Moulsford traffic Update

I have received the following from Keith Stenning, the County Council’s local highway steward:

“Starting tomorrow, we will have manually controlled traffic lights during peak times, between 0730 and 0930 and 1500 and 1830 hours, so that we can visually monitor traffic queues and flows, and make adjustments to clear traffic when long queues develop. We are also hoping that having Operatives on site will stop the jumping of red lights by motorists which only adds to the frustration. During off peak times, we will continue with the current phased traffic light system.

I can assure you that we are working hard on a resolution problem of the subsiding footway but this will need some time to investigate, design and programme.”

Hopefully this will help with the problems that have been experienced in recent days.

When I have any further information I will forward it.

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My “Forty” Article re Gravel Pit

Gravel Pit Update

Communities Against Gravel Extraction (CAGE) had been working towards an Examination in Public (EiP)  in May, but in early February we started to hear through the grapevine that the Government Inspector was becoming critical of some aspects of the County Council’s (OCC) Minerals and Waste Core Strategy (CS), specifically its Duty To Co-operate with neighbouring authorities. 

By the middle of the month we were informed that the County was temporarily suspending the CS until late May, using the fig leaf that there will be a newly elected council by then. This means that the EiP will not take place until at least September.

 The exchange of letters between the inspector and OCC can be seen at:

http://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/minerals-and-waste-core-strategy-examination

and gives a graphic account of the County’s inability to take on board the advice from the Inspector. The letter of 14th February is particularly telling.

This does not mean that the threat of the imposition of a gravel pit has gone away – far from it – but it does mean that the County has been seen as having erred in its preparation of the Core Strategy. This must help us to some degree as if the County can be shown to have made a mistake in one area they might well have made others elsewhere. CAGE has always contended that OCC failed to consult properly when it selected the Cholsey site.

CAGE has alweys felt that our arguments against the imposition of the pit are strong and we are concerned that this delay will enable the County to bolster its case to our disadvantage. Certainly it is likely that the cost of our barrister will rise as there will be more work for him to do.

Wallingford Town Council and Cholsey Parish Council have contributed £5,000 and £2,500 respectively to the CAGE fighting fund, but much more is needed to ensure that we are properly represented at the EiP. If you are able to contribute please contact Hedges Law at 16 Market Olace, Wallingford.

 

Mark Gray

Chair. Cholsey Parish Council

 

Moulsford Traffic Chaos

I feel a bit like Sally Traffic here, but you may have noticed that there is a bit of a problem on the 329 between Waterloo Bridge and the petrol station.

Three way traffic lights have been put in place and are causing tailbacks and a degree of gridlock.

The cause of the problem is that rabbits have burrowed under the footpath and to some degree the road itself. This will need considerable engineering work and the County has no money left in the roads budget.

Road users are advised to make detours if at all possible, particularly at peak times.

OCC Suspends Gravel Strategy

Due to the criticisms raised by the Inspector the County Council has agreed to suspend the Minerals and Waste Core Strategy. In a letter sent to all councillors Chris Kenneford, Planning Regulation Service Manager said:
“we have therefore now agreed with the Inspector that the Examination process (which began with the submission of the plan last October) will be placed on hold until the end of May this year, at which stage we will let the Inspector know how the County Council wishes to proceed with the plan. He will then announce new arrangements for the subsequent stages as appropriate.
 
In the intervening period, technical work will continue as planned, primarily focusing on the additional information which the Inspector has previously asked us to provide.”
 
This does not mean that the gravel pit has gone away, far from it, but it does mean that the County has been seen as having erred in its preparation of the Core Strategy. This must help us to some degree as if the County can be shown to have made a mistake in one area they might well have made others elsewhere.

Morrison’s Supermarket for Wallingford Update

The wallingford and Cholsey district councillors met with a number of representatives from Morrison’s on Tuesday to discuss the progress of their application.

We were briefed on a number of issues such as Environment Agency concerns around the impact of the petrol tanks on the water table and the proposed bus service link to the town centre.

As I have said before I support this application and I have always said Wallingford should have a cheaper supermarket, but I am concerned at the impact that the new store might have on the town centre shops.

I understand that the store will sell 20% non food items, despite the earlier claims of being a “fresh” branded store that sells mainly food. My particular concern is for the book shop. I asked if they will sell books and I got an ambiguous “we will have  a book offer” response.

Having spoken to Ali at Wallingford Bookshop I understand that “top twenty” paperbacks are a major part of her bread and butter and she is, quite rightly, concerned that the advent of Morrison’s is just another aspect of death by a thousand cuts.

I understand that the Retail Impact Assessment commissioned by SODC suggests that the impact of the new supermarket will be much greater than Morrison’s are prepared to accept.

 

New Pavilion Completion Date

Our contractors are working towards a completion date for the New Pavilion of 19th April. As with all these types of undertaking there are many variables that may cause delays, but we are hopeful that we will have an official opening in May.

The building is progressing well, with most of the roof and “first fix” electrics in place.

If the building is ready, the Parish Council has aspirations to use the hall for the Annual Parish Meeting on 24th April.