TRAFFIC cameras to catch lorries flouting weight restrictions on a 14th century bridge have been broken for months.
The loss of the cameras has sparked fears that Grade II-listed Newbridge between Witney and Kingston Bagpuize could be damaged by heavy trucks going over it.
The bridge, which carries the A415 between Witney and Abingdon, has an 18-tonne gross vehicle weight limit, so any vehicle capable of carrying more than 18 tonnes is not allowed to cross.
The cameras record vehicles’ licence plates and then, if that truck is registered as over 18 tonnes, Oxfordshire County Council sends the owner a penalty ticket.
Eynsham Oxfordshire county councillor Charles Mathew said: “It’s true that the cameras are not working at the moment and there have been problems for some time with the operator and the surveying of that camera.
“There is heavy traffic still going across and there are probably 10 or 12 lorries a day over the weight limit.
“This is not a satisfactory situation, and Oxfordshire County Council would be the first to admit that.
“We are, with some urgency now, having been prodded quite strongly, looking for other solutions to the problem.
“In the meantime, Trading Standards – who have the authority to enforce it – have been visiting very frequently and making representation to the guilty parties.”
Steve Good, a Standlake, Aston and Stanton Harcourt councillor on West Oxfordshire District, has raised concerns.
Speaking at the Aston Parish Council meeting last month, he said there was a “real risk” that the bridge could be lost as a river crossing.
Others bridges are Tadpole Bridge on the Buckland to Bampton Road, and the toll bridge at Eynsham, creating a “significant increase” in Aston traffic, he said.
He told the Oxford Mail: “We are looking at the matter again to protect this very important monument.
“What we want to happen is for Oxfordshire County Council to enforce the existing weight limit.
“The cameras have been out of action since last November.
“It can’t be doing the structure any good.
“If you ask anybody they’ll agree something needs to be done.
“I’m working with colleagues at Oxfordshire County Council to find the best way forward.”
County council spokesman Owen Morton said: “The council has experienced problems with the camera system and is investigating alternative solutions.
“In the meantime, Trading Standards officers are proactively monitoring the bridge and enforcing the weight limit, as well as continuing to act on information provided by members of the public.”
Work to strengthen the bridge is limited because it is a scheduled ancient monument and Grade II listed building.
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