The Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (“ETRO”) which imposed the 7.5 tonne weight limit on HGVs in Burford High Street runs until February 2022. A decision whether or not to make it permanent will be made in January 2022. However, OCC decided, as they were entitled to, to hold a mid-term review which took place at the end of July. It was intended to be informed by a traffic survey organised by OCC which explains the cables laid across the High Street for a time during the spring. Similar monitoring took place at 15 other sites including Chippy, Bladon, Witney and several of the smaller communities in the county.
There is a new player in the game. The Windrush Valley Traffic Action Group (“WiVTAG”) comprises 14 town and parish councils, one district council (unnamed) several farms and 51 businesses. They lodged a written appeal, and spoke to it at the hearing, which sought to persuade Cllr Duncan Enright, the OCC Cabinet Member for Travel & Development Strategy, to whom responsibility for this issue has been delegated, that the weight limit should be abandoned immediately. They argued, quite shamelessly, that all A361 HGV traffic should go through Burford and none should go through any other community in Oxfordshire or Gloucestershire. We, of course, argued to the contrary.
One of the main planks of our argument was that the data provided by the spring survey was wholly unreliable in one crucial respect. The cables-across-the- road could not distinguish between two-axle vehicles which are under 7.5 tonnes and those which are greater than 7.5 tonnes. This means that all the two-axle figures are lumped together making it impossible to tell whether the weight limit has succeeded in reducing the number of two-axle HGVs above 7.5 tonnes or not!
In the event, Cllr Enright accepted the recommendations of his permanent officials to:-
continue the ETRO until February 2022;
conduct further monitoring using camera technology to check two-axle HGVs;
review, with BTC, the operation of the permit scheme; and
make the final decision in January 2022
During the autumn we will prepare a detailed response to WiVTAG’s appeal. We will also gird our loins for the final decision-making hearing in January next. There is bound to be a certain amount of hot- headedness around, especially on social media, but we will continue to rely on cool, albeit robust, professionalism.
Burford Town Council - August 2021