At its extraordinary Council meeting on 8th June Witney Town Council put forward the following motion.
Witney Town Council notes that a consortium of councillors, residents and social enterprises in the town worked together to compose ‘Witney Reallocating Road Space Proposals’ – termed ‘Witney’s Big Green Plan’ – which was submitted to Oxfordshire County Council on 18 May. The measures were drafted in relation to travel in the town whilst public transport capacity is limited and social distancing is required due to COVID-19. They were informed by a wealth of detailed local knowledge, including from Windrush Bike Project.
We note that the main recommendations of Witney’s plan, which was tailored to the government’s proposals, match OCC’s stated priorities:
- School Streets
- 20 mph speed limits
- Reallocation of road space in favour of pedestrians and cyclists
We express commitment to Witney’s Big Green Plan throughout and beyond the pandemic by
- working with Witney’s Traffic Advisory Committee to implement the plan alongside representatives from all councils, transport providers and user groups
- setting out the contents of the plan formally in a WTC Active Travel Infrastructure Development Plan
- communicating with residents as we work together to improve safety, public health, air quality and sustainability.
Having moved to formalise ‘Witney’s Big Green Plan’, Witney Town Council will continue to feed local details and wish lists into work being prioritised by the County and District Councils and will look at how it can access the funding available to facilitate measures which reduce vehicle miles in the town and promote active travel choices by creating new walking and cycling spaces. The plans will capitalise on emergency measures already planned and implemented in response to the need to get the town ’open’ again following the Covid -19 lockdown.
It is hoped to find ways to extend these temporary measures to make some of these permanent.
Improving existing infrastructure and connectivity will benefit those with a rediscovered appreciation of walking and cycling as a safer, greener and cheaper option for getting around. Active travel reduces both air pollution and congestion and therefore meets the criteria within the Town Council’s Climate Emergency sustainability priorities.
Cllr Ruth Smith, chair of the Climate, Biodiversity and Planning committee, says,
“Everyone I have corresponded with – at county, other Witney councillors, our MP – states the two parallel purposes of improving active travel now: responding to the COVID-19 crisis and starting to embed the changes we know we need regardless. As a town council, we have resolved to look for opportunities to make Witney greener and healthier at every turn. We know there are people who have to drive, so we will seek solutions that acknowledge that, whilst leading the call for safer and more connected all-age cycling and walking.”
To comment on the social distancing changes to the town centre, which can be adapted, please contact West Oxfordshire District Council at firstname.lastname@example.org
To have your say on how the government’s Reallocating Road Space Phase 2 funding should be spent in Witney, please fill in this Oxfordshire Country Council questionnaire: https://consultations.oxfordshire.gov.uk/consult.ti/OxfordshireActiveTransport