There is a lot of debate about traffic calming in Adderbury at the moment. Some is the result of genuine concern about both the volume and speed of traffic on some village roads; however, there is also a campaign to stir up this concern for an altogether different motive. More of this later.
There is no doubt we have a traffic problem in Adderbury. There is considerable congestion at the Aynho Road traffic lights in the morning and evening rush hours with considerable tailbacks along the Oxford Road, Banbury Road and Aynho Road. One result of this is rat running through the streets in that part of the village known as Twyford.
Whenever it rains for any time, there is a flooding problem on the Banbury Road where the drains are clearly not coping with a rush of water and need a good clean and, perhaps, some structural exploration and re-engineering.
The new estates on the Milton Road are experiencing difficulty in entering and exiting due to traffic volumes and speeds along the Milton Road.
The Oxford Road also causes concern with traffic volumes and speeds making it difficult to enter the road from side roads or properties on it and there are occasional times at the junction with Berry Hill Road when there are tailbacks.
Residents of Horn Hill Road (well represented on the Parish Council) complain of excessive speed here although it is unclear what the base figure is for which a 141% increase is claimed. I suspect it is not as high as some would have us believe.
I have no doubt the problems are real to various degrees and are a function of the County Council’s precarious financial position leading to an inability to fund road improvements which are their responsibility and the growth in houses in the village which has increased car usage in and through the village without adequate provision for the extra numbers. I also think there is a minority of drivers whose inconsiderate speeding is a serious worry.
Some time ago, the Parish Council formed an informal working group to consider traffic calming. Unfortunately, it was largely taken over by a single individual, formal meetings were not called, proper minutes were not maintained, all members were not included and a report that purported to be from the group was clearly the work of a single person with a distinctive agenda. The outcome was a recommendation to spend over half a million pounds on a number of traffic calming schemes including a 20 mph speed limit through much of the village. Two sources of funding were proposed. They were to spend developer contributions held for Adderbury and amounting to something like this sum or to borrow from the Public Works Loans Board and to finance the repayments by an increase in the council tax.
This is where the motivation behind these proposals needs to be understood. There is a core of individuals who are bitterly opposed to development of sports and community facilities on the donated Milton Road land. A large part of the developer contributions held for the village are a single sum specifically allocated to the Milton Road scheme. Using this for a different purpose would require the approval of Cherwell District Council, Oxfordshire County Council and the developers and, I suspect, would not be forthcoming. I am afraid residents have been sold a pup in the recent WARA Traffic Survey which suggested this funding was available. When offered a free gift, few people will refuse it so it is not surprising that the WARA Traffic Survey comes out resoundingly in favour of raiding the developer contribution for the Milton Road although many people responding would have been unaware of the nature and unavailability of the fund.
I further suspect that many residents may not have thought through the implications of a 20 mph speed limit in the village. First, Thames Valley Police do not favour them and would not enforce one. Secondly, the County Council would insist on measures to enforce speed reduction such as chicanes and build-outs. While some residents may favour a 20 mph speed limit, I suspect they will be less keen on having chicanes or build-outs near their homes with the inevitable slowing and speeding of vehicles on either side and the consequent impact on air quality. Thirdly, there is some evidence that they do not work and are going out of favour.
The Parish Council dismissed the proposals from the informal Traffic Calming Working Group and disbanded a group that had not been working effectively. It added traffic calming to the responsibilities of the Environment Committee of the Parish Council. This has met regularly, in public with the clerk taking minutes and has made substantial progress with issues that are affordable and capable of addressing some of the immediate problems. The Parish Council has co-opted a non-Parish Councillor with expertise in traffic matters and he has added considerably to the quality of the debate and the speed with which matters are being addressed.
It is proposed to increase the delegated powers of the Committee and to give it access to the sum in the Parish Council budget for traffic calming. This will further speed up the decision making process while retaining accountability for public funds. It is a shame that an issue that is a genuine concern has been hi-jacked by a small group with an entirely different agenda and one that seeks to deny modern sporting and community facilities to the residents of Adderbury.