Labour/Lib Dem/Green coalition plans to rollout 20mph speed limits in Witney and the majority of respondents to the Witney High Street closure wanting the road to remain open to private vehicles we now have decision makers not actually making decisions but simply pushing their own agendas.

The county council are pressing ahead spending £8 million on changing signs to 20mph despite little evidence this will work. In fact, Department for Transport guidance states that signed-only 20mph speed limits show that they generally lead to only a small reduction in traffic speeds. The government guidance also states that to achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement.

As well the controversial rollout of 20mph speed limits we also have a once bustling Witney High Street just left in limbo with a few wooden planters in the road giving some indication that the road might be closed. The traffic signage in place isn’t compliant meaning any police enforcement would be hard for them to act upon leaving some to take the chance and others left wondering where they should instead be going.

We are now calling on the County Council for an urgent Witney High Street review to help determine what their long-term plan is for the town. You cannot simply close a road, despite local people wanting it to remain open, then just leave some planters in place leaving local businesses in limbo unsure what the future of our high street looks like.

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