Petition update

Debate in Parliament; Oxford City Council opposition; Oxfordshire Spatial Plan.

Antony Melville
Oxford, United Kingdom

Feb 7, 2019 — 

It may look as if nothing is happening on the Expressway front while we wait for the announcement of a chosen route some time this autumn, but this is the time to build a real No Expressway coalition to turn all local politicians against the road. Of Oxford’s 2 MPs Anneliese Dodds has said that the rail link must be completed before a road can be considered, and Layla Moran got the Expressway debated in parliament on Jan 11th see here. In it she states that the road will NOT reduce traffic round Oxford (In answer to the MP for Henley), and concludes “In conclusion, I share my residents’ deep concern that this Conservative Government are forcing an expressway on our area without fully consulting people about their premise. I am sorry to say that, to add insult to injury, Conservative MPs in Oxfordshire have lobbied the Minister to use the existing road, and I am concerned that that includes Botley. I would love clarification that that was not part of the lobbying effort and that Members did not ask for Botley to be bulldozed. If that were the case, I would let the Minister know, and, as I am sure he is aware, I will not let that or any other part of the scheme drop.” The Transport Minister Jesse Norman confirmed that the Expressway is an integral part of the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford development “arc”. The petition to cancel the Expressway therefore comes with a large question about the need to support the “knowledge economy” with a belt of 1 million new homes across this area, and an accelerated increase of the population of Oxfordshire, to 4 times the national average. It is not acceptable to force this on us without full public discussion, which has never been on offer.

On January 28th Oxford City Council voted to oppose the Expressway as it is currently proposed with reasons including “insufficient work on enhanced rail links” and lack of clarity on its purpose, as well as air quality, but disappointingly no reference to climate change. See item 15d here

Meanwhile work is under way on Oxfordshire’s Joint Strategic Spatial Plan with 2 documents out for consultation, the first on community engagement (already closed), the second on the scope for the Sustainability Appraisal. PLEASE take to opportunity to submit comments and objections here. The deadline is Feb 18th . This document takes as the premise for the Plan the “Housing and Growth Deal” between the Government and the Oxfordshire councils, and takes the Expressway as given. No form of the expressway can be passed as “sustainable” if the word means “protecting future generations”. The best way to shift the perceptions on display in these documents is to show real popular resistance, so please ask 5 friends or neighbours to sign the petition and get us over the 10,000 mark ASAP. We need to demonstrate its unpopularity to the examiners of the Joint Spatial Plan.

Have you and your organisation joined the No Expressway Alliance? If, for instance, every parish council in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire signed up, it would make an incontrovertible statement against this betrayal of our descendants. Can you get your Parish council to join, or do you belong to a community group or local organisation which could join? Ask them all to sign the petition!

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