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......but this time its one we've actually been waiting for. Over the last year all attempts to raise the burning question of HGV's through Chippy with County Councillors or Officers have been stymied by  being told to wait for the Transport Review - a huge study costing millions, being undertaken for the County Council by Halcrow - a private Consulting firm. Well here's the Draft Overall Strategy which we are being asked to comment on by April 5th. There's very little detail (..but remember this is just the strategy stage said the man from Halcrow at an exhibition of the findings organised in Witney on March 10th). A prioritised programme of schemes follows shortly, and a Draft Local Plan comes in the Autumn. Traffic is increasing. The emphasis in this strategy is about reducing it on most routes. The only big road expenditure proposed is on improving the A34. For the rest we are to be encouraged and educated to find alternatives to the car. "Bus Expressways" "Bus Lanes" " Park and Rides" "Cycle Routes" "Imaginative Public Transport Schemes" are the thrust of this document. Halcrow clearly pray that the government will introduce a "pay for road use" scheme throughout the UK. Big expenditure on by-passes and dual carriageways is now history.

What really sounds promising for us (at a strategic level) are these kinds of very prominent statements in the document .
"Measures will be introduced to discourage HGV's and other traffic from a number of routes. The measures could range from signing or route re-classifications to weight limits or physical measures Routes where such measures would be considered include .....the A44...." "Proposals for HGV management and routeing will limit noise, vibration and air quality impacts in many town and villages"
"OK - I said to the Halcrow man - we would like some of that in Chipping Norton. Could we have a weight limit and a lorry by-pass route please" He could not have been clearer. No chance. Their studies showed that there was too high a proportion of local HGV traffic to consider a blanket weight restriction. And as for a Lorry Route - forget about the Rollright Stones route. That was just not practical politics (historical monuments etc). And they had found no other possibilities. And in any case I had clearly not understood their grand strategy at all - leading me over to a road map.  He swept his hand along  the A44 from Oxford to Moreton. "We are going to reduce traffic flow along the whole stretch of this road". How so - I asked. He then trotted out the mantra about signposting lorry traffic from Oxford along the A40 to Northleach and routeing them from there towards Evesham. This is an old scheme which the Oxford County Council and the Gloucestershire County Council agreed to implement three years ago. Gloucestershire carried out their side of the bargain but Oxfordshire reneged - claiming lack of money. The A44 Group - based in Woodstock- have been lobbying for it ever since. "So this is a strategy" I queried  "Dredging up and cobbling together old schemes Where's the creativity then"  Before any further acrimony we were joined by the formidable Julian Cooper - the District and County Councillor for Woodstock- who happened to be visiting the exhibition at the time. "There is no way - he said - sweeping his hand over the same map - that lorry drivers will take the Northleach route when they can take the much shorter A44. Less petrol and faster. I just don't believe it - whatever the road signs say". So that was one important person's first response to this expensive new strategy recommendation. Halcrow are now inviting ours and the Chippy Town Council will formulate their response next week. Ask me - the mountain has roared and produced a ridiculous mouse (as the Romans used to say). This strategy just won't do for Chippy. Send your own comments to


This Transport Review Consultation
is getting messy!

What Witney-based WODC  seem most worried about is congestion on the A40 at Witney. They won't  much like Halcrow's idea of diverting Chippy's A44 lorries along the A40!  A punch-up could be looming!

On the face of it HGV congestion along the A44 is recognised in the report as a problem. "The problems of HGV movements along the A44 are proposed to be addressed by a possible reclassification of the route, resigning, or weight limits". But there are no specifics and we believe that all is that will be proposed is a lorry route signed from Oxford along the A40 (see Article below)

But now the Witney-based District Council are preparing their comments and guess what they are most worried about. Not Chipping Norton - that's for sure! In the report to them by the
STRATEGIC DIRECTOR (DEVELOPMENT) we are not mentioned but see what the big points he makes are all  about..........
"The question of how to address problems of congestion and traffic growth on the A40 is still not addressed satisfactorily. It is both surprising and disappointing that the Halcrow report does not appear to give a high degree of priority to alleviating the problems of congestion on the A40. If the consultant�s recommendations are accepted it would mean that no measures at all are proposed to tackle the current problems of severe congestion on the A40 until 2011 at the very earliest.

The A40 is a key route in West Oxfordshire but it is also important as a strategic and regional link between Oxford and Cheltenham, Gloucester and South Wales. It is not acceptable that the draft Strategy does not propose any solutions to congestion on this route for the next seven years, and that longer term measures are only to be considered after 2016. There is a need for positive action now to relieve A40 congestion. "

What Witney are worried about is congestion on the A40 at Witney. They won't  much like Halcrow's idea (and the A44A Group's) to divert Chippy's lorries down their way!  To make matters more confusing - we thought the District Council had given their backing to the A44A Group and its objectives. (The OXFORD MAIL reported....The A44A  Group campaigning to get heavy lorries rerouted off the A44 has received the backing of West Oxfordshire District Council). Isn't this what strategies are supposed to sort out Let's hope the Chippy District Councillors had something to say about all this when it came up for discussion last week. The District Council must represent the whole District - not just Witney. More important than ever that we make Chippy's voice heard - since no one else will do it for us. Least of all the District Council.


Is this a brilliant compromise or a copout

The Final "agreed" Report from a multi-million Halcrow Project reviewing Transport in Oxfordshire came out in October.  For the last few years any attempt to raise the HGV question has been greeted by "Wait for the Halcrow Report". A draft came out in the Spring. Now the Final version has arrived. We've just caught up with it. The report at last acknowledges the Air pollution problem in Chippy and the creation of an AQMA (Air Quality Management Area) It recognises that something must be done.  Traffic through the town centre could be reduced by 15% by signposting an HGV route from Oxford to Evesham via the A40  (which is the policy of the A44A Group). Beyond that they say they don't want full-scale by-passes on the A44 for places like Woodstock or Chippy because these would only make the whole A44 route more attractive - not less - for heavy goods vehicles. They could achieve a further 15% reduction through Chipping Norton with half a by-pass......

"There may be potential for a small scale �north-south� relief road to the east of the town. This could remove a further 10-15% of HGVs, and being a north-south bypass only, would not have the disadvantage of making the A44 a more attractive longer-distance route. It may of course improve the attractiveness of the A361, and as such any effects on Burford would need careful consideration, although the A361 is much less significant as a longer distance route and this factor is likely to be small. A route has yet to be identified and this part of Chipping Norton is prominent in the wider landscape. However, such a scheme may help address the air quality issues in the town centre.

The only way that further relief could be achieved at Chipping Norton would be construction of a full A44 bypass. In consultation, there were a number of requests for an HGV-only route around the town to be found, but it is not considered practical to construct a new route that would be used by HGVs only; such a scheme would require substantial funding, and a case could not be made if general traffic was not to use the route. Possible routes for a bypass would be linking the A44 to A3400 broadly parallel to the road via the Rollright Stones, or linking the A44 to A361 to the south of the town (which would then link back to A44 via the eastern route suggested above). Again, any bypass or relief road for the town would have significant environmental impacts. However, with the declaration of an Air Quality Management Area in Chipping Norton, the need to consider alternative solutions has increased, and further work would be appropriate to investigate these options further".