WiVTAG Update – February 2022

Successful Campaign

It’s great to report that the long campaign against the weight restriction on the A361 through Burford has ended with a decision from Oxfordshire County Council’s (OCC) Cabinet that the experimental traffic regulation order is revoked and will not become permanent. OCC have announced that they will develop regional solutions across the county as a better way to manage HGV movements. This is great news for Crawley and all the other towns and villages in the Windrush Valley who have been suffering the effects of diverted HGVs finding alternative routes to complete their deliveries, often on very unsuitable narrow roads.

Burford Town Council (BTC) and several supporting County Councillors resisted this decision all the way down the line. The Burford scheme was carried out as an 18-month experiment. There was a very strong lobby from communities and businesses in the region that the restriction in Burford was damaging to them. BTC did everything they could to belittle and undermine any submissions that were made in opposition to their scheme. However, the evidence against them was convincing and, as the experiment came towards the end, Cllr Duncan Enright made the decision on 5th January 2022 to revoke the Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). Many decisions with OCC are delegated to a single Cabinet member and this was how the Burford scheme was managed from the start. It is unusual for such decisions to be challenged, but there is a procedure for Cabinet member decisions to be “called-in” and 14 County Councillors duly exercised this option. The matter then went to Scrutiny Committee who met on 2nd February and decided that they would escalate the final decision to OCC Cabinet. The next Cabinet meeting was on 15th February, and at this meeting there was unanimous support for Cllr Enright’s decision to revoke the ETRO and move on to develop better regional solutions. Finally we have the outcome that we wanted.

Thank you to all of you who supported the WiVTAG campaign by writing letters and emails and supporting actions to make our voices heard. It shows that working together has been very effective and has probably achieved more than if we had acted as individual Parish Councils and residents.

WiVTAG Update (Nov 2021)

Submission of our Final Report to OCC

The 18-month trial of a 7.5t weight restriction on Burford High Street is coming to an end and Oxfordshire County Council are due to make their final decision on whether to halt the scheme or make it into a permanent arrangement in January. In the end, the decision will rest with Cllr Duncan Enright who is the OCC Cabinet Member with responsibility for Travel and Development Strategy. Duncan will make his decision at a Cabinet Member Decision Meeting on 5th January 2022.

WiVTAG has continued with our campaign to halt the Burford weight limit. We have gathered evidence from local businesses, haulage companies and farmers who all complain that the Burford restriction is creating problems for them. We also have the support of 15 parish councils and town councils who are suffering the increase in HGVs coming through their roads because of the Burford restrictions.

Ahead of the final decision meeting, WiVTAG has formally submitted our Final Report to OCC and you can read a copy of this at https://www.crawleyvillage.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/211124-WiVTAG-Final-Report-v2A-24-Nov-2021.pdf

We have repeated our request for the Burford scheme to be stopped and we have offered a suggested alternative of a zonal weight restriction. Please read our report to see the details of this proposal. We remain relatively optimistic of a favourable outcome for Crawley and the other communities who have suffered adverse effects of the Burford scheme.

WiVTAG Update October 2021

Crawley is working actively as a member of the Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG) in the campaign against the current 7.5t weight restriction in Burford. The first phase of the campaign was directed to gather evidence of disruption, damage to the environment, damage to highways and footways, adverse impact on local businesses and farms and the impact on community life that was being caused by the additional HGV traffic that had been diverted from Burford. When this was all collated, WiVTAG was able to produce a full Appeal Statement that was submitted to Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) ahead of the mid-term review of the Burford scheme that took place on 29 July 2021. Sadly, no firm decisions were made at this review other than to confirm that the Burford scheme would be allowed to complete the full 18-month trial period, some extra traffic data would be collected in the next few months and OCC Officers were tasked to work with Burford to look at ways to improve the permit scheme that Burford is currently managing. The final decision on whether to continue, amend or revoke the Burford weight limit will be taken in January 2022.

So now we are into Phase 2 of the WiVTAG campaign. We want media coverage, lobbying of Councillors and letters to the local press. If you have ideas or can help with any of this, then please get going and let Mark McCappin (Crawley’s representative on the WiVTAG committee) know about it. Emails to mark.mccappin@crawleyvillage.org.uk

There are several other ways that you can help:

  1. Please can you send a letter or an email to Duncan Enright who is the OCC Cabinet Member who will make the final decision on whether to remove the Burford restriction. A flyer that explains exactly what to do and where to send you letter was delivered through letterboxes in Crawley in the first few days of October. If you need a copy, contact Mark McCappin.
  2. Please can you display a poster in your window or in your garden to support the campaign. Printed copies have been distributed through the village. If you need more (A5 or A3) or want to print your own (pdf file), contact Mark McCappin for copies or files. We would like a visible message for all drivers coming through Crawley.
  • Please attend a demonstration in Market Square, Witney outside the Corn Exchange Building from 18:30 to 19:00 on Monday 11th October. Witney Town Council will be holding a Full Council meeting at 19:00 and we expect a resolution to be passed that supports the WiVTAG campaign. Witney is one of the biggest councils that has joined WiVTAG and they are suffering from an increase in HGVs coming through West End. The number of HGVs had gone up by 80% in a count that was done by OCC in February 2021. We think all these extra vehicles have been diverted from Burford.
    If you can join this demonstration, that would be great. If you can bring a placard with you, that would be even better.

Please do all that you can to complete as many of these actions as you can. This is our chance to make a noise and be seen. We want to influence OCC’s decision to stop HGV vehicles being diverted through the communities surrounding Burford. Let’s get together and do something to make Crawley a better place.

I you need any more information or you want more copies of the printed window stickers or posters, please get in touch with Mark McCappin. (Mobile 07483 291590 or email mark.mccappin@crawleyvillage.org.uk )

WiVTAG Update August 2021

Ongoing approval of the current 7.5t weight limit through the centre of Burford was reviewed by Oxfordshire County Council at a Cabinet Member Decision Meeting on 29th July 2021. This review considered a report on the first six months of the Burford scheme and took the decision to allow the current experimental traffic regulation order to continue for the full trial period of 18 months. This period ends in February 2022 when a final decision will be made on whether to abandon the Burford scheme or to make it permanent.

WiVTAG were able to make a brief presentation to the Cabinet Meeting to express our objection to the scheme but there was no opportunity for any discussion. Statements were also made by Burford Town Council in support and by several County Councillors (both for and against continuing with the weight restriction).

WiVTAG’s position remains unchanged. We object to Burford’s selfish strategy that takes HGVs out of their community without any care for the impact that this will have in neighbouring communities and businesses. We will continue with our campaign on behalf of the parish councils who have given us their support (including Crawley PC) and we hope that when the final decision is made we can be successful in reverting to the previous arrangement that allowed HGVs to use the A361 through Burford and over the Windrush river bridge in the town. The alternative is that places like Witney, Crawley, Hailey, Minster Lovell and Swinbrook will see continuing increased use of the small roads through our villages and towns as diversion routes for heavy HGVs that would otherwise have driven through Burford.

Support for WiVTAG’s campaign will always be welcomed. Please contact Mark McCappin if you would like to know more. (mark.mccappin@crawleyvillage.org.uk)

WiVTAG Update July 2021

The Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG) has completed and submitted its Appeal Document to OCC in their campaign to object to the current experimental 7.5t weight limit through the centre of Burford. It’s a lengthy document (54 pages!) made up of an appeal summary supported by data, evidence, market research and analysis in a series of appendices that make up most of the document. I don’t expect too many people will wade through all the appendices but I would recommend you to read the first 10 pages that provide the overall summary of our appeal. We believe we have a strong case and we hope to get some action from it. A copy of the full document is attached (see below).

There is a danger that Councillors will ‘kick the can down the road’ and postpone any decision to the end of the 18 moth period. But, if the objections are plentiful and strong, there is a chance that the scheme could be halted this summer. You could help by writing your own objection letter. Please see more about this in the announcement about actions being taken by Crawley PC.

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.

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.