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.
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!
The government has published details of a call for evidence that could see insurance premiums reduced for households in known flood areas. WODC encourages as many residents affected by flooding as possible to engage with this call for evidence.
The experimental weight restriction in Burford came into force on 5 August 2020. OCC has issued a consultation document asking for any objections to be submitted before the closing date of 5 February 2021.
As a result of the Burford order, heavy goods vehicles that would have gone through the centre of Burford are having to find alternative routes. Many of them are using Dry Lane to get across the Windrush river.
If you have been affected by an increase in HGVs coming though Crawley, there is an opportunity to register your concern or complaint.
Crawley Parish Council has been looking to implement a 7.5t weight limit throughout the village. All decisions around weight limits in the area have been paused pending the outcome of the OCC review of the wider area affected by the weight limit enforced at Burford bridge.
The four documents attached below provide details of the Parish Council’s efforts to date. The Parish Council has also submitted a response to OCC’s consultation on the Burford scheme.
The Parish Council has been in contact with Thames Water to follow up on what is going on with their operation of the foul sewer system in the village. Tankers have been operating at the pumping station in Dry Lane for many weeks causing problems with noise, traffic congestion and damage to the verge.
Thames Water have advised us that the problem in Crawley is due to ground water entering the foul sewer network. The tankers are required because the pumping station cannot cope with the amount of flow – the foul system was not designed to take any surface or ground water so it cannot cope with the volume that is finding its way into the pumping station.
As a solution to the problem, Thames Water arranged for sections of the sewers to be lined. This would stop excess water getting into the sewers and the pumps in the pumping station would then be able to manage without the addition of tankers to take excess foul sewer material away.
The lining process involves inserting a sleeve inside the existing sewer. The sleeve is inserted with what is essentially a heavy duty balloon, the balloon is inflated and this causes the liner to form the shape of the sewer and stop the ingress of water. Once the resin in the sleeve has dried, the balloon is deflated and removed.
However, when TW attempted this work, they found that the pipes were cracking under the internal pressure from the balloon. Ground water has washed away material from around the outside of the pipes which allows the pipes to break.
TW have not had this issue before in any of the locations where they have carried out this type of work. They were forced to stop the lining to prevent a total failure as this would involve an almost impossible task of trying to control the ground water within the excavation and would have meant a long road closure just to fix the one issue.
TW now need to find a different approach to this issue and unfortunately they will need to carry on with the tankering until the levels within the sewer have subsided. We have asked them to limit the tanker operations to daytime as far as possible to minimise the noise and disturbance that is being caused to Crawley residents and they have given us an assurance that they will try to do this.
The proposed weight limits in Burford and Minster Lovell will close their river bridges to vehicles over 7.5 tonnes. There are very few alternative bridges over the River Windrush.
Although signed diversion routes will be provided via A-roads and B-roads, the Parish Council is concerned that HGV drivers will choose to divert via smaller roads, through communities like Crawley and Swinbrook. The solution that we are promoting is to introduce a 7.5 tonne weight limit throughout Crawley.