Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 2

October 5th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

Day 2 of the inquiry was Friday 23rd September. The cross-examination continued of Tracey Dow from the county council’s transport policy department by Mark Lowe QC, lawyer for the anti-road side.

Key points to emerge from the cross-examination:

  • If the Secretary of State finds no compelling public interest in the Cogges Link Road, the council will “probably” cancel the compulsory purchase order.
  • The A40 was “de-trunked” in 2003, allowing Shores Green to potentially be considered as an alternative option to the CLR.
  • Debate about whether the second Windrush river crossing counts as a “major” or “minor” environmental impact.
  • The 2005 local plan inspector criticised the methodology used in choosing the CLR.
  • The central government White Paper “Creating growth, cutting carbon” advises councils to encourage people to avoid the car for short journeys. Dow said that’s what the county council is trying to do.
  • There are currently around 18,000 free parking spaces in Witney and this number is about to be reduced by 2,000 with the loss of the Woodford Way car park. The county believes that reducing the number of spaces helps to keep demand down.
  • The county has ruled out car-park charging as a way of keeping demand down.

Mr Lowe repeatedly questioned Ms Dow on the issue of managing demand and discouraging car use. She said “We take a carrot, not stick, approach” but said that they had more than one “tool in the kit” for encouraging sustainable transport choices.

Mr Lowe quoted a 1996 report suggesting that the county introduce bus priority lanes, charge for car parking, pedestrianise the town centre and conduct a Park & Ride feasibility study. This report was rejected by the county. Other facts mentioned by Mr Lowe:

  • Most car journeys to Witney town centre are less than 10 miles, and most of those are between 2 and 5 miles.
  • Most people using short-stay car parking spaces in Witney are from Witney.
  • Most people using long-stay spaces are from Witney, Eynsham or Carterton. Eynsham and Carterton both have good bus links to Witney.

Ms Dow said that making it easy for cars to reach the town centre is the reason why Witney is a thriving town. She admitted that there has never been a study on the link between the town’s economy and how easy it is to reach by car, but said that it was “obvious”.

Ms Dow spoke about “nudging people in the right direction” rather than forcing changes in behaviour through policies like car park charging, but then admitted that even the “nudge” options, such as a Park & Ride, have not been properly explored.

Your reporter had to leave before the cross-examination of Ms Dow ended, but she was scheduled to be followed by Tina Rowley (Planning Policy), Philip Kingston (Traffic and Economics) and Paul Taylor (Air Quality). Examination of Mr Taylor ran into day 3 of the inquiry (Tuesday 27th September).

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