'Do we need traffic lights here?' - worries over big change for Oxford junction

Nathan Briant Local government reporter

A COUNCILLOR has defended making a U-turn on a change which will see traffic lights replace a set of mini roundabouts.

Councillor Mick Haines has been vocal about his opposition about the imminent works at the junctions of Cherwell Drive, Headley Way, Marsh Lane and Marston Road. which forms part of Oxfordshire County Council’s controversial Access to Headington programme.

The city councillor for Marston backed a letter also signed by other councillors in the ward published in the Oxford Mail in July 2015.

In it, Mr Haines joined current city councillor Mary Clarkson, along with then city councillor Roy Darke and then county councillor Mark Lygo and Old Marston Parish Council’s clerk, Tim Cann, in backing the replacement of the mini-roundabouts and a new pedestrian crossing near the John Radcliffe Hospital as ‘the only two sensible proposals’ in Access to Headington.

The project will move into its third phase on January 22 and nine months of roadworks will begin at the entrance of the hospital.

But Mr Haines said he had changed his mind on the lights plan after carrying out two traffic surveys over the last year – and noting the impact that mini-roundabouts have had in Oxford city centre in Frideswide Square.

He said: “I changed my mind because I did traffic surveys through there and I found that traffic could still keep moving with the roundabouts.

“What I really thought about it was that around Frideswide Square when traffic lights to changed to the roundabouts it proved that it could keep (traffic) going.

“The council is going to cause an awful lot of disruption.”

Mr Haines said a petition he started has now been backed by 200 people.

He added: “They’ve said: ‘Why this is being done I don’t know.’ The roads around Marston are terrible and that money could be used instead of wasting it on these traffic lights.”

The county council’s contractors Skanska will begin preparing for work tomorrow before it gets underway.

Last week the chairman of Old Marston Parish Council said the county

council had sidelined his ward.

He said: “Traffic is an issue in Marston already. One of the concerns is the impact at Cherwell Drive because the roads have not been maintained and nothing will be done about that.

“There are concerns about how the work could cause more congestion with the traffic lights making the traffic worse and slowing things down.”

The council said work will still go ahead. Spokesman Martin Crabtree said: “We believe that the proposed changes will bring improvements. The programme is designed to provide an attractive alternative to using a car and part of that is making crossing the road safer and easier."

Fears Access to Headington could cause traffic chaos in Marston

L-R Duncan Hatfield , Cllr Mick Haines and Marston parish council Vice chairman Tony Greenfield. Picture by Richard Cave.

A £12.5m roadwork project across Headington has ‘ignored’ the pleas of Marston residents and will only worsen traffic in the area, councillors have warned.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Access to Headington project will move on to its next phase on January 22 with nine months of roadworks to begin at the entrance to the John Radcliffe Hospital.

The work to improve roads and junctions will be carried out at Headley Way and Cherwell Drive amid warnings from the hospital that motorists should allow two hours to navigate the works and find a parking space.

Speaking ahead of the project launch, the chairman of Old Marston Parish Council said the county council had effectively side-lined his ward.

Duncan Hatfield said: “Traffic is an issue in Marston already, one of the concerns is the impact at Cherwell Drive because the roads have not been maintained and nothing will be done about that.

“There are concerns about how the work could cause more congestion with the traffic lights making the traffic worse and slowing things down.

“It is really difficult to see how it is going to impact the Marston area.

“They want to improve traffic in and out of the Headington area but Marston has a really severe traffic problem and I think they need to really invest in this because we have got lots of people coming in and out already.

“The money needs to be more invested in the Marston area.”

City councillor for the area, Mick Haines, also joined calls for more to be done for his ward and said potholes and parking were some of the biggest issues for residents.

He said: “When Access to Headington starts here its going to be horrible, most of the residents I have spoken to are against it.

“We need to get something sorted out with the state of the roads. The roads in Marston are terrible. It would be much more important to fix that than put in some traffic lights.”

He added that he would call on the county council to do more for his ward.

Contractors Skanska will begin setting up for the roadworks on Tuesday before work starts on January 22.

Oxfordshire County Council was approached for comment.

Councillor irritated by 'stupid' road scheme which will replace roundabouts Nathan Briant Local government reporter

AN OXFORD city councillor has slammed an ‘absolutely stupid’ plan which he claims will cause more disruption.

Councillor Mick Haines has been angered by Oxfordshire County Council’s proposal to turn a pair of roundabouts on Cherwell Drive into a set of junctions controlled by new sets of traffic lights.

Work on the route is set to start in January and run until November, according to the county council’s website.

Mr Haines claims traffic will be slowed down permanently, exacerbating problems motorists have struggled with at busy times for years.

Independent councillor for Marston, Mr Haines said: “It’s absolutely stupid. I have got nearly 100 signatures written on a petition against (the plan) and I will get a lot more for them.

“The people of Marsden aren’t happy about this.

“The council is going to start on January 13. It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

Mr Haines: “I think (the council is) after more cycle lanes there but it’s just ridiculous. For the car drivers it’s going to be havoc. (Traffic builds) for a couple of hours in the morning and then it clears itself.”

The project forms part of the county council’s controversial Access to Headington plan.

Overall £12.5m is being spent on infrastructure in an effort to improve roads, roundabouts and traffic lights to cut congestion and encourage more people to cycle.

Oxfordshire County Council spokesman Martin Crabtree said the work will still go ahead in Marston despite Mr Haines’ concerns.

He said: “We believe that the proposed changes will bring improvements.

"The Access to Headington programme is designed to provide an attractive alternative to using a car and part of that is making crossing the road safer and easier for pedestrians and cyclists.”

One of the owners of the Oxford Car Audio shop on Cherwell Drive, Steve Le Masuriem, said he had not had the plan explained to him by the council – and was worried about the possibility of routing traffic past his shop in the opposite way than is currently the case.

He said: “I don’t understand the decision. (The route decision), that’s the only thing we would be confused by.”

When Headington residents were shown plans for Access to Headington's phase three work last month, some said they were worried about the impact of the ‘absolutely horrific’ disruption that awaited.

The third phase was initially pencilled in for July but it was delayed by the county council, who said it would have placed an ‘unacceptable’ strain on the city’s wider traffic network.

That part of the work will start finally on January 23 and is expected to last for 36 weeks. Severe disruption is expected.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has already issued a warning this month urging visitors and patients to avoid travelling to appointments by car.

Two community stalwarts honoured with Marston tree planting

THE memories of two Marston community legends will live on after several trees were planted in their name.

Bellringer for seven decades and Old Marston parish councillor Roy Jones as well as community champion Billy Munnelly who was heavily involved in Gaelic football and Aunt Sally have both been immortalised with the planting of two white willow trees.

Marston councillor Mick Haines was on hand to plant the trees at Croft Road Recreation Ground for Billy Munnelly and Mortimer Hall Recreation Ground for Roy Jones on Wednesday.

Mr Haines said: "I think for the area it shows that they appreciated the men, both of them they were really important people to their community.

"Roy was especially important for the parish council, I knew him for a short time and we worked together on a few things and he was very important for the area.

"Billy was liked by everybody, he was a very well known man, for the whole community and he was really involved in Gaelic football and Aunt Sally."

Two further services with a date to be confirmed are set to be held for each of the two men to formally mark the planting.

 

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