County council respond to air quality anger

Chipping Norton councillors and residents vented their frustration at leader of Oxfordshire County Council over HGV traffic and high air pollution in the town centre during a town hall meeting.

By Stuart Prestidge
Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 12:05 pm
Cllr Ian Hudspeth awaits to address the large crowd
Cllr Ian Hudspeth awaits to address the large crowd

Over 100 people attended Chipping Norton Town Council’s meeting on Monday, September 16 as Cllr Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) answered questions on the failure of OCC to discharge its legal obligation to ensure that levels of toxic air pollution in parts of the town did not endanger the health of residents.

Residents were also keen to know why a weight restriction limit had not been implemented in the town centre as the dangers and pollution caused by HGV traffic continues to increase.

Cllr Hudspeth asserted that the reason that the alternative lorry route, agreed in 2005, had not been implemented was financial.

Over 100 people packed into Chipping Norton's town hall

The claim did not go down well with attendees neither did his suggestion of undertaking another survey and creating another plan.

Residents wondered how much it was costing to carry out additional surveys and produce the associated plans, when compared with the £220K quoted as the cost of weight restriction signage to be installed.

Emotions were running high with one member of the public accusing OCC of inactivity even though two people have been killed and another seriously injured by HGV traffic.

Cllr Hudspeth promised the town council he would deploy OCC officials to further discuss ways of reducing air pollution.

In an Oxford Friends of the Earth study Chipping Norton’s Horsefair was the ninth most polluted road in the county for nitrogen dioxide levels.

Oxfordshire County Council said in a statement: "Oxfordshire County Council is committed to working with Chipping Norton residents to find a solution to the air quality issues.

"It is undertaking a traffic survey in conjunction with additional air quality monitoring next week, the data from which will be used to inform the different options to improving air quality.

"Funding for these possible options remains the greatest challenge, but the County Council is keen to ensure residents are engaged through the process."