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Road from Hell: A420 and plans ahead - a note from Cllr Yvonne Constance

on Mon, 21/12/2020 - 6:13pm

Loss of A420 as a ‘local road’

Our MP did us all a favour in mid-November when he used an Adjournment Debate in House of Commons to speak directly to the Transport Minister about the A420 and the A34.    He described them as ‘roads from hell’ reporting that drivers avoid them because there are so many accidents.The Minister has agreed to hear more details which could be very helpful.

The A34 is a national route managed by Highways England, andA420 is a ‘local road’ managed by the County Council, who are very aware of the huge increase in traffic ( especially freight traffic) and the unacceptable number of accidents.  To make improvements I have raised A420 issues at every opportunity and led the County Council to get the attention of the regional transport body, working under umbrella of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH). Following the recent consultation on EEH Transport Strategy, planners have agreed to carry out a ‘corridor study’ on A34 and A420 next year to understand the problems, including heavy use by freight.  So David Johnston MP has spoken up for us at just the right time!

Next year County Council will carry out a full consultation on a new Oxfordshire Local Transport Plan.The road was constructed to serve local users and is not built for the heavy traffic seeking a shortcut between M4 and M40.  I will propose we re-state its function is limited to ‘local road’ and protect that with weight restrictions and speed limits to force short-cutters to use M4 to A34 at Junction 13.  I am working to set up a working group with Swindon Borough Council to ensure this status is recognised from the start of EEH corridor study. Meeting with the Borough Council will address the concerns not only of the impact of the New Eastern Villages residential dwellings but also the distribution centre at Symmetry Park. I hope combining efforts of our MP and OCC will bring rewards.

Government's Planning White Paper

You may know that Gov has put out a consultation on (another) change to the planning system which proposes that central government takes over a number of powers from the local planning authorities.   Major changes include central determination of the number of houses to be built (housing need), and CIL and S.106 contributions, which might make local housing development even less appealing than it is now.   OCC’s response and those of many Parish Councils have made clear the importance of making these decisions locally.

Locally I hear so often that we have no ‘local need’, but that ignores the extraordinary growth in Oxfordshire, which is fast becoming one of the globally important centres for bio sciences, energy (nuclear), autonomous vehicles, space (UK Space Agency)and so on. 

The EEH vision for the region -Cambridge through Milton Keynes (with its new Science University)to Oxford is to double, possibly treble UK GDP by 2050,which presents great opportunities for today’s young and for the next generation. We must deliver the best for residents now and in the future by accepting growth and making sure to do it well. Change may be good for us all, and Oxfordshire County Council has negotiated big funding from Government to improve road infrastructure in the Growth Deal and in 2 major Housing Infrastructure Funds –one for area north of Didcot; the other for A40 between Witney and  Oxford : In total we are working on projects to spend £608 million in Oxfordshire. 

We intend to apply the same determination to improving A420, which is now firmly on every agenda!

Cllr Yvonne Constance