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The Committee received the following Public Address relating to the Call in of the Cabinet Member’s delegated decision regarding the Burford Experimental Weight Limit Restriction
Mr John White addressed the committee. He referred to the three traffic surveys during the experiment which resulted in differing data provided as evidence for the Cabinet member’s decision. He said that there had been a significant improvement in air quality in the Burford area since the experimental traffic regulation order had been introduced which was of benefit to the residents of the area. He also commented on Cllr Enright’s membership of the Witney Town Council which he considered was a conflict of interest as the Town Council had opposed the weight limit since its introduction. He proposed that a review panel be established to review all of the evidence in the reconsideration of the cabinet member’s decision.
Mr Hugh Ashton, technical adviser of Burford Town Council, referred to the information he had circulated at the meeting. He referred to conflicting data available at the time the Cabinet Member’s decision was made.
Dr Ken Gray, technical adviser to the Burford Town Council, said that he was an expert on data analysis and referred to the data provided by the ATC and ANPR during the period of the experiment. He said that the ATC data could not determine the weight of vehicles whilst the ANPR accurately measured the weight of vehicle types. He said that this was the first time that OCC had comparative data for four sites and Cllr Enright had received a report which did not provide this conflicting evidence. The report only relied on the ATC data which he considered exaggerated the position and drew the wrong conclusions. In addition, the officers report did not include the data on air pollution in 2021 which showed a significant increase in air quality in the area.
Julian Cooper, a councillor in Woodstock, spoke in support of Cllr Enright’s decision and suggested that any decision on this matter should take into consideration the interests of the whole of the County. He said that it was not appropriate for the residents of Burford to benefit from this weight restriction whilst other neighbouring communities were experiencing increases in HGV traffic.
Cllr Yvonne Constance OBE, said that she wanted to address the process by which this decision was taken. She said that it was never intended that the final decision on this experimental order would be taken by a single member and should be determined by the whole Cabinet. She also was of the opinion that Cllr Enright had a conflict of interest as a member of the Witney Town Council. She said that the Cabinet Member had not asked any questions of the nine speakers who had made representations at the Cabinet Members’ Decision meeting and the impression given was that the decision was predetermined.
Cllr Stefan Gawrysiak addressed the committee, he said that this decision should be referred to Cabinet or the full Council. He said that the Council had committed to three traffic studies during the experiment but ignored one of them. He said that the Council had not taken into account the impact of the weight restriction on reduced air quality on surrounding villages
Paul Street addressed the committee and said that the decision made was logical in view of the impact of reduced air quality in other areas outside Burford, many of which had poor air quality hotspots, and did not have the benefit of a major road network as did Burford. He also expressed concern about the personal attacks on Cllr Enright which he considered to be inappropriate.
Heidi Skinner, on behalf of Logistics UK addressed the committee, and dsaid that her organisation supported the original decision. She referred to the impact on neighbouring communities of rerouting HGV traffic including the business community, increases in fuel costs in excessive miles and increased emissions. She considered that local traffic restrictions were detrimental to the logistics sector.
Cllr Andy Graham addressed the committee and said that members should consider whether the Cabinet member’s decision had been soundly made. It was a temporary traffic regulation order to be reviewed by a Cabinet member as a delegated decision. He said that this was not a predetermined decision and it was unacceptable as a reason for the matter to be referred back on this basis. A freight strategy for the whole county was needed, taking into account the needs of all residents and businesses.
Rhys Williams, Road Haulage Association, addressed the committee and said this his association supported the need for a county wide freight strategy. The A361 was a road designed for heavy freight traffic and should be used for this purpose. He considered that the weight limit has resulted in increased costs for businesses and lack of consideration for the neighbouring communities around Burford.
Mark McCaffin, WVTAG, addressed the committee and expressed support for the change to the County Council’s highways strategy to a more regional approach and considered that localised weight restrictions were not appropriate. The Burford weight limit was an experiment and the data illustrated that the conditions for a permanent weight restriction were not met.
Jan de Haldevang, a member of WVATG, and Barrington Parish Council, addressed the committee. He considered that the traffic data provided during the experiment was complex and affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. Before and after desired positive impacts were not achieved, and the negative impact of the restrictions in three other communities had increased. He said that a number of professional bodies had supported a regional approach to dealing with the impact of heavy goods traffic.
Cllr Liam Walker addressed the committee and said that villages in his division have been adversely impacted by this restriction with considerable increases in HGV traffic. Objections had been received to this experimental order from local authorities, businesses and professional associations. He supported the Cabinet members decision and said that a strategy for the whole of the County was needed taking into account the needs of all residents and businesses.