‘Scrapped lorry ban could see pretty town ruined by convoys of 600 HGVs a day’

THE scrapping of a lorry ban through a picturesque Cotswold market town has been attacked by a furious councillor who fears up to 600 HGVs could rumble along its steep high street every day An experimental Traffic Regulation Order protecting Burford from the blight of trucks passing through the town was introduced in August 2020 but will end on February 5 after being revoked by Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Travel and Infrastructure Strategy, at a meeting on Wednesday. He said criteria set by the council at the start of the trial, to measure its success, had not been met.

Oxfordshire County Council has said it now intends to develop a strategic freight plan for the county but this will take at least two years. Burford Town Council argued that the ban should remain in place during that period but were unsuccessful. Derek Cotterill, district councillor for the town, said: They [local hauliers] will be jubilant that the ban has been rescinded.

Unfortunately, the pavement dining culture in Burford will suffer as the condiments will return to salt, pepper and diesel soot. “I have been the district councillor here for many years and I am not optimistic for a regional strategy. “You are probably not aware that this is the second time that the county council has failed to produce a regional strategy or any relief from the 400-600 HGVs a day which go through Burford, often in convoy.

“Until someone gets crushed by the side of an HGV on Burford bridge or a lorry suffers a mechanical failure on the hill nothing will change,” he added. Mr Cotterill said he doubted Duncan Enright’s ability to create a regional strategy “considering that nothing has really changed since the OCC failed Freight Quality Partnership”. This group of transport operators and local authorities aimed at putting policies into the Local Transport Plan in 2006.

Mr Cotterill said: “Unfortunately, many hauliers use a TomTom [satellite navigation device] nowadays which shows congestion and clear alternatives. When Burford High Street shows red as congested a green bypass route is shown via the narrow Barns Lane, Pytts Lane, Guildenford and Church Lane from the A40 roundabout to Burford bridge through back lanes. The HGVs get stuck and that happens about five or six times a month without the HGV ban through Burford.

“Our other problem is the local hauliers with local knowledge – many are at Bourton-on-the-Water. They should follow the OCC recommended route down the Fosseway, A429, to Northleach roundabout and then along the A40 to Burford. But many don’t because the route is longer than cutting across through Burford to the A40.”

The Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (WiVTAG), which was supported by 14 town and parish councils, a district council, many farms and over 50 haulage businesses, fought to have the Burford weight limit withdrawn. Committee member Colin Carritt said OCC had recognised that the HGV ban was not working as intended. “Many lorries were diverting on to far less suitable roads as drivers tried to find other routes to reach their customers.

Some of these alternative roads were single track. Others went through small village communities where there were no proper pavements. “Witney witnessed very significant increases in lorry traffic that is likely to result in air pollution in an area already identified for as an Air Quality Management Area.”

However, he added: “WiVTAG recognises the desire of the Burford Town Council to seek to reduce the impact of HGVs in its historic town, so it was reassuring that the County Council’s decision to revoke the weight limit included a commitment to look further at a wide ranging and regional solution to the problem, and to consult local businesses, the farming community, neighbouring authorities and local communities as part of that process.”