Work to A34 desperately needed after yet another fatal crash, says county council leader

The Government must split local and national traffic on the A34 to make it safer after two crashes at the weekend, the county council leader has said.

Ian Hudspeth said Highways England ‘needs to find a solution’ after a motorcyclist died travelling southbound near East Ilsley on Saturday afternoon. A caravan and a car crashed earlier that day.

Police accident

Police accident

Mr Hudspeth has been a consistent supporter of a potential Oxford-Cambridge expressway – if it can split up Oxfordshire’s own traffic and other traffic travelling north to the Midlands and south to Hampshire.

He said ‘successive governments’ from the mid-1990s have failed to improve the A34 and that it ‘MPs of all colours must work together.’

The most disruptive accident in recent years happened last September, when a lorry overturned and hit the central reservation near Oxford. It closed the road for more than 12 hours.

Mr Hudspeth added: “The ring road was paralysed from Headington. People were cutting through Kidlington and Weston-on-the-Green and it had an impact on the city and business and people getting around.

Cllr. Ian Hudspeth, Oxfordshire County Council leader. NNL-150411-132940001

Cllr. Ian Hudspeth, Oxfordshire County Council leader. NNL-150411-132940001

“If the A34 isn’t working, the impact is on five districts and six constituencies.”

Former Abingdon MP Tom Benyon was the first parliamentarian to raise the problem of the A34. Back in November 1981, he dismissed the road as ‘no more than an upmarket cattle track’.

At the time, Mr Benyon said the A34 was ‘causing havoc and has a history of accidents that I find difficult to parallel anywhere else’.

He said: “I cannot understand why this road, which is such a vital link commercially, is so dangerous and pathetically inadequate and why the Department of Transport continues to postpone work upon it in its road programme.”

Mr Hudspeth said it was ‘disappointing’ so few changes have taken place since, despite the efforts of councils and MPs.

He added: “I find it disappointing that was nearly 40 years ago. The situation has only got worse.”

Official statistics showed 3,412 people had been injured in accidents on the A34 between 2013 and 2017.

Another 45 died after sustaining injuries on the road, according to Department for Transport information published in April.

There is still no start date for safety works on the road.

When the accident figures were released, Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said she was ‘extremely disappointed and frustrated’ that a date for work had not yet been decided.

A consultation over the expressway’s route is expected in the autumn.