Announcements

WiVTAG Update June 2021

The Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG) is making good progress in our campaign to object to the current experimental 7.5t weight limit through the centre of Burford and the effect that this is having on neighbouring communities.

We completed an Interim Report that was sent to OCC Officers who are working on an internal report that will be considered by OCC Cabinet this summer. WiVTAG will also be submitting a much fuller report directly to relevant County Councillors and to all the Cabinet members.

We were expecting that Cabinet would review the Burford Weight Limit at their meeting in June but we now understand that the item has been moved to the July. We will continue to gather evidence and to agree the final text for the full Appeal Document. This will be submitted to OCC at the end of June.

In the meantime, you may be interested to read the attached Interim Report that sets out the main issues of the WiVTAG case. We have shared this document with all the Parish Councils who are supporting the campaign.

Update on Thames Water Pumping Operations

The Parish Council has regularly contacted representatives at Thames Water (TW) to complain about the noise and disturbance that is caused by the tanker operations at the pumping station in Dry Lane. The good news is that there may be an end to overnight pumping by the tankers.

Background situation

The sewers through the village are letting in groundwater. This increases the volume of foul water that runs through to the pumping station in Dry Lane. The pumps in the pumping station are unable to cope with the increased volume and so the tankers are removing the excess (up to 2,400 gallons per day in the wettest period).

TW are working on a scheme to repair the sewers and stop the groundwater getting into them. When the repair is done, the tanker operations will stop.

Tanker operations

Tankers have been operating in Crawley every winter for the last three years. Each year, as the weather improves and the ground water levels drop, the problem at the pumping station goes away and tanker operations can be halted.

Currently the tankers are operating on a 24hrs/day regime. However, as the ground begins to dry out, we are reaching a point where TW may be able to reduce the number of tankers. On 25th March 2021 the TW manager who is responsible for the tanker operation gave an undertaking that he would change from 24hr working to daytime only working (6am to 6pm). They will stop the night-shift (6pm to midnight to 6am). TW advise that this change in routine will begin on 26th March 2021.

TW did make it clear that tankers will return immediately if the levels in the pumping station begin to increase. If this is found to be necessary, it might be possible to operate an 18hrs/day regime and not to have to return to 24hrs/day.

Sewer repairs

In the longer term, works to rebuild the sewers that run under Foxburrow Lane should provide a permanent solution. This repair would stop groundwater from getting into the sewers and the pumping station would then cope with the volume of sewage in the village without the need of tankers to take away the excess. TW are getting prices to carry out the work but it will be a big engineering job that will require ground water lowering to enable TW to access and rebuild the sewers (that will be expensive!).

Parish Council

The PC view is that TW have recognised the need to rectify the problem and are taking active steps to do something about it. However, the best we can expect is that these works will be undertaken during the summer and that tankers will not have to return through the autumn and winter of 2021.

Please contact Mark McCappin via mark.mccappin@crawleyvillage.org.uk if you have any questions.

Local Elections on 6th May 2021

This year there will be voting for County Councillors (one for Hanborough and Minster Lovell division) and for District Councillors (one for Hailey, Minster Lovell and Leafield ward), but not for Parish Councillors in Crawley.

Full details, including how to obtain nomination papers and register to vote in person, by post, or by proxy are available on the WODC website.

WiVTAG Update March 2021

Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG) has decided on our campaign strategy against the experimental weight restriction in Burford that has closed the A361 bridge in the centre of Burford to vehicles over 7.5t. These HGVs are now finding alternative routes through villages like ours. Please read the attached summary document of the case that we intend to present to Oxfordshire County Council.

WiVTAG is growing – we now have support from 19 town and parish councils (including Crawley PC) and an increasing number of farms, businesses and haulage operators. We will continue to develop and strengthen our case ahead of the formal review of the Burford scheme by OCC Cabinet in June 2021.

WiVTAG: A new Parish Council traffic working group

Although traffic levels generally have reduced over the last year (largely due to Covid restrictions and lockdowns), many of you will have become aware of more heavy vehicles coming through Crawley. We believe that these HGVs have been finding alternative routes because of the experimental 7.5t weight restriction that was introduced in Burford.

Approval was given by OCC for Burford to close the A361 through the centre of their town and across the Windrush river for an experimental trial period of 18 months (August 2020 to February 2022). Burford made the case that HGVs would find alternative routes via the existing network of A-roads and B-roads but such a network doesn’t really exist and HGVs have been finding their way along inappropriate roads in local villages and towns. We get a big share of this unwanted traffic in Crawley because we have one of the nearest alternative crossings of the Windrush via our bridge at Crawley Mill.

But we’re not alone – Swinbrook, Minster Lovell, Hailey, Leafield, Witney and Woodstock to the east of Burford, and villages like the Barringtons to the west of Burford, have been suffering the same problem. It’s all very well for Burford but it’s a classic NIMBY attitude. We want to take action to find a fairer and more equitable solution.

OCC have just completed a public consultation on the Burford scheme at the end of the first six months of operation. Many of you may have submitted comments to this consultation – thank you, if you did. Crawley PC also sent in a document to express our concern and ask OCC to find a better way forward. Other local PCs took similar action and we await the publishing of a report from OCC. The report on the Burford Experimental Weight Restriction will be considered by OCC Cabinet at their meeting on 22 June 2021 and they will make a decision on whether the scheme should continue.

What’s the best way for us to influence this decision? The most obvious answer is to coordinate with other communities and businesses and make a joint representation. This was the initiative that was started by one very proactive resident in Leafield and she has succeeded in getting eight communities to join forces. We held our first meeting on Thursday 18 February and decided to adopt the name Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG). There are plans to set up a Facebook site for WiVTAG and we will circulate reports on what we are doing though village websites and newsletters. Watch this space!

Colin Dingwall and Mark McCappin are representing Crawley in WiVTAG. If you want to contribute or find out more, please contact us at colin.dingwall@crawleyvillage.org.uk or mark.mccappin@crawleyvillage.org.uk.