Councillor in charge of Oxfordshire’s highways hits back at claims that policies are too Oxford-centric
The councillor in charge of Oxfordshire’s highways has hit back at "false" claims that the county’s policies are too Oxford-centric.
Councillor Andrew Gant (Lib Dem, Wolvercote & Summertown) railed against suggestions from political opponent Councillor Ian Snowdon (Con, Didcot West), accusing him taking "an opportunity to grandstand".
Cllr Snowdon questioned the levels of bus service cuts in rural areas, referring to “empty pledges” to reduce car journeys, before raising a query about staffing levels on the county’s highways teams.
He claimed that “the northern team hasn’t once been fully staffed in the past 12 months and the southern team (is) never more than 66 per cent staffed”, describing the city’s team as “fully staffed”.
He asked: “When will you start being the cabinet member of highways for Oxfordshire and not just Oxford city?”
His response read: “No serious commentator who has observed Oxfordshire affairs for more than a nanosecond in the past 16 months could think that this (Fair Deal) Alliance administration (Liberal Democrat, Labour and Green) doesn't take transport seriously.
“The boldness and ambition of our actions, and the quantum of public response, is testament to that. This is a striking contrast with the record of the previous (Conservative) administration.
“Pledges to reduce car journeys are not empty, they are a serious attempt to address the climate emergency, health, well-being, pollution, safety, public realm and much else, as well as being aimed at promoting a range of alternatives including better public transport, walking and cycling.”
The row continued during a meeting of full council last week. Cllr Snowdon quoted part of that response and said: “I think you mistakenly added the word shire to the end of Oxford, Councillor Gant.
“Towns and villages have seen bus cuts followed by more bus cuts expect for your predecessor (Councillor Tim Bearder, Lib Dem, Wheatley), he has more buses in his division.”
Cllr Gant said: “You started by talking about transport provision outside Oxford, you then said my predecessor, a distinguished servant of this county, has enhanced services in his division which is outside Oxford. You have directly contradicted yourself.
“You speak as a representative of the administration that removed bus subsidies completely.
“I’ll list just some of the things this administration has done, directly, to address transport issues outside of Oxford – the 20 miles-per-hour (mph) scheme has been taken up by virtually every community in our county, the school streets scheme is available across the county.
“Just this week we introduced rationalised and much cheaper park and ride fares, specifically to help people who commute in and out of Oxford.
"Youth fares rationalised right across the county, the bus service improvement plan, a fleet of electric buses, entirely battery powered coming in and out of Oxford, the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan which has established a hierarchy, area strategies which began with the centre of Oxford and will soon move out to other towns and villages – that is not a bad list.”