Cogges Link Road inquiry: day 13

November 9th, 2011 by Kate Griffin Leave a reply »

This took place on Tuesday 8th November after a recess of nearly four weeks. It began with new document submissions from both sides. Mark Lowe QC, lawyer for the Mawle Trust, expressed his concerns over documents that have still not been received, as well as over the large number of new documents submitted by Oxfordshire County Council. Stephen Roscoe, planning inspector, echoed his concerns and wondered aloud whether the county council had been aware of the number of documents that would be submitted at the last minute before the recess began.

The inquiry then heard from Ian Woods, traffic and economics witness for the county council. There was confusion over where new congestion data has come from and the county’s lawyer said that phone calls would be made to clarify this. After a break, the planning inspector asked questions about the new data, asking for evidence to back up the county’s claims that the CLR would save 30 minutes on journey times. This data could not be found. David Holgate QC, lawyer for the county, apologised.

After lunch the planning inspector asked for more data, including information on what queues are currently like at the Ducklington junction. This information was not available but the planning inspector ordered that it must be made available.

After a break, Mr Lowe cross-examined Mr Woods. Key point:

  • There is not much difference in traffic performance between the CLR and Shores Green schemes. In terms of journey times, the difference is one minute or less.

Mr Lowe then cross-examined Matthew Hall, another traffic and economics witness for the county council. He started by establishing that both schemes would  decrease traffic flows in the air quality management areas (AQMAs) and both schemes produce substantial benefit to Witney town centre.

Mr Hall and Mr Lowe went over arguments that have been raised earlier in the inquiry, about whether a scheme that makes short car journeys easier will help the council achieve its goal of trying to reduce the use of cars for short journeys. Mr Hall argued that Shores Green is the worse option because it forces cars to detour, and Mr Lowe replied “Yes, Shores Green takes traffic out of the town that doesn’t actually need to be there.” There were cheers from the public at this reply.

Mr Lowe also questioned Mr Hall on the funding of the scheme. The county council’s position is that the Cogges Link Road would cost £24.99 million, with £7.885 million being required from public funds. Mr Lowe then revealed that £2.2 million has already been spent on the CLR scheme, even though it has not yet begun.

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