8:32am Thursday 10th June 2010
By Reg Little »
A PERSONAL appeal has been made to David Cameron to allow Oxfordshire to keep £88m for road and rail improvements promised under Labour.
The Access to Oxford money was to fund major ring road and transport schemes, including a contribution to the expansion of Oxford railway station.
But it is feared that the millions agreed four years ago to address the city’s road congestion will be withdrawn by the Government, as it battles to bring spending under control.
Ian Hudspeth, the county council’s cabinet member for infrastructure said: “We have already written to the new Transport Secretary and I have also lobbied David Cameron. In our discussion I emphasised that Access to Oxford is an integral part of our transport strategy; not just central to Oxford but all the surrounding area, in order to improve economic and business growth.
“If he is in a position to be able to influence any decision, we hope he will.”
The Access to Oxford money was allocated by the regional transport board back in 2006. A total of £62m was to be invested in roundabout, junction and road schemes in places such as Wolvercote, Pear Tree, Kidlington, Littlemore, Heyford Hill, Kennington and Hinksey Hill roundabouts.
An additional £26m was to go towards rail improvements, including a pedestrian bridge to link Oxford station with a new platform on the other side of Botley Road. David Doughty, chief executive of the Oxfordshire Economic Partnership, said: “For local businesses access to Oxford is a top priority. When we are trying to persuade companies to relocate to Oxfordshire, closeness to London and location is one of the main things that we have to offer. A good road and rail system is essential to that.” Fears of cutbacks have also left questions hanging over £500m of improvements to Oxfordshire schools and community facilities.
County Hall has ordered a review of every large project planned for the next five years as the council prepares for cuts in Government funding.
School extensions, new classrooms, children’s centres, libraries and improvements to fire stations are among the schemes that will be carefully scrutinised.
The Transform Oxford scheme, to bring about the pedestrianisation of much of the city centre, and the redesign of Frideswide Square, will be part of the review, as will recently approved plans for the £3m extension of Thornhill park-and-ride and a Thames crossing at Newbridge.
Even projects announced on May 20 to build a £3m recycling centre in Kidlington and redevelop Redbridge recycling centre, Oxford, are being reviewed.